Posted by Larry Dorminy | Posted on 04-19-2011
I suggested to Malla that it would be a shame to be so close to Savannah, Georgia to miss the opportunity to visit this historic and architypical southern city. It is 20 miles or so out of the way to go up the Savannah River to the city, but we agreed to do it as, if our plans for the future are followed, we will not be back this way again.
I checked out the three facilities on the river which offer transient accommodations and called the municipal dock. The dockmaster cut me off as he was in the midst of assisting a 75 footer, promising to return my call within the hour. We were put off by this facility as it offered no showers, so I wasn’t terribly disappointed when my call was not returned.
Instead, I called the Hyatt, which is located next to City Hall and has 414 feet of dock on the river. I expected the dock to be full of 100 foot megayachts, but Jennifer, the dockmaster, said there was plenty of room and even a 30 amp outlet she could put us near (they advertise 50 and 100 amp service only). We went for that even at the price of $3/foot. The advertised ammenities seemed worth it at only 50-cents more than the other dock. The third facility is at an even more splendiferous hotel than the Hyatt, but it is on the South Carolina side of the river. Even though they offered free ferry
service to the Savannah waterfront, we decided not to go there. We would rather have the old port a step off O.G’s deck.
While we were there, several very large container ships passed by, blocking our view of the opposite shoreline, and so close you could almost reach out and touch them. The ships appear to be longer than the river is wide, and there’s a bend in the river right where we were docked. The pilots must really be on their toes here, yet on more than one ship I saw several officers on wing bridges, taking photographs of the historic riverfront as unconcerned as the gawking tourists who took pictures of the passing ships. The Savannah waterfront is very photogenic, and we took our share of pictures.
We had an fair tidal current when we got back on the ICW but it was not far to the Savannah River where the ebb was flowing vigorously. The current was strong, and we made good less than 4 knots pushing upstream. There is a short cut behind Elba Island, but a 30 foot clearance bridge blocked our passage, costing us several miles going around the long way. Jennifer met us and helped us tie up, giving us the lowdown on what to do, how to do it, and how to find it. I asked
about staying longer than the noon check out time, and she said she was in no hurry to see us leave, suggesting we take the historic bus tour before we departed.
We checked in at the hotel’s front desk and were given a card to display on the boat to indicate that we were paid guests. I listed the date we had arrived and the departure date, and the desk clerk quoted a price double the single night fee. I pointed out that we were only staying one night, and the clerk seemed to be correcting the entry he had made in the computer. Malla didn’t look at the amount and we didn’t discover until we had left that we had been charged for one and a half nights. Jennifer will hear about this on Monday.*
The shower (only one, but very sumptuous) was in the exercise room by the pool. One needed a room key to A) get into the hotel, B) work the elevator, and C) get into the fitness center. No big deal, but it meant taking turns to use the shower, etc.
Savannah’s is a fascinating waterfront, kinda like Newport on steroids. The old cotton warehouses line River Street, complete with a railroad spur and cobblestones from sailing ship’s ballast. The warehouses are three story affairs, now housing shops and restaurants, the top floor connected to the adjacent square, at a higher level, by metal walkways. We climbed up the cobblestones to the park above, and walked to the historic district a few blocks away. Almost everything is pristine and authentic from colonial times.
We were both tired from a busy day on the water, so returned to O.G. before dark after sampling the fare at a Greek restaurant.
We took the 0900 bus tour to learn about historic Savannah. The driver was uninspired. I suppose it is difficult to be inspiring and witty at 0900 on Saturday morning, but I would have preferred a canned schpiel. It didn’t help that those in the back of the bus continued to talk amongst themselves instead of listening to the driver. I was very disappointed. I was annoyed that the bus spent more time in the business district and sped through the residential streets making it
difficult to appreciate Savannah’s architectural splendor which is really what I wanted to see and hear about.
We had an early, unremarkable lunch on River Street, and made a brief visit to the tall ship docked nearby offering “Free Tours.” I couldn’t find out much about her except that she was built in Brazil, a barkentine (look it up on Wikopedia as I did but only to confirm what I thought it was). The hull and rig were unimpressive, but she was nicely finished inside. Then we were gone down river, with the current, by 1300.
Captain Ted Jones