UPDATE#17 05/24 thru 05/31/07

Howdy Everybody,

The period 01/19/07 thru 05/23/07 has been covered in Updates 1 through 16.  We continue with UPDATE07 # 17.


 UPDATE07 #17   05/24/07 through 05/31/07.

     Welcome back to the new Adventures of the trawler AMARSE.  At last update, we were overnight docked at E. Palatka, Florida while exploring the St. Johns River.



     The morning weather on the St. Johns River was clear, relatively calm, and the temperature in the mid 60’s F.  It has been a delightfully peaceful and quiet night on the dock at Gator Landing.  We had a fun time last night at the Gator Landing Bar and Restaurant.  This charming lady Gator with Judy is named “Queen Floozie”.  Do you think she is one of those “Red Hat” ladies?

     In the dining room, the walls are lined with taxidermies fish specimens.  Life-sized gators are situated throughout.  The food was quite good.

     It was 9:30am before we got away from the dock at mile 77.6.  We had waited for a fair tide to give us a little push down the river to our destination.  At mile 47.2, we turned east into Palmo Cove and into Six Mile Creek.  A mile or two up the creek, the Outback Crab Shack provides 1000 feet of free dock for their customers.  During the week, the facility is relatively quiet, however, folks have told us that weekends are really wild here with lots of boats rafted up together.  This tranquil creek transforms into wild water, party central.  

     This little alligator was hanging around right alongside our dock spot.  Isn’t he cute?  I’d bet his big Mama is nearby.



     The long, concrete floating docks are very nice.  Unfortunately, there are no power or water hookups.  We chose a spot, halfway down from the restaurant/bar to relax in the peace and quiet.



     Here is another local resident of these waters.  He was pretty big and quite fearless.  I bet Phil Hall would have liked this one.



     Inside the restaurant, this display will get you to thinking real quick.  They almost look like they are smiling.  Oh, what big teeth you have, Mr. Gator!



     All the better to “Chomp” you with, my dear!


     For lunch, I ordered the Fried Crawfish and Judy ordered the BBQ ½ chicken.  The chicken came out cold and Judy had to send it back.  They were very apologetic and returned with a pitcher of beer to ease the pain.  A little while later, they arrived at the table with not one, but two, ½ chickens and a ton of French Fries.  Now, we were half lit and stuffed to the gills.  We couldn’t eat it all.

     It was the perfect afternoon for a well-deserved nap.


POSITION: N29 57.689 W081 32.725    Today, we had traveled 31.0 miles.




     Wanting to get to our destination early and to take advantage of a favorable tide, we departed the long dock at 6:30 am.  Out Six Mile Creek, through Palmo Cove, and back onto the St. Johns River at mile 47.2, we passed by Green Cove Springs along the continually widening portion of the river.

     It was the beginning of the long, Memorial Day holiday weekend and we wanted to secure a good spot at the Jacksonville Landing free dock.  At 10:30 am, we were one of the first boats to arrive, so we had our pick of the dock.  We chose the opening right next to Hooter’s Restaurant.  We ran a bow line, a stern line, a forward spring line, a aft spring line, and, considering our location, the all-important “breast line”.

     Fellow loopers, Chuck and Jacque, from “R ENCHANTMENT” were there to help and greet us.  We went to the Chamber of Commerce to get the lowdown on the weekend activities.

     The bands were playing on stage every night from about 6pm to 2am.  Of course, we were hoping for a lot of “our-kind” of music.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of it was “their-kind” of music.  For us “more mature” listeners, It was too loud and too acid rock.  When the bands finally quit at 2am, they put on recorded music that blared all night long.  Now, in retrospect, we should have docked further away from the stage area.  Next time, we will select a spot a bit further south on the same dock.



     Today, we had traveled 31.2 miles with a moving average of 8.0 mph.

POSITION: N30 19.466 W081 39.641   St. Johns River mm 18.9. 



     The vacuum reading on the port engine’s primary fuel filter, the Racor 500, has been running too high and in the red zone.  I decided to change out both Port and Starboard elements.  I think what is probably happening is that since I installed the correct spacer part in the filter unit, we are getting better filtration and that the elements are capturing some of the finer particles that were previously bypassing.  Much to my surprise, I only had one, 2-micron, element on board.  I know that there are more somewhere on this boat, but we sure couldn’t find them.  No big problem, we could get more locally.

     Then, we had the ugliest of problems.  The main head (toilet) got plugged up.  What a mess!  They should make a “Reality TV Show” about this.  Anyway, when I pulled the mechanism apart, I found that the hoses were very clogged with a residue of salt that builds up like cement.  The normally 1-1/2 inch hose was clogged to about 3/4ths of an inch.  The joker valve was encrusted with the same salt, cement-like residue.  The vented loop was also jammed up with residue.  This is not the most pleasant part of the cruising lifestyle.

     Our wonderful friends, Doug and Leslie Folkerth (HAPPY CLAMZ), came to the rescue.  We had planned on having lunch with them, however, this problem would delay that plan.  They offered to take us to find new parts.  OK, we went to West Marine and Pier 7 Marine.  I couldn’t find the exact Joker valve for the Raritan, however, they had a Jabsco part that appeared to be suitable.  At almost 2pm, I tackled the replacement process.  I put the fuel system back together first so that we could use the air conditioner.  Then, I replaced the clogged parts in the head unit.  By 3:30 pm, everything appeared to be working fine and we could get cleaned up for an early dinner.

     Doug and Leslie picked us up at 4pm for the ride to Maggiano’s Little Italy Restaurant located in the St. Johns Center Mall.  This restaurant chain is one of my all time favorites.  The food is the best Italian that I’ve ever had and the portions are huge.  Together, we enjoyed an appetizer of Onion Straws.  Judy and I shared a half sized Caesar Salad, shared a Lasagna dinner, and shared a Tiramisu desert.  The “Happy Clamz” enjoyed sharing a half sized Chopped Salad, Doug had the half order of Spaghetti and Meatballs (he needed to ‘Carb-Up’ for the big bike ride tomorrow), and Leslie chose the half order of Gnocchi in Vodka sauce.  A Crème Brule topped off their meal.  

     I highly recommend the Maggiano’s Restaurants.  If you get the opportunity, I am confident that you will find it the most delightful of experiences.

     This is what “AWESOME” friends look like!  Our heartfelt THANX once again!



     This is what a “Super-Happy” couple, with awesome friends, looks like.


     Doug and Leslie had to head home to rest up for the big, bike ride on this holiday weekend.  They dropped us off at Jacksonville Landing about 6:30pm.  We grabbed our portable, folding chairs and hopped aboard the Water Taxi.   


      We were headed for Metro Park where the “Sounds and Sights of Music 2007” program was getting ready to start.  The featured performers were Jim Belushi and the Sacred Hearts Band.  Now, this is our kind of music; Great Chicago Blues with a beat and lyrics that we can understand.


     Many of you probably remember John Belushi and Dan Akyroyd in “The Blues Brothers Band.”  Back in those days, they asked Jim to join them for a gig as “Little Brother Z”.  To get ready, Jim kind of “crashed” into the Sacred Hearts Band for some experience.  He’s been playing with them since.  Most of the band is from Texas, however, they sure can belt out that Chicago blues sound.



     Jim loves the pretty girls and the pretty girls love Jim.



     Unfortunately, the performance was altogether too short.  I could have listened to that stuff all night.  The second part of the concert was the playing of a movie on a huge, inflatable screen.  The animated feature of “Hoodwinked”, a cartoon twist on the “Little Red Riding Hood” theme, had Jim Belushi playing the voice part of the woodsman.  It was fun, however, I’d have preferred more of that great, blues music.

      With just a phone call, the water taxi picked us up at the Metro docks just after 11pm.  It was a bit disappointing to find that the vented loop had a small leak.  Fortunately, I had bought a new one that afternoon.  Within an hour, I had the part replaced and the system is now fully functional.  This was one job that I’m glad to be done with.

     Until 2am, the band on the Landing stage blasted out their version of acid rock that sounded more like hideous, repulsive noise to us.  Once again, they left the recorded music on all night; Boom, Boom, Boom!




     The Sunday bus schedule is on reduced frequency.  The trolley and overhead monorails are completely shut down.  We walked to Rosa Parks/FCCJ Downtown station.  Checking out the various routes, we determined that we could take the R1 bus to Jacksonville Beach.  Once there, we had lunch at Lubi’s Sandwich Shop.  They have a unique way to make sandwiches using hoagie rolls with a mixture of ground beef, onions, and mushrooms.  There are a dozen or so varieties of sauces and toppings to suit each individual taste.  I had mine with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.  Judy had the stroganoff with gravy, mushrooms, and provolone cheese.  Although different, we enjoyed it quite well.

     The beachgoers were out in force on this beautiful holiday weekend.  A stiff breeze was kicking up the surf and the lifeguards were flying the red danger flags.  A dangerous undertow, combined with rip-currents, makes conditions hazardous.  The lifeguards were constantly blowing their whistles at swimmers who were venturing to far from shore.



     We just missed the K2 bus, so, we took the R1 back to the Downtown station.  Dinner was served on the sundeck of AMARSE.  The early band was playing a mix of enjoyable music as we sat comfortably aboard.  Judy fixed a Roast Beef with Grilled Onion sandwich for herself.  She stacked shaved Virginia Ham and Swiss cheese on a Kaiser Roll for me.  Unfortunately, the second band felt their own urges to destroy everyone’s eardrums with something akin to squealing tires and a bad muffler.  Once again, the canned music played continuously all night long disturbing any chance for peace.  I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “If the music is too loud, You’re too Old.”  Maybe they were right; “What do you think?”




