St. Johns River '10

May 1 to May 7

May 1, 2010 - Doctor's Lake, Sleeping Pen Creek, St. John's River, FL

Last night around 8 PM, as we were watching TV, a weather broadcast hit the screen about a large thunderstorm cell that was moving into the area. There was a possibility of tornadoes and hail. We warmed up the computer and checked the radar. Sure enough! There it was, to the northwest of us about 15 miles and moving in our direction. We went outside to check the sky, and to the north we could see lightning flashes light up the sky and hear thunder in the distance. We continued to check the radar and watch the storm's progression. We got a call from Pam and Don as they watched the same thing on their computer. We discussed our plans and made preparations in case our anchor broke free and we would have to act quickly. We secured the dinghy on the lift at the back of the boat and put things away for the upcoming rain. Then we watched and waited. Around 9:30, the rain started and the lightning really put on a light show. The rain was a welcome sight to remove all the salt and grit that had accumulated on the boat from our ride to Jacksonville. The wind would be another story. We continually checked the radar and watched the storm approach. The possibility of tornado formation and hail to the west of us was mentioned on the weather alert, so we would be on the alert ourselves. I laid down for awhile, while Bob kept a constant vigil. After an hour, Bob came to bed as the rain continued and came down hard. We listened for the wind, but it never came. We fell asleep, feeling pretty sure that the severe part of the storm had skirted by us. This morning, the skies were blue and the boat had gotten a good bath with the rain last night. It will be a warm, humid day with scattered storms possible again later today. We enjoyed the early morning coolness with breakfast on the back deck and discussed our plans for the day. Bob took the dinghy and went to check out a marina where we might go for gas. While he was gone, I checked the guide books and marked the charts for marinas and anchorages coming up. He was gone for over an hour and I was beginning to wonder where he was. He finally returned and I came to find out from him that the outboard motor had died and then would only run at idle speed. He had to idle all the way back from where he was. So now he had a repair to do, if possible. He did some research on the Internet and made a few phone calls to the marinas in the area. He found out how to fix it himself, but he needed some metric tools. That's where Donny came in. He's the only guy we know who has a complete workshop on board his boat. He helped Bob remove the carburetor and used an air hose attached to an air compressor to blow it out. There was a piece of varnish in there. They reinstalled it on the motor and it ran like a charm. Thanks, Donny!! We hopped in the dinghy to take a ride down Swimming Pen Creek to see if we could put an eye on some alligators.

 
 
It was serene and mostly desolate. We did come across a few fishermen trying their luck in the calm waters.

 
 
The humidity and temps were stifling going at idle speed, but we did see a huge turtle , some large fish, and a family of osprey.

 
 
We came back to the boat to refuel and pick up a few beverages. We were going out to the opening of the St. John's River where we could see the sailboats racing in the Mug Race. The Mug Race is one of the largest and one of the funkiest inland boat races in the US. It's named for the huge mug which is inscribed with the winners' names every year. As many as 50% of the racers do not participate in any other race all year other than the Mug. The race starts in a town south of here and ends at the Rudder Club north of here. As many as 100 boats participate every year.

 
 
We crossed Doctor's Lake and into the St. John's River. There were at least 50 boats on the river that we could see. It was not a busy boating day on either the lake or the river for a Saturday, except for the "Muggers". We checked out the marina and headed back to our boat. It was sweltering hot and we needed some shade. We invited Pam and Don over for happy hour and we all sat in the comfort of the AC watching some old TV shows from the 60's (Wagon Train and The Rifleman). Around dinnertime, Pam and Don went back to their boat and Bob grilled a steak for dinner. We waited for the coolness of the evening to descend upon us and then opened up the boat for the night. We relaxed watching some TV and then turned in for the night. We would leave for 6-mile Creek tomorrow farther down the river.

May 2, 2010 Doctor's Lake to Reynolds Park Yacht Center, Green Cove Springs, St. John's River, FL

We got up to a little fog on the lake this morning. The forecast was for temps in the 90's, hot and muggy. We had our usual Sunday breakfast of eggs, ham, and toast and got things ready to go. We pulled up anchor at 9:15 and headed across the St. John's River, 9.5 miles to Mandarin Holiday Marina for gas. They had the cheapest gas around.

