Smooth Waters and Smooth Routines in Georgia: December 12 2021 


Our rush to button up Barefeet for our brief return to Boston came together and all was secure.  But wait, what?!  There’s a tortilla factory in Brunswick mere steps from the boat?!  Yes, and needless to say homemade cheese enchiladas danced in my head until we returned.  Back in Boston we connected with friends and family, wore boots instead of flip flops around our photogenic town, hosted Turkey dinner and snuck out of New England just as snow flurries were whispered in the weather forecast.  Hey, nothing goes to windward like a 747 and in a mere two hours we were back at Dock #6 in Brunswick, Georgia, with clear, sunny skies and calm conditions.


After sorting out that Barefeet was still floating in her slip and electrical systems were functioning as expected it was time to gather ingredients for homemade cheese enchiladas, including a stop at the tortilla factory (11/27).    Sadly, it took a bit more time and frustration than expected as I had to remember where things were in the boat kitchen.  Oh, and did we really leave the blender lid in Boston?!  Huh?!  But soon enough the air wafted of tortillas, cheese, garlic, peppers and cumin…we were back on track.  The enchiladas were comfort food at its best…aaahhh.  Note: Chris efficiently ordered another blender lid that arrived the next day…um…because tin foil is not a good long-term plan. 


Our first morning back began chilly and as peaceful as can be (11/28).  A few hours with the heater and the day warmed up nicely.  Then we were off to Buffalo Wild Wings to see the Pats game.  It was a four mile walk through Brunswick with new neighborhoods and sights along the way.  We chuckled at Willie’s Wee-Nee Wagon sign which was emblazoned, “We’ll relish your bun.”  Stepping into the Buffalo Wild Wings on Glynn Isles and we knew it was the place to be for football.  A large bull pen of high top tables were surrounded by TVs that completely encircled the large room.  Each TV was mercifully labeled with which game would be shown.  It’s so civilized…and so easy to pick the right seat.  Then just as forecast we spotted the flurries falling at Foxboro.  Wow – we got out of dodge just in the nick of time.  Great win and a smooth Uber home.     


The dust was settling with end or year paperwork, routine chores and diving into boat projects.  It’s time for USCG vessel documentation to be renewed, health insurance to be renewed and Christmas cards to be started…you know the drill (11/29).  Food and liquor shopping filled the larder and fridge, laundry was completed, the boat was filled with water, West Marine and Auto Zone runs were made…check, check, check.  But the real heavy lifting came from McMaster-Carr for 1) the replacement of the get-home engine exhaust elbow and hoses and 2) the strengthening of the door to the upper deck.  But it’s not all work.  Ho, ho, ho – the holidays are in the air as boats start to hang lights and decorations.


Time for some attention to the get-home engine.  Original hoses were wrestled off the exhaust elbow, elbow was cleaned (yes, in the kitchen sink) and all was put back together with new hoses, hose clamps and gaskets (11/30).  Time to test (gulp) fingers crossed.  The engine ran for ten minutes, revved and idled.  Phew – no leaks of water or exhaust fumes.  Yippee!!  That is a huge success!  With loads of tortillas remaining it was time for pulled pork nachos to celebrate.  The pulled pork came from Twin Oaks BBQ.  It’s walking distance from the marina and has been smoking since 1943.  The pulled pork was delicious and we cannot wait to try more of the menu.


Mornings continue to dawn peacefully but slightly chilly, low 50F.  The heater works great until the sun shines a beam of light directly onto the thermostat and…wham…the heater switches to A/C.  Well, that was totally unexpected…so down come the shades.  Tee, hee, hee – life is never dull.  Next up is strengthening the door up to the top deck because the hinge has been drooping (12/2).  During investigation of the sag it seems the wood of the door behind the hinges is nothing more than spongey rot that won’t support a thing.  The only option is to reem out the bad wood and replace it…but how far will the bad wood reach into the door?  Luckily, the rot is just a 26” x 2” area that can be replaced with a new piece of marine plywood (courtesy of McMaster-Carr – did we mention that we love having a mailing address at the marina).  Plywood means a track saw.  Yep, Chris has one of these and he loves the precision the tool provides.  This multi-day process is moving along nicely.  A straight cut, sanding, epoxy and it is left to cure.  There’s nothing left for us to do so off we go to Tipsy McSway’s for dinner.  It is crazy what a small world it is and on a life-always-surprises-you note we met up with a couple in Brunswick that we had randomly met before Thanksgiving who are from Rhode Island (with overlaps for us in Barrington and Fall River), sailed from RI to Australia in 2017 and are now settled in Brunswick.  Lovely people and fun to chat Tonga, long passages, water pressure, etc.


