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REGISTRATION & PAYMENT REQUIRED: Once you've reviewed the event details, and decided you'd like to join us, you MUST sign up at the bottom of this page. This is a paid event with payment managed through the AOC. Please read the event description carefully for details; you will be given payment instructions after you sign up. Late payments are NOT accepted for this event, in any circumstance.

Return to Sapelo Island! Camping & Beachcombing Weekend on Atlantic Coast of GA

The Basics:
Event Type:Adventure
Event Location: 40 Miles south of Savannah, GA, ~5-hour drive from Atlanta to mainland ferry dock.   Adventure: Return to Sapelo Island!  Camping & Beachcombing Weekend on Atlantic Coast of GA  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Thu, Feb 20 2020  2:30 pm >> Sun, Feb 23 2020 5:00 pm  (Carpool Departure: 9:00 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Sun, Dec 15 2019 9:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Thu, Feb 6 2020 4:00 pm
Event Duration:4 Days & 3 Nights. See Ferry & Transportation Schedule Below.
Difficulty Rating:D2: Easy to Moderate
Trip Leader(s):
Charlie Cottingham
Email Trip Leader(s)
You must be logged in to get the Trip Leader contact information.
Member Cost:$150.00/Person (See Detailed Cost Info Below)

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:25
Minimum Group Size:2
Number Registered So Far: 20 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No


TRIP WEATHER UPDATE, etc. from Charlie as of WED FEB 19:  We're still ON for everything as planned.  The weather front that's passing through Georgia today thru Thursday will mean that we need to be prepared for a little rain on the first day & evening of our trip.  The GOOD NEWS is that only about 0.6 inch of total rain is likely to fall at Sapelo from Thu AM thru late Thu night and after early Fri AM NO more rain is expected on the Island for the rest of the weekend.
  As is typical, it will be about 10 degrees warmer on Sapelo than here in Atlanta. The Nat'l Weather Service spot forecast expects temperatures mostly in the 50s each day (but Fri high ~47) and warming into the 60s by midday Sunday.  Lows each night will mostly in the 40s but high 30s late Fri night.  On Thu & Fri we can expect fairly strong sea breezes (~15 to 25 mph) as the front passes through but lighter winds Sat & Sun.
  I'm sure we'll have no problem staying comfortable and dry all weekend if we simply adjust our clothing & gear accordingly and protect our things in containers with tight-fitting lids, cover them with protective tarps, etc. as discussed in my article & emails.  I'm having a big load of Firewood delivered at the campsite (covered by our trip fees) so get ready for some big blazing campfires all weekend!  We're still ON for the Bus Tour of the Island Friday afternoon which has always been fun in past years.

Important Group Transportation Notes:  Local driving parties should plan to depart from metro Atlanta no later than about 8:30 AM on Thursday.  See Directions, Logistics, optional Carpooling, etc. below.   This 4-day, 3-night trip requires that we travel as a group on the Public Ferry from the mainland dock to the Island and back, taking the Thursday 3:30 PM ferry to the Island.  A Georgia DNR charter bus driver will greet us at the Island dock and transport us and our gear the ~6 miles to our oceanfront "Cabretta Group Campsite."  On Sunday we're booked on the 4:00 PM return ferry departure from the Island, arriving back at our vehicles on the mainland at about 4:45 PM Sunday.

IN a NUTSHELL:  Larger than Bermuda, Sapelo is a beautiful barrier island on Georgia's Atlantic coast about 40 miles south of Savannah.  On each of our past AOC camping & beachcombing trips to Sapelo we've always had a blast, the last one being in April 2017.  The Island's pristine natural beaches, marshlands and forested wilderness areas are enhanced by its protected status as a National Estuarine Research Reserve.  Its spacious beachfront Cabretta" Group Campsite is a wonderful place to be at any time of year.  We'll have it all to ourselves to relax under its gnarly Spanish-moss-draped live oaks, explore the gorgeous adjoining white sandy beach, and observe wild dolphinsdeer, bald eagles and other exotic native wildlife.  Late February weather is usually ideal for enjoying Sapelo, with afternoon highs typically in the 60s and nightly lows in the 50s.  Like Cumberland Island 50 miles to its south there's no highway bridge connecting Sapelo with the mainland.  Reserved camping groups such as ours travel together on the Public Ferry which takes only a half hour each way.  Sadly, in September 2017 the storm surge from Hurricane Irma damaged the small bridge that connects the lovely "Cabretta" group campsite with the rest of Sapelo Island.  Thankfully it has recently been repaired and we're proud to to have this confirmed reservation as one of the first groups to camp again on the Island since the hurricane.

MANY NICE CAMPSITE AMENITIES!  There's a wide expanse of level tent space and plenty of shady trees for hanging hammocks.  A convenient alternative for sleeping is the campsite's three 10' x 12' roofed and screen-fronted Adirondack shelters, each with wooden bunk space for up to 6 campers.   If you'd like to share sleeping space in one of them (at no extra charge) please email your request to the Trip Leader(s) and we'll assign available shelter space in the order of your requests.  The Campsite's nice comfort station has three lockable private bathrooms, each with a hot shower, lavatory and flush toilet.  Another big Campsite bonus is its spacious Dining Pavilion, with safe nearby running water, large picnic tables, BBQ grills, and a big campfire ring, and a nearby hot-water dishwashing station.  Our GA-DNR hosts will transport us by bus and truck directly from the ferry dock to and from this private group campsite.  It's OK to pack stuff in large duffels or suitcases - also fine to take "car-camping" style gear; e.g. coolers filled with ice, fresh or frozen food and our favorite cold drinks  (Bags of Crushed Ice for topping off our coolers are normally available for sale directly at our campsite.)  For our "family-style" meals multi-burner propane stoves and large pots & pans are appropriate to bring and share - see more below.  Cell Phone Coverage is unreliable on Sapelo!  Esp. since signal strength is spotty it's best not to depend on them other than for taking photos and for attempting an emergency call or text message, etc.  It's usually possible to get one or two "bars" by walking from our Campsite about 1/4 mile to the middle of the wooden bridge that connects Cabretta with the rest of Sapelo.  Electric power at the Campsite is also limited.  For recharging there's a power outlet in each of the 3 bathrooms at the comfort station and one external outlet on the utility building near near the dining pavilion.

DOZENS of FUN THINGS to SEE & DO!  Sapelo is blessed with lovely secluded beaches, sea-oat-capped sand dunes, forests of huge gnarled mossy live oaks, abundant seabirds & wildlife - even wild bald eagles! - and historic ruins.  Beachcombing, shell collecting and stargazing on our private beach are unsurpassed on GA's Atlantic coast.  We also often see wild dolphins and alligators.  Optional Guided Bus Tour of the Island:  Since it's always been "such a blast in the past," I've arranged this for 12:30 till 3:00 PM on FRIDAY- about $20, payable in CASH to our driver-guide.   During the tour we'll have scenic walking & photography stops at the beautifully restored 190-year-old Sapelo Lighthouse on the island's south end, its adjoining "Nanny Goat Beach, the Marine Research Institute, the palatial "Reynolds Mansion," Hog Hammock (and its pub!) - also may get to visit the remote north end of the Island with its historic French "tabby ruins" and Raccoon Bluff church. A Sapelo native and lifelong resident of its quaint "Hog Hammock" community, our host JR Grovner has ancestors who lived and worked on the Island more than 150 years ago.

