For the first time in nearly five years, all of the Cumberland Island National Seashore docks are fully operational.
Public docking is now allowed at Plum Orchard, Dungeness and Sea Camp at the north dock extensions. Any docking that interferes with the ferry or National Park Service boats is prohibited.
The docks were damaged by hurricanes Matthew and Irma in 2016 and 2017, limiting the number of vessels that could be safely docked there. The work forced the closure of the docks while the repairs were done.
The main passenger ferry dock in downtown St. Marys has also been rebuilt after it too sustained heavy damage from the hurricanes. Passengers to the island, accessible by boat, had to walk two blocks to the St. Marys Gateway property to board the ferry until the new dock was completed in March.
Superintendent Gary Ingram said work means thousands of visitors will once again arrive and leave Cumberland Island the way it was originally intended.
After Irma struck in 2017, park officials initially believed both docks at the south end of the Georgia’s largest barrier island were totally destroyed and would have to be replaced. An assessment determined the Dungeness dock was a total loss, but a portion of the floating dock at Sea Camp was intact and could be opened with some repairs.
Before the hurricane, the ferry dropped off passengers at the Dungeness dock, about a half mile south of the one at Sea Camp. It involves a different route for visitors to see the Dungeness mansion ruins, walk to the beach and visit Sea Camp, but the visitor experience is relatively unchanged.
The Plum Orchard dock, located about 7 miles north of Sea Camp, was also available for public use on its north side on a first-come, first-serve basis.