Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Week #31, 25Feb-3Mar017, MOVING FARTHER NORTH

     I continue some of the maintenance work on Saturday. I replace some rubber washers on a fuel line that has started leaking. The replacement tube I ordered and delivered by our daughter and her husband turns out to be the wrong part. But the original tube is not cracked, so the new rubber seals on it and it is sealed against leaks again.
       Sunday we go to the Methodist Church again. It is pastored by a couple from the Duke Divinity School. Last Sunday she did the sermon, and this Sunday he did the sermon. They are both good speakers. We stop at the Mexican place for burritos again. It is busier this Sunday. We again spend Sunday afternoon resting on the boat. We also get SummerTime ready to move again.
       On Monday morning we fill the water tank. I get one of the dock hands to help us shove off as the wind has gotten stronger, and the tide is running at a good pace. We get away just in time to make the "Bridge of Lions" 9am opening. Our journey after that is across the St. Augustine Inlet, being guarded by the Castillo de San Marcos. I am glad they are not firing real cannons. The trip up the river towards Jacksonville is quite pretty. We make good time due to the tide and wind. Except by Ponte Vedra Beach. We have to slow to no wake speeds for the homes along the river. This last for about 6miles and then we can travel at a higher speed again. The tide is now falling towards the St Johns inlet so we make good speed. We will be against this tide when we turn up the St. Johns towards Jacksonville. We make this turn about 2:30. And we fight the current to Jacksonville. Just before we get to downtown Jax, a pair of docking tugs pull a ship out in front of us. They move it up the river. We slow and follow them. They come to a wide spot, or turning basin, and the one pulls on the bow of the ship while the other pushes the stern.


In just a couple of minutes they have spun the ship around so that it is now headed out the St John River. We proceed on up river, and arrive at the Jacksonville City Park Marina about 3:45. There is no one there to help with docking. It is free to use when no special events are taking place, and we make the third boat in there. It takes me three attempts to drive forward into a dock with a crosswind and strong outgoing current. The docks are next to the "Gator Bowl/Jaguar's Stadium". I am sure if there was a game, there would be more than 3 boats at these modern docks.
      On Tuesday when we get up, the catamaran sailboat has left. The city only allows staying at this marina for three days in a 30day period. We head for a bus stop to go tour downtown. We get to the central terminal, and go to get a senior pass. It also turns out to be free, though it cost us each $1.50 to get to the bus terminal. We take the skyway across the river to find lunch and go to a museum. Lunch is at a Southrern BBQ joint, except that I have Red beans and rice with sausage. They are good. Afterwards, we walk to the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History. They have exhibits on marine mammals and space in addition to the history of Jacksonville.
We watch a short film on the constellations in their planetarium. We catch the skyway and connect to a bus to get back to SummerTime before dark. Anther small boat, about a 20' cabin cruiser, has arrived at the free marina while we are out touring. We discuss the three free days, and decide to leave on Wednesday and save a day for later.
       Wednesday morning we get up, and head upriver again. We are going to "The Marina at Ortega Landing" on the Ortega River. We have to wait for a train crossing the railroad bridge in downtown Jacksonville. For most railroad bridges, they remain open to boats except when trains are coming. This is not our lucky day as this bridge is down as we approach.
The freight train takes only about five minutes to cross and then the bridge is open again. We rush through to the Ortega River, and call for the highway bridge to open there. We are at the Ortega Landing a little before noon. We meet Gene of "Galene" whom we met in Ft. Lauderdale on the docks. We also meet two other AGLCA couples. One of these persons drives us to the Publix where we can re-stock SummerTime with eats. We have docktails on "Happy Happy", the cruiser of one of these newly introduced couples. Both couples find out we are planning to go up the St Johns River to Sanford, FL. Both furnish lots of information for our upcoming side trip.
       We get some loose ends taken care of on SummerTime on Thursday. I go to West Marine and buy the chart book for the remainder of our trip north on the ICW. And I get a through hull fitting for the smaller maintenance bilge pump. The hose I put on several weeks ago has caused the through hull fitting to crack.
        On Friday, I get up early anticipating our trip. I carry some of our clothes to the laundry here at the marina before I get Barbara up. It was a good idea, but the laundry did not cooperate. The one dryer took its sweet time. It is after 10 before we are ready to leave the dock. The wind is blowing pretty good out of the NE, and the current is running pretty strong in the Ortega River. We get out of our dock, into the open river, and I realize the tachometer is not responding to throttle input. It will not register more than 900-1000rpm. I ask Barbara to step into the salon and listen. She tells me that there is a slight squealing noise. I know the alternator-water pump belt is slipping again. On diesel engines, the tachometer is driven by impulses from the diodes in the alternator. When the alternator is not spinning correctly, the tachometer reading follows suit.  We move out into the Ortega River and anchor as the wind is too strong too try to get back into the dock without help. I tighten the belt, about a 40 minute time loss with dealing with the anchor. The bottom of the Ortega River is apparently very soft, and the chain requires a lot of rinsing as it is winched in. Once into the St. John River we make good time. The wind is behind us, and the tide is helping to push us up river. We are making over 9kt for the engine speed (1800rpm) that would normally give us 8kt. We are wishing to make East Palatka before the end of the day to dock at Corky Bells Restaurant. I run the Perkins diesel at a higher rpm to make about 10kt speed. We pass the Jacksonville Naval Air Station, which has a way bigger fleet, and variety of planes than I expected.
Then we pass Green Cove Springs which has five long piers from a prior military age that are used by current marinas and boat/ship repair facilities.
We get to Palatka about  4:30pm. We are just getting to the part of the St John that is supposed to be natural beauty. We go south, or up river a mile to see about anchorages. We back track to Corky Bells and tie up to their dock for dinner.
We have some of the great seafood that this restaurant is supposed to be famous for. I am embarrassed as we order a senior's (note not regular) combination dinner, and Barbara and I can not eat it all. We blame it on the fact we had a plate of fried dill pickle chips for appetizers. We adjourn to SummerTime to spend the night tied to Corky Bells dock. It has been a good day of travel.


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