Posted by Claiborne | Posted on 09-22-2009
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
Ortega Landing, the first facility you will encounter upon entering the Ortega River from the St. Johns, only a mile or so upstream from downtown Jacksonville, is indeed a fine facility, as is nearby Lambs Marine Center.
We are currently at the Marina and it is fantastic. Over 5.5ft. of water on the approach (call for directions) and plenty at the dock. friendly people, great pool and club house, even a dog park next door. Free washer and dryer, great showers and good internet, and concrete floating docks. We had always blown past the St. John’s River on the ICW or outside. I am really glad we stopped at the pretty convenient luxury marina.
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.
We stayed at Jacksonville Landing, FREE! just a few months ago. No power or water, but FREE. We loved it. I think the maximum stay is 3 nights.
Rick ‘n Roll
This question came in from a fellow cruiser and I am happy to confirm that Gibson Dry Dock is still in business and their contact information and directions are listed at their website:
The facility is located on the St. Johns River east of marker #12 in San Mateo.
I would want to contact by e-mail for a quotation for drydocking my boat. Is there an e-mail address?
March 21, 2013
This is a good place to dry store your boat during the hurricane season and a great yard for cruisers who want to do their own maintenance.
May 13, 2013
15years on the Fl coast, 10 at Gibson. Would not consider any place else. Dry stored all these years during hurricane season with no damage.
When we last visited with the Jacksonville Municipal Marina in 2012, we found this facility virtually locked down behind multiple gates and fences, and the wet slips were all but empty. There was nothing except the football stadium anywhere close by, and it would be a healthy taxi ride back into town, as this facility is located well downstream of the principal Jacksonville waterfront.
The question and answer below are copied from the Great Loop mailing list.
Has anyone stayed at the Jacksonville municipal recently ? How does it compare to others ? We will be in a 56 Motor yacht.
Olivia and Bob
We stayed at the Municipal Marina last April on Palm Sunday. There was power and water but you are a long way from anything except the stadium. We prefer the Jacksonville Landing right on the waterfront downtown, however there is no power there but so much more to do.
Marty and Jerry
onboard M/V Monarch
With a closed vertical clearance of 5ft, the Florida East Coast Railway Bridge crosses the St. Johns immediately west of the Acosta Bridge in downtown Jacksonville.
Have had 3 different experiences where the bridge has started to lower without signaling. 2 days ago was the third time in a powerboat. With max current with us only solution was to add power for 15 feet to get thru the bridge. Florida Wildlife was on the other side of the bridge to give me a summons for excess speed. Said they had no control over what the bridge tender did. TRY Title 33CFR117.325. Further discussion with the Jacksonville Florida Wildlife Office resulted in their comment that they don’t enforce all the laws. ??????
Muddy Cove is west of the St. Johns River channel just north of Lake George. This removal of derelict vessels is sure to please local residents.
FLORIDA-DUNNS CREEK TO LAKE DEXTER -ST JOHNS RIVER-LAKE GEORGE: Derelict Vessel Removals.
Southland development Inc will be removing 5 derelict vessels for Clay County from the area known as Muddy Cove in Lake George, Florida. There will be some temporary piling installed to secure the turbidity barrier around the derelict vessels being removed. All piling and turbidity curtains will be removed daily and caution buoys will be deployed at any area that depicts a temporary navigation hazard. There will be a crane barge with a lattice crane and a material barge onsite. The project is scheduled to begin April 9 and is expected to be completed by April 23, 2013. The Project POC is Mr. Wayne Konga (727) 237-1520. Mariners are advised to transit the area with caution. Chart 11495
Those who cruise the full length of the St. Johns River, or at least the portion that has depths and widths appropriate for cruising size craft, will eventually end up at the city of Sanford, Florida, perched on the shores of Lake Monroe. Many cruisers who visit here berth at Monroe Harbour Marina, and, if you do, the downtown business district lies within easy walking distance. Below, Captain Mike Rizzo gives us a good recommendation on where to satisfy a healthy appetite here.
While staying at Sanford you may want to try the Willow Tree restaurant, a great German place and on some evenings it can get a bit festive with a band.
I concur! I live in Jax and anytime I find myself down that way, I got to The Willow Tree. Great food, live German music and a great place for a stroll afterwards.
The SSECN published a recent article about the free city dock at the charming St. Johns River village of Welaka, Florida, south of Palatka (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=108289). Now, in the note below, Captain Mike Rizzo seconds the recommendation for dining at Cafe Bleu, apparently within easy walking distance of the town berths.
Welaka has a town dock that you can tie to and there is a great little cafe for lunch and dinner called Cafe Blue. Everything is freshly made even the bread.
Couldn’t agree more! We stay overnight at the (FREE!) town dock every year, and Café Bleu is right there next door. Their parmesan encrusted grouper was some of the best fish I have ever had. I believe they are only open Thursday through Monday though
Captain Burnham refers to his earlier posting on Gibson Dry Dock, http://cruisersnet.net/?p=68591, and provides insight into the financial state of boat repair/storage yards during this time of economic downturn.
