Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Yellow Background Denotes Navigation Alert Postings
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Yellow Background Denotes Navigation Alert Postings
The fixed Shands Bridge, lying southeast of Green Cove Springs and marker #20, sets the vertical clearance limit for the upper St. Johns River with its height of 45 feet. Sailcraft that cannot clear this span must forego exploration of what is to our collective minds, the most beautiful section of this lovely stream. Many a sailor has shaken a fist and employed colorful language while coming about at the Shands Bridge! Perhaps even Skipper Bosque? Our thanks to Skipper McDonald for the official response.
Any updates on the construction of a new Shands Bridge? Are they building one with a 65′ clearance?
Approved, but not funded. Where have we heard this before?!?
May 11, 2015
This is a recent reply I received about the FDOT plans to replace the Shands Bridge on the St Johns river in Green Cove Springs. Unfortunately, for those of us with a mast height in excess of 45′ we will remain restricted from traversing the river.
The Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) current plan is to replace the existing Shands Bridge with a new bridge that will have 65 feet of vertical clearance. However, the project is not funded in FDOT’s Five Year Work Program and will likely not be replaced for ten or more years. Replacing the bridge is a high priority to FDOT and the replacement could be advanced if funding were to become available.
Thank you for your interest in the First Coast Expressway project. If you have any questions or comments, please call or email.
James M. Knight, P.E.
Urban Planning and Modal Administrator
Florida Department of Transportation District 2
2198 Edison Avenue
Jacksonville, FL 32204
Replacement of these Florida Power and Light transmission lines should not affect our tall masted friends, but if in doubt, give them a call at 561-722-0889. This power line is just north of Porter Cove Anchorage and normally has a vertical clearance of 90ft.
FLORIDA – ST JOHNS RIVER: FPL Aerial Crossing Work
FPL will be replacing some overhead electrical transmission line structures within the St. John’s River, in Putnam County, south of Palatka. Barges will arrive the week of 23 March 23 and work will take place until approximately 20 May, 2015. The structures are along the east and west bank and will not be in the central portion of the river. Coordinates for the two poles that are being replaced are: 29-37-21.49N/81-35-42.60W and 29-37-18.40N/81-35-58.55W in the vicinity of Rivercrest Light 11 (LLNR 8250). The vessel operators will be monitoring VHF-FM Channel 16. The point of contact is Mr. Mark Denman of FPL (561) 722-0889. Chart 11487 LNM: 12/15
Skipper Reeves continues his exploration of the St. Johns River with a visit to Hontoon Island State Park Marina/Dock, south of Lake George and north of Lake Monroe near Deland, FL. located east-southeast of flashing daybeacon #53 and the northeasterly mouth of Hontoon Dead River.
Very quiet and laid back. Lots to explore here with many creeks to visit in the dink.We are planning on moving our residence to Florida next week and we can visit here for half price $10 a day all inclusive. I wanted to stay here for ever. There is a marina across the river that does not have good reviews and is very high on fuel prices. Right around the corner is Holly Bluff Marina that has better prices and service. Rick in the shop found me a hose to fix a problem and was very helpful. Rick carries a lot of parts and can get anything you need. Several boaters in little trailer tugs came by and said they stop here all the time. This is not nowhere but you can see nowhere from here.
Hontoon Island State Park has a lot of slips but only the T dock has enough water for our trawler and we plowed a little soft mud at 5 ft on the T dock to the West. We picked up WiFi from across the way and the dock has 50 amp service, water and is almost new. Very nice park with hot showers and clean restrooms. The rangers are super nice. No groceries or laundry. All this for $20. a night. Only $10 if you are a Florida resident. https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Hontoon-Island
At Blue Spring you can beach and tie up to the South of the swim area. Do not dock on the dock. Self serve on park fee of $1.00 per person. We want to come back when they allow swimming in the spring . The water is 72 F year round.
Looks green to me but they call it Blue Spring. The board walk goes all the way down to the “Boil” of over a 100,000 gals per hour.
Skipper Reeves continues his exploration of the St. Johns River, stopping at spots a bit off the beaten track – good for you Sonny! (See http://cruisersnet.net/?p=147232.) Bryant’s Wharf is on the east shore of the river where “Ramp” is charted.
Locals very friendly. Nothing here. Other than a nice metal concrete floating dock that is well lighted at night. Small 20 x 24 ft slips. Good depths, Most boats on River slow down but wakes are minimal. The town appears closed up there is a convenience store a few blocks East. Restaurant onsite is closed. A grill and cafe is a hike. We did not go there. Restrooms reported at top of hill in a recreation park. Old Florida small town pop 586. Dock is free with no electric, water or trash pick up.