 A few stellar weather days has the marina abuzz with boat projects.  We fueled up with egg sandwiches and dove in ourselves (12/3).  Today was replacement of two main engine zincs and the main engine impellor.  Zincs were lickety split but the impellor was more involved.  Once removed the metal core detached from the rubber fins…hhhmmm.  Insertion of the new impellor is tough due to the VERY snug fit.  However, superlube, dish soap, gloved hands and grunts got it done.  Oh, and the hack of squishing the fins with a zip-tie and then removing the zip-tie helped a lot when mere pushing was not enough.  A neighbor boat cranked 105.7 Atlanta’s Alternative radio station which was non-stop 80’s and a jamin’ soundtrack that kept us all seeing our projects to their end.


Showers and the donning of long-sleeved garb to keep mosquitos away had us off to First Friday fun in downtown Brunswick.  The main drag of Newcastle Street is closed to car traffic with shopping, bands and restaurants spilling out onto the street.  This Friday it was dotted with holiday delights including Christmas tunes from the High School Band, decorated trees and bushes…and snow machines.  Oh, and there was even a mobile axe throwing fella.  Chris took a throw and made it into the target.  We tasted rum from local Richland Rum distillery and had dinner at Reid’s Apothecary (thanks for the tip Lori).  Wow - lamb lollipops and duck nachos were flavorful.  Chris kept to cutlery for the lamb chops but Erin went straight to the bones with fingers and teeth.  Yum!


It’s the Holidays so we added a bit of cheer to Barefeet (thanks Mom) and explored Brunswick for Holiday Bazaars at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Bella’s Ma and Pa Craft Shop and The Artery (12/4).  Cruisers have really embraced and settled here.  The Craft Shop is handi-work of former cruisers who make beautiful woodwork (such as bowls) and pine needle woven baskets.  Most are inlaid with shells, pine cones or coconut stems – lovely.  The Artery is an art gallery created by cruisers in what used to be a bank.  There is a main display area as well as individual studio space (  Owner Susan (on dock #15 at the marina) gave me a great tour of the art and details about each artist…where can we fit something on the boat?!  The day ended with chicken bacon ranch casserole (thanks Jana, recipe below).


Weather continues to be pleasant and mild with photogenic fog mornings.  The stillness and quiet is positively palpable.  Okay, time to install the strengthened door to the top deck (12/5).  It sounds simple but it definitely is not.  To start – the space is so small that to screw on the hinge the ratchet looks more like it came from a toy chest rather than a tool bag.  Then there is the oozing caulk sticking to everything (especially fingers) – thank goodness for acetone.  Ta da – the door looks great!  Just enough time to change the oil in the generator and the day is done.     


Our area exploration is being taken up a notch with a rental car for one week.  But Barefeet comes first so off we went to fill the propane tank at Kash Gas – definitely the friendliest fill-up we have ever had (12/7).  Then it was off to Jekyll Island.  We have visited the island before and even tied up at the marina but we have never visited during the Holidays.  This is a real treat as the massive live oaks dripping with Spanish moss are wrapped in glittering white lights.  There is even a light tour via car where illuminated decorations hang from trees and the Twelve Days of Christmas line the road in a colorful light display.  While we waited for the sun to go down we toured the Faith Chapel (great recommendation from boat slip neighbors).  The Chapel was built in 1904 for the Jekyll Island Club and is bookended by two stunning stained-glass windows – David on the throne by Louis C. Tiffany and the adoration of Christ by the father-daughter team of Maitland and Helen Armstrong (sshhh – we like the Armstrong one better).  The building is constructed of cypress shingles (well chosen to deter rot) and lightly decorated with exterior gargoyles and interior whimsical animals.  Wow!


With still a little bit more light in the sky we went to Driftwood Beach on the north end of the island at the suggestion of the Chapel docent.  It seems this is a place where many wedding and Christmas card photos are taken (yep, one even took place while we were there).  Chris described it as “wild” and that is exactly how it feels and looks.  Mother Nature never ceases to amaze us.  Then the sun was gone and the night was around us.  We drove through the light tour.  The dark was merry and bright and absolutely beautiful.  So beautiful we had to park and walk through the majestic trees that felt dusted of fun by disco balls.


Since we cannot find a slip for Barefeet further south we drove down to meet up with friends from Boston who are visiting in Melbourne.  Our road trip made room for tastes and sights, too (11/8).  We had breakfast at our favorite Les Petits Pleasures French bakery in St Augustine where the croissants are amazing but the simple baguette with butter and jam steals the show.  We checked out the Daytona Museum of Arts and Sciences with pre-Castro Cuban art and Napolean’s death mask.  How did that get here?  Provenance and authenticity might be a grey area because it was not labeled and was in a display area which included Americana quilts.  The display area room sort of resembled an eccentric relative’s attic…okay, a BIG attic like a barn.  The ying to the yang of the Museum was the next door Tuscawilla Preserve with a boardwalk trail and turtles catching some rays.  Quick showers and dropping things at our Air BnB cottage had us getting together with Peter and Rosa!  Such a great evening just hanging on the porch, meeting neighbors and drinking homemade wine.  Louie is absolutely the host with the most.  We had a great time!  

We could have stayed all night but moved on before the rooster called (that happened at the Air BnB from the backyard chicken coop).  While Chris and I were on the plane from Boston to Jacksonville we spotted a giant green blotch on the satellite map of the plane on its journey.  We both said, “What is that?”  It’s the Okefenokee Swamp.  Let’s go!  And that is where we went next (11/9).  The Okefenokee Swamp is 700 square miles of continuous black water swamp (the largest in North America).  Heck, the natural darkness of the night sky is designated a gold-tier International Dark Sky Park.  The two main entrances are the East Entrance (largely open prairies near Folkston, GA) and the West Entrance (largely cypress trees near Faro, GA).  They are about 1.5hrs drive apart so you have to plan.  We preferred the cypress waterways and focused our lodging and planning on the west side.  Lodging is basic with Park cabins or eco lodge cabins as the only two options.  Restaurants – just one in the cafeteria of a school house.  We had a two-person cabin in the eco lodge with a small kitchen so we planned 2x breakfasts and 2x dinners at the cabin.  Groceries from the supermarket, liquor from the package store and pulled pork from Fat Belly’s…all forty minutes from the cabin.  This is remote.


Check-in was with Rhonda at the Visitor’s Center in the Stephen C. Foster State Park…18 miles from the cabin.  Did I mention remote?  A quick walk along the boardwalk trail had us convinced that marketing was spot on.  We saw birds, gators (Mr at 10ft and Mrs at 6ft), deer, armadillos and turtles.  The swamp is said to be home to dozens and dozens of species of birds (234), reptiles (64), amphibian (37), mammal (50) and fish (39).  Not to mention the pop culture home of Scooby-Dum (from Scooby-Doo) and the comic strip Pogo (an opossum and his swamp animal friends).  Feeling a bit bushed we headed to the cabin. 


Okay – please get comfortable because this is a doozey.  We got to the eco lodge cabin and moved groceries, clothing and toilettries inside.  Fridge stuff into the fridge…you know the drill.  Feeling pooped we poured cocktails and went to the rocking chairs on the screened in porch.  Socks on our feet and the sky darkening was a gentle end to the day.  We chatted and remarked on the true remoteness of the Okefenokee and the sturdy design of the porch…and not a single other guest or employee on the property.  Just a single, pseudo-feral dog who skulked in the distance.  Nope, not going there - banish images from The Shining movie.  Ah, okay – let’s get the pulled pork nachos into the oven.  But the door won’t open.  It’s locked.  The screens on the porch extend completely between all supports…no door.  We have no car keys, no phones…literally hiking clothes, socked feet and empty cocktail glasses.  Gulp.  Even if we get out of the porch onto the lawn we cannot get into the cabin because we took the key out of the lock box and left it inside the cabin.  Double gulp.  Break a glass window into the cabin?  Break through the screen and walk in stocking feet out to the road and hail someone down?  Sleep on the wooden porch floor?  Nothing is looking good.  Wait, Chris has his wallet in his pocket.  The alligator clip is dis-assembled and tried in the lock – no go.  Is it possible that his ill-spent youth credit card trick to open the door will work?  Don’t use the driver’s license because that will be a bear to replace.  Use the ATM card because Erin has a duplicate.  Pushing and prying and wedging and finally the door opens.  Phew!  Holy be-jesus that was not looking good.  Thank goodness we got inside with only a slightly mangled ATM card.  Note to self – the sign talking about the doors locking behind you ALSO applies to the porch.  Sheesh! 


