March 31, 2012

3.29.12 Lungun Island G3 to Monroe Park and loading up.

Captain Jim (of Sailbad The Sinner) was anchored in his favorite spot behind Lungun Island. We had a nice visit last evening. Good to see them again.

We have seen this obstruction near the E bank of the river behind the island, but didn’t realize what it was. Captain Jim told us it is an old sunken barge. When the water is low, the boiler is visible…when it is high…it is not. We didn’t even know there was more to it …but look closely at the picture and you can see the edge of the barge.

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There is plenty of room to cruise behind the island and anchor …. just don’t get close to the E bank.

We got an early start…we plan to anchor behind the island at G109, Butcher’s Bend. Usually a good gator spot.

This guy looks like he is doing some traveling on his paddle board.

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This looked like a big gator but was in very shallow water and we couldn’t get closer.

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Now that is a lot of “gator tail”.  

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When we got near Hontoon Island and Blue Springs we talked with a trawler doing the Great Loop. It was headed S to Sanford. Then we met 2 going N. The 3 boats socialized a bit over the VHF. They travel together at times and planned to meet later in the trip. Sure wish we were tagging along. Can you see the gator swimming at the bottom of the photo? Normally with this many boats you wouldn’t even see one.

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The markers are a favorite nesting place for Ospreys.

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Look at the skoots on this guys back….does he look a little grumpy to you?

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We did a slow cruise behind Drigger Island to see if there were any Sandhill Cranes nesting there. We didn’t see any. I did get a picture of a Little Purple Heron. I had to post it….couldn’t get this shot on purpose.

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When we got back to the river, a houseboat was cruising past. We waited and dropped in behind. A few minutes later I spotted these Manatees. There were 3 of them. One of them has several prop scars that look fairly new.

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I have a video…but you may have to go to youtube.com and put CmyBirds2 in the search…I haven’t been able to attach videos to the blog lately…still haven't figured it out.

Well…this could have been the gator shot of the day….I took this… then switched the camera to video…in the time it took to process the switch….it  slowly turned towards the boat….looked right at us….. stepped towards us and slid into the water.

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This can give you an idea how much tail they have…..and there is another ft. or 2 in the water.

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Our plans had been to anchor behind the island at Butcher’s Bend….plans change….we saw a boat bobbing in the middle of the river….cruised over to see if they needed help…they did…boat was dead in the water….so we rigged up a tow line and towed them back the to ramp at Lake Monroe. It was only 5 pm and our launch ramp was just the other side of the river…we decided to haul out. So…we ended our trip with a good deed. Hope they will do the same next time they see someone in the same situation. Several boat roared right past them ….not even slowing down.

We covered about 200 miles….put on 40 gal of fuel ….still have 3/4 of a tank.

The boat is all cleaned out…ready for another trip.

March 30, 2012

3.27.12 Entrance to Murphy’s Creek to G 3 Lungun Island.

I forgot we had these pictures still in the camera….on our way to Corky Bells, we saw this helicopter delivering stuff to workers on the power line.
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It made several trips while we were heading N…and was still at it on our way back.
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Here we are at Corky Bells’ dock….see the little gator in the foreground?
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Here’s a closer look…  might be 5’
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They have a nice floating dock, good food at a reasonable price and indoor or outside dining. I believe there is a bass tournament weigh-in on Thursday afternoons.
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While we were having our morning coffee at Murphy’s Creek entrance, a train crossed the railroad bridge at Buffalo Bluff.  We figured it would be a good time to head S. Shouldn’t have any problem getting an opening now.
This part of the river is fairly wide so it is hard to get good pictures of the gators…another big one.
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Do you think this dog likes to go boating? Sure beats hanging your head out the window.
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Looking for the right fishing spot.
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Another medium sized one…I think it’s mate is the big one nearby. I guess the turtle didn’t read the post about gators having up to 3000 teeth in a lifetime…from crunching bones and turtle shells.
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video
We are skipping a stop at Silver Glen Springs. We are pulling out on Friday instead of Monday. Our anchorage tonight will be G3, Lungun Island.

3.26.12 Rat Island to Corky Bell’s (Palatka, FL) and back to Murphy’s Creek S Entrance.

We anchored near this sailboat. We’ve seen it anchored here for several months, figured the holding is pretty good. There was a little fog on the water but it lifted quickly. This might become a favorite summer anchorage…as long as nothing big is brewing.

