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Research & Development

*Looking for Mr. Sandbar* October 7, 2001

Today my mother and I traveled upriver from Champney Landing to Altamaha Park in Everett City in the aluminum john boat.  En route we found 3 very suitable campsites (one inhabited by several tents and barking dogs), and two possible-but-not-ideal spots.  We also found a nice little inlet which might provide a nice anchoring spot for camping aboard providing it is accessible at low tide.  And of course, Barrington has a campground a few miles upstream with rudimentary toilets and running water, though not much else.  And I know of at least one spot between Altamaha Park and Barrington, where one could pitch a tent, from my fishing trips with my father. Hmmmmmm. . . .  

The journey, there and back, took 4 1/2 hours and 2 gals of fuel.  But the exciting news is that Altamaha Park has a campground, dock, and a store!  So Ice, bait, water, fuel, and other supplies may be purchased here.  I begin to believe we could put in at White Chimney, travel the ICW to Darien, then move upriver as far as Jesup, and never be without an icy cooler.  Nice.  This will make for better eating on our adventure.  

It was rather windy out, and there was a point between 17 and 95 where the water had easily 1-2 foot chop.  It was some slow going and we were pretty battered, then suddenly we turned a bend and the water was happy again.  Still, I wonder how this might be in even wider water (which one would have to traverse, at least briefly to get from White Chimney to Darien).  I also wonder how much of a difference/improvement over the aluminum jon boat I would expect to see in the longer, larger, heavier AF4.  Some I hope.

I really hate to abandon this leg of the journey, as it allows for much less travel to and from the point of entry.  And the lovely one will be stuck with dropping us off and picking us up.  I guess a preliminary test of the AF4 crossing the sound will be in order before the adventure.  

So it begins to look like the journey will resemble #4 above.  We will begin and return to the same point.  We will start slightly up White Chimney, travel out the ICW, then up the Altamaha for at least as far as Jesup. The tentative plan.  Further exploration, via automobile, of Jesup marina(s) is in order.

*Discovering more resources* Jan 15, 2002

First of all, a friend and wonderful human being (I will refer to as Peppermint Patti) gave me some information on Jesup boat landings.  Evidently there is one with a nearby store, etc. where we might scope out provisions.  She also volunteered to meet us there with any items beyond what we might find at the 7-11 that we might need, providing we could call her in advance and didn't get ridiculous about it (no helicopters, Alligator boots, suitcases of unmarked bills, etc).  Now I am setting my sights beyond Jesup. 

Another mixed blessing occurred shortly before Christmas.  A salty sailboat couple, Nancy Schwalbe Zydler & Tom Zydler, who have been live-aboard cruising and charting every mudbottom, sound, and tidal creek in these parts, published their book The Georgia Coast - Waterways and Islands .  It is MUCH more extensive than any documentation of a two-three week upriver trip dairy I might have turned out.  The good news is it contains excellent charts of all the waterways, great information about points of interest, wildlife, DNR regs for camping/fishing/hunting on the islands and banks, and marinas servicing the area.  The charting information alone is worth the cost of the book.  I have read it cover to cover twice now, and there is still information to be gleaned from it (I must get on the water with this book in hand).  A lot of the narrative information relates to history, people, places and nature to enjoy.  The information about anchorages, marinas and services, Island accommodations are probably not that applicable to our trip.  I still think it unlikely we will want to sleep at anchor unless absolutely necessary.  The majority of the marinas, island points of interest, etc. may be beyond the reach and rough water capability of the craft I am building. The only campground on salt water is on the ocean side of Cabretta Island.  But a friend of mine assures me that it is okay to pop a tent on the beach at Blackbeard, which we might try if we can get to Cabretta cut without being pounded too much.  Also the book states that the beaches of nearly all the islands are essentially public property up to the high-tide line.  Which I guess means one could enjoy some wilderness camping as long as the night fell between the flood tides.  The book also focuses on the salt water areas.  The charts run upriver only a short way on the Altamaha, stopping at the Altamaha Water park in Everett City.  Since I have explored that far myself, I found no new information about campsites in the book (though they confirmed the ones I had found already).  So the bad news is that the book doesn't tell me what lies between Fort Barrington and Jesup.  The good news is there is still room for a rav & dp book about camping up the Altamaha River in a small outboard boat.

