What’s a pleasant Sunday for? When you’re fortunate enough to have access to the river and Intercoastal Waterway, it can be for one of my favorite pastimes … drive-by … or in this case boat-by photography.
By Drive-By Photography … I mean just taking the camera and shooting what ever comes into view that looks interesting … often without stopping. That’s somewhat easier to do in a boat than a car, as long as you’re fairly certain of the depth of the water underneath you. Still, I like to slow down and come of plane before I start shooting.
This view is from the center of the channel just north of the Palm Valley Bridge that carries FL210 over the Intercoastal Waterway. The annual migration of sailboats coming up from South Florida to their northern ports is getting underway, and I’ll bet I saw a dozen sailboats heading north on the ICW in my 2 1/2 or so hours on the water yesterday. There were also a lot of big floating condos traveling both directions on the waterway, and their 4-5 foot wakes are always challenging in the narrow channel. Still, from this view it all looks very serene. Perhaps that’s because the area around the Palm Valley Bridge is a “No Wake” zone … not that some of those guys pay attention. It’s fairly common to sit at the restaurant under the bridge and watch the behemoths roll blithely by … causing havoc on the launching ramp under the bridge.
Intermixed with the floating condos, the kayakers, the migrating sailboats, and the Jetskis are the people actually out in the water … like this young man, a study in concentration as he jumps his tow boats’ wake on a wakeboard. I know the thrill of getting air behind a boat. I used to be a fairly accomplished water skier … back before snow skiing made hash of my knees. My slalom skiing back in the day was done on a single, long, narrow water ski, but I know these broader wakeboards are far more in style these days. it But I still recall what it was like to swing wide, pull hard, and catch air going across the boat wake. At one time, I could jump the entire wake in the right conditions. Then there was that day that I let the ski tip drop while I was airborne and traveling about 50 miles per hour on the cut. I dug the tip in the water on landing and tumbled probably 30 yards across the surface of Kenray Lake before skidding to a stop. If I hadn’t been wearing a PFD, I might had drowned that day. Hitting the water at 50 is about like hitting concrete, and it knocked the breath right out of me. I was still laboring to get my breath when the boat pulled up along side. I can’t say for sure, but I probably skied again later that day.
I couldn’t stop a the Beach Boulevard Bridge construction site to shoot the grown-up Tonka toy pulling boulders of concrete the size of Cooper Mini’s out of the ICW. They’re still clearing the rubble from the demolition of the old bridge as the new one is being built, and it was amazing to see. When I was headed south through the construction site … there were “diver down” flags flying on the barge on which the machinery sat. All I could think was “What a dismal, dangerous dive. Cold water, no visibility, fast current, and big rocks.”
As I made my way back to the marina, I continued my documentation of the old fishcamp on Johnston Island as it continues it’s slow slide into the Intercoastal. These two building are likely only one good storm away from being swept away, and I’m a little surprised they managed to survive the very high tides that were associated with Tropical Storm Faye last year. Yet hear they are, clinging to the island and looking a little more dilapidated every time I go past. I can’t help but think that one day a storm surge will pick them up off their foundations and place them either in the little bay behind the island … or float them out towards the river. At least I hope they go towards the river, because if they head south, they’ll likely block the channel under the bridge. Either way they’ll be a navigational hazard. You can all most hear the coast guard radio operator calling “Pan pan, Pan pan, Pan pan.” and alerting mariners to floating buildings in the St. Johns River.
So there you have it. Drive-By Photography. Point and shoot and hope for the best. I shot almost 150 frames yesterday, and posted about 15 of them. But more than what I brought back, I can’t tell you how privileged I feel to have the opportunity to just be out there.