 
 
We fueled up, took on water, and got pumped out (emptied the toilet holding tank). I spied a cute boat name in the marina for our sailboat friends.

 
 
We were on our way at 11:15. Gallivant pulled up their anchor and joined us on the river as we slowly motored south. Looking at the charts the other day, I found some interesting names of places in the area such as Tick Island, Possum Bluff, Buzzard Island, Rat Island, Hog Eye Point, Grimsley Neck, Get Out Creek, and even the one we were anchored near....Sleeping Pen Creek. One has to wonder just how these places got their names. There were also quite a few rivers with "Dead River" in their titles. They must have been more active rivers at one time and now, not so much. The day heated up and even just standing still, you could end up dripping wet. There was a nice breeze, but coming out of the south, it was very tropical-feeling and not very refreshing. We located Reynolds Park Yacht Center--an old Navy pier from WWII. The town of Green Cove Springs is nearby. The town is in a very pretty, shallow cove on the St. John's River. It took its name from the mineral sulfur springs found there. It was said to have medicinal qualities and attracted famous people in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Today the springs are found in the city park. We chose a spot along the wall and got tied up.

 
 
Then we helped Gallivant get in and tied up. We settled in and turned on the AC and Ahhhhh......It felt so good. We hung out there until our body temps cooled down and checked the Internet service. We put up the Sunshade in the cockpit and were able to sit outside in relative comfort ...in the shade with the breeze blowing.

 
 
Pam and Don went into town on their bikes looking for a boat part and we hung out on the boat for the afternoon. When they returned from their bike ride into town, we went over to their boat for happy hour before dinner. After awhile, we went back to the boat to grill out chicken for dinner. As the sun went down, the heat subsided a little and we were able to sit outside until darkness fell. We went to sleep in the coolness of the AC tonight. Ahhhhh.......

May 3, 2010 - Reynolds Park Yacht Center, Green Cove Springs, St. John's River, FL

We woke to steamy temps this morning. It would be another hot and sticky day. We had breakfast and walked to the marina laundromat to do some wash. They have a very nice facility with a complete kitchen, showers, laundry, library, sewing machine, and TV room. There was also a computer, printer, fax, and Internet available.

 
 
I did the wash (with Bob's help) and worked on the computer. Bob enjoyed his coffee and some TV in the lounge. The entire building was air-conditioned, so it was very pleasant. After the wash was done, we headed back to the boat to work on some projects. Bob had to work on the outboard motor to see what was preventing it from tipping up while on the dinghy. Donny was willing to help him with that. Donny had a project to do as well, that maybe Bob can help him with. So Donny came over and helped Bob lubricate the outboard motor release clip and now it works fine. There was only room for one in the head, so Donny had to work on his project alone. Around 11:00, Bob and I borrowed Donny and Pam's bikes to go into Green Cove Springs. We stopped at the marina office to pay our bill. They didn't charge us for last night's stay and only charged us $.50/ft. for today. What a deal! The dockmaster is so friendly and helpful. We continued the 2 miles into town. Our next stop was the City Hall. It was a really interesting Spanish-style building.

 
 
The town has a Walgreens, Starbucks, Ace Hardware on the near side of town. Pizza Hut, various fast food restaurants, CVS, and Harvey's grocery store are on the far side of town, a longer bike ride. If you take your dinghy from the marina north to Governor's Creek boat launch, the grocery store is right across the street. The dinghy ride is about 2 miles. Just around the corner from the town hall was the City Park. We rode into the park and out to the city docks.

 
 
We thought about coming here because the price was right. The fee is $10/day with $10 for electricity. We could

have probably stayed here, but only on the end of the face dock. The other slips were not big enough for us, let alone Gallivant. We looked in the park for the "mineral sulfur spring" and found it running right through the middle of it.