On all of our past Sapelo camping trips, our informal group breakfasts, lunches & dinner parties have been a big part of the fun at the spacious group dining pavilion.  They're highly recommended, but If you wish to "do your own thing" at any time, no problem!  These group meals will be informally shared "Potluck-style," with each camper who chooses to participate simply preparing and contributing one or two food or refreshment items of your choice that you personally enjoy and that would serve at least about 4 or 5 others. There's no need to try and feed everyone with your shared item(s)!  Your trip leaders will providehot brewed Coffee each morning (included in our trip price) - also an assortment of group Cooking & Dining Supplies (see partial list below) and a delivered truckload of cut Firewood and kindling for our campfires. is a free website that provides an easy way to interactively plan and display what specific gear, supplies, food & refreshment items each of us would like to bring to share for our family-style group meals..
PLEASE ASAP click both of the following links and Enter Your Likely Shared Items for the benefit of the group.  We then can all easily see what there may be too little or too much of, and it's easy to re-edit our items if we choose.
-- Chart for our Thu, Fri, Sat DINNER PARTIES:
-- Chart for our Fri, Sat & Sun BREAKFASTS:
-- Lunches:   We don't bother planning our Lunches, but those of us who happen to be in camp at lunchtime enjoy putting out lots of tasty things to share in the same "potluck family style.  During much of each day many of us will likely be away from the campsite exploring, beachcombing, etc. It's a good idea to wear a light daypack or fanny pack and carry a few snack items such as fruit, a sandwich, trail mix, cookies, etc.—plus water and your smartphone, camera, etc.
-- Cooking Options:  As usual on this trip we expect to have several campers who bring propane stoves that we're willing to share with others who need to cook or reheat something in their own covered pot or pan.  Also there are a couple of permanant on-site charcoal grills beside the dining pavilion, which each of us is welcome to use, either with our own charcoal or with some of the cut firewood that is delivered for us at the site. Also the coals of our nightly campfires are great for marshmallows & "s'mores" and for cooking things sealed in aluminum foil such as baked potatoes and "hobo packs."

TRIP SCHEDULE & LOGISTICS:  It's normally about a 5-hour drive from Atlanta to the mainland ferry dock and its adjoining "Sapelo Visitor Center" in Meridian, GA via I-75, I-16, I-95, and GA-99—see our detailed Directions below.  For this Sapelo trip the scheduled PUBLIC FERRY DEPARTURE for our AOC camping group will be at 3:30 PM SHARP on Thursday.  It will be imperative for each of us to be there at the dock no later than 3:00 PM for loading and boarding (along with passengers from the public at large who will have likewise booked that ferry).
  Most members of our group on this trip usually opt for our "general Carpooling plan." (See details below, meeting Thursday at 8:30 AM at the I-75 "Stockbridge Road" Park & Ride lot.) It's also fine for our various parties to pair up in advance and depart Atlanta from mutually convenient times and places. For any who prefer to drive down on Wednesday (or earlier) there are various inexpensive lodging options along the GA coast near the mainland ferry dock.
  At 2:30 PM Thursday our AOC group will all gather at the Sapelo Visitor Center near the mainland ferry dock, and at about 3:00 PM drive our vehicles temporarily to the dock and load our gear onto the ferry (see directions below).  Let's avoid bringing numerous small separate items and have our personal things well consolidated inside large rugged containers, duffels, etc. (see more below).  Although we never have to walk our camping & personal gear more than 40 or 50 yards it's a good idea to pack compactly and avoid bringing any unnecessary items.  (Each of us will have no less than EIGHT loadings or unloadings of our gear, including our two at home!)
  Our vehicles will have free parking all weekend at the Visitor Center near the mainland dock. As discussed above, our ferry is scheduled to depart for Sapelo at 3:30 PM.  We expect to arrive at the Island Dock at about 4:00 PM where our GA DNR "Campsite Hosts" will meet us with a school bus or truck-towed tram and drive us and all our gear directly to our "Cabretta Campsite" which adjoins the oceanfront about 5 miles NE of the island dock.  We'll have about 70 hours on the Island from Thu afternoon thru Sun afternoon to enjoy our beautiful campsite and the other wonderful things Sapelo has to offer.
  On Sunday afternoon our bus (or towed tram) back to the Island Ferry Dock will depart
 from our campsite at 2:30 or 3:00 PM.  Our return ferry to the mainland departs from Sapelo at 4:00 PM Sunday, putting us back at our parked vehicles by about 4:30.  This makes it likely that each of us can be back in Atlanta as early as ~10:30 PM Sunday, assuming a stop for dinner and gas en route home.

