5 day, 4 night , 160 mile trip on our “project” boat….Wellcraft 255
I should have been posting everyday…but it was so good being on the water…the nights so nice….I just couldn’t get interested in messing with the computer…..so you’re getting it all in one installment. Monday The weather finally turned a little warmer at night. This week it’s supposed to be close to 50* each night, after tonight. So..we packed the Wellcraft with supplies and bedding, stuff for the bird and dog, alcohol and butane for the stoves and headed for the launch ramp on Lake Monroe. I snapped these Cormorants when we dropped the small anchor just N of Blue Springs so we could watch the Manatees leaving the Springs for feeding. Many swam by ..but just out of camera range. It’s hard to see anything in the St Johns River’s dark water. It was calling for lows in the 40’s by morning, and we decided to spend the first night at Hontoon Island. That would give me time to get everything stowed and ready for living aboard for a few days. Since we are “senior” residents of Florida….we get to stay there for half price. A very good deal. If you ever stop there….be sure to check out their museum and video. It’s a good place to take a breather after you’ve made the hike out to the Indian Shell Mounds. The temps did drop overnight but we were snug with the heater going. Tuesday: We headed N towards Welaka. Mid morning we spotted our first gator of the trip….and it was a big one. Raisin enjoyed the spot I picked out for her. I put her bed where I want her to sit and she usually stays there unless it gets too hot. The sun was at our backs and she wasn’t under-foot. This was our fastest trip across Lake George. Do you think we are using too much oil? Actually it’s just a controlled burn..but I thought it looked pretty neat behind us. We had a flock of gulls follow us across. Take a short ride with us.
We spent our second night out at Carole & Ed’s slip. Another nice warm night with electric and a heater. Carole made a fantastic spaghetti supper. They offered us the spare room but I wanted to sleep aboard. Wednesday: Morning brought a drizzly day…and a trip to Shrimp R Us for sausage gravy and biscuits. After breakfast we took them for a boat ride. When we got back, they tossed us our docklines and shoved us off with a warm farewell. Ed and Carole sent us these pictures that they took
Thanks for the pictures!!! It's not often I get to be in any....I'm usually behind the camera.
We headed S. A change of plans…we wouldn’t stop at Silver Glen this trip, but continue on to G3 (Lungun Island) and anchor there for the night. On our way N we had spotted “Sailbad The Sinner” anchored there and hoped to catch them for a visit, but they had hauled anchor and moved on…we had the spot to ourselves.
Thick fog and smoke covered the area when we awoke. We could hear the fishing boats going by but couldn’t see anything. We waited a few hours. It started to thin out a bit so we headed out. We had the GPS from our car ( it had our back track on it) and a Hummingbird 161 GPS Chart plotter. With them we were able to stay in the middle of the river and I watched from the side for any fishing boats that might be anchored….and there were plenty of them. After a couple hours of travel the fog lifted and it turned out to be a beautiful day. A side trip behind Drigger Island G41, to see if the Sand Hill Cranes were nesting there. When you enter….be sure to use the N entrance…the S entrance has a very shallow bar at the entrance. We have made it with the Albin but the river is low now so we didn’t even try it. None yet…so we headed towards Blue Springs….our plan was to anchor near by and watch the Manatees….we anchored for awhile but it was early afternoon and the sun was hot…too nice to just sit around so we hauled the anchor and headed to G109. Blue Springs was busy. There are many Manatees in there this time of year and the tour boat had just gotten back. This is another “must stop” when on the river…you can beach and walk in…very inexpensive…and a nice hike on the boardwalk takes you by all the Manatees. If you can’t beach…there is a “jug handle” off the river just a short ways N and you can anchor and dingy back to the beach. There were a lot of boats on the water today. Jim had been real good about keeping it at slow cruising speed so I could watch for gators…but he had to get on it once in awhile. Before we knew it we were at G109 Butcher’s Bend. As soon as we started behind the island I spotted a very large gator. As we cruised by….it raised it’s head and acted a bit aggressive. Another one was sitting on the opposite shore.. A short ways from this one….another good sized one. This is where we normally take the dog ashore…nice little beach…we don’t have the dingy with us…but doubt we’d be using it with this many big ones in the area. This small one, 6’-7’ was sitting on a fallen palm tree. The big round thing is the root ball. We recognized this one when he swam by. We watched a gator fight a few years ago and this was one of them. He has an unusual coloring. I’m not sure if it is battle scars or not. We nicknamed him “Cammie” because he looks like he’s wearing camouflage. All totaled….there were 8 gators…most were fairly large. We had a beautiful full moon. Raisin and I spent a couple of hours in the cockpit just enjoying the night and watching for gators. “Cammie” cruised by …..no bathing off the swim platform tonight. Friday: Beautiful day!! Coffee in the cockpit watching the wildlife. A couple of gators are cruising near the S entrance. That is the area we watched the gator fight a couple of years ago. I’d like to come back out next week with the Albin and sit here for a few days. Maybe I can get some good videos. The sun was warm so we dropped the bimini into travel position. Jim got us underway. He cleans windows….he’s a keeper. Naturally…Jim wanted to “test” it again at a high rate of speed. The GPS showed 29.8. We were traveling right into the sun…so the video isn’t the best…but come along for our final ride.
The Wellcraft is very easy to launch and retrieve. Raisin and Babe are waiting to taken to the truck. Even though we had a great time and were more comfortable than we expected…we will be selling the Wellcraft and keeping the Albin. The speed was fun….but we hardly ever used it. The Albin suits our traveling needs. Jim definitely prefers this engine room….lots more space……and it sounds soooo good. The galley has a Kenyon alcohol/ electric stove. A small fridge, but it needs work. We used a cooler and put a jug of ice in the fridge to keep the sodas cold. Plenty of room for two in the V berth. Even Jim, at 6’ was comfortable. We put memory foam down..then sheets and a blanket. Jim made the beds each morning by just rolling them up. They made good back rests and at night you just roll them out. This table also fits in the cockpit. There is a full enclosure with side curtains….we didn’t use it because there is a zipper that needs fixing. That is about the only thing you can guarantee on an old boat…..there is always something that needs fixing.
My husband and I are best friends. We have spent almost everyday of the past 19 years together. And most of it in small spaces. 15 years in a truck and as much time as we can on a small boat. Together we have 5 children. All of whom are decent,caring people. I don't think I can say anything nicer about them then that. I enjoy photography, and am amazed at how little I really know about the critters that share our little spot in the jungle. But I am learning.