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Kayaking adventures at Cabin Bluff: greeting the day ahead with the dolphins, osprey and pelicans


The middle of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) was barely visible from the bank as we stood on the beach in the early-morning haze. The air was cool but comfortable on this February morning, and a dense fog enveloped the Southeast Georgia coast – creating a surreal backdrop for our outing. Gathering under the live oaks for a pre-adventure briefing, we geared-up for our trip and touched-up on the basics of coastal kayaking before heading out. As we slid our kayaks into the still waters of the Cumberland River, we were greeted by a pod of bottle-nosed dolphins patrolling the docks in search of their breakfast. The dolphins continued their feeding frenzy as we pointed our boats toward the south and headed out from Cabin Bluff and into the whiteness.

Floating along with the incoming tide, paddling was almost optional – allowing us to enjoy an eerie silence for long periods in between the splashing of our strokes. Under the watchful eye of a circling osprey, we glided silently through the mist and into the mouth of a creek leading deeper into the marsh. The dolphin sightings continued as we drifted past the shrouded bluffs and twisted trunks and branches of Pine Tree Creek and up into a slough only accessible at high tide. Dozens of egrets, heron and wood storks greeted us as we stopped to enjoy a hot cup of coffee provided by our Director of Fun and Lead Guide, Jennifer. As the tide turned, we made our way back into the main channel and maneuvered our way through more dolphins on our way back to the Cumberland River and to Cabin Bluff.

As we entered the main body of the river, the docks at Cabin Bluff seemed to materialize in the distance. Passing just in front of us, only inches above the water, a flight of brown pelicans skimmed the smooth surface as they crossed the river on the way to their favorite roost on Pelican Point. Nearing the take-out, there were signs that the sun was trying to break through the clouds and join us for the remainder of the day. The fog was just beginning to lift as we wrapped up our paddling trip and beached our kayaks back at the main complex. Climbing out of our boats and walking up the beach, there were few reminders that it was the middle of winter. With the sun making an appearance, our group thought it was a perfect time for a dip in the hot tub before lunch and another on-water adventure – this time chasing reds with Captain Toby!