"PRE-TRIP PLANNING DROP-IN MEETING," SUN FEB 9TH ~7:00-8:00 PM, in the spacious lobby of the "ATLANTA MARRIOTT NORTHEAST/ EMORY AREA" hotel, 2000 Century Blvd NE, Atlanta, GA 30345:  This informal gathering is esp. recommended for "Sapelo first-timers" to address your questions and introduce you to others who are on the trip.  We'll gather in the quiet lobby of the hotel (on the southbound I-85 access road between the Shallowford Rd & Clairmont Rd exits).  Not a problem if you can't be there or need to arrive late.  I'll try to arrive early to stake out seating & table space for us and will have some nice Sapelo maps & brochures to give out & discuss. We'll facilitate the planning of "Custom Carpooling" and also review our main group carpooling option - see its details below.  We'll also discuss all the exciting Sapelo activity options, what to wear and bring, how to pack, optional "family-style potluck" meals, and address any remaining questions you may have.

Wikipedia article

Click for Sapelo Map showing Cabretta Island Campsite + roads & trails:

Cfick for dozens of great 

Click for Allison Adams' Photo Album from our AOC trip in Aug 2009

Required Items to Bring:

* Asterisk indicates "Optional" item.  Note that most items may be considered optional.


As discussed above please organize and consolidate everything as compactly as possible inside STURDY Covered Plastic Boxes, Coolers, Duffel Bags, Suitcases, Backpacks, etc.  Please minimize the number of separate items and avoid anything that might spill such as open bags, etc.  Esp. since our gear may get rained on during transit (or on the ferry deck or docks) it's a good idea to organize, consolidate and seal smaller things inside various-sized
 Ziplocs, clean tied trash bags, etc   THEN pack your consolidated plastic-bagged items inside larger duffel bags & suitcases, large covered storage boxes such as "Action Packers," or old hard-sided Coolers, etc.

NO Wagons or Hand Trucks, please!  They're overly bulky, impractical in the sandy soil and we never have to move anything more than a few yards at at time.

- Tent*  (or share one with a friend, or sleep in a screened Adirondack Shelter or your own Hammock.)
- Foam Sleeping Pad,  Blow-Up Pad or Air Mattress (or Hammock)*
- Sleeping Bag, or Sheets & Blankets, appropriate for weather
- Compact Pillow*

:  Adjust seasonally, and according to weather forecast.
2 Pair Long Pants + Hiking/ Running Shorts
- 2 T-Shirts or Synthetic Undershirts + 1 Long-Sleeve Shirt
- 2 Pair Each:  Socks & Underwear
- Jacket, Sweater, Gloves, etc.* (per weather forecast)
- RainCoat or Poncho* (per forecast)
- Swimsuit* (temperatures permitting)
- Cap or Hat    Sunglasses    Bandanna- 2 or 3 Pair comfortable Shoes (e.g., Hiking Shoes + Sandals or "Crocs")

TOILETRY ITEMS:  (Cabretta Campsite has potable water, hot showers & flush toilets.  There are electric outlets inside the comfort station and on the side of the utility building.)
- High-"DEET" Bug Repellant (esp. April-Oct.)     - SunScreen & Lip Balm
- Biodegradable Soap/ Shampoo     - Towel & WashCloth
- Toothbrush & Paste
- Headlamp or Flashlight + Extra Batteries

- Misc. Items to Share + for "" Group Dinners & Breakfasts, etc. + Lunch Items to share at campsite or to carry in your Daypack.
- Washable Hard Plate, Insulated Cup (ideally "spill-proof" with lid), and steel or "lexan" washable Dining Utensils
- Large Cooler with plenty of Ice + 
your favorite Beverages & Perishable Foods. Suggestion:  Pre-freeze plastic jugs & bottles of water and use in lieu of crushed ice - interspersed with other things in your cooler:  Makes no mess, lasts a long time, and as it melts gives you bonus ice water that likely will taste better than the campsite's running water - which our DNR hosts assure us is potable and safe! (As mentioned above, bags of Crushed Ice for topping off our coolers are normally available for sale directly at the campsite.)

YOUR TRIP LEADERS WILL BRING lots of things for the group to share, including the following items (all included in your trip fee).

- FRESH-BREWED COFFEE + Sweeters/Creamers served each AM (included in Trip Fee)
- CUT FIREWOOD & KINDLING + for our campfires each evening and early each morning (pre-delivered at campsite by an island resident).
- 2-burner Coleman Stove, Coleman grill,
- Paper Towels, Napkins, Plates & Misc. Cooking Cooking Utensils & Dinnerware
- Matches & "Strikers," Aluminum Foil, Garbage Bags, assortment of ZipLoc Bags
- Dish Detergent & Scouring Pads, Salt, Pepper, misc. Spices, Butter & Cooking Oil

* PLEASE BRING some of your own COOKING & DINING GEAR to SHARE if it's convenient - otherwise your Trip Leaders and other AOC campers may have enough on hand:
- Portable Stove* & Fuel  (Bring if you have one and see Fuel note below!) 
- Lantern* - electric or propane, etc.

- Large Covered Pot,  Frying Pan or griddle* (all preferably Non-Stick for easy cleanup), + Spatula* & Serving Spoon*
icially prohibits the larger size Propane-type Fuel Canisters (like for backyard BBQ grills).  For the ferry trips be sure to stow fuel canisters of any size out of sight in a covered box or enclosed duffel bag.  Avoid bringing any stoves or lanterns that use the old-style pourable liquid gas.

- Camp Chair* (in its own duffel bag, etc. Ferry may not allow foldup-style flat chairs that are not in bags!)


- CASH* - If you have an interest in purchasing Island Souvenirs, Bags of Ice, guided Bus tours, Naturalist programs, etc.
   (I usually bring about $100 in my own wallet in case I need it. -Charlie.)

- DayPack  (e.g: with Compass, Maps, InkPen, Knife, Matches, Mini-Flashlight, Tissues, SunScreen, LipBalm, Bug Repellant, Mini-1st-Aid Kit, Plastic Survival Blanket—also handy for picnicking on beach, etc.)
- Suggested Lunch Items for Pack:  Box-Beverage, Gorp, Apple, Cheese, - Sandwich, Chips, etc.
- Camera or SmartPhone* for photos, Please don't count on being able to use your cell phone to make calls.  Service on the Island is very spotty and we have limited electricity for recharging batteries.
- Binoculars*,  Musical Instrument*
- Light-weight inflatable Beach Float* Mask & Snorkel* (weather & water temps permitting!),
      Nature Guides* (for birding, plant ID, stargazing, etc.)

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

Note that most items discussed under "Required" Items to Bring are in fact optional, as indicated by their asterisks *.

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

FROM ATLANTA to SAPELO ISLAND MAINLAND FERRY DOCK & VISITOR CENTER (near Meridian, GA - about 295 miles  from downtown Atlanta)
GPS USERS:  We suggest that you enter these concise Lat/Lon Coordinates as your destination address since there is no exact street address:  31.4548,-81.3652  Be sure to include the comma and minus sign!  Also, for a zoomable map & satellite view of the Dock/ Visitor Center area, you can click the square blue & green "Event Location" icon near the top of this online article.

1. Take I-75 South ~85 miles to Macon. (If you depart from Atlanta's East or NE side you may wish to connect to I-75 via I-285 and I-675.)  Important:  When approaching Macon AVOID the I-475 bypass by bearing left at Mile #177 to STAY on I-75.)
2. At I-75 Exit #165 in Macon, bear Left off I-75 onto I-16 East toward Savannah, andcontinue ~157 miles to the I-95 Interchange just west of Savannah.
3. Merge Right from I-16 onto I-95 South at Exit #157 and take I-95 South ~41 miles.
4. Get off I-95 to your right at Exit #58, "GA-57, Townsend-Eulonia, GA."  (For those who may wish to drive down a day early there are various inexpensive lodging options near this exit.)
5. Turn Left onto GA-57 / GA-99 and stay on GA-99 (eastward and southward) for about 9.5 miles (crossing US-17 en route). Look on your left for the following large rectangular sign, on the same corner as a church: "Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Center."
6. Turn Left off GA-99 just before the above sign onto the paved Sapelo Island Dock Road (a.k.a. "Landing Rd")turn Right over the small bridge, and follow the road just 8/10 of a mile to its dead end at the Visitor Center & Ferry Dock.  Congratulations—you made it!

