We pulled into the Marina at Ortega Landing in Jacksonville in mid-August with a one week reservation. And ended up staying two months.
We’re pretty sure by now you’re no longer surprised by these extended stays.
A couple weeks of active cruising followed by a month or two still is suiting us quite right these days. And we’re simply loving having time to balance work, boat projects, life and exploring.
And being inland was a perfect place to wait out the peak of hurricane season, which was our impetus for extending our stay.
First, the 13 minute video version of the segment of our travels (err.. non-travels?):
Being still gives us plenty of opportunity to tackle boat projects. On this particular stay, our batteries were in dire need of replacement if we were to do any further anchoring out this cruising season.
We initially thought we’d just run down to Costco and buy some cheap lead acid golf cart batteries to replace our existing ones.. but of course, we just can’t keep things that simple.
After speaking with several lithium battery companies, we decided to accept Battleborn Batteries’ (affiliate link) offer to ship us 6 of their drop in replacements. And somehow that lead to us proceeding with an inverter replacement from Victron, changing the location of the battery compartment and re-wiring pretty much the entire boat for 24v.
We’re seriously backlogged on our documentation (heck, we’ve not even documented our marine electronics upgrade which was a year ago!) – but we’ll do our best to get caught up. Maybe.
And of course boat projects are never ending – we also redid some plumbing in the master bathroom and installed a soft start and Wi-Fi controlled thermostat for an air conditioner.
The boat was in complete chaos mode for several weeks, and the projects should have kept us busy enough as is.
We honestly hadn’t been expecting much of Jacksonville. It has always been in our minds to be a generic big city you did your best to route around when traveling by vehicle.
Boy, were we wrong.
Jacksonville is a big city – in fact, by square mileage, it’s our nation’s biggest city. And there’s a lot to offer.
We pretty much stuck to things close by our marina – exploring Ortega Village, Avondale, Five Points and downtown. We’re not much for traveling further way, even though we did retrieve our MINI Cooper from my mom’s place.
And it seems everything is Jacksonville beyond your own hood is ’30 minutes’ away.
Both Avondale and Five Points offer ample dining and quaint shopping. Including a weekly Arts Market with entertainment, vendors and food trucks.
Around the marina is Ortega Village, which is full of historic houses and lots of open public parks for walking (and Pokemon hunting).
Downtown is pretty desolate at night – except for evenings of events going on. We fell in love with the symphony – going to three during our time. And the town hosted several summer weekend evenings with live concerts and fireworks at Jacksonville Landing.
Our marina also treated all slip holders with a night out at the ballgame – the minor leagues and super fun.
Abundant Social Life
When we’re still for a bit and word starts to get out about our location, we’re honored to have so many invitations to meet up. It was non-stop in Jacksonville – averaging about 2 visitors a week.
We met up with followers & fans, as well as old friends. And my mom even came up for a weekend.
Having people to hang out with gives us a great excuse to leave the boat (we sometimes have problems with inertia) and get out exploring. So we love it!
On top of our own social circles, the Marina at Ortega Landing is VERY social with around 40 liveaboards. The marina hosts monthly social events, and it’s non-stop spontaneous social around the communal grill, pool and hot tub. It wouldn’t be at all uncommon to leave out for a stroll, and end up joining friends for dinner, games or soaking.
Definitely our most social marina stop yet – and honestly, it definitely was an incentive to stay longer than intended.
As introverts we do love the solitude that a nomadic life can give us, but we also love being amongst a community where the social is there when we want it.
Marina at Ortega Landing
While this isn’t intended as a review.. we do have to note that the Marina at Ortega Landing is likely one of the best we’ve stayed at. It’s very modern, the staff is excellent, there’s ample amenities that include BBQ grills, ice machine, loaner bikes, pool, hot tub and a community room.
It’s also close to a little shopping center that includes a grocery store, department store, West Marine and several restaurants within walking distance.
And we scored with a slip on A dock with an open water view.
It was a treat to stay here for sure.
A resort style place like this does of course come with a cost. Prices are now $17/ft for live aboard ($13/ft for storage) for a month. Plus electric. Heck, a bargain after paying $28/ft to store our boat in Miami right under the airport.
However where it really adds up is that they charge by the size slip you need without going past the outer piling – not your vessel’s documented length.
We’ve gotten really used to most marinas just charging us for our documented length of 47′ – but we’re actually more like 52-54′ once you factor in our swim platform and bow pulpit.
If available, Ortega Landing would place us in a 55′ slip – so that’s what they charged us for. However, it seems their policy is changing after the first of the year, where there’s a minimum charge for the size slip you actually stay in. The only slip available was 70′, so our rates would have been going up to 60′ to stay longer.
Their policy actually makes more sense overall to us, just different than we’ve gotten used to.
All and all.. worth it for the indulgence – just don’t be caught off guard.
Current Status Update:
We left Jacksonville in mid-October and spent a couple weeks cruising up the St. Johns River south to Sanford (it was glorious!)
We arrived with a 1-week reservation.. and do I really need to finish this sentence?
Yup. We’re still here.
We’ll fill you in on this story of serendipity later.
Our winter plans are currently in flux, and we’re still trying to iron out the details. But, we do know we’ll be in Sanford for a bit. So if you’re around and want to meet up – drop us a line.
Xscapers Community Meet-Up Weekend! This coming weekend Xscapers across the country are hosting meet-ups. We’re hosting one in Sanford on Sunday afternoon the 18th. If you’re in the area – you’re invited!
If you’re planning to attend an event, do remember to RSVP within the Xscapers Facebook Group (they’re all listed as Events). If you’re planning to attend ours in Sanford, we’d love to know you’re coming!
More Awesome Stuff Up
Full-Time Freedom Week – November 19-23 (Free online event!)
We do have some exciting stuff coming up in the next couple of weeks that you might want to join us for.
Including presenting as part of a unique online summit called Full-Time Freedom Week (affiliate link). 30+ RVers will be presenting on a variety of topics during this free online event from November 19-23.
Our topic will of course be mobile internet.
So go sign up to get notified when the schedule is out (you can also purchase an ‘all access pass’ if you want to view it all later.. plus you’ll get all sorts of discounts). You’ll recognize a few of the speakers – Less Junk More Journey, Drivin’ n Vibin’, TechnoRV, Xscapers, RV-Dreams and more.
Living the RV Life Book
We also just got our preview copy of Marc & Julie Bennett’s (RV Love) new book – Living the RV Life – Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road.
And let me say.. this thing is INCREDIBLE, comprehensive and totally beautiful!!! This is the FIRST book on the RV lifestyle published by a major publishing house (adams media | Simon & Schuster, Inc.)
If you’re interested in the RV Life at all.. this is THE book to have.
It officially goes up for sale on November 20, but you can get it pre-ordered on Amazon for under $16 (reg $23). (affiliate link, We’re also featured as a case study.)
We’ll follow up soon with more details and information.. but wanted to give you a head start on this stuff.