December 3, 2009
Green Cove Springs, FL
Still smarting from the armed invasion of our home by GMIBs (G Men in Black) Meredith and crew carried on up the St. Johns River into Jacksonville. Three hours of seething silence.
The air was fragranced with aromatic burnoff from the endless hectares of petroleum tank farms and petroprocessing plants which comprise the entire south side of this odd city. Nothing subtle about this fragrance JAX stinks worse than Sarnia ever did.
Enroute we weighed competing potentials: our emotional need to escape from the land of the formerly free competing with the money we had committed to flights home that would be lost if we left the country.
We're cruisers. Money won.
4:15 p.m. found us about a mile back of the Main Street bridge, the only bridge on the St. John's River which we needed to open to permit us entry into JAX proper. At 4:30 p.m. the bridge locks down for rush hour and no further openings are allowed until 6. The bridge must start to close no later than 4:27 p.m. It did not seem we would make the bridge so we slowed to search for an anchorage.
As we lost way the bridge operator hailed us on the radio. "Meredith, We cannot start an opening after 4:23" he said. "I do not make the rules but I do have to follow them. If you want an opening you are going to have to move".
I firewalled the Beta, our trusty diesel, and replied "Affirmative bridgemaster. We are full ahead. Understood if we don't make it we will have to turn off."
The diesel pinned at 2800, Meredith making 8 knots in the water, 5 and a bit on land due to the tide and river current and a 15 knot headwind, we steamed for Main Street. Bits of foam comprised of 20 illegal pollutants drained by industry into the poor St. Johns river flew off our bow wave - and our stern wave!!!! We were totally toxic man.
Totally forgotten were the goons in black.
Yes, yes, yes. But the bridge: it was going to be very very close.
"Meredith" came the call. "I'm going to start an opening now so you can hit the span at full speed. It's not how I'm supposed to do it but I want to see this. You have to judge and if you can't do make it you tell me cause I will close on your mast if you aren't through."
The wind on the bow died to zero. We hit the gap with the bridge still rising. With our mast mid span we called the bridgemaster and advised we were clear. No second to waste he spit out "YUP" and the klaxons burped the closing warning.
"Main Street Bridgemaster that was the most fun we've had all week. Thanks from Meredith"
"Meredith when are you coming back down? I want to be here."