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Coffee cups in hand we headed down the river to Palatka. We’ll tie up at Corky Bells’ dock and walk up for supplies. We usually have lunch at the restaurant but decided to order hot wings and extra celery to go…and eat aboard. After lunch, we headed back S. We were going to anchor near the sailboat but it was so nice out and still early so took the run down Murphy’s Creek. Decided to anchor on the St Johns River, just to the R of the entrance to Murphy’s Creek. 6’ of water and plenty of breeze. This is a very wide part of the river and the channel is on the far side so wakes from large boats shouldn’t be a problem.

These have been new anchorages for us….we passed them up in the past because they offered no place to take Raisin ashore. Believe it or not…there is a tidal range here. So if there is a shore line it is usually mud. Now that Raisin is trained to the carpet on deck…we can anchor where ever we want.

I woke up around midnight and we were fogged in. Couldn’t see anything. Sure glad Jim has the new anchor light installed. Very low current draw and bright. I was still listening for other boats. Glad I didn’t hear any. Nothing was moving.

I can’t remember having so many perfect days and nights. It has been wonderful weather. Most of our boating is done during the winter when it’s so cold we have to have the vinyl side curtains up.  It is pleasant to sit in the cockpit…no lights…and listen to the night critters.

3.25.12 Old Ocklawaha River, FL to Rat Island.

We decided to go to the city dock at Welaka, FL and walk up for breakfast. Great sausage gravy & biscuits.

Jim noticed this cruise ship coming up the river. It seems so strange to see something this big out here.

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We waited for it to pass and followed it. The only people we saw aboard, were the cleanup crew wiping down the rails on the upper decks. It was such a beautiful morning…seemed a shame not to be on deck with a hot cup of coffee.

After breakfast, we went cruising and gator hunting…we headed down Murphy’s Creek and then Dunn’s Creek. Jim spotted a huge one, but it was down before I could get a photo. This one cooperated, though. It was the smaller of the two that were hanging out together.

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Look at the size of this one. That head is massive!

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It slowly moved into the water and did a “stare-down”.

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This time of year they are guarding their territory and pairing up…their behavior is completely different than the rest of the season. They tend to swim towards the boat rather than away…

This big barge was tied along Murphy’s Creek. It has two buses and a camper on it…don’t know what it is used for. The name is Noble Phoenix.

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Dunn’s Creek had a large number of gators.

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We were going to go to the entrance of Crescent Lake but ran aground on a bar in the middle of the river. After getting ourselves off…we decided to head back to Murphy’s Creek and anchor for the night.  Right near Rat Island. It is a big 4 corners and a breeze can hit from any direction. We were comfortable all night.

 

 

March 27, 2012

3.23.12 Lungun Island (G3) to Silver Glen Springs, FL ( 3.24.12)

It was still daylight when we got to Lungun Island. There were several boats on the river side. This is a popular swimming spot, with a rope to swing out over the water suspended from a big tree limb.

Most of the boats left as the sun went down.

This is Lungun Island, or Shell Island as some of the locals call it, in the early morning sun. The river runs on the far side. We  are anchored on the E side.

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It’s a popular spot for camping…or just hanging out with a camp fire. It’s not unusual to see a pontoon boat beached on this side. We dingy over and take Raisin for a walk. It’s a beautiful spot with huge old oak trees and spanish moss.

It was such a beautiful morning, we just swung on the anchor and enjoyed it.

As we headed down river towards Lake George, we spotted this gator. Most of them seem long and lean…this thing was fat.

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Just look how wide it is. There is a lot of gator out of the water…and almost no tail…definitely a big one. Look how wide it is. The bumps on it’s back are pieces of bone covered by skin. They absorb the heat. That is how they stay warm.

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Here’s a cutie…only 5 or 6 ft long. There is a definite difference in the size of the bumps on this one. Don’t know what they are called….my sister and her husband called them “skoots.”

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Turtles sunning…

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The “springs” already had a fair number of boats anchored and everyone was having fun in the water.

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No one even noticed this little guy hiding in the bushes.

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Jim and I like to anchor closer to the lake…out of the designated anchorage for the springs…on the run. It is much quieter  and last year we had a Manatee come up to our boat….there used to be a nice 9’ gator in the same area, but we were told they had it removed.

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I do get in the water here…for a quick dip to cool off….but not far from the ladder. If we really want to swim or snorkel we dingy into the springs. We really aren’t that far…that is us on the L. You can see we are one of the smaller boats…ours is much closer to the camera, too.

