November 17, 2013

Lake Monroe and South. 11.15.13

We stopped at the launch ramp. The Ugly Duckling was already on the trailer but we could see they were just tidying things up for the trip so stopped to say goodbye.

Lake Monroe was flat so we crossed and headed S. The river is much different here. Some homes but much wilder. Even saw a herd of cattle.

It started to rain so we made a U turn and headed back to Lake Monroe Park.

The lake was just starting to kick up as we finished the last part before the bridge.

Decided to anchor in the cove and hang around while Big Duck and Avi-Toon pulled out in the morning. It continued to rain a little in the evening. Too bad we didn’t have our fresh water catcher figured out yet.

Nice quiet night on the deck with a glass of wine. I did spot a good sized gator cruising between the boats. Good to know we have a guard gator.


Jim was up before daylight fixing coffee. I thought it was a little early so looked out the window. We were in the middle of a fishing tournament start. There were about 20 bass boats all waiting for enough light to be released.  It was a very controlled start. Someone was calling out boat numbers and they took off slowly.

We saw one in Palatka a few years ago and it was a mad dash to get going. Couldn’t believe the wakes they were kicking up and jumping.

We helped Big Duck and Avi-Toon get loaded then decided to load Meander and head home.

Jim has a couple of projects calling to him. And we were almost out of water.

It was a great trip. 4 boats…8 people and 3 dogs and 1 bird. It was fun to see other older boats and what each couple has done to them.

Maybe next year we can have a more central location and get several more boats. I know there should be at least one more.  Larry and Diane are working on their Yukon Delta. Hopefully it will be ready by then.

Blue Springs, FL 11.14.13

After a good nights rest we were ready to hike Blue Springs.

There is a small area where several boats can nose up and tie off to a few trees.  Normally there is a little beach but it was under a few inches of water.

These are pictures of the Manatees that spend the winter here. They were taken in 2011, but I wanted to show you how beautiful it is.


There is a nice boardwalk to the head waters and it stays 72* year around. That is why the Manatees come during the winter.


I didn’t make the walk this year. As I was getting off the boat I stepped in a hole and fell to my knees in the water. Got just a little bit soaked.

Sue wasn’t able to leave the boat since there was no place to dock…so I decided to change clothes and dingy over to visit. I wanted to hear about living aboard a sailboat for 3 years and a trip to the Bahamas and Caribbean. And they did it aboard a 27’ or 28’ Bristol. 


After everyone saw the Manatees, we headed S.

We docked at the launch ramp. Bud, Jim and Jerry went to see if the trailer and tire were ready…picked up pizza and we enjoyed dinner and conversation. It was the most time all of us had spent together since launching.

The Ugly Duckling decided to stay at the dock. They wanted to pull out early. 

We headed up to Butcher’s Bend near marker G 109. One of our favorite anchorages. Of course, on the river, we have a lot of favorites.

Lake Dexter, Tick Island Creek, Lake Woodruff and Norris Dead River 11.13.13

Unfortunately my camera gave up the ghost just before one of the exciting parts of the trip.

I’ve marked our passage on the chart.


It was a little breezy crossing Lake Dexter but not a bad ride so we continued on to Lake Woodruff. That is where the video would have been great. Instead of having a bit of a tail wind it was almost broadside. It’s the first time I’ve used this marking tool and I had trouble keeping a straight line….but our actual trip across Lake Woodruff was probably much more of a zig zag. The “ducks” handled it very well…as ducks should. We had to do some tacking in Meander to keep from rockin’ n’ rollin’   as did Avi-Toon.  But we made it across.

Once on the Norris Dead River we were once again protected from the wind and we all stopped to clean weeds off the props.


Since the wind was blowing into the mouth of the river there were a lot of weeds. Most of it was water lettuce. It is a very invasive floating plant. In many places it completely blocked the river…but Jim had a great time pushing through. I kept watch for logs in the water but did not see any in our path.

Back on the St Johns River we headed to a jug handle just N of Blue Springs. We were at anchor around 3pm.  No one minded a short day. Some took naps…Jim and I were in bed after 6pm and slept most of the night. We always have to get up a few times to walk the dog on the rear deck and heat the water for the birds “radiator”. (I fill a thermos but leave the stopper loose so it heats the cap. Under her covers it acts like a radiator…but is only good for about 5 hrs.)

Another fun and exciting day on the water.

Drigger Island to Blue Creek 11.12.13

It was a bit foggy when we woke up this morning.

Jim and I took the dingy for a short cruise. We really like pushing it around with the trolling motor. No loud motor…nothing to pull…just a nice peaceful ride.


Bud and Michaelle were getting Avi-toon ready for travel. Kind of looks like we’re rafted up with the “ducks” but we’re not. They are much bigger than Meander.


There is a lot of room below deck on these boats. I think both have bunk beds as well as a table that makes into a double bed….and lots of head room.

That is Sue aboard Big Duck (gold).


When rafted like this there is a lot of deck space for socializing.

Jerry and Terry aboard The Ugly Duckling.



One of the floating mascots.…..Merlin. He keeps Jeff and Sue safe. What a great dog.


Penny, Bud and Michaelle’s little poodle is another great boating dog. She runs around Avi-Toon’s decks and spends a lot of time in the extra chair. Keeping Michaelle company while Bud drives.

Big Duck had a problem and The Ugly Duckling stayed behind till it was solved.

