We crossed into Florida shortly after departing Cumberland Island. We planned a late departure for 1130 hrs to time our transit of the passage through the Amelia River just south of Fernandina to coincide with a rising tide, and further on with flood current in the St. John’s River. There are a number of notorious skinny sections in the stretch between Fernandina and the St. John’s, however the problem areas are well-documented and we made the transit without issue, although we did see less than 2 ft under the keel at two spots. The bend in the Amelia River just south of Fernandina is documented, we’ve transited that section before, and didn’t see much less than about 11′ MLW less than an hour past dead low. An ocean run would have been very rough considering that the wind had been blowing 20-30 for the 4 days preceeding our run! We heard VHF reports of offshore vessels in trouble, none became serious.

We had also been monitoring Coast Guard and Navy security calls concerning a deep draft vessel, and prior to lifting the anchor, we saw two Coast Guard fast boats heading toward the inlet, as we secured the anchor, we saw the approach of the sub with its escort contingent headed toward King’s Bay. It’s an impressive sight, even at a distance the subs are mammoth. The escorts keep any vessels from approaching within 500 yards, they are quite serious about maintaining the protection zones, if somewhat dramatic. But we were well outside the zone, yet close enough to see with binoculars.

Our cruise was uneventful, and we arrived in Jacksonville by 1630 and tied up at the Metropolitan Park Marina. The City of Jacksonville maintains numerous waterfront marine facilities, this marina is located a stone’s throw from the Gator Bowl stadium, home of the NFL Jaguars. On “Event Days”, the facility is packed, and slip fees are collected, but other times, the marina is self-serve, and free. It’s a great spot, the park is huge, but there’s nothing else close by. Jacksonville Landing is within walking distance, and we made use of our bikes during our stay, visiting downtown a few times, as well as meeting friends Sean and Louise of M/V Vector, who we were delighted to see steaming into the anchorage at Cumberland a few days’ prior. Their plan took them to JAX a day ahead of us, and we learned over dinner that their arrival at the park coincided with a concert on the grounds that had enough volume to literally shake the hull of their 50 ton steel vessel! They didn’t stay, but moved up the river past the FEC railroad bridge, which was scheduled to close for five days of maintenance at 0700 the following morning. Their plans were to cruise up river, so they made the bridge opening after dark to avoid being stranded. Our arrival at the park the following day was part of our plan to head to the Marina at Ortega Landings on Friday, the 11th, the day the bridge work was scheduled to complete. It had been several years since we had visited Jacksonville, so the stay at the free marina worked out well. The weather finally settled down and we have been enjoying warm, sunny days and cool nights with a light breeze.

We arrived at Ortega just after noon on Friday, the bridge work was completed ahead of schedule, so we were able to get secured just after lunch. We’ll leave Maerin here while we travel home for a holiday visit, the marina is a secure location, and close to the airport to arrange for a rental vehicle.

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