Stormy Monday – Day One Of The St. Johns River Southbound Cruise

JL Hamrick 1959 CC Cavalier

A bit of a rough start today for JL Hamrick and crew in “006” his 1959 Chris-Craft Cavalier. Still better than shovelling snow though…

I REMEMBER GETTING CAUGHT in a heavy Florida rainstorm on Day One of the 2011 St. John’s River Cruise. We were on board Paul & Karen Harrison’s 1965 24′ Chris-Craft Sea Skiff “Kabot’s Habit” and I can’t remember ever seeing rainfall so intense in Florida for that long. But it was relatively warm and we safely made it to our destination in Sanford just before dark. Looking back on that day now – just brings back fond memories, no regrets.

So although the weather may not have been perfect for classic boaters on Day One of the 2015 St. John’s River Cruise South, I’m sure it will (eventually) be a great, memorable day for the participants. Here’s an update on “Stormy Monday” from fellow Woody Boaters Chris & Julie Bullen. – Texx

this isn't looking good

OK – This isn’t looking too good…

Live-ish From Day One of the St. John’s River Cruise
Story and Photos by Chris & Julie Bullen

It was a dark and stormy… not night but day. This sums up our first day on the annual St. John’s River cruise.

just keep going south

Just keep going south, we can steer around those black clouds…

For some of us we have been waiting 20 years to take this trip and for others they have been doing it for 20 or more years, so a little rain is not going to dampen our spirits.

One gentleman by the name of Norman Blackley (now at the young age of 90) has not missed a river cruise since the beginning – until this year. A special mention was made at our opening dinner on Sunday evening. Even though Norman couldn’t make it this year, his boat ”Jr.” is once again cruising up the St. John’s River with Anthony Davison as her Captain. We hope to see Norman back on the river next year.

Jr. Anthony Davison 1927 Chris-Craft

Anthony Davison and crew aboard “Jr.” 1927 Chris-Craft Runabout – “Jr.” is a veteran of the annual St. John’s River Cruise.

Captain’s and crew eagerly headed off on the bus from the hotel – as we drove to the boats all we could see ahead were dark clouds, very dark clouds, very very dark clouds – a bus full of boaters with different ideas of the weather forecast and radar readings – and then a huge downpour, not even at the water’s edge yet.

Oh Boy! The problem with a 4 day trip that moves along is – you go as planned. Up goes the roof (if you have it), slickers of all colours on and in some cases umbrellas open. After the cannon sounded the official start of the 2015 river cruise was on its way.


Fellow Woody Boaters Royce Humphreys & Chris Mugge hunkering down in their 1967 Riva Ariston. (Do they get rain in Italy? – Texx)

r_parkingon the pier for thecrabshack (2)

The boats gather as they approach the pier for lunch at the Crab Shack. That’s a lot of mahogany to capture in one photo, nice shot Julie. No Photoshop here folks. – Texx

Classic boaters are a hardy bunch so we all cruised down to the Crab Shack for a yummy lunch, an annual stop for a seafood extravaganza.


An aerial shot of our classic boats parked at the pier for a great lunch at the Crab Shack.

Great lunch, brighter skies, things were looking up. Let’s go boating – looking forward to a warm sun filled afternoon…


Fellow Woody Boater and Proprietor of Fine Wood Boats in Illinois – Jim Staib (in white) and crew on board a very cool 1966 Bertram.


Between rain storms – Paul & Karen Harrison and their guests on board “Kabot’s Habit” – 1965 24′ Chris-Craft Sea Skiff.

roughstart4 larry smith_1979 glastron_carlson

Larry Smith and crew in a well covered 1979 Glastron Carlson CV-27.

Ah crap – only lasted about 5 minutes and out came the roofs again – not so nice after all. By the time we hit Palatka it was a torrential downpour.

1946 U22 Stars & Stripes

A wet ride for Alice Ryan in the 1946 Chris-Craft U-22 “Stars & Stripes” – but they came prepared (kind of).

Carman and Ted made it all the way to Palatka on battery power. Their generator blew up yesterday but they carried on with 2 batteries.

carmam and Ted Keys head out in a 1930s' WJ Johnson_ generator who needs a stinkin generator_crazy canauks

Carmam and Ted Keys (c/w batteries) head out in their 1930’s WJ Johnson “Miss Jane”.

Everyone made it back at the hotel wet as a drowned cat.

Tomorrow looks to be a sunnier day, fingers crossed.

Our water is in liquid state – from the sky as we glide across the river so we aren’t complaining – as we know most are still shovelling off the snow in the northern areas of the country.

Stay tuned from what he hope is a sunnier, warmer and drier Florida cruise tomorrow.

Chris & Julie Bullen

Thanks for the update from Florida today – the official forecast (as of 1:00 AM EST) for Palatka, FLA for Tuesday and the rest of the week looks great, so hopefully those dark skies are gone and you will have a chance to dry out your boats. For a more accurate forecast, you can also ask Jim Staib – be doubles as a Florida weatherman.

Screenshot (64)

Matt also noted yesterday that two of the four Chris-Craft Cobras from Katz’s Marina have now arrived in Tavares for the big Sunnyland ACBS Boat Festival starting later this week.