GROUP PROCEDURE at MAINLAND DOCK and ADJOINING "SAPELO VISITOR CENTER":  At about 2:30 PM Thursday we suggest that you stop by the Visitor Center where you can enjoy its free museum displays of the island's natural, geologic and human history, check out their T-shirts and other nice souvenirs, and pick up free Island maps, brochures, etc.  We'll load our gear onto the ferry at about 3:00 PM. The AOC trip leader will pay for our group ferry fare at the Visitor Center and simply present that receipt as our "group ticket" after we board.  As discussed in the event itinerary our Ferry departure will be at 3:30 PM sharp.

FREE PARKING NEAR MAINLAND VISITOR CENTER & DOCK:  For unloading our heavier gear from our vehicles we may park temporarily beside the dock and its adjoining ferry office (at the end of the the dock  road) but over the weekend we must park either in the marked spaces at the Visitor Center or along the shoulders of the dock road, and at least 100 yards away from the dock.

Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):580Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 9:00 am
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions
Carpool Cost: Estimated cost per vehicle for this event is $232.00 using a reimbursement rate guideline of $0.400 per mile. The total amount should be divided by the number of people in the vehicle, including the driver. This is a guideline, not a rule, for drivers but the cost should not be higher unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Important information for paid events in which payment is managed through the AOC:

     - Payment must be received by the payment due date and prior to participation in the event.

     - Some paid events require a minimum number of registered participants. If that number is not met, the event will be canceled and refunds will be issued to those who have already paid.

     - Third-party vendors often require damage deposits. Each registrant agrees to be liable for and required to reimburse the Atlanta Outdoor Club for any withheld deposits due to the actions of or damages caused by that registrant.

     - No partial payments. All registrants must pay the posted Member Cost regardless of any agreement you may have with any party involved in the event.

     - Read the event description carefully for additional information, and contact the trip leader(s) with any questions.

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cost & Payment:
Member Cost:$150.00/Person
Cost Includes:

• Round-trip Ferry between Mainland Dock and Island (See our group schedule in itinerary discussed above),
• Round-trip charter Bus/Truck Transportation between Sapelo Island dock and Campsite, including transport of our camping gear & supplies.
Three nights Oceanside Camping at Cabretta Group Campsite (Share sleeping space in a screened Adirondack shelter if you prefer, in lieu of bringing your own your tent or hammock.)
• Hot Showers, Flush Toilets, Hot-water Dishwashing Sink, Potable Running Water, plus other misc. Island amenities & Group Supplies,
• Pre-cut Firewood & Kindling for nightly Campfires, delivered at the campsite
+ Hot Brewed Coffee each morning with assortment of creamers & sweeteners.

Payment Cut Off:Payment must be received by the AOC on Thu, Feb 6 2020.
Make a Payment:Click here for the details. PLEASE PAY AFTER YOU HAVE SIGNED UP BELOW.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.

It is your responsibility to get your payment in on time. Please allow two days for processing a PayPal transaction.  Any personal checks must be hand delivered to an AOC Officer or Treasurer by the February 6th payment deadline.

 This is intended to be a "Rain or Shine" event, esp. since we have such excellent shelter and transportation while on the Island.  The policy of the GA-DNR and the AOC is that the trip will not be cancelled unless a rare anomaly is expected - e.g., extremely severe weather such as a tropical storm or hurricane.
2.  If you cancel on or before
Feb 6, full payment will be refunded less a $10 administrative fee. No refund after Feb 6 unless someone replaces you and pays in full, and then if requested you will be eligible for a refund less a $10 administrative fee. No partial payment for partial attendance. If the trip leader cancels the event, full payment will be refunded. If you do not cancel your attendance or fail to show up for the event, you are still responsible for full payment.