Welcome to the blog of Fred and Julaine as we chronicle our adventures traveling the "Great Loop" on Boreas, our Carver 405.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 265 – anchorage at Morrison Island to Hontoon Landing Resort, Deland, FL - March 27, 2012

We were up and moving today just after 9:00am – we didn’t want to leave too early and miss enjoying the quiet of a wonderful anchorage.  We are headed about 20 more miles up the river to Hontoon Landing Resort.  This is the closest marina where we can keep the boat so that we can visit another spring at Blue Springs State Park.  After getting the boats secure, we again joined Frank and Carrie in their dinghy for the three mile ride to the springs.

We tied the dinghy to shore near where the spring empties into the St. John’s River and then used the wooden boardwalk along the spring to walk back to where the spring starts.  There are specific areas where you can swim here at Blue Springs State Park and we checked them all out from the boardwalk before we donned our water shoes and stepped into the spring.  Unlike the spring we visited yesterday, this spring really pushes out the water – 100 million gallons a day!  It was an awesome workout for the legs walking upstream to the spring itself.  Again we had the masks and snorkels so we were able to swim over the spring and check things out.  This spring is coming from over 100’ down and peering into this “cave” is really cool. While we did not see any manatees in Blue Springs, there were lots of big Florida Gars (some more than three feet long) as well as catfish, bass, and other game fish.

When we arrived back at Boreas, our friends Greg and Sally from Odyssey (Gold Loopers from 2006-07) were there to meet us.  They are doing some land yachting in the area and were able to drive over so we could enjoy cocktails and share Looping stories.
            Miles: 19.5      Bridges: 2        Locks: 0

this morning at our anchorage near Morrison Island

we continue up the St. John's River

another alligator sighting - this time sunning himself on a log

a Great Egret

Wood Storks - hanging out together in the top of a tree

Florida Gar in the Blue Springs Run

the Blue Springs Run

a Black Vulture

Day 264 – Palatka, FL to anchorage at Morrison Island near Astor, FL - March 26, 2012

The St. John’s River is an amazing place to travel.  This definitely feels like a river – it reminds us of our travels this past fall on the Tennessee and the Tenn-Tom.  There is lots of tannin in the water so it is a dark brown color – not muddy or dirty looking, just brown.  We left Palatka this morning and traveled 35 miles to Lake George where we stopped for a visit to Silver Glen Springs Run.  It is very shallow near shore where the spring feeds into the lake, so we anchored about three-quarters of a mile off shore, then joined Frank and Carrie in their dingy for the trip to shore and up the spring.  As soon as we got to where the spring empties into Lake George the water immediately got clearer – just a few yards up the run and the water was crystal clear.  We took the dinghy as far up the run as they would let us and then we tied it to shore and walked the rest of the way in.  We were able to swim right over the spring.  The water over the spring was about 20 feet deep and the most amazing crystal blue color.  With the mask and snorkel we could swim right over the spring and watch the water bubble up from underground.

We thought about spending the night right there, anchored in Lake George, but the wind came up and we decided to find a more protected anchorage.  We moved just a few more miles up the St. John’s River and anchored next to Morrison Island.  This is a great anchorage.  We arrived just before sunset and enjoyed watching (and listening) to the wildlife settle in for the night.  We saw (and heard) alligators, frogs, herons, coots, egrets and lots of other birds.  It was a beautiful peaceful night at anchor. Not only were the moon and stars bright, the evening was lighted by fireflys.

            Miles: 41.5      Bridges: 1        Locks: 0

an alligator swimming across the St. John's River

the osprey build amazing nests on the channel markers

most of the river today looked just like this -
calm water, blue sky and beautiful trees

a bald eagle on a channel mark in Lake George

heading up the Silver Glen Springs Run

Fred snorkeling over the spring - the water really is this amazing
turquoise color

two osprey in their nest - we believe they are feeding their chicks

Once Around at anchor near Morrison Island

Day 263 – Jacksonville, FL to The Boathouse Marina, Palatka, FL - March 25, 2012

We traveled with three other Loopers today – Once Around, Brandy IV and Kismet.  This section of the St. John’s River is very wide, so it is difficult to take good pictures.  There are some homes along the river, but there are also lots of places where all you see is trees.  We arrived in Palatka in the early afternoon and with the help of the other boaters at the Boathouse Marina got everyone settled in a slip.  Tomorrow is John’s (from Brandy IV) birthday, so he and Rita treated all eight of us to a steak dinner with all the fixings which we enjoyed on the dock.   What a great way to spend the evening – great food and great friends!
            Miles: 46.9      Bridges: 3        Locks: 0

Day 262 – at The Marina at Ortega Landing, Jacksonville, FL - March 24, 2012

We did laundry and grocery shopping today as we get ready to explore more of the St. John’s River over the next few days.  Fred also gave the boat a good bath as we are almost out of salty water – the water is brackish on this part of the river, but we will be in fresh water in the next day or so.  It’s surprising to think that Boreas has been in saltwater for over four months now.
            Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Day 261 – Jacksonville Beach to The Marina at Ortega Landing, Jacksonville, FL - March 23, 2012