Bud, Michaelle, Jim and I anchored along the river and waited. I think Bud is working on supper. Penny is asleep in the chair. Michaelle’s probably wondering who gets to clean it if he actually catches something.


Jim and I took the dingy for a spin.


We’ve been seeing a lot of these flowers along the river. It looks like a climbing Aster. Bee food? Don’t know… it was pretty cold and I didn’t see any bees on it but we gathered some seeds and a few plants. I like to find stuff that grows wild for the honey bees.


Here come the “ducks”. I think they can go over 20 mph.


Merlin is enjoying the trip.


We are exploring Blue Creek today.


Another place we enjoy traveling. It is slow going, but interesting.


There are stretches with homes and then it is wild again.



Cool and windy so there were not a lot of gators out sunning today. This Anhinga was drying it’s wings with a couple of turtles for company.


We were going to anchor near the island the local gator, Bubba, hangs out on, but it was starting to fill up with weeds. The weather forecast is for winds around 25 – 30 mph and strong gusts. We were afraid we’d get “weeded” in.

On the other side of the St Johns is another jug handle. Jim wanted to show everyone this boat.  It was floating the last time we were here. What a shame…a very unique motorsailer.


Here’s Merlin again….maybe he’s scouting out a place to get ashore.


We started back South on the St Johns River to find a place to anchor for the night. We spotted Captain Jim aboard “Sailbad the Sinner” and decided to anchor there. Had trouble getting the anchors set. Big Duck got his down solid, Jerry and Terry tied a line to a tree …backed out and had Jim dingy the stern anchor out as far as he could. Bud and Michaelle did the same thing.

We finally got our anchor set and we rode out the night. It was windy and Meander really sails back and forth with the wind. I think Jerry and Terry had the best spot…Bud released his line to the tree and put both anchors out on the stern around mid-night.

Everyone made it through the night….though none of us got much sleep after being on anchor duty all night.



November 12, 2013

Classic Houseboat Rendezvous 2013 St Johns River, FL

Jim and I launched Meander yesterday afternoon. Bud and Michaelle launched Avi-Toon a few minutes later.

This morning Bud got  his canopy in place. You can not see it in this picture, but the scallops are edged in maroon to match the colors on the side of the boat. It really looks great.

We snapped our screens in place. Tonight we can enjoy the rear deck…..mosquito free.


Around Mid-morning Big Duck and The Ugly Duckling pulled into the parking lot.

It didn’t take long for Terry and Jerry to get Ugly Duckling in the water.


As The Ugly Duckling cruised up to me I could hear it quacking….literally…What a riot….I guess he can make all kinds of sounds but the quacking duck fits perfectly.

Terry was hauling the fenders aboard.


Handsome boats.


Once BigDuck was in the water the engine wouldn’t start so Bud and Jim went over to help.

While we waited, this little thing cruised by….a motor with surf boards?


They got the problem solved….faulty ignition. And here comes Big Duck.


I guess we are officially underway.


Jim and Bud on their way back.


Waiting for the train to pass and the bridge to open.


First gator of the day…and a nice one. Looks as though he enjoys posing for the tourists….is that a cheeky little smile?


Meander has all her ducks in a row….and an Avi-Toon.


Coming thru the canal that connects the St Johns River to the Hontoon River. This is a great ride…you have to watch the limbs overhead and hope you don’t meet anyone coming the other way…


Bud and Avi-Toon won a minor match with a submerged log after exiting the channel. It’s a narrow and winding water way with lots of surprises.



Anchoring at Drigger Island.




We’re all here….


We took the dingy over to Avi-Toon and picked up Michaelle and headed for


 the “ducks”. They had rafted up and we had not met Terry and Jerry yet.

It turned out to be a nice evening. After  meeting everyone we visited awhile then headed back to the boats for supper.

Another great day on the water.

Larry and Diane….we miss you!!!!!

November 11, 2013

Wally Docking 11.10.11

Around 11:00 this morning we received a call from Bud and Michaelle. They had stopped at Monroe Park but it was packed with fishing boats…. a bass tournament was in session so they headed for Walmart.

Jim got the trailer hooked up and I loaded the bird and dog and we were on our way to Walmart too. Needed a few supplies and we could meet our the other boaters.


This is an Avi-Toon boater home. Bud made this from an Avion camper and pontoon boat. It has “walk arounds” on both sides. The pathway folds up against the railing…and the whole thing slides in so it’s flat against the camper for trailering. Pretty neat setup, and can be done by one person. Lots of interior space. I like the crank out windows. Most of ours are slides and when it rains they have to be closed.


A bit later Big Duck rolled in.


We went aboard for a tour. Jim had all kinds of head room on both boats. Not so with ours.


The Ugly Duckling was stuck in Daytona with a flat tire.

The park attendant thought the fishing tournament would be done by 3 pm and most of the boats gone shortly after that. Jim and Bud decided we’d go over around 4:30 and launch. We could anchor in the cove and wait for Big Duck and Ugly Duckling. That way we wouldn’t tie up the launch ramps in the morning with 4 house boats trying to launch at one time.

Big Duck and Ugly Duck spent the night at Walmart…”wally docking”. It was too late for them to get to the park.

It was dark by the time both boats had dropped the hook.

Forgot to get the screens up on the rear deck before it got dark…too many mosquitos to sit out back and enjoy the evening.

Beautiful night. Had the windows open with a nice cool breeze coming in.