And now, the final episode on our southbound cruise of the St. Johns River – the final push into Sanford.
And as always, the video version of this segment. This is our very first 4K rendered video – we thought this episode worthy of the extra bandwidth and effort to create:
Stop 9: Silver Glen Springs
We waited out some breezy wind overnight just north of Lake George – Florida’s second largest lake. The morning was all clear for calmer conditions, so we set off across the roughly 15 mile expanse.
Since weather was looking good all day long, we decided to take a side diversion to Silver Glen Springs – a class 1 natural spring that outflows from an ancient ocean. We anchored just offshore, dropped the dinghy and motored in.
It was amazing to watch the tannin stained root beer colored water turn crystal clear in mere seconds.
It was a chilly day, so we didn’t opt for swimming this time around – but many boats were anchored up closer to the spring itself. We could have likely navigated Y-Not up this far too, but then we would have been in tighter quarters than we prefer.
It was lovely, but more populated than is fun for us. With the fetch increasing out on the open lake – we opted to complete the Lake George crossing and get to more protected areas for our overnight.
Stop 10: Morrison Island Anchorage – Astor
We selected a little side area off the St. Johns just north of Astor for our overnight anchorage. And then we motored in on the dinghy up to Blackwater Inn for some shore time.
We enjoyed a walk around town, and a light dinner before a sunset cruise back to Y-Not for the evening.
In the morning we weighed anchor, which took a bit of effort with the extremely thick sticky mud.
Stop 11: Hontoon Dead River Anchorage
South of Astor, the St. Johns River gets much more narrow and twisty. It’s reminiscent of the deep creeks we explored further downstream.
And it’s absolutely gorgeous.
We decided to take it slow and meandering. Putzing along at a mere 6 knots and just enjoy this living nature documentary.
We passed manatees, alligators and were buzzed by bald eagles. We were surrounded by miles of nothing but trees and no signs of civilizations for long stretches.
It was absolutely magical.
We attempted to capture some extended real time footage of this section to share with you, but unfortunately the camera on a tripod picked up the boat’s vibrations. We’ll give it another try on the return trip.
We ended our day’s cruise up a creek behind Hontoon Island State Park.
This state park is only accessible by boat, and even offers a small marina that would have been suitable for our boat. At only $22/night with water and electric, it was tempting. They even had a sign out for a marina host – volunteer 20 hrs a week for a free slip (the workamping equivalent!).
But we opted for continuing our anchoring-out streak.
We found a magical and secluded spot about a mile and half up the creek – and then dinghied in to the dock for exploration on foot of the trail system within the park. Day visits are completely free (crazy!).
We stayed two glorious nights here, waking up to mist on the water with water hyacinth floating by. Nature surrounded us, and I think we even heard monkeys.
Stop 12: Butcher’s Bend – Final Stop
After two lovely nights tucked up behind Hontoon Island, it was time for one last stop on this river sojourn. We picked out Butcher’s Bend (doesn’t sound all that appealing, right?) as our final anchorage before Sanford.
This little oxbow is within spitting distance of our destination. You pass neighborhoods as the sprawl of metro Orlando starts to descend upon you, and then wham – you’re right back in nature again.
We had a tough time getting the anchor to set in the bottom here – it’s very deep in some spots. But we found the magic spot of ample swing room to appropriate scope.
And just as we’re settling in for the afternoon – we spot an alligator cruising by.
Chris launches the drone to get an arial view, and ends up tracking manatees checking us out too.
We decided to brave the alligators, and each enjoyed some paddle boarding to check things out.
Butcher’s Bend is so named for the cattle ranch surrounding the bend. While we could hear the cows mooing, we didn’t actually see any.
From here, it’s just a quick 6.9 nm cruise into Monroe Harbour Marina in downtown historic Sanford.
St. Johns River Stats:
- Total Cruising Nautical Miles: 142.8
- Nights on the Trip: 14 (all anchored out)
- Engine Hours: 26.6
- Generator Hours: 59.7
This post wraps up our cruise into Sanford, where we arrived on Halloween day.
What was intended to be a 1-week stay before we turned around, is now going on an amazing 4-month immersion.
We’ve had an incredible winter here, and we look forward to sharing with you more about how Sanford completely captured our hearts. And all of the boat projects we accomplished.
We’re aiming for a shove off in early March to make the return trip to Jacksonville back down the St. Johns River. Editing this footage these past couple of days really has re-ignited our enthusiasm for getting back out there and seeing this stretch in spring time.
After we reach Jacksonville, we just committed to attending and presenting at the RVillage 2.0 Rally over in Live Oak, FL from March 27-31 – just a quick hop over.
If you’re in the area this spring and want to attend – there’s still 30A and boondocking spots left, and RVillage has given us a 10% discount to pass along (use code ‘Techno10’). It’s shaping up to be a huge event!
We’re super excited – we’ll not only be presenting a ‘Mobile Internet Fundamentals’ workshop, we’ll be meeting up with Anthony Nali – producer of our upcoming PBS TV Show – The RVers. We just received word that this thing is going into production – it should be airing by end of this year, if not sooner!
We’ll be filming many of our segments for the show at the rally, with a real-life professional capturing it. We also hope to meet up with new and old friends.