We are docked at the Metropolitan Park Marina, adjacent to Everbank Field in downtown Jacksonville (map). The marina is run by the city and is free for short stays, except during special events. The docks are modern concrete Bellingham floating docks, with water and power. The power is activated in 24-hour increments by a self-service machine that accepts credit cards; for whatever reason, the city has bypassed this system and the power is on at all pedestals, so we got free power in addition to a free slip.
Vector at the Metropolitan Park docks at sunset. My camera could not really capture the crepuscular rays.
That free ride would come to an abrupt end, even if we were not already scheduled to depart tomorrow, on account of the TaxSlayer Bowl, which used to be called the Gator Bowl before the city figured out they could sell the naming rights. This year's bowl will be played on January 2nd, between Penn State and Georgia. I'm not certain when "special event" status starts here at the docks, but with all the New Years festivities on top of the week-long schedule of bowl-related events, I'm guessing it will be sometime tomorrow. We're planning to shove off at the 11am slack tide.
Oddly, given the holiday week, we are the only boat here, and have been since we arrived, with the exception of a pair of center consoles that spent one night, and a small sailboat that appears unoccupied. The docks are strictly for transients; the city does not lease slips.
Not the white Christmas of which one dreams...
Temperatures here have been in the 80s since we arrived, yet Christmas day we awoke to a white Christmas anyway: fog. We were engulfed for much of the morning, but by the afternoon it was a nice day. We had a very nice dinner at the Chart House. The water taxi service was closed on Christmas, so we had no worries about encroaching on their dock, and it was a short tender ride and an even shorter walk.
Waiting in the bar, over a cocktail, for our dinner reservation.
We very much enjoyed our anchorage, even though the river whips through there at two knots in each direction. It was super convenient for dinner, and just a tad longer ride to the Landings across the river for breakfast and other sundries. The city views are lovely, it's far enough from the hustle and bustle to be very quiet, and it's close enough to the bridge that the wakes from passing boats were not much of an issue.
Jacksonville and the bridges from our cozy spot.
When we finally did weigh anchor, though, we found ourselves caught on some kind of underwater obstruction. We probably should have guessed this from the fact that we did not appear to be traveling the full length of the chain every time the current changed. Between Louise working the windlass and watching the chain direction, and me jockeying the boat, we finally got untangled and hoisted the anchor on board.
The wake our dinghy is making at anchor gives you a sense of the current. This is on the flood.
I've marked the position of the obstruction on our chart, so we can avoid it if we go back to anchor tomorrow evening. I'll also add a hazard marker to the Active Captain database so no other unsuspecting skipper will be ensnared. We were lucky to get out under our own power without having to dive the chain, a task I would likely hire out in these waters.
Boxing day sunrise over the Hart Bridge.
And in the other direction, the full moon has not yet set.
We timed our departure to arrive here at slack, and we had no problem getting alongside on a nice T-head inside the protection of the large outer docks. There is a huge eddy right outside the entrance when the current is running; I'm glad we timed it for slack.
Shortly after getting the boat squared away we put the scooters down. I'm happy to report that mine started right up and Louise's after just a few tries, which was the way it had always been before the recent carburetor episode. We've been enjoying going a bit further afield for dinner each evening, and we've made two provisioning runs, to Walmart and Publix, to gear up for company.
I've also been cruising around town checking out parking options for our guests, and we've made a few trips to the post office and FedEx to rid ourselves of some items we sold on eBay. Those would include the massive 12-volt alternator I removed from the main engine as part of the upgrade to 24 volts; it took several months but someone finally bought it.
I managed to belt out a couple of projects while we're here at the dock. One concerned my scooter, whose horn has been inoperative for a while, after being intermittent for a longer while; now that we're using them daily I really needed a working horn. And I installed a weatherproof 120-volt power outlet on the flybridge. In addition to making it easier to use the shop vac and other tools up there, it's handy for plugging in some of the LED holiday lights we bought on super-sale on Boxing Day.
Our good friends Ben and Karen are slated to arrive tomorrow. We'll shove off at slack tide, pull around to the pumpout dock to take care of business, and then head upriver. If there's room at Jacksonville Landing we'll tie up there for the day, which will make getting them and their gear aboard easier.
The plan after that is a bit loose. Jacksonville is doing fireworks over the river for New Years Eve, and if we can find a good spot to anchor, we'll probably remain here until New Years Day. Then we'll likely head to St. Augustine via the ICW, unless we luck into a very calm day on the ocean. We'll continue working our way south, and when they are ready to leave us on the 4th, we'll rent a car someplace and drive them back here to get their car.
Once our guests are aboard, I'm not likely to have much time to blog, so you may not hear from me until after the 4th. In the meantime, we wish everyone a very happy New Year celebration. I will leave you with our 2015 "stats" (projected to 12/31):
Nautical miles traveled: 5,102
Engine operating hours: 842
Generator run hours: 682
U.S. States/Districts: 12
Foreign Countries: 1
Mooring Balls: 6
Nights at sea: 9