Date: 16 July 2015. On the St. John's
decades pass many take the time to reflect upon our lives. Of late
I've been remembering my early years. I have been a boater since the
start of my life. In that regard I am extremely fortunate. That my
folks kept the family home and were able to share the life nautical with my
duo is also wonderful.
home, heading out Sister's Creek in Marathon.
My children have many memories of cruising with Grandma and
I've been a boater since the very beginning. I made the Log Book,
obliquely, at conception. My folks were headed south, on the Dismal
Swamp canal and it was very cold that winter.
The Dismal Swamp Canal
is south of the Chesapeake in Virginia.
The story of Daddy and his boat is
found in the
The Fishing Boat
I was born aboard too, in forward berth down in
Florida. It is therefore quite natural for me to feel at home on the
water. I am glad too.
And later when I married that landlubber, my duo were still
able to go on cruises with my parents. They also were
enamored with life afloat.
Daddy, barefoot as usual,
following Son and Kidlet up the dock.
I didn't start running our boat until I was ten. We were going
through the bridge just north of Palatka, FL heading up the St.
John's River. The St. John's River, like the Amazon, flows from
south to north.
The plan was to haul out and do
the bottom. That means for our steel boat, take the hull down to
bare metal and repair any problem areas. Next we would repaint with
a concoction of layers Daddy swore worked best from the
waterline to the bottom of the keel. The rest of the hull (waterline
to the *gunnels) would be repainted so it would look pretty.
*Gunnels: where the hull meets the
There was a railway just south and
west of the bridge that belonged to friends. It was inexpensive and
we liked the owners Alan and Suzanne Jacobs. I babysat their son
who later went on to represent the United States in the Olympics.
Weightlifting I think, but it's been a lot of years so don't hold me
From there we would head south along
the St. John's River. I would play with the friendly manatee near
the edge of the water hyacinths that blocked the river.
These are water hyacinths:
Learn more about water hyacinths at
Water hyacinths are an invasive
plant that grows thick and prevents boats from navigating.
Periodically they are removed from the river. The plants, though
pretty, multiply like mosquitoes in swamp water.
Manatees like to eat them.
Too, you need to be aware of water
moccasins. They are a swimming snake and quite deadly. Water
moccasins are almost invisible unless you know what to look for. Be
This picture by Aubrey M. Heupel
shows how well they blend with the environment.
More information about water moccasin
snakes can be found on the Living
Alongside Wildlife page.
Life afloat back then was simple. Boats were not
as fancy. We had a good time anyway, even without what many
Don't wait too long to get out here. Even if your
first boat isn't ideal, you can make her better.
Thank you to Aubrey
M. Heupel for allowing me to use the wonderful
photograph of the water moccasin. The focus of her website is
coastal flora and fauna. My favorites are the critters that
inhabit same, and there are some dandy ones on the website.
Fingerprince Prints and enjoy.
Have you ever cruised on the St. John's River?
How far did you go before heading back north?
Change of Light Bulbs (LED versus
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Finding Your Boat (part 1)