Murphy Island is south of Palatka and separated from the mainland by Murphy Creek, making for good exploring by dinghy as Skipper Reeves mentions in this report which makes picturesque Murphy Island sound so nice compared to the commercialism of large marinas.
The dock is short for our 40 ft boat. Water depth is 6 ft at dock and over 30+ ft in river. But it is a nice floating dock with ramp to picnic and camping. We stayed two nights and saw no one except fishermen going fast on the river that waked us. The island has a marked trail that winds around. Very nice! The bugs did not bother us. We were fogged in both mornings until 10ish. Did not see any sign requesting fee. There is one porta potty and some fire pits for campers. The treat is a dink ride around the island. Lots of wild life, alligators and eagles. Would not want to be here in heat of summer. Exposed to North. Georgia Boys Marina on Dunn creek to East.
Our thanks to Skipper Reeves for this thorough review of Crystal Cove Marina which lies on the western banks of the St. Johns River with a well marked entrance channel.
Laid back with Southern hospitality. Don the dockmaster could not be more helpful. The crew is very nice Jerry and Billy handled the lines and met us late Sunday. We stayed the week, very quiet. There is a pool we did not try due to the weather. Restrooms showers, etc all here. Old docks but safe. Easy approach with 5-6 ft depths. Very little current or tide. The electrical was good and the wifi worked for us to watch movies. Rental car from enterprise. Gas on site. Diesel by truck. Town is a few miles to shopping center. $5.00 a ft is quoted price for a month. Pets welcome. Lots of liveaboards. The 45 slips were full when we got there. They rent pontoon boats and the boat ramp is used by fishermen. One restaurant at hotel was closed for renovation, A Grill Cafe is open, Hotel onsite with laundry. The grounds are kept up clean. We will be back!
Skipper Sonny Reeves is exploring the St. Johns River and, while we normally excerpt his marina reports as posted on his blog, this one is just too complete to edit, so open the link below and enjoy. Boathouse Marina overlooks the shores of the St. Johns River west-southwest of Palatka City Marina and marker #1. Cruisers docking here are within walking easy distance of the shops and restaurants in downtown Palatka.
From January 23, 2015:
Huckins Boat Yard is located on the northern shores of the Ortega River off the St. Johns River, just upstream of the Roosevelt Boulevard Bridge with a 45ft vertical clearance. Skipper Reeves joins other skippers in praising Huckins Boat Yard. See http://cruisersnet.net/?p=128570
I can’t say enough about how nice the experience at Huckins was for us.
If you are a charter boat or know someone who does captained charters, let us hear from you. We have to assume that Ms Olsen is referring to the St. Johns River as “north central Florida.”
We are looking for a 3 or 4 nite trip in the waterways of north central Florida.
There would be 2 coupels who would like to entertain the idea of a captain with sleeping quarters for us and stops and picturesque towns for food and exploration.
Can you give us some ideas of how to arrange such a trip?
Our thanks to our good friend, David Burnham, for sending in this item from the Palatka Daily News. This reopening is certainly good news for all our trailering compadres. The new launch ramps are part of a waterfront development project begun earlier this year.See link below. The ramps are a feature of Riverfront Park just southwest of the Hwy 17 Bridge.
Palatka, FL has reopened the City Dock Launch Ramps in time for the Christmas Holidays. Although the new restroom facilities have yet to be built, the four new launch ramps with floating docks next to the Palatka City Dock are now available for use. The new landscaping and picnic areas look attractive and are similar to the overall waterfront improvement proposal.
The new signs say that mooring for more than 48 hours at the dock requires prior approval by the City if you call (386)329-0100. The older signs still say that the Dock facilities close at 9PM and reopen at 5AM which implies that overnight docking is not permitted. So it is a good idea to call ahead as usage policies may be flexible as construction and improvements continue.
Murphy Island is on the south shore of the St. Johns River, south of Palatka. In addition to the free dock described by Skipper Gorham, there are two recommended anchorages in Murphy Creek (see links below). For more on Murphy Island, go to: http://www.sjrwmd.com/recreationguide/murphycreek/
Free dock stopover on the St. John’s River at Murphy Island
We came upon a nice little stopover on our recent river cruise. On the river between Dunns Creek and the railroad bridge at Buffalo Bluff, the St John’s River Water Management District has built a nice little floating dock that allows access to Murphy Island and its picnic area and several miles of nature trails. The dock is right next to marker 22 at 29 degrees 35.756′ N by 081 Degrees 39.292’W. There is very deep water on the approach and about 6 feet along the 40 foot long floating face dock. We found it a nice quiet spot to overnight, and it is also a very quick and easy stop for both human and canine crew to stretch their legs for a bit on the trails.