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This little guy looks like it’s smiling at us. look at those pearly whites…I read that gators lose worn or broken teeth (they crunch bones and turtle shells) and can have as many as 3000 teeth in a lifetime.

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We spent two nights at the springs….Fri and Sat night.  We decided to leave on Sunday and this was the traffic coming in.

Looking back towards the springs…

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in front of us…..the way in is very shallow so most people follow the same line in. You can’t tell it here….but we could see boats and jet skiis in a line back to the gates at the S end of the lake.

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We decided to anchor on the Old Oklawaha River for the night….going to rename it “no see’um heaven”….(maybe heaven isn’t the right word?)

Jim tried his hand at fishing…even got his casting down to landing within a quarter mile of where he aimed.  At least he took the big sinker off and added a bobber. I could just see  that sinker coming through the window. We didn’t have fish for supper…..the “no see’ums” were so bad he gave up and we hauled anchor and headed to the mouth of the river….

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We anchored on the St Johns River… near marker R 52, between the entrance of The Old Oklawaha River and Bear Creek. Nice spot…not too deep. That is important, since our only way of raising the anchor is either Jim or Me.

3.22.12 Red 32 to Lungun Island, FL G 3

We saw so many birds on our second day out, I decided to do it in 2 posts.
As we were pulling into the anchorage at R 32 on the St Johns River, we spotted a pair of Swallow-Tailed Kites. The Kite is a big bird, with a wingspan of over 4 ft. A beautiful contrast of black and white, with a forked tail….hence the name…Swallow-Tailed. When they soar they use it like a rudder to control their flight. Beautiful to watch. We see them over-head at home.
I didn't get any stills, so I took this out of the video.

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They drink by skimming the water and filling their beaks. That is what it must have been doing as we cruised in….then went to soaring with it’s mate.

I’ve been 2 days trying to post this with the video…It just doesn’t install. So…if it’s not there…go to  www.youtube.com and put  CmyBirds2 in the search …all the video posted on my blogs are there.

They feed on small mammals, snakes and lizards.
I’ve never seen a nest, though they must nest in the woodlands near us.
One year we had 9 roosting in a tree in our drive. They must have been gathering for migration to South America. They were gone the next day and we didn’t see them again until the next year.
Here is a link where you can report sightings. www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.org/swallowtail-kite.php


This gator cruised by us…sat for a picture then continued around his territory.

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Another good bird sighting. The Limpkin. These birds are hard to spot because they blend into the woodlands so well.

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On one of our side creek cruises we almost missed this gator. All we saw was the tail and didn’t see the rest until I downloaded the photo. Keep following it to the L and you’ll see it’s eye.

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Our anchorage for the night will be Lungun Island at marker G 3

 

March 25, 2012

3.22.12 ( part 1) G 69 Blue Springs to R 32

Jim was up early and had coffee going when I got up. After coffee, Jim put the dingy in the water and we went for a ride. I had been watching the Blue Herons build nests in the tree tops. It still amazes me to see birds that big nesting so high.

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I guess it’s because the branches look so flimsy.

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I saw several Herons fly in with sticks.

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Many of the nests are in the tops of the tallest trees behind the boat.

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We got as close to the nesting Herons as we could, and Jim held the dingy in place with the oars while I took pictures and this short video.

After our tour, Jim loaded the dingy and we headed towards Hontoon Island.

There were several large trawlers tied to the docks and the ferry was already bringing people to the island.

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A ways down the river, I spotted what I though was just a couple of  Wood Storks landing in a tree…..but it turned out to be several nesting birds…I guess it would be called a “rookery”.

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This is another long legged wading bird, high in the tree tops. I was surprised to see how close they nest to each other.

 

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Getting it just right.

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Looks like 5 or 6 nests in this small area….and the nests don’t look very large.

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Jim circled around so I could take this video…taken aboard a moving boat..lots of wind and boats cruising past. Funny, we were the only ones who stopped to take a good look at them.

At R 32 we pulled off the river and anchored. On our way in I spotted a pair of Swallowtailed Kites soaring and diving in the water, but I’ll post that tomorrow.….”Twins”…a nice big trawler was also anchored there….a bit later a sailboat came in. We watched the gators cruise us for awhile, then took a nap….late afternoon it started to get hot….and we decided to go cruising again.

We’ll anchor at G 3 Lungun Island.