North bound on St Johns River

Hello mates and fellow adventurers!  We have several new virtual crew members who have joined us by following the blog.  Welcome aboard:

Denise and Fred Baldwin.  The crew met them on the pier at Ortega Landing Marina aboard their boat Wandering Star.

The skipper’s Aunt Karen.  Life is always good when Aunt Karen is in the mix.

And someone with e-mail address as aojckj@…. has come aboard.  Not sure who you are but glad to have you cruise with us.

The crew set off from Hontoon Island and continued south to Sanford, mile zero on the navigable waters on the St Johns River.  After having lunch in Sanford, the crew turned around and started back to Jacksonville, anchoring out two nights before returning to Ortega Landing Marina.

When the crew cast off on Tuesday, the port engine was running poorly.  The rpm’s were about 250 less than normal when at idle.  After leaving the dock and increasing the throttle, the port engine died.  Not a good way to start the day.  The skipper restarted the engine but it coughed a few times and then died again.  The Admiral took over the helm while the skipper went below to check out the engine room.


IMG_0003, Holy Bluff Houseboat.JPG
One of many Holy Bluff House Boat rentals on St Johns River


The initial check did not find anything abnormal.  Since the engine sounded like it was starved for fuel, the skipper decided to change the fuel pre-filter.  After changing the fuel filter, the skipper primed the fuel system and tried to start the engine.  No luck.  The skipper went back below and worked on priming the fuel system some more.  The engine finally started and began to purr like normal. By the time the skipper cleaned up his mess and got back to the helm the crew had already cruised about 8 miles.

With the engines running well the crew set sites on Sanford which is located at the south west side of Lake Monroe.  The marina allowed the crew to come in the west basin and tie up for a few hours while they got lunch.  The crew ate at Sanford Steak and Sea Food along the edge of Lake Monroe.  The fish-n-chips were good and made a great dock and dine.

IMG_0006, Sandford Steak and Sea Food
Sanford Steak and Sea Food along shore of Lake Monroe

With lunch complete it was time to head back north.  The plan was to go back past Hontoon Island and anchor in Alexander Spring Creek just south of Lake Dexter.  At the north end of Lake Monroe, the crew had to wait for two trains to pass before the bridge operator would open the railroad bridge.

IMG_0008, RR Bridge Lake Monroe
Waiting on train to pass for the bridge to open


After that small delay the crew continued north and eventually pulled into Alexander Spring Creek.  Unfortunately, there was a fishing boat where the crew needed to anchor.  The crew tried to go further up the creek but there was no spot to anchor.  The skipper decided to keep going north to find another spot.  However, the crew was running out of daylight and needed to find a place within the hour.

As the crew got North of Lake Dexter they noticed another boat anchored on the east side of Lungren Island.  The skipper checked the chart and decided that there was enough depth and room to anchor just north of the other boat.  The crew dropped the anchor at 1930 as the sun was setting over the river.

IMG_0020, SUnset at Lungren Island.JPG
Sunset at Lungren Island


On Wednesday, the crew pulled anchor and headed for Lake George.  The Lake is about 10 miles long.  When the crew got about a third of the way across the lake, they turned left at red marker 10 and made a heading of 270 degrees towards Silver Glen Springs.  Upon arriving at the entrance of the springs, the crew dropped anchor in 5 foot of water.  They launched the dinghy and headed up the creek towards the spring.  This spring bubbles up 65 million gallons of crystal clear water a day.  The closer the crew got to the spring the bluer the water turned.  After spending two hours exploring the springs it was time to head back to the boat.

Silver Glen Springs


By the time the crew got back to the boat the wind had picked up and the waves were 2-3 feet.  Loading the dinghy was a bit tricky bouncing around in the waves but the crew finally were successful and headed north back to Murphy Creek for the night.  The crew dropped anchor about 1730 and grilled hot dogs on the sundeck.


Old Palatka Ferry in Murphy Creek: 2 school buses, 1 air stream, 1 crane, and 1 catamaran all on deck.  Sailboat and motor boat in the water.

On Thursday, the crew got an early start by pulling anchor at 0700 for the run back to Ortega Landing.  After passing north of Palatka, the river widens up and become very wide.  The skipper decided to run a test to see how the dinghy would ride at different speeds.  The wind was blowing about 15 mph and causing 2 foot waves.  The skipper began raising the rpms on the engines and watching how the dinghy was riding on the swim platform.  After reaching 15 knots, the boat was gliding over the water smoothly and there were no issues with the dinghy.

The crew returned to the marina about 1500 and docked back on the B Dock in slip 66.  With the wind out of the west the boat was being blown from the dock.  A guy down the dock came down and helped secure the boat to the dock.  Good thing because the crew was having troubles maneuvering the boat close enough to the pier to allow the Admiral to jump off and tie up the boat.

While completing this 290 mile round trip river cruise the crew saw many birds along the way.  Bald Eagles, Osprey, Sand Hill Cranes, Ibis, Egrets, Herons, Belted Kingfisher, Anhinga, and Cormorants.

These last two birds are often confused with each other.

The Anhinga has no oil glands so his feathers are not waterproof.  He becomes heavy when wet which enables him to dive and chase fish underwater.  Sometimes when he swims his head sticks out of the water and he looks like a snake.  After a swim you will see the Anhinga with his wings spread to dry in the sun.  His beak is pointed for spearing fish.

The Cormorant also dives underwater to feed on fish.  While swimming on the surface, the Cormorant’s body stays above the water.  The beak of the Cormorant is hooked for grasping its prey.

The crew will lay over at the marina for a week and then head for Norfolk via the AICW on Thursday.

2 Comments on “North bound on St Johns River

  1. Thanks for letting us know. Claudia was discussing y’all last week and was wondering if you would be going back to Norfolk for the Rendevous.


  2. Hey Dave and Claudia
    AOJCKJ… is Andy and Cindy from Powder Springs. Keep the blog going, we’re enjoying following your adventures.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: