Adventure Side Trip, Darien GA, 01/16/2016



Leigh Woodling

There are many positives to a late departure south. The waterway is nearly deserted, and many days go by with seeing none, or one, or on a big day, two other boats. The anchorages are plentiful with no need to snuggle up with anything but the grasses on the shore. When the daily travel homework shows that there is a free dock, you don't have to wonder whether or not there may be a space available for the evening. This is what we discovered in Darien. The forecast was for some bitter cold temps coming in, and while we have a wood stove that keeps us very comfy, there is something about a free dock that includes free electric that is most appealing. Darien, GA is seven miles down the Darien River from the ICW, turning off to the west at about M652. After speaking with David Butler, dockmaster, we headed in to unabashedly plug in and explore this little town with lots of history. We had planned to arrive with slack water, but, oh well. The current is something to be considered as you plan to come into this dock. It is very close to a low fixed bridge, so you want slack before ebb, or very early ebb. Just be prepared! In spite of recovering from a fall on his own boat, David met us at the dock with stories and tales of this town on the river.     

Darien was first settled by Scottish Highlanders in 1735, known for their prowess in battle. They had been recruited specifically on the orders of General James Edward Oglethorpe to man an outpost that would help protect Savannah from Spanish attacks. Darien’s ongoing history is an American tale, from a thriving seaport following the Revolutionary War to a scene of Yankee oppression during the Civil War. Today Darien hosts one of the largest fleets of shrimp boats on the eastern seaboard, and is working to become a more well know spot for both transient boaters and land borne visitors. I love to delve into the past of the places we visit, and Darien provided not just a wealth of history, but some wonderful current day attractions as well.

It is a lovely town to walk, and there are several small shops to explore along the main thoroughfare. Fort King George looked like a great place to visit, but make sure to check the hours. Their web site said that the fort would be open on Federal holidays, but when we walked there from the town dock it was in fact closed. There is a small but very well done museum and art gallery, and lots of parks and fountains and places to “set a spell”. While it is about a mile and a half to reach a grocery store, it is not a bad trek. Along this route is a fine restaurant, B&J’s Steaks and Seafood. It is not fancy, but the people are as friendly as they come, and the food is excellent. We particularly liked the breakfast buffet. Close to the Town Docks is Skipper’s Fish Camp. Again, wonderful service and servers, and while the prices were a bit higher, the food was delicious, the atmosphere is so comfortable, and they have a fine Happy Hour. Their appetizer, Collards & Q, is now one of my favorite new foods. The collards were cooked perfectly with exceptional spicing, and topped with a healthy spoonful of their pulled pork BBQ. It was excellent!

There is a 48 hour cap on the free dock, but when it is not busy, I am sure you can talk with David about some additional time. The river got pretty skinny is some parts, so if you draw more than six feet I would recommend going down at mid to rising tide. And as said, it is best to arrive at the dock at slack water. We really enjoyed ourselves, and this spot is down in the log as a place to revisit!

I tried without success to get pictures in here, but this will now be a "help" item! If you have any hints, let me know. We are on to Cumberland Island next, followed closely by St. Augustine. More to come!