 
 
The smell of sulfur was in the air and you could also see the sulfur deposits in the clear water.

 
 
We found the source--a large deep pool--where it was so clear you could see to the bottom.

 
 
A sign there told us of the minerals found in the spring as of May, 1990.

 
 
Another sign at the entrance to the park explained how the spring was discovered, the history of the town, and how the 10 wooden docks at the marina were once used by the naval base that was located here.

 
 
At one time a "mothball fleet" of 600 ships were docked here after WWII. These are the same docks we are tied to now. (One trick about tying up to this dock, is making sure you place yourself in front of a set of stairs and bulwarks, so you can climb off the boat easily. We'll know that for next time.) We left the park and went into Ronnie's Restaurant for a beer and some desperately needed AC.

 
 
It felt SOOO good. We just hung out for awhile and enjoyed the cool.

 
 
Just around the corner from Ronnie's was a barber shop where Bob stopped in for a haircut.

 
 
While he was getting his haircut, I rode 2 blocks to the post office to mail some cards. I rode back and picked him up. When he was done, we pedaled back to the marina. It was so steamy outside that we couldn't take much more of the heat. We stopped once again at the marina office to get more quarters for our next visit to the laundromat (and get some AC relief) and then returned to the dock.

 
 
We returned the bikes to Pam and Don and picked up the shrimp she had picked up for us at the fish market earlier this morning. By this time, Donny was finished with his repair and Pam was relaxing in the shade on the bridge of their boat. We returned to our boat to cool off in the AC. It reached 94 degrees today with very little breeze and it was hard to be outside in the heat. When we got back, Bob cleaned the shrimp for dinner tonight and I just tried to get cool. We invited Pam and Don over for drinks before dinner and talked about our plans for tomorrow. We decided that we would spend another day here and move on Wednesday. It was going to be another hot and sticky day, with 80% chance of storms in the afternoon. We needed to be plugged in and tied to a dock. Donny had some more work to do on his boat and needed to get some materials here in town to complete it. After they left, Bob and I made dinner and watched some TV before going to bed. The evening cooled off a little as the sun went down and it was a clear, calm night.

May 4, 2010 - Reynolds Park Yacht Center, Green Cove Springs, St. John's River, FL

We woke to a beautiful sunrise and calm waters. It was already steamy and would continue to get hotter throughout the day. The morning brought haze over the harbor and warm temps already. The water was like glass and the air was completely still. Rain is expected this afternoon. That will be a welcome relief.

 
 
After breakfast, Bob and I decided to take a walk to look at the other marina, Green Cove Springs, about 8 docks away. We walked first to the office to pay for one more day. We spotted a magnolia tree in bloom.

 
 
Yesterday I saw the bud which, closed was about the size of my fist. Today it was open and gorgeous. We walked for awhile and it didn't seem hot at first, but the farther we walked, the hotter it felt. The rest of the docks we saw were working docks with all types of boats being worked on. We walked about 1 1/2 miles past the Northern Florida Military Museum and a remote control car race track.

 
 
We decided it was too much farther to walk to get to the marina in the heat, so we gave up and turned around. The clouds rolled in and when they covered the sun, it was such a relief! Back at the boat, we had lunch and cooled off. We were both drenched in sweat from our walk. Pam stopped over about 2:00 and asked us to go to happy hour at Ronnie's in town. They had a wings and beer special on Tuesdays. We hopped in our dinghy and they hopped on their bikes and we would meet them there. Looking over our dock as we left, we could see it was almost full for the night.

 
 
One of the coolest boats on our dock, was one of 8 Great Harbor boats that were docked here. I guess they make them in Gainsville and commission them here.

 
 
Continuing on, we motored over to the Green Cove Springs Marina on Dock 11. It has a mooring field (mostly full) and slips along the bulkhead. It was full of sailboats and looked like a live-aboard marina. We had a quick look and headed towards the town docks. On the way, we spotted a partially sunken 50' Chris Craft Motoryacht in the bay.

