March 14, 2011

St Johns River and “Slow Motion”

We made our last run on the river aboard the 1981 Wellcraft…..and though it was fun…..(crossing Lake George in a quarter of the time)…..we still like the Albin 27 …..Slow Motion.
We launched in the morning. Beautiful day…overcast and breezy but that makes it easy to lug all the stuff to the boat and get the screens put up…etc.
One problem…went to unroll the dingy to inflate it….a mouse nest and a hole….no patch big enough to repair it so back up to the truck it went.  Raisin is trained to the “magic carpet” on the foredeck so not having a dingy wouldn’t be a problem….
Last time out we spotted several large gators in one of our favorite anchorages so decided to spend the night there. We didn’t see any that night…it was too cool and windy.
There were a lot of boats cruising thru the jug handle that we were anchored on and we realized there wouldn’t be any gators out with all the action so decided to head on up to the jug handle near Blue Springs, and spend the night there.
We saw our first Limpkin of the season. Year before last they were all over the river and even had a pair in the canal near our place. Last year we saw very few.007cs
It doesn’t look like much in the picture above….but look at this one I took a couple of years ago. It is really a very beautiful bird.5.13.09 075cs2
Lots of White Herons …
We anchored near Blue Springs….didn’t see any Manatees. Lots of kayaks and canoes.
We headed to Drigger Island. We didn’t see any Sand Hill Cranes there last time out but we’ll check to see if they are nesting yet.
Lots of boats today.
As we rounded the bend to the anchorage this Anhinga tried looking very fierce so we would move on.
The Sand Hill Cranes are nesting. Unfortunately …no dingy….no good pictures. Even the video that I took isn’t very good…hard holding the camera steady with it zoomed out and the boat moving…sorry it’s so jerky.
When we spotted them there were only two…a fishing boat got close to the grass mat they were on and they started calling. A few more flew in. As soon as the boat left the extra birds left also. Guess they were calling in help.
This Anhinga kept watch for awhile.
Several Hawks were watching the area. Hope they don’t have designs on baby Cranes.
We  were going to spend another night at Drigger but received a call from my friend, Debbie……going to be cold tonight….so we hauled anchor and headed to Hontoon Island. It was a nice night run. Jim did a good job of backing in the slip in the dark with me on the back of the boat  giving directions.(It is so nice to have a husband who follows them. LOL)
Don’t we look nice at night? We plugged into the electric and turned up the heater……won’t have to run the generator all night.
Raisin was sure glad to have  a walk. I took time for a trip into the museum and watched my favorite video.  It is worth going inside. Take the time to check out the animals found in the area……and don’t miss the video!  (no charge here either)
I didn’t realize that Hontoon Island State Park is free…it is one of
only a few that rely on donations. Even the electric ferry over is free. I am so impressed.
After my visit to the museum….I took Raisin for another walk. This road takes you to the cabins and tent camping area.074
I think they have 6 cabins for rent.

There is also a nature trail out to the Indian Shell Mounds.
Jim had to check out this tree.
Hontoon Island should be a must visit…from your boat …or from your car. The slips have water and electric.  If you come in for a few hours and don’t hook up…it’s free. Want to hook up the electric for your fridge?  $7…..water hookup is another $8.  Might as well spend the night for  around $20.  The restrooms are very clean.
Many people come over just for the day….places for the kids to play and lots of room for fishing. Trails for hiking and shade trees make it very comfortable. The store has charcoal, ice cream and a few other items that picnickers or campers might need.
This might be a good reason to make a special trip for the day…
Now …doesn’t this look like the life?
So….pack up the cooler….grab the fishing poles….and the kids or grandkids….and head to Hontoon Island.  Oh….and don’t forget to drop something into the “donation poles”…big brown pipes with slots….it doesn’t have to be much…every little bit helps keep this a free State Park…and there aren’t many of them left. I love this place.
We had a nice warm night. Foggy this morning. We spent a few hours visiting with the rangers and the dock master. Very nice people.
Heading to our favorite gator watching spot and spend a day or two.  On the trip S we spotted another Limpkin.
As we  cruised behind the island  at G 109, we spotted this gator…I think it’s the same one we saw a few weeks ago.125cs
He swam out to meet us…
Then there was this one….
and this one….
We saw 8 or 9 last time….but only 3 today.  Decided to anchor near the area where we saw gators congregating and fighting a couple of years ago. Last time here there were some hanging in that area, but we were disappointed that none showed up.
And then….Jim says…”grab your camera…there is a Manatee right next to the boat.”   By the time I got the camera it had swam out of camera range. There were several fresh prop scars on it’s back.  This part of the river is popular by water skiers and fast boats.  And this is the first time we have seen them in this anchorage.
While we were sitting there …a beautiful Albin 25 cruised up and said hello.  It was Peter and his son aboard Carajane. …from VT! Isn’t she a beauty?
Most of my posts a few years ago….included a “little green” boat. Larry and Diane’s “River Nomad”. The Carajane is painted the same green, white and red. Every time I looked over it was a bit of “déjà vu”. They anchored on the opposite side of the area the Manatees were feeding in.
You have to look close but there are two in here.
The guys rowed over in their dingy for a short visit….after they rowed back the Manatees came out to investigate. Turned out to be 3 of them. Without our dingy we weren’t able to get close enough to them for good pictures.
Carajane and her crew hauled anchor…cruised up for a quick “so long” and headed N on the river.  After seeing the Manatees we decided to anchor here another night to see if they would come back….they didn’t.
It was a beautiful day….sun was warm but not too hot. We stayed anchored in the same spot but no gator fights or Manatees. We did have a thunderstorm roll through early evening and we had a perfect seat for the lightening display.
Our security guard cruised by….making sure we were safe and sound “in” our boat…definitely not a night for a quick swim off the swim platform..
Light rain….we are going to cut our trip short….supposed to be in the 40’s the next few nights. I need to check the bee hive we set to “trap-out” a wild hive. Since they will be unable to go back into their tree and there are no stores in our hive…I need to have a jar of honey in there for them. So..between raindrops we took down the vinyl side curtains….hauled all the stuff from the deck to the truck …loaded the boat and headed home.
It was a good thing we did….the bees had all most finished the jar of honey that was in there so I quickly replaced it and left them alone. I was warned by my friends (beekeepers) that they tend to be a bit grumpy on cloudy ..rainy days…so I didn’t push my luck and just took care of business. They didn’t hardly notice I was there.
Another great time on Slow Motion…..the next one will be even better….we’ll have the dingy patched and can do more exploring.  See you then.


larry&di said...

Great pictures and wish we had been with you. The green boat is gone, but when we join you again, it will be more comfortable on the Albin.

Elaine said...

Looks like you had a lovely cruise and you got some great photos!

Ola said...

Great story! I wish I could see all that myslef:) I think we like a similiar way of spending time. Greetings!

Lin at Sandpiper's Place said...

What a wonderful place! The limpkin sighting is fantastic. I've always wanted to see one. You have a great blog here. Thank you so much for visiting mine awhile back. I'm not able to blog regularly and join in the blogging community fun anymore, so I'm very late in stopping by. Thank you again. Enjoy your spring! :-)