Savannah, GA to Jacksonville, FL : Day 8 : Jacksonville, FL

Cargo Ship Under Guard

Leg 1 : Day 8 (23MAR11)

Big Boy Day

Today we made our way to Ortega Yacht Club Marina..... in Jacksonville, FL! Leg 1 is complete!

The journey was another serious learning curve as we faced new obstacles and challenges.

First big hurdle was communicating with bridge operators (called tenders) to open up to let us pass.

Bridge Closed at Sisters Creek
"Sisters Creek Bridge, Sisters Creek Bridge, Sisters Creek Bridge this is Sailing Vessel Ariel, Ariel, Ariel over" I confidently hailed.

And through the magic of radio, there was a guy on the other end!  We were polite and respectiful, and had zero attitude from the bridge tender.  We had been lead to believe that we could face attitude.

The operator told me to make my way towards the bridge and he would open it.  Taking a deep gulp of air, I plowed forward at 5 knots.  The bridge wasn't going up yet, I just trusted that it would all work.
WOW! It is actually opening on MY request!

As we approached, magically the bridge started to go up.  Am I aligned? Am I centered?
Moment of truth, going through

We made it through!

Once through the bridge, we made our way towards Jacksonville and entered a manatee zone.  Sure enough, we spotted manatees!

Then we went into tug and working boat land. At one point, we had a big tug on our front and each side! Holy Shit! It was intimidating to say the least.  They are big, powerful, noisy, and rough beasts.

Once through the working boat area, we passed the Jacksonville Jaguars stadium.

The glory of going down the waterway through a city was finally ours, with big buildings on either side.

Then we saw it, a big bridge with only 38 feet of clearance! This was the main street bridge, the blue bridge.

The Main Street Bridge is closed! How do we get through?

Do we actually ask the main street bridge to open up?

We did a pass looking things over, and decided that after 4 hours, big tugs, cargo ships, and manatees, what the hell.

"Main street bridge, Main street bridge, Main street bridge, this is Sailing Vessel Ariel, Ariel, Ariel over."

After a few particulars, the bridge actually started to open up and all the traffic began to back up.
Main Street Bridge Going Up!

Yes, we were those folks.... those folks whom stop the traffic to let our boat through. :)

Racing under at 5 knots, we then found we were hemmed in!  There was a 5 foot rail road bridge.  Were we to ask for this rail road bridge to open up separately? Oh shit.
Crap! A train has hemmed us in.

Ding! Ding! Ding!  And the low rumble of a train could be heard.  At the moment we had decided to traverse the bridge, a damn train was making its way.

Boxed in, we motored slowly around in front of Jacksonville Landing, between the now closed Main street bridge and the closed train bridge providing a major part of the ambiance.
Train has passed and now the bridge is going up.

The train passed after what seemed like an hour (it was 20 minutes), and the bridge went up!

We were on our way to the marina, to meet Paul ... the dockmaster.  A totally cool guy whom helped us all the way in.

One last bridge to get down to the marina, the Ortega river bridge.  Damn, this one was more narrow than my car, the tide was going out, and the wind was blowing us sideways.

The final bridge, the Ortega River Bridge.
We made it through and docked just fine! We can't thank Paul enough for the help to get in.

Leg 1, Savannah GA to Jacksonville FL complete.  Time to provision, rest, repair, and enjoy Jacksonville Florida for a few days.