 
 
I guess it hadn't been there very long and there were 2 more sunken sailboats along the shoreline. We arrived at the town dock around 2:30 and tied up the dinghy to the pier. We walked the 2 short blocks to Ronnie's and met Pam and Don who were already there waiting for us. We had some great wings and a couple of beers. After awhile we were on our way....Bob and I in the dinghy and Pam and Don on their bikes. We arrived back at the boat as some rain clouds started moving in from the west. We cleaned up as darkness set in.... and the rain started to fall. We had been expecting that rain all day. Tomorrow we would move on to 6-Mile Creek.

May 4, 2010 - Reynolds Park Yacht Center, Green Cove Springs to 6 Mile Creek

It rained last night as predicted. The boat got a good washing especially from all the bugs and spiders that we collected from being in fresh water now. It was foggy when Bob got up at 6 AM. You couldn't even see the town. By 8:00, the fog had burned off and it was cloudy....thank goodness...to keep the heat and humidity down.

 
 
We pulled away from the dock at 10:00 and motored slowly south to 6 Mile Creek--a total of 7.8 miles. The water was like glass with no breeze to speak of. We are amazed at how few boats we see moving about and have found that we are pretty much the only transients at marinas wherever we go. The marinas are mostly full of live-aboards--more than we've ever expected. Where are all the recreational boaters? We arrived in 6 Mile Creek at 11:00.

 
 
It is known for its 1/4 mile long dock and the Outback Crab Shack.

 
 
We entered the creek and found the shoreline scattered with water lilies and cypress trees. We pulled up to the empty dock and tied ourselves up.

 
 
We walked the short distance to the restaurant to check in. If you eat at the restaurant, the dockage is free.

 
 
We found some shade and waited on the boat for Gallivant's arrival around 12:30. We listened to the many different bird sounds in the woods and the buzz of insects as they flitted around us. Bob spotted a small alligator along the shore, with just his head and tail showing. As we sat there by ourselves with not a ripple on the water, we could imagine being out in the bayou wilderness in "Old Florida". It was so peaceful and serene. Gallivant arrived as expected and we helped them tie up.

 
 
We walked up to the restaurant together to sit in the coolness of the ceiling fans and the shade. The restaurant was huge with lots of interesting paraphanelia around.

 
 
I measured this alligator to be about 11 ft. long...the same size as the one caught in Doctor's Lake in that photograph I saw.

 
 
Someone did a lot of cool carvings like the one of this crab. There was another of a sailfish at the entrance.

 
 
Bob checked out this gator that greeted us when we walked in.

 
 
There was a sign at the entrance to the bar that said that the Providence Bible Church meets here on Sunday mornings at 8:30. How interesting they would have their service at a bar.

 
 
We left the bar and decided to take our dinghies up 6 Mile Creek. As we left, it started to rain lightly. Luckily, I had brought along our large golf umbrella for some shade. Now it would come in handy for rain. We hung out under the bridge waiting for Pam and Don, but they decided to hold up until the rain stopped. Bob and I idled on down the creek for about 2 miles under the protection of the umbrella, as it rained steadily upon us.

 
 
At one point, the wind kicked up and almost ripped the umbrella out of my hands and then the skies opened up. The creek narrowed and became more beautiful the farther we went.

 
 
It was lush with forest growth. This tree was full of air plants and looked kind of "hairy".

 
 
The forest on both sides of the river was similar to the forests in WI--not too dense, so you could see deep into the woods. There were 2 boats of fisherpeople that we passed along the way. We saw some fish flopping in the creek, but not ONE gator. It rained pretty hard for awhile--a warm, steady, "straight down" rain and we went as far as we could go. Dead trees blocked our way, so we turned around and started back. The rain stopped and the sun came out, so we were able to come back at cruise speed. We ran into Pam and Don who were now heading out to explore the creek after the rain. We made plans to eat an "early bird" dinner at 5:00 at the restaurant to satisfy our dockage fee. The rain had cooled thngs off a little as we dried off the boat after the rain and enjoyed the stillness of the fresh air. Another boat joined us at the dock for the night. We had a nice dinner and took a walk on the long dock. Two sisters were fishing and Bob struck up a conversation with them.

 
 
They had caught quite a few fish and were 2 interesting ladies. We had an after dinner drink on Gallivant and sat on the bridge in the cool evening breeze. As the sun was setting, shade overtook the boats and made for a most pleasant evening. The sky turned a beautiful pink and blue and the tree frogs sang their "music".

 
 
First one side of the creek would start and then the other would chime in. When both sides were in chorus it was actually deafening, but what a sound! This would be our last evening together with Pam and Don. We would part ways tomorrow--Gallivant heading north up the East Coast and Justavacation heading farther south in the St. John's River. It was a great time.....finally getting to boat together after all these years! We'll miss you guys!

Until next tide....

 
 
May 6, 2010 - 6 Mile Creek to Palatka, FL

There was shade on the boats this morning before the sun cleared the trees--a welcome sight. While we were having breakfast, Bob noticed a huge alligator crossing the creek. He grabbed the camera and walked down the pier to get a picture, but the gator was too shy and submerged himself. We continued to watch for him, when we noticed a boat with a water skier in tow farther down the creek. Bob commented, "It's a new sport--water skiing with gators." Who would be so daring? Not me! We got the boats ready to leave, said our tearful goodbyes, and untied our lines just before 9:00.

 
 
We followed Gallivant and motored slowly back out to the St. John's River.

 
 
Pam and Donny would make one stop at Reynolds Park Marina (where we had been the day before) to pick up some parts they ordered and then head up to Jacksonville for the night. The water was like glass and it was another 90 degree day. We created the only ripples on the water, as we made our way to Palatka today. We spied a huge "green alligator" along the shore of Ninemile Point. Can you see it? Bob renamed it "Alligator Point:

 
 
Then Bob spotted a huge alligator swimming in the middle of the river. We slowed way down to get close, but he swam away in the other direction.

 
 
Clouds moved in and brought with them the chance of rain....not a bad thing with the heat. We passed a sailboat going in the other direction--the first moving boat in many days.

 
 
As we got closer to shore, we could see the blooming Magnolia trees --so beautiful. We could smell the paper mill and see the nuclear smokestacks spewing bright, white smoke into the sky as we got closer.

 
 
We passed under the Palatka Bridge and noticed the distinctive clock tower of the church along the waterfront.

 
 
As we finished tying up at Boathouse Marina for the night, the church bells tolled 12:00. When we went to check in, the sign on the door said the dockmaster works from 1-5 Monday-Friday, and 9-5 on Saturday, so we walked back to the boat to have lunch and wait until 1:00. The main docks here are in good shape with pumpout in each slip, but the showers and laundry leave a lot to be desired.

 
 
One thing that was a little disturbing were the rat traps lining the docks.

 
 
Hopefully, they DON'T have a rat problem becaused the resident cat and the rat traps are doing their jobs. Either way, we'll keep all the doors and hatches closed just to be safe. If a rat should find it's way on the boat, you'll hear our screaming all the way to wherever you are. Bob went to check us in at 1:00 when Skip, the dockmaster, arrived. Bob was gone for awhile getting some local information from Skip. He returned with Skip to give us a pumpout and we were off to explore historic downtown Palatka. We walked along River St. looking at the old Victorian and Conch-style homes.

 
 
 
 
We passed the 1884 Tilghman House which is now an art gallery.

 
 
Many of the buildings downtown had beautiful murals painted on them depicting their Civil War history and other important events.

 
 
As in many other old river towns, the downtown area is being restored on Main St.

 
 
Palatka is the county seat and this Putnam County Courthouse is a beautiful example of the historic buildings found here.

 
 
Palatka, called the Gem City on the St. John's River, was a winter playground for President Grover Cleveland in the late 1800's. It prospered with the lumber and citrus industries until the "great freezes" of 1895. The lumber industry remained strong and today a state-of-the-art paper mill is located here. Palatka retains the ambience of an old river town with parks and homes of that era. We found Angel's Diner--an old 50's restaurant in "silver bullet" style.