We slept (mostly) well and (almost) kept visions of an insane Jack Nicholson from our dreams.  Today would be the water day (12/10).  Canoe or motorized skiff?  Rhonda was right again and we went for the skiff to make more distance.  Good heavens the motor is LOUD like a dying lawnmower.  That said – the crocs seem uninterested or in any way bothered as we pass.  We get out to Minnie’s Lake where we tied up at the rest shelter and soak in the peace of the place.  Renting the skiff for four hours initially seemed too long but we did not get bored for a minute.  We paddled back and the quiet was perfect with the wildlife, towering cedars, sprinkled Spanish moss and rarely a soul in sight (or earshot).  It was amazing.  Holy cat tails Batman – that croc looks like he just ate a water buffalo and needs to sleep it off in the sun?!  What a spot!  The day ended with less adrenaline than last night as the sun faded, one other guest arrived, we made pulled pork burritos AND we left the door to the porch open while we rocked in the rocking chairs.  We’ll head back to Barefeet tomorrow.

Cheese Enchiladas with Salsa Roja (Jeff Smith, Frugal Gourmet)
1 cup peanut oil*
8 corn tortillas
1 med yellow onion, chopped finely
3/4 lb. white cheddar** cheese, grated
Salsa Roja:
2 oz. red chiles, ancho, chopped finely
1-1/2 cups hot water
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup peanut oil*
1 med. yellow onion, chopped finely
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbs. browned, all-purpose flour***
1 med tomato, chopped and cored
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar

Clean the chiles by removing stems and seeds; chop finely. Soak chiles
in 1-1/2 cups hot water, covered, for 1 hour. Mill entire "soup" along with
salt, garlic. [Sauce should not have any huge "chunks."] Set aside.
Heat a medium frying pan and add oil and onion. Sauté until the onion
is clear and then add the cumin and browned flour. Stir for a moment and add
tomato. Sauté until all is tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the chile mixture
to the chicken stock, red wine vinegar. Simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes,
stirring until sauce thickens.
Place salsa roja in a large shallow bowl. Heat the oil in a frying pan
and fry each tortilla until pliable, just a few seconds. Dredge each
tortilla in the salsa, coating both sides. Fill each with some of the onions
and cheese and roll up. Spread a little of the salsa in a 9" X 9" baking
dish and add the enchiladas as you go along. Be sure that you put them
seam-side down so that they do not unroll during baking.
Top dish with more sauce and the remaining cheese. Bake at 350°F for 15
to 20 minutes.

* Substitute Canola, Corn, or Vegetable oils; JS prefers to use peanut oil
in many recipes, whether it's authentic or not.
** Substitute the drier Mexican cheese if you wish a more subtle flavor than
that offered by cheddar.
*** Brown by spreading flour evenly on a baking sheet in 400°F oven for 5-7
minutes (or until brown.) Beware burning; this is not something you can just
walk away and forget about.


Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole ( serves 8
2 lb Chicken breast (cooked, cubed or shredded)
8 slices Bacon (cooked, chopped)
3 cloves Garlic (minced)
3/4 cup Ranch dressing
1 cup Mozzarella cheese (shredded, divided)
1 cup Cheddar cheese (shredded, divided)
Version 1 with Spinach

1 lb Frozen spinach (thawed, squeezed to drain well)
Version 2 with Broccoli

4 cup Broccoli (cut into florets)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
If using frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze to drain first. If using broccoli, place it into a pot of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1-2 minutes until bright green.
Combine the chicken, bacon, drained spinach or broccoli, garlic, ranch dressing, and half of the shredded cheeses in a large bowl. Stir until well incorporated. Transfer to a 9x13 in (23x33 cm) glass or stoneware casserole dish. (Alternatively, you can mix everything directly in the casserole dish.)

Optional tip: If you like extra ranch flavor, add 1-3 teaspoons of ranch seasoning mix, in addition to the dressing.
Top with remaining shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.
Bake for about
15 minutes, until hot and bubbly.