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
Skipper Reeves continues his exploration of the St. Johns, visiting some of the off the beaten path locations. Boat Tree Marina lies just north of the St. Johns’ entry into Lake Monroe. This facility features a well sheltered harbor.
We visited Boat Tree and stayed for a couple of months. Would have stayed longer but the docks are dangerous, in need of replacement. See for pictures web site attached. The people are wonderful. Kristy is awesome ! Taking care of us and all. The marina is about 2 miles from nearest food store and 4 miles to shopping center. Ships store has some supplies. The bicycle trails are not there or they stop just when you need them to stay out of traffic. The restaurant/bar was closed. The showers are clean and the laundry is clean. The pool is nice. There is a cafe with good food & prices for breakfast and lunch on site along with a Hair Salon, Sherry the owner is most gracious allowing us to use her wifi at the cafe otherwise we never saw the free wifi. The leash your pets rule is not enforced and a small dog was bitten by a boater’s big dogs running loose. For pics and more see http://ontheofficewautoteacher.blogspot.com/2015_06_01_archive.html
These temporary markers are in a small bay just east of the Sanford waterfront leading to the Sanford Boat works and Marina.
FLORIDA – ST JOHNS RIVER: Temporary Aids Established.
The following aids have been temporarily established to facilitate local PATON [Private Aids to Navigation] construction.
-Mothers Arm TRLB 2, Fl Q R in position 28-48-59.873N 081-14-33.773W
-Mothers Arm TRUB 4 in position 28-49-00.574N 081-14-22.831W
-Woodruff Creek Cutoff TRUB 5 in position 28-48-55.856N 081-14-07.355W
Located on the Ortega River just above the Roosevelt Blvd. Bridge and just below the intersection of the Ortega and St. Johns Rivers, Ortega Yacht Club Marina is especially convenient to the Riverside section of Jacksonville. Our thanks to Skipper Herl for this report.
Ortega Yacht Club, Florida
Ortega Yacht Club is a bit out of the way if you plan to stay on the ICW. It is 20-25 mile from Sisters Creek on the ICW so if you go, you have to do it on purpose. If you have some time and want to get away from the ICW for a few days the Ortega would be a great place to do just that. Ortega is not affiliated with any FCYC Yacht Clubs.
Paul the dock master is great, tryes to help you in any way he can. One day we needed to get to a Wall Mart, Paul carried us to Wall Mart in his truck so we could replace a TV that stopped working.
We stayed over a week. Completed some chores, did laundry, (and that needed to be accomplished) and were able to get away from the boat for a while to do some shopping. The shopping is within walking distance. Belks, West Marine, Publics, CVS, restraunts and lots more. I was able to stop into a hearing aid place (not my brand) to get my aids checked and cleaned. They were actually exited to help us as well as interested in our trip. Another hint is to buy a real comfortable back pack for the grocery runs.
Boathouse Marina overlooks the shores of the St. Johns River west-southwest of Palatka City Marina and marker #1. As Skipper Herl points out, cruisers docking here are within walking easy distance of the shops and restaurants in downtown Palatka.
Boathouse Marina, Palatka
Was a very pleasant run from Lake George to Boathouse, 3.5 hr @ approx. 9 knot. We arrived in the pm and were docked and tied by just after noon. This was really different for us, we normally don’t get in until 3:00 or 4:00 pm.
The marina facilities are very clean but rustic. We were able to catch up on our laundry. Boathouse is also within walking distance to good eats and to just see the town. Very nice walk.
We do have friends on the area so we were able to commandeer a car. Publics, WinDixie and a Walmart are within a short drive. We were able to just relax, even took the dingy out for evening cruises on the river. We were also able to visit Ravine Gardens, spent several very pleasant hours there.
Acosta Creek Marina lies on the east side of the St. Johns River between markers #41 and 42A, south of Seminole Grove, FL. Congratulations to the Simons and we wish them the very best with all their plans.
