We returned to The Marina at Ortega Landing (same marina we stayed at back in fall), and came down with ‘conference crud’ that took us a couple weeks to recover from. It’s a good thing we were in a place we had already explored.
As we got to feeling better, we tackled some boat projects and started planning our next segment of travel – which would include actually crossing a state line for the first time in the boat.
First, the video version of this segment as we arrive and get settled into Brunswick, GA:
Jacksonville, FL – Boat Projects and Mom Visit
A good portion of our stay in Jacksonville was attending the RVillage Rally, and then recovering both from what we presume was the flu (despite having gotten flu shots) and general introvert over-exertion.
We had taken a monthly spot at Ortega Landing marina, which gave us ample recovery time and ability to tackle the solar installation project.
While we were in Sanford we had contracted a metal fabricator to build us a custom frame for the 1440 watts of solar panels we had purchased.
The design was sweet – having the panels at a slight angle for water drainage off the sides, a center skylight for easy access for cleaning the panels and flush mounting to the arch.
But the project overwhelmed the contractor, and he flaked out on us last minute – leaving us in quite in the lurch as we prepared for our Sanford departure.
With the help of our friend Joe, we were able to come up with a temporary mount for 1/2 the solar panels that involved pool noodles and ratchet straps – which allowed us to get back up the St. Johns River with minimal generator time.
Upon arriving to Jacksonville we found Morgan Metals, who is a marine specific stainless fabricator well versed in mounting solar panels on a boat.
Dan came up with two game plans for installing our panels – one that could be accomplished in a week and he had time for in our month in Jacksonville. And a second more ambitious plan that would require us extending our stay.
We opted for the first option, which was essentially utilizing our existing stainless bows that once held our rear canvas bimini, and adding some additional support.
While not the original plan with center skylight and flush mounting to the arch – we ended up with a a workable & clean solution that can be expanded in the future if we desire.
We can still easily retract the arch to get under a 15′ bridge clearance when needed without needing to remove the panels.
Now that the project is complete, we’re planning a full walk-thru of our electrical setup with Battle Born lithium batteries, Victron equipment and the panels.
We also coordinated with the folks at Boatswain’s Locker nearby, who were originally going to re-do our canvas before our plans got reshuffled to Sanford this past winter.
They were able to create us four awesome screen doors to allow us better breeze while keeping critters out and Kiki in. We’re super happy with their work and the flexibility the solution has added to our lives.
My mom also came up for a visit, and we enjoyed some tourist time out exploring together – namely visiting the Jackonsville Zoo, which was really quite remarkable and well done. A while back, they actually had a dock that we could have visited in our boat. Now that would have been cool.
We also managed to get a visit to the Jacksonville Symphony, catch a musical and a visit with our fellow nomads Sean & Louise as they cruised through the area aboard their trawler Vector (they’re now on the northern part of the Great Loop).
We stayed a month in Jacksonville in part because the MTOA National Rendezvous was set for early May in Brunswick, GA and there was a planned migration of boats from Ortega Landing north.
That sounded like as good a reason as any for us to plan around.
Ortega Landing had a 3-day party scheduled, and then there was 3-days of cruising to get to the rendezvous some 95 cruising miles ahead. A quicker pace than we prefer, but what the heck.
We attended the festivities – including a great luau sponsored by Curtis Stokes & Associates (the brokerage we used in purchasing our boat), and enjoying hanging out with our friends Curtis and Gill.
And then on Saturday morning we departed Jacksonville, retracing our path back up the remainder of the St. Johns River to the salty waters of the ICW.
We turned north – officially back on the Great Loop.
We split our cruising over 3-days, enjoying two anchorages along the way.
The first night we anchorage off Fernadina Beach, and just enjoyed swinging on the hook again.
And then in the morning a momentous occasion occurred… we officially crossed our first state line in Y-Not, exactly 2-years to the date that we started our Great Loop adventure in Punta Gorda, Florida.
How’s THAT for some #slooping (Slow-Looping)??
It took us two years to leave Florida!
By the way, there’s no ‘Welcome to Georgia’ sign on the ICW to greet us.. what’s up with that??
Next stop was Cumberland Island, where we anchored for the day at the main national park entrance and enjoyed an afternoon of walking around the island exploring the Dungeness Ruins and lots of wild horses.
We opted to move up another hour to the Plum Island anchorage, which was more secluded – enjoying horses grazing off our bow, and dolphins feeding off our aft.