In preparation for, and beyond the rav & dp adventure, I know this book will serve me well the next couple of years.

*More Equipment* purchased March 16, 2002

I just bought a smaller lighter tent and a marine toilet.  I got a Thetford at Boat US.  It was the smallest Thetford model I could find.  It seems plenty adequate for our camping needs. The two week trip with dp may strain its capacity, we'll have to use it sparingly.  But for the rest of the time, it should be perfect for my solo camping weekends or for two if I get the lovely one to come along.

*Stranding my parents* September 8, 2002

After months of looking for those elusive used outboard motors, I
found a fiberglass piece of junk on an excellent small trailer (no
salt water, no rust) and a 1977 25HP Evinrude outboard with a "parts
motor" of the same or similar year also 25HP but a Johnson "sea
horse" which supposedly has only a cracked foot. The Evinrude ran
in a barrel and cranked on the first pull. So I dickered a little
and bought the outfit for $425. I got it home, put the motor in a
barrel and cranked it again, seemed to run fine, tried it in gear
for a little bit--threw a lot of water out, but still okay. I got
excited. Maybe I had what I wanted. The motor seemed a little
large and heavy for an AF4, but I didn't have to run it full
throttle or anything . . .
Saturday I cranked it a few more times, visions of having a
dedicated AF4 motor, hell maybe even remote steering. The whole
day, I had other tasks, but I was itching bad to get the new motor
on the boat and into the water. By 7 pm I began calling everyone I
knew to see if they wanted to be brave crew. I recruited two.
This morning at 11:00 I launched at the marina, using the lift. I
had the 25 on center and the 3hp kicker off to the side. The new
motor cranked right up, no worries. We began to move upriver
against the tide and with the wind. I opened the throttle up a
little, but nothing much happened. I opened it up to full throttle,
and still was traveling at about the same speed as I had been
getting out of the 8hp. Something's not right I said aloud and at
that same moment the motor cut out. As I leaned back towards it, i
could smell hot engine and see a little smoke coming out of a hole
in the cowling. Well, that's it for that one, I said now realizing
that the motor is now likely somewhere between needing expensive
repair or perhaps is complete toast. We are now about 1/4 mile from
the marina. So I fire up my trusty 3hp Sears reliable since my
childhood. It cranks but refuses to run properly. I have to leave
it partially choked to get it to run at all, and even then it cuts
out every 60 seconds or so. Plus the rather strong wind has us and
I can't get the motor behind the boat, and can't get the boat
pointed into it, and we get blown into the marsh grass, and since
it's high tide, we get blown waaay up into the marsh grass. I get
out and push until I run out of terra firma, my crew throws the
anchor as far as they can and pulling, I keep cranking the 3HP, but
ultimately, if anything, we lose ground. So after staring at each
other for a while, I break out the cell phone and begin calling for
help. Finally a kindly older gentleman from the marina, comes out
and tows us back in. I was as happy to meet him as I have ever been
to meet anyone. The crew, who had begun to look mutinous, are once
again all smiles and relief as they climb onto the dock. A small
sailboat carrying three and sans motor eases by.
Lessons learned - could have used a deeper skeg. Should have gone
upwind or just waited for a less windy day. Two motors is no
guarantee. A cell phone is an incredible bit of technology. 1/4
mile is still too far away. Old Southern Gentlemen are even more
miraculous than cell phones.
As I reminded my crew, at no time were we in physical danger. But
the experience gives me pause. Should I be ordering the shop manual,
or saving my bucks for a shiny NEW motor. I don't know if I really
WANT to be a fixer of outboards, and I may run out of gentlemen to
the rescue in the meantime. hmmmmmm


What will we eat?

