It seemed like just another day, but docking in Sister’s Creek near Jacksonville Florida was a huge day for us. We had just finished our first ocean run from Charleston, South Carolina. We couldn’t believe we were in Florida! We hoped only warm weather awaited us.
We stayed at a free dock in Sister’s Creek off of the St. John’s River. It was a beautiful spot, with not much around. We pulled up to the dock, with difficulty because of the strong currents, but were greeted by two men, strangers who had come to help us tie our dock lines. After the second try of pulling up to the dock we were able to secure our lines and relax. We were only one of three boats tied to the dock and by far the biggest. How grateful we were for the stranger’s help! We soon met them then settled back into our boat for dinner.
We were anxious to explore the area. The dock and attached piers attracted many fisherman. At the end of one of the docks was a small parking lot attached to a playground and bathrooms. A couple of short trails and that was it! But we were right next to a fun playground which also had trash cans, so at the very least we could throw our trash away during our stay here and the girls could run out their built up energy. It was quiet and beautiful and in my book, besides not being near any stores, it was perfect.
We soon learned the free dock was actually in the site of an ecological preserve called Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. All around us were different birds snapping up fish in the marsh grasses, gracefully flying over the surface of the water or walking along the shorelines over mountains of shells. Egrets, Herons, Brown Pelicans, Sea Gulls, and even Osprey were regular sights.
One thing that quickly came to our attention was the amount of trash littering this otherwise beautiful place. Not just a wrapper here or there, but dozens and dozens of bottles, lightbulbs, cans, Styrofoam and other trash gathered around the fishing piers, the effects of the Hurricane Matthew. Mike hates seeing land degraded and destroyed, so he soon decided that while we were there, we would clean it up!
People that noticed were very thankful and we felt like we earned our stay at the free dock. But as we were getting ready to leave for St. Augustine, Florida, our engine decided to quit. It wouldn’t start at all! I know we live on a sail boat, but sailing requires the right amount and angle of wind, plus space. The ICW doesn’t fare well for either. The ICW is often narrow and shallow, and not conducive for safe sailing. So we needed a working engine, and for that we needed a part from a store. With no car and no store in walking distance, how were we going to leave?
Then we met Nancy and Browne. They are an amazing sweet couple, former cruisers, who go to the free dock everyday to hand out newspapers and ask if anyone needs a ride to the store. We were so grateful for a few free rides they gave us! The kindness and abundant generosity of strangers on this journey has continued to humble us and amaze us.
We were able to get the part made that we needed and the engine started with success! We stocked up on groceries and we were ready to head to St. Augustine to meet another boat family we had met online. But we will never forget the sunsets over Sister’s Creek and the beauty we witnessed there.