Maybe it is all the “gunk-holing” we used to do in the Chesapeake or the river-running we did in coastal Georgia, but this is the kind of boating adventure my family loves. And as Skipper Gorham attests, unmarked waterways like Dunns Creek are often very beautiful and just require slow travel and a sharp lookout. Good for you Skipper Gorham! Dunns Creek exits the St. Johns southward between Murphy and Rat Islands, south of Palatka.
A St. Johns side trip down Dunns Creek to Crescent Lake
Crescent Lake is the third largest Lake in Florida, and is connected to the St. Johns River by Dunns Creek. It doesn’t get many visits from cruising size craft, probably because Dunns Creek is a bit intimidating, but we recently took an overnight trip to the charming town of Crescent City, and it was worth the trip.
Dunns Creek joins the St. Johns near marker 16 upstream of Palatka and winds for about 5 miles through beautiful hardwood swamp to the north end of Crescent Lake. Most of the creek is quite deep at 20 to 40 feet, but there are no navaids, and in places the depth rises very sharply to shallow sandbars that you cannot see due to the tannin stained water, which can cause a little anxiety. By favoring the outside of the creek bends and paying attention to the very accurate bathymetry on our Navionics chart chip, we never saw less than 6 feet. There is a broad shallow area at the north end of the lake, but we also never saw less than 6 feet crossing that.
Once in Crescent Lake, there is a uniform depth of 10-12 feet all the way to Crescent City. At 29 degrees 25.822’N by 081 degrees 30.338′ W, there is a public ramp and landing with about 6 feet of water and a 50 foot face dock. Also here is the restaurant 3 Bananas, which has docking for dinghies and small craft. We had a fine dinner there and were allowed to overnight on their dock. Just offshore within dinghy distance to the docks is Bear Island, which has 7-10 feet of water 360 degrees around the island and good holding in sandy mud for an overnight anchorage.
The town of Crescent City is very pleasant to walk around, with huge live oaks and a lot of antique stores. Also don’t miss the 600 year old white cypress right behind 3 Bananas – it is one of the largest and oldest trees of its kind in Florida.
Our thanks to Michael Lieberum and Chuck Baier and Susan Landry for sending these updates on this 9/16 report by Francesca Amiker of the New4Jax team. This Florida East Coast RR bridge has been the poster child for all that can go wrong with lift bridges. Local Jacksonville boaters and businesses are not happy!! With a closed vertical clearance of ONLY 5ft, the Florida East Coast Railway Bridge crosses the St. Johns immediately west of the Acosta Bridge in downtown Jacksonville. Until someone designs a high-rise, 65ft clearance bridge for railways, we must live with mechanical breakdowns. For more on this issue in south Florida and “All Aboard Florida” railways, see: http://cruisersnet.net/?p=136159
9/25/2014 Latest from 7th District Bridge Management:
Well Good Morning Larry,
It is going to be awhile longer, they are trying to continue the repairs while operating the bridge and it is going slowly.
Seventh Coast Guard District
Bridge Management Specialist
Larry, The bridge is now opening on a limited schedule for the next week to 10 days. They have not said what the limited schedule is. Of course there is no assurance it won’t break down again.
Railway bridge over St. Johns River stuck in down position
Marine businesses say they’re losing thousands because of malfunction
Author: Francesca Amiker, Reporter, firstname.lastname@example.org
The railroad bridge near the Acosta Bridge has been down since last Wednesday.
A spokesperson for FEC Railway said the issue is a mechanical problem with a gear on the track that is preventing the bridge from being raised. The spokesperson said crews are working on the problem and should be finished by Friday. Rail service has not been affected, but marine services have.
For the full story, go to:
Only a mile or so upstream from downtown Jacksonville, Ortega Landing is the first facility on your starboard as you enter the Ortega River from the St. Johns. These words of praise come from our friends on the AGLCA Forum.
Our boat is currently in Jacksonville at the Marina at Ortega Landing while we take care of personal business back home in Atlanta. In my humble opinion, it is impossible to beat Ortega Landing as a great place to stay in
Jacksonville. The marina itself is superb and superior to many Yacht Clubs in both amenities and their social calendar. The Wi-Fi on the docks is fed by fiber optic and is just about as fast as my home Wi-Fi. It is hands down
the fastest Wi-Fi I have ever experienced in a marina. Our insurance (Boat US) recognizes this marina as a hurricane hole which saves us a bunch of money on insurance.