Recently, Bob and Jane Simons acquired Acosta Creek Marina (formerly Acosta Creek Harbor) in Satsuma Fl. from previous owners James and Cathy Towles. Eager to bring more business into the marina, Jane & Bob have been working hard planning big improvements and repairing facilities that already exist. For those not familiar with the area, Acosta Creek Marina sits approximately an hour and a half south of Jacksonville, two hours north of Orlando, fifty minutes southeast of St Augustine and an hour east of Gainesville all by car. Those of you traveling by water the Acosta Creek Marina is located within close proximity to channel marker 42.
The new owners of Acosta Creek Marina have very big plans for their new purchase including expanding many of the marina’s services, as well adding to the goods carried by the ship’s store and improving the grounds about Acosta Creek Marina. Their ultimate goal is to make Acosta Creek Marina not just a stop over or place to store your vessel but a destination on this scenic part of the St. Johns River. They currently offer very affordable dockage at only $7.00 a foot per month with electric on a metered basis and have removed the previous length requirement in order to bring in new customers. Transient dockage is $1.00 a foot daily plus $6.50 for electric. Although Acosta Creek Marina is located in a rural setting, the new owners can arrange transportation for you into town to purchase supplies or check out many of the excellent restaurants in the area. One of their personal favorite dining establishments is Hawg Wash BBQ, with authentic excellent smoked barbecue. The marina is equipped with a 25 ton travel lift and a boat yard where you can do-it-yourself or have one of the many skilled contractors work on your vessel for you. The marina features fixed wood piers with finger slips, showers, a laundry facility and a ship’s store that Jane is working hard to improve.
Other amenities on site encompass a full gambit of recreational activities, with cabins, RV spots, picnic tables, and the soon to be installed horseshoe pits and grills. Some of the best bass fishing in the world is located within in a couple minutes of Acosta Creek Marina and the beautiful crystal clear freshwater springs are located only a short beautiful cruise away.
Georgetown Marina and Lodge lies north of marker #72, a short hop north of the St. Johns River’s northerly intersection with Lake George.Our thanks to Skipper Herl for this report.
Georgetown Marina, Lake George, Florida
Georgetown Marina, located at the very north end of Lake George. We originally thought about getting fuel there but they were having trouble with their pumps and they were running really slow. George Town is a nice quiet little fish camp type of marina. The people are very friendly and helpful. Since it is at the very north end of the lake, it can be a bit lumpy if the wind is out of the south.
There are not a lot of stores or restaurants within walking distance, so it is probably only for one night stops.
We wanted to stop in Lake George and take the dingy into Silver Glen Springs, but the weather did not cooperate. If your ever in the area Silver Glen Springs is one place you should put on the to do list. On weekends it can get really crowded, especially holidays.
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.
Additional Information from Skipper Reeves on 6/15/2015
A most excellent place to be on the river. The rangers are hard working and very helpful. The deep water (we saw 5 ft) is at the T dock as you approach from the North it is first one on your starboard. Do not get too close to the shore when you come in. The nice floating docks are self serve. Rangers are not allowed to help you dock. The T dock has 50 amp power and water. $10 a nite if Fl resident, $20 if not. The inside docks are for small craft only. We stopped for a few days going to Sanford and a few more on our return trip. From here you can visit Blue Springs and take a trip in your dink or kayak all the way around on Snake Creek. The Rangers rent canoes. Just like the Amazon with all the wildlife. We visited in winter. Watch your pet around the shore. Alligators everywhere. The park trails, the fishing, all is Good! We had some wifi from across the river on our booster. The park has limited supplies, more across the river. It is a no wake zone but idiots will blast through sometimes. Very quiet and laid back at night and week days. You can anchor in the creek to the North if you wish. The showers are hot and clean. Day use is allowed for a small fee. See more and pictures http://ontheofficewautoteacher.blogspot.com/2015/03/hontoon-island-state-park-has-lot-of.html
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.
Click Here for more photos of Murphy Island
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, email@example.com
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: