May 11. Back in Green Cove Springs, Fl.

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 11th, 2017

The promises made by a few potential suppliers for the replacement of the oil cooler on Friday and a third on Monday, never came through. I assume they have bigger fish to fry than my insignificant engine part. So, I decided to head north on Tuesday morning. At first, I tried not to burden the engine too much but the cooling water came through fine. I was able to sail and motor sail most of the way from Titusville to Ponce de Leon Inlet. It was just getting dark when I got into the Atlantic. Now I could get some sleep while the boat made good progress, instead of staying on the ICW. Good thing I did, because the Coast Guard announced, on Wednesday, that the Main Street bridge in Daytona Beach was stuck in the down position.  I had a very fast sail, down wind, in the middle of the night I had to reef the main. In the morning the wind died but by then I was already past Saint Augustine.  At 1.30 pm “Fleetwood” entered the breakwater of the entrance to the St. John’s River to Jacksonville. With the full moon the current on the St. Johns River ran strong against me, but fortunately a strong North Easterly helped the engine, with the full main up. The sun had set and I was worried that I would not remember the location where the free (for the first two days) municipal marina is. But then I remembered it had to be just beyond the Hart Bridge because I took a picture in the marina, with the Hart bridge in the background, of the first paint job on “Fleetwood”, after 29 years of clear finish.

Now here is another one for my next book: “Small World encounters”. When I backed into that same slip, I used in 2009, a friendly cruiser with his stern to my slip helped to take my dock lines. It was by now half dark and I hear him say: “I know you, we met in Palau”. This was in January 2006. Gary Pione then made a big impression on me. I was sitting on the dock of the marina bar when this beautiful traditional long and narrow 8-Meter boat sailed in. Without an engine, under sail, the skipper skilfully in one swoop picked up the pennant on the mooring ball. When he rowed in with his attractive Japanese lady friend, I  introduced myself. For the rest of the story you need to look in your “SoloMan” on the Palau chapter. He had sailed this engine less beauty, (48 feet on deck and 8 1/2 beam, with a waterline shorter than my 30 footer, no lifelines/stanchions) from Hawaii via Guam to Palau.  He sold “Anthea” recently and is now cruising the Atlantic Coast on a 30 foot NonSuch.  It has an engine and more importantly, at this particular moment, a cooler for a cold beer with the memories and people we know passing the revue. I will see Gary here in Green Cove Springs tomorrow. I left early for the 06.45 Main Street (yes, Jacksonville has one besides Daytona Beach, it scared me when the Coast Guard made the announcement and I did not catch the Daytona part) Bridge opening. Back in 2008 I almost did not make that opening and would have had to wait till the morning rush hour was done. This near miss became the opening of a story I wrote for “Zeilen” about the ICW . This almost became the fate of a Frenchman in “Ma Belle”, he pulled out at the same moment but he had not counted on the strong current and was not going to make the bridge opening. The bridge tender was getting a bit nervous since from 07.00 onward he has to have the bridge shut. I thought he had a weak engine and I told him to get out of the center and hug the river bank, which I had done. This helped and me interpreting for his limited English managed to get both of us through before 7. Once through the bridge he disappeared over the horizon, it obviously was his unfamiliarity with river currents. I guess after the Rhone, Danube, Rhine etc., I picked up a few useful tricks.

Gary drew my attention to the spectacular full moon rise over the Hart Bridge and I add a picture of Tuesday night’s moon-rise on the Atlantic.

Moonrise Tuesday on Atlantic Ocean

Moonrise Tuesday on Atlantic Ocean

Hart Bridge, Jacksonville, Fl.

Hart Bridge, Jacksonville, Fl.




4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Ahoy Jack.
    We would love to make contact with you and be added to your periodic email list. Richard Schindler is a mutual friend of both of us and told me you were in US. I see you are in Green Cove Springs … incidently your tracking title says you are headed for the Panama Canal …perhaps needs an update?
    We took Angel Louise around Europe and have visited many of the same places you did. Loved it…but though we did not lose our ship we lost two engines! Darn! We\’ve lived aboard w/o a land home starting 10 yrs ago. Hope we can get in touch. im 71 and my wife a bit younger – so we have utmost admiration for what you have done on the water. We are CHICKEN SAILORS, though we keep going.
    Your fans, Ed & Sue Kelly (we loved Llelystad!)

  2. Sent you an e-mail. You are on the list and I’ll correct the tracking title, thanks for the tip.

  3. Barry Birns says:

    I am an old friend of Gary Pione from his Shakola days. Would you have a possible contact for him. I now live in Istanbul but we were friends in Tonga and Australia.
    Many Thanks

  4. Sorry Barry, just found your note. I do not seem to have it but I am checking with another source. I’ll get back to you. Envious, Istanbul one of my favorite stops. Check my blog late summer 2011.

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