In the morning we weighed anchor and took the back route back to the ICW, and crossed St. Andrews Sound – our first ‘big’ sound that dipped us into the Atlantic – swells and alls.
It was some of our biggest wave action yet, and Kiki can prove it with her sea sick reaction. (Poor kitty).
We anchored off Jekyll Island for lunch with friends Gary and Sue, who we had just hung out with in Jacksonville – waiting for the rising tide to make our way past some shallow areas before our final push into Brunswick.
Chris’ parents greeted us as they passed through the area as they headed to their summer home, enjoying an evening with us before we got into full rendezvous mode.
Brunswick Arrival: MTOA Rendezvous – And Buying a Van
This was our second national MTOA Rendezvous, having attended in Ft. Pierce last year. We’re not technically a trawler (were a go-fast power boat who typically travels at turtle speed) – but they accept us anyway.
We find a home in this community, as most are long time cruisers. It’s most akin to the Escapees RV Club for the boating world.
We enjoyed the rendezvous this year, and we greatly enjoyed the educational seminars, vendors and new friends made.
We were also super surprised to be the Grand Prize winner – a 3-night stay in the Keys at a luxury house. Not our style of vacation, so we were thrilled to be able to sign over the winnings to our friends Tom & Diane – who had so kindly driven our MINI Cooper up from Jacksonville for us.
The monthly rate at Brunswick Landing Marina wasn’t much more than what it would have cost to stay the 5-nights for the rendezvous, so of course we opted for that – which set our next extended stop.
We figured Brunswick would be great place to explore for a bit, and even if we left early – we were still ahead financially.
The marina is known as another live aboard friendly community – situated in a hurricane hole with free laundry and free beer & wine for happy hour (yes! really!!). It’s close to the historical downtown.
But lo and behold, Coopernicus was in the lot waiting for us.
Over the course of a couple days, we serendipitously sold the MINI Cooper to our friends Ann & Elliott and purchased our van conversion from a fellow boater at the marina.
So we used the month long marina spot to get out camping at local Blythe Island Regional Park – which was the perfect campground to remind us why we love RVing too. It was an amazing wooded park with lake-front sites, lots of hiking trails, full hook-ups and lots of BUNNIES!!!
We also had RVIng friends passing through, so it was super fun to be neighbors with Forrest & Mary again.
Great Loop Log (5/15/2019)
- Distance: 771 nm
- Stops: 50
- Marina Nights: 386
- Anchored / Moored Nights: 44
- Bridges : 134
- Locks: 0
Other Travel Posts in this Great Loop Travel Series:
- Florida ICW (2018):
- Rendezvous in Jacksonville – Tides & Currents and a Rescue!
- Having a BALL in St. Augustine, Florida
- Oh No!! Bridge Closed – And Exploring Marineland, Florida
- One Week Turns to Five in New Smyrna Beach, Florida
- Cruising the Space Coast – Melbourne to New Smyrna Beach
- Ft. Pierce to Melbourne with Mom Aboard!
- Two Months in Ft. Pierce, Florida – Causeway Cove Marina, Tackling Boat Projects & Enjoying ‘City Life’
- Continuing North up the ICW – Boca Raton to Ft. Pierce & the MTOA Southern Rendezvous
- Leaving Miami in the Rear View – Heading North up the ICW!
- Leaving Miami and Resuming our Great Loop Cruising Season for 2018!
- Miami the Hard Way – Boat Haul Out, Repairs & Living On the Hard
- Starting the Great Loop – First Adventure: Punta Gorda, FL to Fort Myers, FL
View all our Great Loop Posts
on our Interactive Map!
This post is a bit behind our reality… we’re now in Charleston, SC, another state line crossed!!
We’ve enjoyed some amazing low country cruising with stops in Savannah and Beaufort and many dolphin-filled anchorages.
We’re now settled into our next extended stay smack dab in historic downtown Charleston (are you around?? Let us know!).
It’s.. well.. amazing.
While we may be moving slow (#slooper), we are feeling balanced and having the time of our lives with awesome experiences at every twist and turn (and there are lots of them along the ICW!).
Yes, hurricane season is upon us again and we are keeping hyper alert. We contemplated storing the boat for the season and returning to RVing this summer, but honestly – we feel safer being on the boat with the agility to relocate as needed. So we’re going to continue to explore the coast while keeping an eye out.
The Travato is back in Georgia with friends parked next to our old Mini Cooper – we’ll retrieve ‘Coop’ soon, and are aiming to return to Zephyr later this fall after peak of hurricane season.
Who the heck knows?? We certainly don’t.