     Judy and I offer our most sincere, Thank You, to all those brave soldiers that have paid the supreme sacrifice to help ensure the freedom that we so deeply embrace.  I am deeply saddened that they had to give their life in war, however, there is no more noble cause than that of freedom and the safety of mankind.  I am greatly blessed to have been one of the more fortunate ones to return unharmed.  I am constantly aware that many of my compatriots were required to pay the much higher price.

     Our friend, Bill Donovan, formerly of INTEGRITY, recommended that we try the Metro Diner.  With holiday scheduled bus service, we took the B7 bus from Water and Pearl Streets to 3302 Hendricks Ave (at Felch St) in the San Marcos district.  Judy ordered the Jumbo Chicken Pot Pie.  I was eager to try the “Yo Hala”, a challah bread stuffed with bananas sautéed in Frangelica, cooked like French Toast, and topped with Blueberry/Strawberry compote.  Sounded so great, however, when it was served, it was still hard frozen in the middle.  The apologetic waitress recommended the Big Grouper Sandwich as a substitute.  It was very good.  The manager was so apologetic that he did not charge us for the meals.  We will certainly be anxious to return there again on our next visit.  We, too, recommend the Metro Diner for breakfast or lunch.


     It amazed us at how much staff it takes to run this relatively small, but busy, restaurant.  Try it, you’ll like it.


     With the reduced bus service, we found it more advantageous to walk along Felch Street for a couple of blocks to St. Augustine Road.  We took the I-6 bus from there to downtown.  We took the opportunity to look at a couple more of the incredible Jaguar statues in the city.  This one depicts the alien machine disguised as a Jaguar and ready to take over the planet earth.



     This one was particularly clever.  It represents a very studious ‘cat’.  There are all kinds of names and cute sayings on it referring to cats.  For instance, “Albert Felinestein”, “Smarty Cat”, “Wolfgang Meowzart”, “Clawed Monet”, “Madam Furrie”, “Picatso”, and, of course, the “Purr-ogress Report” gave it an A+.



     There was a nice band playing at the Landing Stage.  Unfortunately, it started to rain lightly and they quickly packed up and left.  We decided to go upstairs to the American Grill for supper.  My burger was very good and Judy enjoyed the Chicken Strips.

     I am not sure I understand why they left the music on again all night.  I will definitely try for a space just a little further to the south next time.  There, we will rest better, I think.  All in all, it has been a fabulous weekend here at Jacksonville.  We look forward to our return soon.




     It was our day to move on from Jacksonville.  We consulted the tide tables to predict the current at various locations leading down river to the ocean.  At 10:15 am, we cast off while still bucking a slight current.  Our thinking was that we would soon meet with a slack tide followed by a favorable current.  The plan worked as expected.  After leaving the downtown area, we passed the commercial freight docks where the huge container ships are loaded and unloaded.



     At 12:25 pm, we had traveled the last 18.9 miles of the St. Johns River and rejoined the ICW near Sisters Creek at MM 739.5 as measured from Norfolk, VA.  The scenery throughout this area is very beautiful.  At 3:15 pm, we arrived at Fernandina Beach.  After paying the $16.05 for our reserved mooring ball located in the new mooring field, we attached our bow line through the large thimble eyelet of the mooring pennant line of buoy #1.  We decided to put on some fuel to ensure adequate supply.  Judy released our bow line and we motored over to the Florida Petroleum dock.  This is renowned as being about the cheapest fuel in Florida.  The dockman was rather arrogant and bordered on downright rude.  There was another boat fueling on the #1 pump so we were assigned the #2 pump.  Unfortunately, the nozzle would not fit into our fuel filler.  We asked him to check the #1 nozzle size for us.  He refused saying that he knew it was the same.  I told him that we had refueled here before but he said for us to go next door.  Surprised at his attitude, we returned to our mooring still wondering how a person like that could hold a job dealing with the public.  Oh well, Whatch gonna do?

     The current is quite fierce in this area where the tidal range can exceed 8 feet.  A secure mooring fosters a restful sleeping experience.  This beautiful sunset restored our spirits and cheered our mood.  I prepared much too much of my version of Jambalaya for our suppertime meal.  It was really quite good.



     Today, we traveled 41.7 miles at a moving average of 8.0 mph.

POSITION: N30 40.227 W081 28.153   mm 716.5.




     At 7:28 am, we dropped the mooring pennant and headed back to the Florida Petroleum fuel dock by 7:45am.  It was our hope that the guy from yesterday was not on duty and we were in luck.  The dockman this morning was Reggie.  He was also on duty when we fueled here last year.  He has been employed here for over 20 years and is absolutely wonderful and helpful.  The #1 pump nozzle was still a little large, but, at least, we were able to get it to work well enough to fill our tanks.  If the guy from yesterday had been cooperative, we could have filled up then.  Thanks Reggie.

