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Date: 16 July 2015. On the St. John's River.


As the decades pass many take the time to reflect upon our lives. Of late I have 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 nautical life with my duo is also wonderful.

The family home, heading out Sister's Creek in Marathon.

My children have many memories of cruising with Grandma and Grandpa-on-the-boat.

For me, I have been a boater since the very beginning. I made the Log Book, albeit obliquely, at conception. My folks were headed south, on the Dismal Swamp canal and it was very cold that winter night.

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 article.

I was born aboard too, in forward berth, starboard side down in Florida. It is therefore quite natural for me to feel at home on the water. I am glad too. And yes, I have been Miss Right from the beginning.


Later when I married that landlubber, my duo were still able to go on cruises with my parents. The little ones were also were enamored with life afloat.


Daddy, barefoot as usual, following Son and Kidlet up the dock.


I did not 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.

PALATKA is on the west side of the St. John's River.

When heading south on the St. John's you go under a draw bridge then to starboard (west side) is a boatyard.

The plan was to haul out and do the bottom. That means for our steel boat, to take the hull down to bare metal and repair/replace with new steel 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 she would look pretty.

*Gunnels: where the hull meets the deck.

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 has been a lot of years so do not hold me to that...

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 sometimes blocked the river.

These are water hyacinths:

Learn more about water hyacinths at http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/141

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 careful!

This picture by Aubrey M. Heupel shows how well moccasins blend in 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 considered necessities.

Please do not wait too long to get out here. Even if your first boat is not 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.

Visit Fingerprince Prints and enjoy.

Have you ever cruised on the St. John's River?
How far did you go before heading back north?

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2015, 2023

Categories: Boat Talk, Characters, Locations, Memory Lane, Security, Wild Things

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