We wanted to spend Christmas with Mitch's step father, Buzz and do something special for our 30th wedding anniversary. So we escaped the snow and spent over two weeks in Florida.
Our neighbor, Gene was measuring the inches of snow while we were away, 77; that was about the temperature in Jacksonville! The day after we left there were major weather advisories and the airport was shutdown.
I couldn't believe it we were out raking leaves and taking long hot walks in the sunshine while the northwest was being blasted with snow, day after day.
Apparently they only have to rake leaves in December
Wait a minute this is suppose to be a Sailing Blog!!!
Well...you'll never believe this!
Mitch posted a message on his sailing newsgroup before we left, and said we'd be in the Jacksonville area from Dec 16th to Dec. 31st and we'd love to go sailing. Sure enough, a sailing enthusiast named Doug replied and said he'd be happy to take us and Mitch's step Dad, Buzz, if we brought the beer and sandwiches!
Doug has a 30ft Santana sailboat named Quick Sand. It had brand new sails; a jib and a main with lazy jacks and a cradle cover to hold the sail after you let it down.
We went out on December 27th in 80 degree weather. He brought his friend, Dave, and Barnaby, the beagle. The dog was a riot when he would end up sliding off the seat onto the floor.
Dave set up all of the rigging and we all helped tack, and dock. Doug and Dave are old sail racing buddies. Dave also use to teach kids to sail at the rudder club marina. Doug retired recently from the Army Corp of Engineers, and had even worked a couple years in Iraq helping rebuild the country. He has a couple boys, one in the Coast Guard. He's currently remodeling his house but he loves our idea of living on a boat.
Doug and Dave were very friendly and relaxed guys. Doug let Mitch sail the boat most of the day. It is smaller than our boat so instead of a wheel it had a tiller. Mitch really enjoyed the feel of the tiller, while sailing it. I had a fantastic time; the wind was perfect and we were heeled all day and never once without any wind. The wind would increase and subconsiously I would be brace myself for a blast of cold air, but it never came. Wow! I love Florida!!!
Doug's boat is moored on the Ortega River about 1/2 mi. from the St. Johns River. There is a draw bridge shortly after leaving his marina. He radioed the bridge and with in a couple minutes it was raised and we were through. Tradition is you wave at the operator as you go by. =)
The St. Johns River goes all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. The river is brackish because it has a mix of salt and fresh water. The color of the water is brown, that's how you know you are in the south! There were crab pots all around just like in the San Juans. The river is rather shallow but he knew all of the channels.
The St. Johns River goes through downtown Jacksonville and he said there are many public docks to tie up to. We went the opposite direction on the St. John and sailed to our hearts content. We sailed a good five hours and it was still light at 4:30. We had an excellent time. Thank you!!!
That evening I was still jumping with excitement over the great day of sailing we had. Mitch got a kick out of that because he loves sailing even more than I do and wants to keep me on board with our plans.
So...between sailing, exploring St. Augustine, Anastasia Island, Conch Island and Neptune Beach. Checking out moorage prices at The Conch House Marina. Hanging out with Mitch's step father, and his cousin, Karen, helping Karen buy a used car, celebrating Christmas, attending Mass and sitting around the kitchen table with three lap tops, singing with Karen playing the guitar and watching the squirrels and leaping lizards play in the back yard ...it couldn't have been any better!!
Entrance to the marina we were interested in but we can do with out all of the frills...they wanted $14.50 a ft yearly or $17.50 ft mo. It was cool though with two lounges!
Conch House Marina dockside
Happy Anniversary Mitch!!