Finally, and briefly, we’re out of delivery mode and into cruise mode. Of course we’re still heading to a point certain by a date certain, but we have over a week to get there and there’s no need to sweat it. So today we showered, did laundry, and did some tidying up, then left late and went just a short way to a free dock along the ICW near Jacksonville. It’s a well-known spot with new, solid concrete floating docks about 16 miles down the St. Johns River from downtown Jacksonville. There’s a park with playground and a boat ramp, and it’s quiet and very nice. We had considered going up the river to another free dock in downtown Jacksonville, but when we got here we decided to skip it. 32 miles round trip just didn’t seem worth it.
This free dock is on a side creek off Smith’s Creek, just short of the St. John’s River and the Navy base at Mayport. When we got there the tide was ebbing and there was quite a strong current running out of the creek, which drains a marsh network. There were 3 boats there already but plenty of room for us and another boat. When the folks who were already there saw us enter the creek, obviously planning to dock, 2 men and a woman came out to take our lines and, as it turned out, offer no shortage of advice. It was a very tricky landing and I actually had to abort twice, exit the creek and come back in again, but I finally got it right and Carol got a spring line ashore so I could use it to nestle up to the dock. Once we had the 1 line secured and the boat alongside, it was relatively easy – even with the current running – to get bow & stern lines on, and a forward spring, and with a few tweaks we were all set.
It turned out we had seen and spoken to 2 of the boats that were already there over the past few days, and in fact 1 of them was anchored next us at New Teakettle Creek a couple of days ago. One of the fun things about the ICW is that you do see boats more than once – you pass someone, then they pass you while you’re getting fuel, then you see them in a marina or anchorage. And we all have stories to swap about where we’re from, if we’ve done the ICW or the Great Loop before, etc. Then it was cocktail time and Carol put out some nice cheese & crackers, and we just chilled out for the rest of the evening in yet another beautiful, peaceful place. Have I said it before? Indeed, life is good.
Today: 17.7 nautical miles
Running Total: 1,282.8 nautical miles