With 2007 summer season winding down most boaters are beginning to go through a small amount of withdrawals feeling their boating time will now be replaced with cool days and televisions tuned in to football. Well, consider this; what if you were to learn of a place that you could only get to by boat, watch a live NFL football game for free and spend the whole day on the water, would you be interested? Such a place does exist and it is within 2 hours of Amelia Island on the St. Johns River.
Many local boaters have never ventured past the A1A Bridge at the south end of Amelia Island, but to get to the St. Johns River you have to go a little further. The Inter coastal waterway runs right into the Nassau Sound then proceeds south into Duval County. It‚Äôs important to know that there are no marinas or fuel stops from the Amelia Island Yacht Basin located at the foot of the Thomas J. Shave Bridge on Amelia Island and the River City Brewing Company in downtown Jacksonville. When making this trip make sure you have enough fuel for at least one way, preferably both. Once you enter the Duval county side of the Inter costal you will find it more narrow than the Amelia River and marked well with navigational markers making it very easy to navigate. This entire stretch can be operated at a safe speed without any slowdowns. The first sign of waterfront structures will be Sisters Creek. Here you will need to continue idle speed only, beginning at the ‚Äúno wake‚Äù sign all the way to the St. Johns River. There are 2 boat ramps located at Sisters Creek each offering temporary dockage. The second ramp also has public bathrooms. Once you past the second boat ramp you will now be in the St. Johns River, turn right.
The St Johns River is wide and deep and full of commercial traffic. The channel is 60‚Äô+ deep in some areas and caution should be exercised when navigating these waters. You will find the channel very well defined with navigational buoys and markers and plenty of good water depth even outside the channel in most places. While heading down the St. Johns you will go under 3 bridges to get to your destination; the Mathews, Hart and the Dames Point.
You will arrive in the down town Jacksonville area after a 20 or so mile run from Sisters Creek. After you go under the Hart bridge look on your right and there you will see Alltel stadium, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Outside of the channel and in front of the stadium you are allowed to anchor for the day. Locate the Jumbo-tron screen and angle for a spot where the screen can be seen without any obstructions. Here you can see the game while lounging on your boat, fighting no crowds and with plenty of cold beverages.
If you continue to head west on the St. Johns River you will go under the Main Street bridge finding the Jacksonville Landing on your right and River City Brewing Company on the left. The Landing offers lots of dock space at no cost to tie up. Restaurants, shops and live entertainment can be found along with lots of other boaters every weekend. River City has fuel, both gas and diesel, along with ice should these be needed for the trip back.
Regardless if there is a game or not, a trip to Jacksonville by boat is so enjoyable when done with your family or a group of friends. If your still a little unsure of your navigational skills take a look at NOAA chart 11489 as a road map.