Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Voyage of the Dread Swash

December 20 something - Somewhere in the mountains of Western North Carolina. A storm brewing. Whether by divine providence or merely a dangerous coincidence, I cannot say, but it was with great joy that I found myself seated across a table from the infamous Captain Swash. Swash is one of the last direct descendents from a long and illustrious line of pirate captains who were famed for their unbridled abuse of the Spanish Armada, and it is even rumored that the discovery of the New World can be traced back to their early forays into the barrier islands of the Carolinas. Unfortunately they have become a dying breed ever since the invention of the jet ski, the sea donut, and Bacardi 151 rum. So many good pirates lost to the combination of those three evils. But I digress. The captain called our meeting for a reason. He had gotten tired of sailing in his pond (see above photo at right), and coincidentally had discovered a map with the coordinates of the legendary Isle of Cumber. Already having enlisted the help of First Mate LeSchmee, he came to me in need of a ship's Dr. Of course I accepted.

It later came to light that Captain Swash had drawn the map completely from from his imagination, and that it had no factual coordinates aside from a rough estimate of where Days Inn might be on the mainland.

First Mate LeSchmee

Captain Swash
Dr. Fanz

Fast forward, to January 2nd in the year of our lord, 2010. Somewhere in Southern Georgia, dangerously close to Florida. Captain Swash, first mate LeSchmee, and Dr Fanz ignore the setting sun, the small craft advisory sent out by the National Weather Service, and the sand bars of low tide and set sail for the Isle of Cumber. "Setting sail" consisted of pushing off the dock at Crooked River and out into a low tide ripping towards the Intercostal waterway and the imagined location of the Isle of Cumber. The first thing that happened was the sheer pin in the motor broke - leaving it useless. Next we realized we weren't sailing, because we didn't have any sails up. Next we wished we were still 100 yards upstream tied up at the dock that was quickly sliding away. At roughly the same time, we realized we were being swept towards a tangle of barnacled rocks and snags. Pause. Panic. Row. Manning the oars Captain Swash and I managed to beach our flat bottomed vessel shortly before said tangle. At this point I felt like a good laugh was in order. But no one else was laughing. So I ate a peanut butter sandwich courtesy of LeSchmee, and tried to help Captain Swash raise the missle toe in the 20+ knot wind. It seemed a strange time to do this. Later on in the trip I realized that he was actually referring to the mizzen sail. It turned out at that particular time my lack of nautical knowledge didn't matter because in fairly rapid succession the cleat on the sprit broke, the sun went down, and I found myself with a rope looped around my waist pulling a 20 ft sailboat through the shallows back to the dock.

January 3rd. Pliers + welding pins + nails + glue = motor and cleat fixed. Sliding down the boat ramp in the early light the morning has a completely different feel. The tide is high and calm, sand bars safely submerged, winds light and steady, and all the crew has a fresh mustache courtesy of LeSchmee (shout out to Ivar). This time we set sail for real, raising the main sail, mizzen and jib and skipping out along Crooked River towards a shimmering green strip of land some 8 miles distant. With my sailor's duties fulfilled I made a Dr.'s assessment of the stresses of the last 24 hrs, uncorked a jug of Napa red and set about tending to the medical needs of myself and the rest of the crew. Some short hours later found us testing the keel depth on a mystical sandbar that blocks against any bold attempts (such as ours) to sail directly up to the island. Furling the sails and finding deeper water we soon made landfall on a green isle covered in old live oaks, and spanish moss, the inner labyrinths of which provided us with the perfect makings of a pirates lair.

LeSchmee - On the trail to Seacamp
 Captain Swash - Fishing
Dr. Fanz - Self portrait at sunset
January 4th and 5th. Cumberland Island. We freeze by night, frolic by day. Sailing, photo shoots, marauding, foraging, tackle football, dinner parties, deserted mansions, fishing, fending off raccoons and amazonian women...[click 'read more' for the photos]


  1. I am very happy you have a camera in your hands again. You kept me reading (a rarity for loquacious bloggers).

  2. Thanks for checkin in guys :)

    @Kimber quite a compliment indeed

  3. I'm glad you are back, camera in hand. I've held my breath for a very long time it seems since your last post.

    *Amazing photos* *Amazing words* *Amazing Blog* !

  4. I always enjoy looking at your pictures Forest, but you're an amazing writer as well and I love reading your creative stories. It's all so wonderful!!