This is certainly a consideration.  We want to eat well, not chew on bark and briar shoots.  On the other hand, we won't have any refrigeration to speak of.  We may have a cooler for the first two or three days of travel, but after that ice will be hard to come by.

We may wind up supplementing our diet with fish and shrimp (when in saltwater) here and there.  But we can't really count on that.  So we will need to plan on bringing enough rations to live on for the entire trip, without overloading the boat.  

As a first step in this process, my wife and I are compiling a list of foods which do not need refrigeration. Then we hope to plan the most savory, lightweight meals possible. We are focusing on meals that might be easily prepared on a two-burner campstove (because we already have one).

The list so far.  Suggestions on meals or rations appreciated.

Dry Goods

Canned Goods

Other Things that keep

  1. cornmeal
  2. masa
  3. grits
  4. flour
  5. pasta
  6. dried beans
  7. dried fruit
  8. potatoes
  9. instant mashed potatoes
  10. gravy mixes
  11. rice
  12. bullion
  13. coffee
  14. tea
  15. bread
  16. various soup mixes
  17. powdered eggs
  18. powdered milk
  19. crackers
  20. salt, pepper, spices
  21. sugar
  1. tuna
  2. chicken 
  3. beef stew 
  4. chicken & dumplings 
  5. chicken ala king 
  6. canned vegetables
  7. sardines
  8. canned fruit
  9. ravioli 
  10. cheese
  11. soups
  12. canned milk
  13. Chili


  1. potatoes
  2. salt pork
  3. jerky
  4. peanut butter
  5. nuts
  6. honey
  7. rutabagas
  8. onions
  9. green apples
  10. oranges
  11. carrots

Where will we sleep?

In the boat, at anchor:

It will be possible for the two of us to sleep aboard at anchor, in all but the worst weather.  This will be accomplished by sleeping one in the cockpit and one in the cabin.  The AF4 seems ideal for sleeping one, but for two with 2 weeks supplies on board, it might be cramped and uncomfortable.  I don't know.  We will have to try this early on to establish it's practicality.  The cockpit will need to be tarped, mosquito netted, and some type of folding cot (lawn chair?) acquired.


In the tent on the bank:

This will be the preferable way to spend the night.  We already possess an ample, reliable tent which can withstand most weather.  It is roomy, comfortable, waterproof, etc.  With a regular "camp" we will be able to make better use of our supplies and equipment, and have a fire.  On the downside, there are few sites available on salt water.  Once inland there are sandbars and banks where one can camp, but there are also areas where the banks are posted.  So there may be times when we will not be able to locate a suitable campsite on our route.  

In the beached boat or both:

Also there will be the option of combining boat and tent camping.  One of us could sleep aboard the beached boat, and the other could sleep in the tent.  This might be a plus when my snoring gets excessive, or on chili night.  

How far and where will we go?

This question is largely unanswered at this time.
  1. Maybe we will begin upriver and end near home.
  2. Maybe we will begin near home and travel upriver.
  3. Maybe we will begin up one river, travel to the ICW, and then up another river.
  4. Maybe we will find one or two central base camps and plan day excursions from them.

What type of equipment will we need?

  1. Communications - cell phone, weather radio.
  2. Navigation - GPS, maps, compass, and binoculars.
  3. Shelter - tent, tarps, porta-potty, cooler, sleeping bags, bugspray, mosquito netting.
  1. Tools - shovel, hatchet, saw, knives, cooking utensils, fishing gear, buckets, campstove, flashlights, lantern(s), select mechanical tools,  raingear. 
  2. Misc - Rope, string, folding chairs, clamps, 
  3. A marine battery.


  1. Be well prepared.
  2. Communication System - regular call-ins.
  3. Having and following a trip plan.
  4. Safety equipment - First aid supplies (medicine, bandages, etc), Life jackets, backup equipment (kicker, more than one radio, etc)


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Last updated: June 08, 2007.