After six miles on the Intercoastal, we took a left turn and started up the St. John’s River toward Jacksonville.  This is quite a busy shipping port and we saw lots of evidence that ships are loaded and unloaded here.  We hit the tides just right and got an extra push up the river of almost two miles per hour.  We cruised past downtown Jacksonville and into the Ortega River where we will be staying for two nights.
            Miles: 27.5      Bridges: 10      Locks: 0

a cargo barge being towed up the St. John's River - that's a lot
of shipping containers on one barge

with a second tug boat helping, the cargo barge is moved
toward the shore so it can be unloaded

a military ship in drydock

a container ship being loaded

another container ship being loaded

the Dames Point Bridge

another view of the Dames Point Bridge

some of the cranes that load cargo ships

Jacksonville, Florida

the stadium where the Jacksonville Jaguars play football

Day 260 – St. Augustine to Palm Cove Marina, Jacksonville Beach, FL - March 22, 2012

Our ride today was an easy 25 miles up the coast to Jacksonville Beach where we stopped at Palm Cove Marina.  It was a great ride through some very different terrains.  We started the trip in what looked like a strip of water through a wheat field (we’re not sure what the grasses were) and ended the trip through a section with woods on one side and homes on the other.

We are experiencing tides of around five feet along this section of the Intercoastal, so we were slightly concerned when we realized that the depth in our slip was just under five feet and we thought we were at high tide.  Fortunately the tide was already on its way down and we ended up having plenty of water in the slip.

             Miles: 24.9      Bridges: 3        Locks: 0

the view on the first part of today's trip

more travel through the tall grasses

woods on one side of the intercoastal...

...homes (with boat docks) on the other

Days 257 through 259 – at Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor, St. Augustine, FL - March 19-21, 2012

We are feeling very spoiled – one day after another brings beautiful sunshine, light winds, and warm temperatures.  We fight the feeling by running around in bare feel and shorts drinking rum drinks (I know, I know – you feel very sorry for us).  Anyway…we spent some time enjoying St. Augustine – walking through town, enjoying the shops and restaurants and history.  We also checked out the St. Augustine inlet and this section of the Intercoastal from the land.

The air conditioning unit got replaced so we are again set to cool down the inside of the boat on those extra warm evenings at the dock.

             Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

one of the Flagler College buildings

a clock tower in St. Augustine

the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

one of the mooring fields in St. Augustine with the
Bridge of Lions in the background

a clipper ship crossing in front of
 the St. Augustine inlet

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 256 – Palm Coast to Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor, St. Augustine, FL - March 18, 2012

I know I keep saying it, but today is another beautiful day to travel – there is a light breeze blowing and lots of blue sky.  We have a short travel day planned.  We are going to Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor in St. Augustine where Once Around is having some work done and we are getting a new air conditioning unit installed (the brand new unit we had installed in Fort Myers Beach failed a few days ago and we are having a warranty replacement done).

St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States with lots to see and do, so we plan to do a bit of sightseeing while we are here. 

             Miles: 22.0      Bridges: 4        Locks: 0

traveling toward St. Augustine

white pelicans enjoying a rest along the intercoastal

the St. Augustine Lighthouse

the Bridge of Lions - completed in 1927 - it was closed from 2005 until
March 2010 for repairs and rehabilitation

the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine

looking back at the Bridge of Lions from the
side window of Boreas

the town of St. Augustine

the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument as seen from the
Intercoastal Waterway

Day 255 – New Smyrna Beach to The Marina at Hammock Beach Resort, Palm Coast, FL - March 17, 2012

We awake to another beautiful day to travel.  There is clear blue sky and light wind.  Just after leaving New Smyrna Beach we pass the southern entrance to the Ponce de Leon inlet.  Because of the shoaling that accompanies inlets we travel in the Ponce de Leon cut which is another of the man-made channels that make travel on the intercoastal much easier.  We continue on through Daytona Beach.  When you travel the intercoastal you certainly see a much different part of a town than when you travel by road.  We have driven through Daytona Beach on highway 1A before – seeing the beach, all the hotels, the restaurants and the tourist traps.  If the chart didn’t tell us we were going through Daytona Beach we never would have known (except for the fact that we crossed under the Daytona Beach International Speedway Boulevard bridge).

We end our travel today at The Marina at Hammock Beach Resort.  This is a beautiful resort with restaurants, pools, a golf course, beach access and much more.  It would be a great place to hang out for a few days of rest and relaxation, but we are already rested and relaxed so we plan to stay just the one night.   As it is St. Patrick’s Day, Carrie and Frank invite Doug, Judy, Fred and I over for corn beef and cabbage.  It is a marvelous meal –I must admit that this is the first time I’ve ever had corn beef and cabbage.  Thanks to Carrie and Frank for introducing me to a great new meal!   

             Miles: 37.7      Bridges: 10      Locks: 0

looking down the southern entrance to the Ponce de Leon inlet
toward the beautiful red Ponce de Leon Lighthouse

another shot of the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse as we pass by the
inlet on the man-made canal

not only is it a beautiful day for boating, but two
hot air balloons enjoy the day as well

these marvelous pictures are on the bases of the
Daytona Beach International Speedway Blvd. bridge

another shot of the bases of the bridge

as we cross under the bridge, we realize that these are actually tile
mosaics - they are absolutely beautiful

we saw a number of storm or wind damaged palm trees

looking down a man-made canal that has yet to be developed

the rocks along the way at low tide