Wild gators, a jacuzzi and WWII…

To paraphrase Arnold Swartzenegger in Terminator II, we’re baaack!

Yes, we are back aboard Cbay after a week at home going to doctors and taking care of business. For those who worry about such things we are fine. Jan was diagnosed with an impinged rotator cuff and she now has her physical therapy equipment onboard and is progressing nicely.

All of my blood tests were in my doctor’s words spectacular. I asked how this could be with all the eating out and lack of serious exercise. My cardiologist said that I must be working more on this boat than I realize. It must be the Kool- Aid washes that are doing it. I was told that I might have Meneiere’s Disease when I told Dr. Bandukwala that I had been suffering from vertigo since the hatch fell on my head back on Feb. 26th. I was fairly concerned about this since a dizzy spell while walking up the side of the boat could spell disaster. But a miraculous cure occurred last night as I was going to bed and it seems to have resolved itself. Dr. B would say that my brain has adapted and learned a new pattern for the crystals in my inner ear that got knocked out of place.

So now back to boating. We drove our rental car down on Friday and settled in for the weekend since the Admiral refuses to travel on weekends. She says the crazies are out on the water. I sort of figured we would fit right in given our track record so far.

Several projects were addressed. The dinghy now has oars. I purchased a used set at River’s Edge in St. Augustine. Someone had abandoned a damaged dinghy there and they sold me the oars for $25. And if they worked after I took them home to my shop for modifications I agreed to send them another $5. Guess I owe the money and will mail it this week. Bet that guy will be shocked that I sent it. I had to trim down the oarlock pins on my grinder but now they work fine. Just one of those replacement oarlock pins is $49.95 at West Marine so I figure we are still way ahead on this deal.

St.Patrick’s Day was Saturday and we started out looking for an Irish Pub but none were available. Then a nice fellow coming out of West Marine started talking to us about our bikes and before I knew it Jan had accepted a ride in his pickup to another part of town where better restaurants were located. We loaded the bikes in the back and off we went.

Dinner turned out to be at Mojo’s which is an upscale BBQ place and quite good. Guiness was on sale for $2 per bottle and Jan had to have one. Too dark for me. Within minutes a fight broke out between the waiters and an obnoxious patron who had clearly been taking advantage of the cheap Guiness. Afterwards he walked up and down the street cursing and threatening but the waiters were bigger than he was and they were sober so he stayed on the street. All in all it was very entertaining and Jan said it was better than an Irish pub.

On Sunday we decided to take the dinghy out for an adventure because our upcoming side trip down the St. John’s would provide many opportunities to use it. We motored several miles up the Ortega River and one of it’s tributaries and it performed well.

Later Sunday night we decided to try out the jacuzzi but after sticking her toe in Jan nixed the idea and went back to Cbay but I was not going to be denied and sat in that cold water waiting on it to heat up for over an hour. My mother used to say, ” A hard head carries a sore tail” to which I must add ” and a cold one too.”

This morning we were finally underway and back on the St. John’s headed south. You see this is one of the few rivers that flows south to north so in a way we are backtracking. One of our first sightings was a club of old mahoghany cruisers out for a cruise.

A number of our boating buddies checked in today via text and I can report that 20BUCK$ is in Vero Beach with Seabiscuit, and Kismet is somewhere on the Palm Coast. By the time we come back out of this river there should be the possibility of a reunion.

The river was calm as a pond today and we eased along to Mandarin Holiday Marina off Old Bull Bay where we took on fuel for the first time since Stuart, FL. 151 gallons at $4.10 per gallon. Our fuel mileage continues to surprise me and we have never worried about being caught short on fuel as this was only a half load. When we pulled into the marina the situation at the fuel dock was confusing because there appeared to be no place a boat our size would fit. A phone call cleared this confusion when we were told to just pull straight into the haul out slip as if we were going to pull the boat. It was the easiest docking we had ever seen and the fuel hoses are right there.

Our journey then progressed to the cutoff for the Black River where we had planned a side trip today. This is a deep water narrow river that was once used to transport goods to and from a paper mill. It was reported that alligators could be found here and that was true at least for this little five footer as he was all we saw. Still the cruise was worth the time and certainly a change from what we had been doing.

As we moved further upriver a Navy submarine hunting helicopter was using us as a moving target on the water. They practice like this often and he flew pass after pass over and around us.

By mid afternoon we were at Reynold’s Yacht Center Park in Green Cove Springs and were docking at the most unusual pier we have yet seen. This is because of the history of this place. Following WWII the US Navy had many more ships than they had room for at the regular naval bases. So they built the Green Cove Springs Naval Base which consisted of dozens of giant piers each 1000 feet long! And then they brought hundreds of destroyers and cruisers from the Atlantic Fleet in here and tied them up six wide and a 1000 feet deep. An old aerial photo taken in 1953 shows them all packed in here. Now just where did they all go? Well politics moved them. Lyndon Baines Johnson from Texas became President in 1963 and one of his friends had unused docks in Texas so the fleet was moved. And then the naval base including an airfield was sold for one million to the Reynold’s family of Reynold’s Aluminum. Everyone who knew LBJ got well off this deal.

Now a dock built for destroyers is not built for Cbay and you should have seen us tying up to the cleats made for a battleship. We had to climb ladders from the boat up to the pier. And getting the bikes off was a chore. But we had to have them because we were about a half mile from shore on these docks.

We rode into Green Cove Springs where we had dinner at Ronnie’s and I actually drank two beers! They were ice cold. And while we were in town we found the sulphur spring that gives the town it’s name and fills the public swimming pool. It is crystal clear and ice cold like the beer.

Altogether a very nice day.