Friday, January 7, 2011
Jacksonville Fla /St. Johns River
Well, what should of been a short day turned into the longest day so far. It was a pleasant day of travel from Fernandina to Jacksonville about 3.5 hours and the tides with us the winds were gusty but not bad in the ICW. Until we got to the Florida East Coast RR bridge on St Johns River which is suppose to be open, unless a train is traveling on it. It was closed, and when we radioed to request an opening we were told, it won't open again for 4 hours (work was being done) bummer for us. BUT! right before the bridge was Jacksonville Landing and FREE docking in the heart of city. GREAT! It was a bit of a job docking (HEY Dorothy we're not in the ICW anymore) 20-25 kts winds and no one to toss a line too. Bummer...
It actually was not that bad once I tuned out this voice from the helm yelling at me to get the line on, get the line on! So anyway we walked around and enjoyed a nice lunch (fish and chips) then hung out on the boat waiting for 5pm bridge opening. Now a few things were about to happened that we hoped would never happen and some we never even thought of.
Now its 4:50 the sun is getting lower in the sky the wind was whipping 30kts and pushing us firm against the dock the current here is crazy and oh yeah its now low tide! But we have a plan on how we are going to do this without dock hands. It actually went quite well, the captain was very aggressive getting us off the dock and it was very impressive I think the audience thought so too. The bridge is now opening and once through about 2miles up you are on the Ortega River VERY shallow and lots of shoaling in areas. The starboard turn into the Ortega puts the setting sun right in our faces and we can't see any of the channel markers. We know not to far ahead is a lift-bridge but we can't see anything except the big white signs DANGER SHOALING but where is the channel? and where are the markers? The chart plotter doesn't show any markers but does show we are in 3.5 ft of water and a bridge ahead. So Jim calls the bridge tells him we need and opening he says he will open when we get to the green marker.....What marker? Where are they? by now the sun is setting so I can find the red but still no green just more BIG white signs Its got to be here I see the red! As I am scanning the water with Binoculars looking, looking, Jims got his eyes on the plotter (looking for water) and the depth finder reading depths (out loud to me) OH CRAP! Finally there she blows green marker to the port behind the BIG white sign. We get lined up the Bridge is open and we both say at the same time....are we going to fit man that's tight! At least now we have a whooping 7' of water under us. Well we made it through found our marina and managed to fit our 45' x 15' boat into a 40'x 14' 10" slip.... in the dark! Mission accomplished!
Time for dinner ...tonight is Scotch and maybe some crackers! And we can sleep soundly as we listen to the squeak of the rub rail on the piling, at least its easy getting on and off the boat.
As the saying goes from members of the AGLCA Its not about the destination is about the experience.