The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jacksonville, and the St. Johns River

We left St. Augustine on Saturday and headed for Jacksonville.  I think the most beautiful view of St. Augustine is the view we had from the water, so I wanted to share that with you.
St. Augustine, FL

The Lions Head Bridge in St. Augustine

The Castillo de San Marcos
The ICW above St. Augustine gets pretty remote in places.  It is a welcome change after the high rises and huge homes and boats. 
The ICW with a hot air balloon
Check out the fish head poking through the roof!

The house of the day

We had a pleasant cruise up to Jacksonville, which is one of the largest cities in Florida by population and the largest by land area. 
Jacksonville, FL

The downtown stadium...wake up Sacramento...
Passing through Jacksonville we headed south on the St. Johns River, stopping off a few miles from Jacksonville at Ortega Landing Marina for one night.  Our travelling partners from Boreas had arrived earlier that day  and Kismet, another Looper friend, was there as well.  The six of us ate dinner together at a French Bistro called Orsay and all gave it high marks.
The three of us left Sunday morning along with Brandy IV.  The first hurdle was passing through a railroad bridge that has been undergoing repairs, where only half the bridge was up.  Kismet took the photo as Once Around passed through the 25 foot wide opening.  It felt much tighter than it looks!
Puckered up!
Unscathed, we travelled together to the town of Palatka, FL (no, I didn’t make that up!) and stayed at a quaint little marina there called the Boathouse Marina.  It was John’s birthday (Brandy IV), and he and Rita treated us all to a barbequed steak dinner with all the trimmings.  We ate it at a wooden picnic table the local boaters had placed out on the end of the docks.  The steaks were great; the company was even better.  The locals gave us ideas on what to do (and not do) as we headed further south on the St. Johns River.  We hope to stop by there again on our way back so we can explore the town a bit.
Palatka, FL

Heading south up the St. Johns
Monday we were off again, planning on travelling about 40 more miles south.  We, along with Boreas, stopped on Lake George and anchored for a few hours and rode our dinghy into a spring called Silver Glen Spring.  We all took a swim and a turn with Fred’s mask to see the spring source in the crystal clear water.  No, there were no alligators around!
Fred pulls the dinghy the last 100 yards or so into the spring

My First Mate enjoyed snorkling in the spring!

After a nap, we decided to head for our original destination for the night which was an anchorage at Morrison Island.  Boreas and Brandy IV elected to stay the night on Lake George.  However, as Carrie and I anchored in a beautiful and quiet spot, we got a call from Boreas who were on their way to join us.  The wind on the lake was kicking up and they decided not to chance it.  Brandy IV remained there and said they would join us heading south the next morning.  The Admiral and I took a nice dinghy ride around the oxbow in the early evening, and returned to Once Around for a light dinner.  At our anchorage, we saw a couple of alligators and were entertained by at least a dozen species of birds.  We saw egrets, herons, vultures, osprey, coots, and I don’t know what all.  It was amazing.  The only place I think I’ve ever seen so many birds was in the Everglades.
View from Once Around at anchor at Morrison Island 

My First Mate is getting better with that darn camera!

What can you's a sailboat

Once Around at anchor at Morrison Island, photo by Julaine from Boreas

Ready to weigh anchors Tuesday morning
Tuesday morning we got a call from John on Brandy IV.  They were returning north as they were having problems with their fresh water pump and needed to get back to civilization to get parts or service.  We’ll probably catch up with them on our return.
We and Boreas ended up near the town of Deland, FL, at a small place called Hontoon Landing Resort and Marina.  I bottomed out pulling into the first slip I was assigned, luckily it was just mud.  The second slip was just enough deeper that we were able to stay, although we are sticking out of the slip about 15 feet.
We liked this...not only a pontoon boat but a seccond one to ferry the sports car!
We took another dinghy ride to yet another spring today (Blue Springs) and scouted out another route to take there tomorrow when our daughter Carla and her fianc√© arrive.  They should be here by mid-morning.  The Admiral has a list of chores a mile long to get the boat ready for our guests, so I must sign off now and get to work!  But first, here is probably the most effective no swimming sign ever posted...
No kidding!!!

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