Thank you for allowing me to post on your excellent web service site.
I kept my comments about Gibson Dry Dock brief in order to keep from posting an advertisement. Tom Kight is a good friend I often crew with but the depression is hitting his boat storage yard especially hard this year with fewer Canadians coming down to store their boats for the summer in his Dry Dock. The Florida residents are also feeling the economic pinch and too often are giving up their boat titles for the storage fees they owe. This does not benefit the Dry Dock as these boats are often neglected and bring very little money at auction. The sad effect is that now the Dry Dock has to be selective as to the condition of the boats that are hauled out of the water lest they become the property of the Dry Dock. It is becoming common that an owner will have their boat hauled out, strip it of its engine and valuable parts and abandons the hulk. I have no doubt that this happens at other boat storage facilities also.
Gibson Dry Dock also has the problem of being south of the ill conceived 45 foot high clearance of the Shands Bridge at Green Cove Springs which limits the size of sailboats cruising south on the St Johns River. The boats that can make it under the Shands Bridge barrier are enthuiastic about finding Gibson’s and spead the word about what a great place this is to keep your boat and get it ready to sail again.
Recently, the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net published an article about the free city dock at Welaka, Florida, and other nearby attractions in this delightful river village (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=108289). Unfortunately, Captain Carolyn reports below that the old Mariner’s Museum in Welaka has now been auctioned off, after being closed for some time.
So, there’s still plenty of reason to coil your lines at the free city dock in Welaka, but don’t do it for a visit to the Mariner’s Museum.
Good Morning, Claiborne
I thought you might find this information useful for posting to Cruiser’s Net. The Maritime Museum in Welaka, FL, on the St. Johns River, has been closed for some time and is now being offered at absolute auction this week. From what I’ve read on Cruiser’s Net, many cruisers have enjoyed their visit to this attraction. I regret not having done so myself. I have included the link for the article in today’s (March 13th) “Palatka Daily News”.
Good thoughts are being sent your way for both you and your wife.
1975 Gulf Star Mark II “Double Dragon”
currently at our dock on Cedar Creek, north of Palatka
The entire cruising community owes a vote of thanks to Captain David Burnham for reporting the sunken vessel, described below. This derelict could be a real navigational hazard for many cruising craft, both of the sail and power persuasion. ALL cruisers bent on an exploration of the beautiful St. Johns River, south of Jacksonville, should be SURE and make note of this unmarked wreck, and mark it on their charts.
The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net is declaring a Navigational Alert for these waters!
There is another sunken vessel hazard on the St Johns River. This one is just north of Palatka, southwest of RED MARKER “44″. “Money Sea” one of the Rat Island Yacht Club’s Cal 29s hit it on Sunday 3/11/13, while participating the the March Madness sailboat race. The Cal 29 has a draft of 4.5 feet. Normally, when the keel touches bottom the bow drops, the stern rises and the sailboat comes to a stop. When the Cal struck the UNMARKED submerged vessel, in 12 feet of water, the bow rose up, there was a loud sound of tearing metal as the keel struck, then bow came back down and the Cal kept on sailing. We are lifting the Cal on Tuesday to survey the keel.
This submerged vessel had been marked in the past few years but after the marker was removed, local attempts by our club members to mark this hazard have been thwarted by someone removing the markers. If you have the AVIONICS app on your droid cell phone, its chart shows a marker near the hazard where no actual marker exists, but we use this app when sailing south of the high power line to the west of the marked barge channel to remind us of the sunken vessel.
This is not a hazard to most of the bass or crab fishermen in the area but with the MUG RACE coming up the first weekend it May it bears mentioning this unmarked hazard to sailboats and deeper draft vessels who are not following the marked channel and whose chartplotter says they are in 12 feet of water.
Lambs Yacht Center is the most upstream facility on the Ortega River. This stream intersects the St. Johns, immediately above downtown Jacksonville. Do note that your vessel must be able to pass under a 45-foot fixed bridge in order to access Lambs.
We kept our boat at Lamb’s Yacht Center on the Ortega river off the St. Johns just south of downtown Jacksonville. This is a well protected area and offers concrete covered storage and a very attentive dockmaster who lives on his boat there. We arrived in 2005 after the hurricanes of ’04 and after talking with other boaters decided that it was about the best protected in-water location we could find.
Many a sailor has exhausted their stock of four and five letter words while shaking their fists at the 45-foot, fixed Shands Bridge. This loathsome span crosses the St. Johns River, upstream of Jacksonville, hard by the village of Green Cove Springs, Florida. If you can’t fit under, then you will have to miss some of the best cruising and anchorages on this wonderful river!
The Bridge just south of Green Cove Springs is 45′ fixed so you are stopped there. The Water is still brackish (some hard growth still occurs) at Green Cove Springs which has a major marina Reynolds Park with dry storage, work areas and very large lift capability. This was the Navy’s old hurricane hole for ships so some of the piers are ship type piers. The river’s salinity depends on rainfall. Jacksonville does have a nice international airport albeit a not a hub it has access to all major hubs.
