Sure, there were chores. I could have been out repairing the deck, which had a stringer give way the other night, meaning some disassembly will be required, but instead got the boat out of the barn and spent some time on the St. Johns river, never a bad place to be, really.
My sister Katherine is in town, and wanted so shoot some birds in the most benign way with her ‘way better than mine’ Nikon, and so with Mom on board as well, we went north on the Intercoastal Waterway for a bit. North is somewhat less developed than south, so I thought there would be more opportunities to find some birds up that way. It didn’t disappoint. Osprey are notorious for building their nests in what ever sign they can find, and this one was in the “Slow Speed” sign just to the north of Sister’s Creek Marina. When you look at him big on Flickr, you can see the tail of a fish … our friend’s dinner no doubt, ripening in the afternoon Florida sun. I honestly didn’t see the fish tail in the nest until I was going through the photos later in the afternoon. It looks a little incongruous there, to be sure, but once you realize that it’s for our friend the Osprey to eat, it makes perfect sense.
Further up the ICW is the branch that goes over to Kingsley Plantation, a popular anchorage and swimming spot. I expected to hear my MP3 player start into “The Ride of the Valkyries” as this bunch of assorted watercraft started to come into the narrow channel at a high rate of speed. There’s a lot of the “go fast because you can” mentality going on on the waterway, which can make for some challenging navigation. The good new is, they were pleasure boats and not Huey gunships and nobody was shooting at us. And it wasn’t as bad as the day we were taking a sailboat down the Susquehanna River from Havre de Grace to the Chesapeake Bay. I recall looking astern that chilly Mothers’ Day morning about 0600 and seeing a couple hundred bass boats bearing down on us at a high rate of speed. They were determined to get to their favorite fishing spot fast, and most of the people in the boats were wearing cammo gear. I guess it was so the fish wouldn’t be able to see them.
One of the things I find so fascinating about photography is the ability to freeze an instant in time that you wouldn’t normally be able to see. This shot is an example of such an instant, as one of our ubiquitous rats with wings attempted to pluck something out of the water without actually settling down into it. What I think is particularly interesting in this shot is that you can see (if you click on the photo and look at it larger) the way the gulls wings twist to create maximum camber and therefore develop maximum lift to get it flying again after it nabs what ever that is in the water. The larger shot is a bit grainy from the amount I had to crop, but the variableness of the wing is definitely evident as the bird appears to stand on the water to get what ever morsel that is. I think it was Mr. Spock who said, and Mr. Spock said it best when he said … “fascinating, Captain.”
Of course, none of this is possible without a platform, and this one is mine. I realized recently how few pictures I have of my boat in the water, and I don’t think I have any of her under way. So here is the vessel “Party Quirks” tied to the newly-refurbished docks at Morningstar Marina, formerly Jacksonville Marina in Mayport. I can’t say enough about the effort the marina’s new owners have put into the place to make it a much nicer boating experience than before. The previous folks were nice and all, but the docks were falling apart and they had let their dredge permit lapse, so the launching basin was almost completely silted in. Even my little boat with an 18” draft couldn’t get in or out at low tide. But the basin has now been dredged, the docks are new, as are the fuel pumps, and they sell 89 octane ethanol-free fuel which won’t clog your fuel system with a lot of varnish. I’m glad I was able to stay through the past couple of lean years.
It was a grand day to be on the water. I’m looking forward to a lot more of those this year than there were last year. That wouldn’t be difficult, frankly. Maybe I’ll even venture out next weekend … on a holiday. I’ve renewed my fishing license, and it might be a good day to see what’s biting out at The Jetties …