Jim King Park is the newest of Jacksonville’s dock/boat ramps and is still undergoing construction of some phases. The ramp is used as headquarters for the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament, and is closed to the public during the tournament. The facility is located just north of the intersection of the St. Johns River and the Waterway. All of the facilities are new and the docks are listed as unlimited as to size of vessel. Skipper Reeves sends two good photos of the new floating docks. Sisters Creek bascule bridge has a 24ft closed vertical clearance.
For a listing of the facilities, go to:
It’s a 13 mile cruise up the St. Johns River from the AICW to the Jacksonville waterfront, where mariners will discover Jacksonville Landing, on the north side of the St. Johns, midway between the Main Street Bridge and the Acosta Bridge. This complex is a downtown shopping mall/food court with a stage area for special events and concerts, featuring its own dock for visiting pleasure craft.
Skipper Burnhams’ experience with the Main St Bridge illustrates the navigation headaches that Jacksonville boaters have suffered the past year. For a recent posting on the Main Street Bridge, go to http://cruisersnet.net/?p=140564
Additional info: At the Jacksonville Landing the “No Wake Zone” is often ignored and smaller cruisers can be rocking the night away. If overnighting at Jacksonville consider the more comfortable floating berth at the Metropolitan Park Marina. Also there is a free “light rail” Central station just north of the Jacksonville Landing that will give to a ride every 30 minutes over to the south shore where you can visit the MOSI museum and fall asleep for a short nap in the comfort of the planetarium…:D
A note about the Main Street Bridge: It was recently under repair with 2-4 hour reservations required for openings. I called 904-891-2191 at 0345 on Sunday morning and was given an 8am reservation at the bridge…maybe she thought it was a hoax because when I called the bridge tender on Channel 9 at 7am to let them know I was tied up at the Jacksonville Landing, HE told me that as no one was working on the bridge on Sunday that he was opening the Main Street Bridge on demand, of course!
Mill Cove is east of Jacksonville, 4 nautical miles upstream (west) of the point where the Waterway crosses the St. Johns and lies on the south side of the main shipping channel. This anchorage should not be confused with Mill Cove in Doctor Lake south of Jacksonville.
Anchored here last month and again last night in our 54′ motor yacht with 4.5′ draft. We found a spot about 200 yards back from the entrance near the charted 14′ area on the west side. Holding was good in 10-15K winds and one 180 degree tidal swing. Not much small boat traffic or waking from the main river channel, but still pretty exposed. Fun watching the container ships loading/unloading across the river. Could easily accommodate vessels to 60 feet. Anchor came up clean as a whistle in the morning.
Here is something to make your next off-shore trek even more exciting. If you happen to “stumble upon” these sculptures, take a photo and send it to us! Although this Local Notice dos not give a current lat/lon, the position of the drifting dice can be monitored on Facebook.
ATLANTIC COAST – TRIANGLE FORMED BETWEEN THE CANARY ISLANDS, PORT D’ESPAGNE VENEZUALA AND JACKSONVILLE FLORIDA: Giant Ocean Dice (AQUADICE)
The US Coast Guard received a report of two adrift independent 8′ x 8′ x 8′ orange cubes. The cubes known as a “floating sculpture” called AQUADICE. AQUADICE will be highly visible at sea. The bodies of the dice will be painted a bright phosphorescent orange with blue pips on each face. In addition each face will have constantly flashing lights visible up to 5 kilometers and with life spans of 2 years. The beacons will provide electronic signals. The voyage of AQUADICE will serve as a feasibility study for unmanned, non-sail; wind powered Trans-Atlantic shipping. This sculpture does not readily present a danger to navigation. Mariners are advised to be on the lookout. For complete information refer to the website http://aquadice.net/AQUA_DICE.html
Green Cove Springs Marina lies on the St. Johns River’s southwestern shores, in the heart of the old Navy Base, upstream of the Green Cove Springs City Dock, between Jacksonville and Palatka.
Someone else mentioned Green Cove Springs. My recommendation there is only if you want to store the boat ashore as their in water slips are not nice at all. They have a ton of boats out of the water there and it is more of a
working yard than a true marina. The facilities there are terrible and transportation from there will be much more difficult. There is very little within walking distance there. This is more of a storage facility or working on the boat out of the water facility. Plus, it is another 20 or 25 miles downriver and there is not much to see in this part of the river.
Dave & Nan Ellen Fuller
The river may not be much, but gorgeous black creek is just north of Green Cove Springs. South of the Shands bridge are Trout Creek and 6 Mile Creek. Not only is there good food at Outback Crab Shack, but if your boat will clear the bridge, you can go a ways up the narrow creek. Dinghy rides up both are recommended from this local resident.