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Reconnecting With The River

Tom PattonFor the first time since November, I got my boat “Party Quirks” out of the barn and had her lowered gently into the waters of the St. Johns River. After a winter that has been unusually cold and drear, finally a weekend day that offered an opportunity to go play on the river again. The good news is, it never gets old. The bad news is … well, there’s not any bad news, and that’s the truth.

I was concerned after a long rest that the engine might be reluctant to turn over. It did require a little cranking, which I rather expected, but once I got it running, well, as they say in the most recent Bud Light commercials … “Here we go.”

I ran upriver to the Dames Point Bridge, and then a little beyond. The new cranes for the coming post-Panamax ships look like something out of Star Wars standing on the banks of the river, and off in the distance the floating hotel that is the Carnival cruise ship Fascination was preparing for passengers to board. I continued upriver to where the Trout River empties into the St. Johns, about a half hour at my boat’s cruising speed. In places the river was just glassy, but in others, where the currents and tides run at cross purposes, the water became choppy and confused. Very much a normal day on the river.

river-photosI didn’t know what I’d gone in search of, but when I got to the Trout River, I found it. I can’t resist a derelict boat, and this one begged to be photographed. Riding at a mooring like someone might come back to claim her any time. And for all I know, someone will. But with only half a mast and no discernible shelter she’ll be a project boat at the very best, and is most likely destined to end her days against the shore in the mud, eventually to be pulled disintegrating out of the water.

From the Trout River, I cruised back to the east to the mouth of the river and out into the Atlantic ocean. Mother, Mother ocean, I have heard  you call. As I neared the mouth of the river, I began to ride the ocean swells that make my boat climb uphill, which is really the only way to describe it. But the swell wasn’t more than a foot, a nice ride to the ocean. I just popped offshore long enough to say I’d been to sea, and grab a quick photo to send off to Facebook.

On my way out, I noticed there were dozens of pelicans, gulls, and cormorants on the rocks of the jetties that protect the mouth of the river from the rolling surf, making the passage of ships and boats like mine possible. But as you can see, there hasn’t been a good storm recently to wash the guano off the rocks. Birds, particularly sea birds, are messy.

Our river never gets old. She is constantly changing, always something new to see, and yet there are things that are constant. The dolphin were working the water from the Dames Point Bridge to the mouth of the river, the fishermen were anchored along the entrance of the Intercoastal waterway, under the bridges, pretty much anywhere there’s structure under water for fish to congregate.

One of the things that drew me to live here was the water … the river and the ocean and the opportunity to experience them. Perhaps in these troubling, difficult times, or maybe especially, the river and the ocean are grounding for me. I was very thankful for the opportunity to reconnect.

1 Responses »

  1. Last week ran downriver checked out same boat in the Trout River. Always interesting stuff there. Once a Canal barge/houseboat towed across the Atlantic. Once Hitler's "Ostwind" stuck in the mud and rotting. Hermit's houseboat. Fire boat "Jake Godbolt", and of course free access to the Jax Zoo if you can navigate through the sunken graveyard of old boats.
    For adventure go upstream about 100 miles to Astor, FL and stay overnight in Lake Dexter. You get to wake up with William Bartrum's alligators -- they're still there!

    Dean S. Bird
    Proudly still running his old 1978 Johnson on the last available non-ethanol gasoline despite the best efforts of the givermint to muck it up with corn whiskey.