     We were underway with full fuel tanks at 8:35am.  Within a few miles, we had entered the State of Georgia.  The waterway twists and turns as it winds its way north.  To port, we passed the huge, Kings Bay nuclear submarine base.  On our starboard side, the Cumberland Island stretched for many miles.  We were fortunate to see more than 10 of the island’s famous wild horses.  They were peacefully grazing in several marsh fields near mile 695.

     The open waters of Jekyll Sound were fairly well behaved today.  The tide was very low at this time and the sandy shoals of Jekyll Point showed only the very tip of a wrecked boat that didn’t make it around the point some years ago.



     When passing through Jekyll Creek along the ICW at low tide, boaters must be very careful to stay in the very middle of the channel to maintain enough depth.  Although we had no problem, we’d bet the towing companies generate a fair amount of revenue from these tricky waters.

     As we intersected with the Brunswick River at ICW mile 680, we headed up river toward the large, high rise bridge. 



     A sharp, starboard turn carried us up the harbor reach of the East River.  Initially, a large sand and gravel operation occupies both banks.  Traveling at No-Wake speed, we soon came upon the first of the fishing fleets.



     We were told that this huge square rigger was built in Brazil at the cost of some 8 million dollars.  After the owner’s wife died, it was sold for around 3 million dollars to the leader of some cult organization.  We were told that the government is looking for this man and cannot yet find him due to the hiding efforts of the cult members.  Fact or Fiction?; I don’t know.



     Another fleet of fishing boats lines the Brunswick City docks.  From here, you get your first glimpse of the Brunswick Landing Marina ahead.



     The marina is comprised of fourteen rows of floating, concrete docks.  Each row has individual slips on each side of the center walkway.  The finger piers are full and everything is beautifully maintained.  AMARSE was assigned to a slip on Row 11.  Sherry and Cindy are the very helpful staff here at the marina.  They were standing by to help with lines as we backed into our slip assignment.  I can’t think of any way that they could have been more helpful.  They explained everything in detail and gave us an orientation of the city and its attractions.  We are very impressed with this marina and the way we are treated by the staff.  This will be home for AMARSE for at least the next month while we take our air/land trip to Texas.



     We took a walk into the historic district of Brunswick, which borders the waterfront area.  There are a lots of pleasant shops and restaurants lining the rows of lovely, old buildings that have been beautifully restored.



     We stopped by the Greyhound Bus Station to pick up our tickets to return to Jacksonville on 6/5.  It is very convenient to get to the airport in Jacksonville via public transportation.  Our flight to San Antonio departs in the afternoon so that connections will not be a problem.

     We stopped at Fox Den Pizza for a couple of happy hour beers.  I had a small pizza and Judy had a steak and cheese Stromboli.  The food is good and we are pleased to recommend the 3-6pm happy hour.

     Today, we traveled 42.7 miles at a moving average of 7.5 mph. 

POSITION: N31 09.407 W081 29.967     5 MILES UP RIVER FROM ICW MM 680.




     I worked all morning on these log updates.  Judy took advantage of the nice, new laundry facilities here at the marina.  The machines are conveniently located in an air-conditioned building that doubles as a guest lounge with direct TV satellite.  She was able to chat with several of the other marina gals engaged in similar chores.

    Sometime just after noon, we spotted SIMPLY SOUTHERN tying up on Row 14.  Jimmie Ethridge introduced us to his crewman, Toby.  He is filling in for Betsy while she does grandkiddie duty in Washington, DC.  She will be back in a couple of weeks at Georgetown, SC.  As good friends do, we spent the best part of the afternoon just chatting together. 

     Judy and I walked to town for happy hour at Fox Den Pizza.  Jimmie and Toby joined us later.  Together we had our pizzas and Judy had another Steak Stromboli.  As we walked back to the boats in the early evening, we could tell that the “No-See-Ems” were starting to come out.  We headed back to AMARSE and turned on the Air-conditioner to cool us and keep us protected from the evening bugs.  It sure is nice to be able to close up the boat and be comfortable.

     A little TV and continued work on these log updates consumed the entire evening.  So far, we like this place very much.


        As I publish this edition, it is 06/01/07 and we are in Brunswick, Georgia.  Please let us know if you have any special suggestions and thoughts.

     Thanks for allowing us to share our life and adventures with you.

     REMEMBER:  The website is now fully active and you can visit it at any time.  You can review any of the 2006 or 2007 logs and learn more about the crew and our plans.  Enjoy.  


"AMARSE".  is pronounced "AM-ARE-SAY".  Our website is:   www.amarse.net   .


Lot of Love,

Fred Reed and Judy Law