 
 
Many of the buildings in town had historic landmark signs on them. This one is the Art Center.

 
 
We did not find the Bronson-Mulholland House which was used during the Civil War by the Confederate soldiers. They used the attic windows as a lookout. Later, it was used as a barracks for Union troops. In 1866, a school was opened in the house for freed slaves. During both World Wars, it was used as a center for Red Cross activities. It was purchased by Palatka and restored in 1977. I wish we would have found it, but we were just too hot to explore any further. We walked back to the marina, but not before standing in the shade of some of the largest Live Oak trees we've ever seen.

 
 
On River St. we saw a huge cactus plant in bloom. It was so beautiful with yellow flowers.

 
 
Back at the boat, we had our first "happy hour" alone in a couple of weeks on our dock under a shade canopy.

 
 
We watched the logging traffic cross the bridge and the fishing boat traffic at the city launch ramp. We also watched another alligator swim near the shore.

 
 
The breeze flew through the area and it was nice to just sit there beside the river. We were alone at this small marina for the night--no one was aboard their boats. We watched all the bass boat fishermen launch their boats at the city ramp for the bass fishing tournament that started tonight. The boats gathered for a 5:30 shotgun start and they were all gone within a couple of minutes, to return later tonight.

 
 
We grilled some steaks for dinner and relaxed for the rest of the evening. We were both tired from the heat today. It really took a lot out of us. Tomorrow we move south to Silver Glen Springs. Today we traveled a total of 28.6 miles.

May 7, 2010 - Palatka to Silver Glen Springs, FL

We got up early with plans to take the bus to Publix Grocery Store. After talking to our local houseboat neighbor about Silver Glen Springs, we decided to forego the grocery shopping for now and hightail it to Silver Glen Springs. Supposedly, the place really fills up with boats on the weekends, especially warm weekends like this one is supposed to be and since it's Mother's Day weekend, who knows what to expect! We made our preparations and threw off our lines at 8:30.

 
 
There were fog-like clouds here and there, but otherwise it was sunny with a high today of 90. This part of the river is more narrow and winding as it makes its way south.

 
 
There were a few fishermen sprinkled about, but other than that, we had the river to ourselves.

 
 
Just west of the last of the 7 Sister Islands sits the Cross Florida Greenway Canal. The canal was created by a dam constructed on the Oklawaha River and a lock on Lake Oklawaha. During FDR's administration, the idea of building a trans-Florida waterway from the St. John's River to the Gulf coast arose. Only 2 portions of the Cross Florida Canal were completed before public opposition caused by environmental concerns and right-of-way problems halted the project in 1971 when President Nixon ordered construction stopped. The river here is lined with dense forests to the shore, but has many opportunities for anchoring in secluded coves.

 
 
We cruised through the town of Welaka. It was originally founded as a trading post during British rule, then a steamboat depot, and is now a sleepy hamlet. The name means "chain of lakes". A profusion of fishing camps line the town's waterfront. Two antique ferries cross the river in this section between Little Lake George and Lake George. We passed Georgetown near the opening to Lake George. Across from the town sits a once elegant 100 ft. 1924 Matthew's Motoryacht. Her wooden hull was covered with cement by her owners who lived aboard for 15 years...but no more.

 
 
We reached the entrance to Lake George at 10:30 and cruised across the lake.

 
 
Lake George is the first of the large lakes on the St. John's River. It is 10 miles long and 5 miles wide. The lake is also the site of a Navy bombing range with an average depth of 11 ft. and is an almost perfect oval. Parts of the lake on the east side are restricted due to the bombing range. About 2/3 of the way down Lake George is Silver Glen Springs Run, our final southern destination. Silver Glen Springs is fed by a series of cold water, underground springs resulting in water so clear that you can see straight down to the lush vegetation lining the stream's bottom. Thousands of gallons of water flow from the spring's source every day. This is what we came for! The shores have barely been touched by human development. It is a favorite spot of houseboaters, snorkelers, and small powerboat gunkholers. Ironically, this situation many bring about Silver Glen Springs' demise. Invasive non-native aquatic plants can be traced to boat traffic and disturbance of the native vegetation. They spread rapidly and have the potential to completely fill in the springs. Currently, there is a case in court that will decide the future of Silver Glen Springs Run. Limited use and/or closure to boats may become a reality. We feel fortunate to still be able to enjoy its beauty. We anchored just outside the entrance to Silver Glen Springs Run and dinghied in to check out the depth in the small boat.

 
 
Our trip today took us 39.6 miles. It was a very pretty ride.

 
 
It was already crowded with boats, and being much smaller than we thought, there was no room for us to anchor there.

 
 
The deepest water where there was room for us to anchor was only 3 ft. with depths at the entrance only 2-3 ft. in places. Since we draw 3', we felt it was better to be safe than sorry and stay out in the lake.

 
 
We took the dinghy back to the big boat to get our swimming gear. When we got back to the boat, it was swarming with tiny gnats--EVERYWHERE! Every shady spot on the boat was covered in them. Yikes! We changed into our swimsuits, grabbed the swimming noodle and rubber raft, and we were GONE! A great blue heron guarded the entrance to the springs.

 
 
A pontoon boat selling Italian ice, food, and water toys was stationed at the entrance to the springs. He later made his way into the springs going from boat to boat selling his wares.

 
 
We anchored the dinghy in the shallow, crystal clear water of the springs. The bottom was white, hard-pack sand and some kind of sea plant. (The white blobs in the water are reflections from the sun.)

 
 
I tested out the water temperature and it was perfect!

 
 
The water was calf deep in most places, so we walked out towards the "blue lagoon". Once it got deeper, we swam in with our swimming aids.

 
 
It is roped off so you can't dinghy in and the park service charges $5.50 a day for use of the park. We didn't have to pay just to swim there. We swam out to where the spring bubbles up from the bottom. You could visibly see it coming to the surface. Looking down through the crystal clear 74 degree water into the deepest chasm, we could see fish down there facing directly into the outward flow of water. It kept pushing us back as we swam toward the source. It was quite forceful. We saw at least 10-15 big fish hovering at the mouth of the spring, but it didn't seem to bother them. The water was a turquoise blue and so refreshing. It is really hard to describe the beauty of it.

 
 
We left after 2 hours of fun. As we motored out of the springs, we saw a cute name on a houseboat.

 
 
When we got back, the gnats had taken over. So we pulled anchor and moved back north. There must have been some kind of hatch nearby. On the charts, we found a nice anchorage across from the town of Georgetown for the winds tonight. On the 11.6 mile ride north to our anchorage, I spent the entire time trying to eradicate those tiny gnats from the boat. With a lot of sweeping, brushing, and toweling, I was pretty much able to get rid of all of them by the time we anchored. Going full speed also helped to blow them out of the boat. Their black carcasses lay on the floor of the cockpit, but at least they wouldn't be perstering us. The anchorage we chose, was quiet and serene.

 
 
We had to pass up a dinghy ride down Salt Springs Creek as recommended by the dockmaster in Palatka. It was getting late in the day and we wanted to get to our anchorage. We'll save that for another time. Once the anchor was down, we sat in the back of the boat in the shade enjoying cocktails and appetizers before dinner. There was no boat traffic to speak of and we were all by ourselves. The clouds provided welcome relief from the sun and there was a slight breeze blowing through the boat. Hopefully, the overnight temp of 67 degrees will give us enough relief tonight. This unusually colored bee joined us for awhile and sat on our fan.

 
 
We grilled chicken and had a later dinner. It was almost too hot to eat. I must have gotten too much sun today because I just could not get cooled off. After the sun went down, we sat out back listening to rock and roll. There was no one around to worry about the noise, so we let the music fill the air. It cooled off so nicely once the sun was gone, that we showered in the cockpit and sat out there until it got so dark that we couldn't see. The stars popped out all around us and the frogs started their evening chorus. When the bugs came out, we went in and played 3 games of cribbage before going to sleep. What a day we had!

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