In the world today across the pond was the Royal Wedding of William and Kate. In Jacksonville paddling Hogans Creek an urban Waterway within our Downtown Jacksonville Overlay Zoning District was myself and sharing this adventure was the Executive Director of the Jacksonville Civic Council, Don Shea.
Don was there before me and was ready to go. The weather was breaking at the right time for our trip to be a success. I just want to inject right now our thoughts and prayers with all the families who lost loved one with the storms that ravaged the southeast. The overcast clouds that were associated with that storm system were clearing out and the winds were diminishing.
It was an outgoing tide and the birds were moving early primarily because we were going at a pretty good clip and they knew we were coming. We swiftly moved past some of the campsites and the garbage that was starting to collect after the recent rains was more pronounced. I was pointing to Don some of the potential access points that could open this waterway immediately.
We made our way past the shopping cart depth meter chart and both wheels were fully exposed. I mentioned to Don if funding is needed to open this waterway can you imagine the naming rights for that shopping cart. We both enjoyed a good laugh.
Continuing on, we paddled adjacent to the Maxwell House plant and did enjoy the smell of the morning aroma of coffee. when we popped out into our St. Johns River our American Heritage River the water had a slight chop. the outgoing tide allowed for a floating break that just carried us out to visually see what can be a vibrant piece of our Downtown. If you are allowed to participate. Yes, the Promised 680' Downtown Public Pier was in view
The current is continually moving. We see a big catamaran heading north. All of a sudden some nice gusts are greeting us as we make our way back. Its still an outgoing tide we are paddling hard and as we make our way to the shopping cart depth meter chart the wheels are exposed. I show Don the tire that is hanging in the Mulberry tree.
My hats off to Don for taking the time to see for himself as have so many others what should be on the short list of things that need to happen so we can tell everyone to "Visit Jacksonville."
So much has happened in a year.
Yesterday I was Making a Scene on a Downtown Waterway Destination River Activity and instead of launching at Washington and Beaver I was launching at the new kayak launch at the city marina at Metropolitan Park. The once inviting location at Washington and Beaver has been replaced with brand new No Trespassing signs.
So on Sat. morning after listening to the fishing shows Iwanted to take it Downtown. I want to say I'm All In. My original intent was to put in at the city marina and then paddle all the way to the Hyatt, Berkman Plaza-Plaza at Berkman. It was an outgoing tide and once you leave the shelter of the marina you are immediately in the open waters and strong currents of our St. Johns River our American Heritage River a Federal Initiative.
So immediately I'm paddling against the current. There were two boats in the marina. I brought my fishing poles and it was one of those trips where the fishing was more a secondary purpose. Another personal observation is that river traffic in this part of the river is not under the no wake zone. On a beautiful weekend there were so many boats that you just lose count. I mention this for the benefit of the novice kayaker and the reality that if you are not skilled or prepared this can be dangerous in my opinion.
So anyway I'm paddling toward Dowtown against the current and I make it to the entrance to Hogans Creek. The demolition and the widening of the creek appears to be finished. (Never before Waterways) It has been a long time so I decide to take it in.
Still an outgoing tide the water levels are some of the lowest I've ever seen. What is noticable is the vast widening that has taken place. The vegetation on one side that provided a canopy for some birds in stark contrast to the rocky bank that now is on the other side. I am seeing more plovers. small birds that dart between the rocks and their flight just inches above the water and that bounce in there step.
I take it through the Maxwell House plant and there is a ladder leaning against a palm tree as the palms are all being trimmed. Super low tides and there is still garbage around. I take it by the shopping cart depth meter chart and the cart is almost 3/4 exposed. I'm talking very low tides.
Continue on and Make it by the launch under Duval St. next to the Casket factory and Old St. Lukes Hospital. Its about 11 am the sun is bright and the low exposed banks are just filled with fiddlers. You go past patches of spartina grass and you just have to say to yourself what will be a true restoration project as we open this Waterway? I'm already missing Dana Morten.
I continue on and finally make it to the rapids of Hogans Creek. There is no way I'm continuing on unless its a Doug Skiles I'm not quitting maneuver. Doug the water was so low that instead of rapids it looked like falls. I turn around and take it back. What is really sad to report is that during this trip I didn't see one species of heron. Not one.
The trip back to the marina was easy. Still an outgoing tide. I said hello to a man that was fishing when I started. He said he caught a couple of croaker. I got to the marina and decided to fish under the brand new no fishing signs. Caught a trout. Small one.