M/V “Carolyn Ann”
The Blackwater Inn has been one of my very favorite pieces of old Florida dining for many, many years. now. This restaurant, which has its one dinghy dockage, flanks the St. John’s western banks, immediately south of the Astor Bridge. If you are cruising the upper St. Johns, don’t dare miss a meal here!
On the way back up to JAcksonville we anchored in Astor and took the dinghy to eat at Blackwater Inn a great old time Florida restaurant.
The old Floridian community of Welaka guards the St. Johns’ eastern banks south of Palatka and north of Lake George, between markers #48 and #50. I must admit I did not know there was a free city dock here, but that ignorance is now in the past.
Has anyone else tied to the docks at Welaka? Are there power and/or water connections available dockside, and are any shoreside services such as showers in the offing? If you have any info on this facility, please either use the “Comment” function below, or follow the “Click Here to Contribute Cruising News” link on the upper right of this page.
Thanks ever so much in advance!
We did enjoy our trip from Jacksonville to Sanford. We anchored out almost every night but found free docks in both Palatka and Welaka. We met the mayor of Welaka as he came down to check out the docks. There is a free aquarium in Welaka. We recommend Cafe Bleuu for the food and the owners who are entertaining.
And now, thanks to Captains Glen and Jill (see below), we have lots more info on the Welaka city dock!
There is a free city dock in Welaka. While it seems to be set up for smaller fishing boats, and is often populated with a few folks fishing, it can handle cruising size boats. The T at the end of the dock is about 60 feet long and is the easiest place to tie up. But, there are triple dolphins outside the T, making it a very long step from the boat to the dock. It is possible to side tie to the south side of the dock, but you have to squeeze between the end of the T and a boat at the neighboring residential dock. The north side of the dock has finger piers, 20 feet long, 24 feet apart. While they are designed for two small boats, a cruising boat can fit. Longer boats could Med moor, dropping an anchor to secure the bow and back into the slip. The outer two slips have 15 foot depths. There is no electricity or water. The park up the street has restrooms and a shower.
Glen and Jill Moore
First, let me say that, over the years, Captain Bobbie Blowers and I have exchanged much information. She is an excellent observer and a superb writer.
It has been my experience that the sorts of “fish camp” type facilities, as described by Captain Bobbie below, can be real finds for cruisers. Of course, if you prefer all the amenities, this is probably not the place for you, but those of us who cherish the feeling that every puff of wind, or turn of the screw, carries us a bit farther from the maddening crowd, may find Parramore’s absolutely delightful!
Greetings from a long time cruiser, recently resurfaced! I just read the most recent account of St John’s River cruising and would like to add some info gleaned from 2 winters of experience in the Astor area.
While our trusty old trawler Namaste was on the hard in a shed in the Chesapeake getting numerous repairs done, we spent our winters in a motorhome (Yep..the Dark Side!) at Parramore’s Fantastic Fish Camp. It is located about half a mile from the St John’s River on a deep water oxbow (Morrison’s Creek) just north of the Astor bridge. (This is the northern arm of the last oxbow east of the river before the bridge.)
The facility is definitely “Old” Florida but has most everything a cruiser could want – plenty of anchoring room, boat ramp and dinghy dock, small café (Buck N Kat’s open 7 AM to 9 PM 7 days a week), club house, pool, tennis courts, laundry, small bait/sundries store, loads of country roads for walking and most of all, nice and friendly folks.
I spoke with one of the owner managers (Laurie) about cruisers’ use of the facilities. She was thrilled about the idea of cruisers coming in, especially to the café. The laundry has several machines and is available for any who want to use it. If you have a group, she can arrange use of the clubhouse facilities. Sorry..I neglected to ask about use of the pool, tennis courts and showers, but I feel sure if someone wanted to use these and spoke with her, she could make arrangements for those as well. Parramore’s telephone number is: 386-749-2721
We have cruised the St John’s twice and if we ever do so again will most definitely anchor in Morrison’s creek oxbow and dinghy in to Parramore’s. Try it!
Fair winds and the ever elusive “cheap” fuel!
You can come ashore on the west bank under the draw bridge or at one of the restaurants. You will be in walking distance of the Ace hardware store (propane), the post office, and several marine mechanics and boat shops.
Sandy and Nancy Graves
There is a wonderful anchorage off the St Johns River south of Jacksonville. Called Julington Creek or Bulls Bay. There are restaurants,
Fresh Market grocery store and a wonderful little park called Mandarin Park. Would highly recommend this stop for anyone taking the side trip on the St Johns River.
David and Sharron Knisely
The combined mouths of Murphy and Dunns Creek cut into the southern banks of the St. Johns River between markers #15 and #16. There are many good spots to drop the hook on these combined waters.
Last Thanksgiving we took a few days to explore the river south of Jacksonville to Sanford Fl. It was a beautiful trip. We would highly
recommend Murphys Creek anchorage if you are heading to the springs. Great wildlife. The springs were very shallow and a challenge. Saw a couple of eagle and a large gator. Passing by Blue spings we did see a few manatee.
This is a lovely trip.
Sharron & David