The show kicks off on Thursday night at The Antique Boat Center at Rejuvenation Boat Works BBQ – sponsored by the good folks at the Antique Boat Center, Hagerty Marine Insurance, Sunnyland Chapter ACBS, Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club and Woody Boater.


29 replies
  1. Bill Hammond
    Bill Hammond says:

    Thanks Chris & Julie Bullen for this weather challenged report of the start of a glorious trip! As fun and uneventful a trip in good weather would be it’s always a better story when there are obstacles to overcome! I always say, “What’s a trip without an adventure?” Can’t wait for tomorrow’s report!!

    • Chris B
      Chris B says:

      Bill the weather did make it easy to make a more interesting story, and Julie got some fun shots under the clouds.

      • Murray Parnell
        Murray Parnell says:

        At least its warm, we are -15 with freezing rain tommorow. Good thing you guys have tops on the boats
        Hope today is nice for you

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Yeah, I DEFINITELY need a bigger boat!

    Also, are you sure that is Jim Staib? That doesn’t look like a beer in his hand.

  3. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    The day that Tex mentions in 2011 was really something else, but yesterday we only had about 45 minutes or so of rain before docking. We got safely tied and inside just as the skies opened again.

    Our friends Mike and Helen Moore from England have never been on a classic boat trip of any kind anywhere and are loving this experience. In spite of clouds and some heavy rain, the spirits of no one appeared dampened to us and this attitude of getting out and just boating is one of the things we like most about this great event. Once again, the variety of boats is fantastic!

  4. Don Ayers
    Don Ayers says:

    Rain or shine that looks like a ton of fun!!

    Can’t wait to see everyone down there on Thursday. The rest of us poor slobs have to work Monday-Wed.


  5. Tom
    Tom says:

    Great pictures. Rain is way better than snow! You don’t have to shovel rain.
    Nice to see Carman in Miss Jane a boat that he has owned since he was 18 ( now in his 70’s) on the cruise.

    Keep posting pictures please.

    Jealous and cold in Canada.

  6. Don Ayers
    Don Ayers says:

    BTW, I want to hear from the Riva Ariston owners how the top really worked out in that heavy rain. Functional ???

    I immediately thought about Scotch Guard on mine when I saw that pic

    Someday I will finish my boat….someday

    • 72hornet
      72hornet says:

      Don, we found the top to be easy to employ and a godsend in torrential rainfall. My able crew of Chris Mugge with whom you all recognize from Steelcraft fame found it most comfortable. Dodging crab pots proved to be interesting with the vacuum operated windshield wipers !

  7. Steve Moreau
    Steve Moreau says:

    Looking like lots of fun. Hope everyone’s bilge pump is working to pump out ALL THE WET STUFF! First the rain water then the spilled adult beverages. The latter has been a great cleaning agent for me! Although I’ve not tried it on a wooden boat, wonder if if affects the woods ability to stay afloat!

  8. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    This story has caused me to adjust my classic boat shopping list. Forget zippers, they leak. I think I need a fully enclosed bridge and high freeboard. Oh no! Am I turning into a cruiser guy?

    • Ed F.
      Ed F. says:

      Here in Tavares the tents are going up and preparations are being made. It’s cloudy here this morning but we just took a walk through the park and downtown wearing tee shirts and shorts. It sure beats shoveling snow. We are headed to the launch ramp to see if the water is wet and if the boat still knows how to float.

      • m-fine
        m-fine says:

        I already have a canvas top for the Penn Yan, and yes it would be perfect, but nowhere near as fun as buying a new boat!

  9. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    It always seems to be raining in Jacksonville on the day the cruise starts! It will be better. Narrow winding river, gators, birds and smooth water ahead! See y’all Thursday! Glad a precruise run has been added to make sure boats are running ok, great idea!

  10. Cobourg Kid
    Cobourg Kid says:

    Reminds me of the WB Poker Run on Lake Muskoka back in 2013. Wet and Wild for much of the day, but fun !

    As for wild wind and waves. The St John has nothing on the big Muskoka lakes and is no where close to the unpredictable Great Lakes, you don’t want to be messing about in small boats on lake Huron (or any of the other great lakes ) on a bad day.

    One of my bucket list items is to some day waft along on the St John’s River tour, even in a tropical monsoon .

      • Alex
        Alex says:

        You’re the second person today who implied I’m old. The first was my plumber, who asked if I wanted “service bars” in my new shower. I told him, yes, I want a “bar” in my shower. And not a soap bar. And yes, I want “service.” But no service bars.

  11. Kentucky Wonder
    Kentucky Wonder says:

    Holy Rainstorm, Batman! Fire up the Bilge Pumps!

    Congratulations to all for (apparently) making it through all that. Most folks would give up and wait for better days.

    Noting the comment about the Riva’s windshield wiper vacuum system made me think “How many runabouts HAVE wipers in the first place?” I know many skiffs and Lymans do, but they were more purpose built for bad conditions. Our Greavette has no wipers, but there is a gap between the top of the windshield and the navy top that could be used for visuals when the glass is covered in raindrops.

    • Brian F.
      Brian F. says:

      K.W. I am also curious about the same question. In all my years around Classic boats I’ve only seen a handful of large runabouts/utilities that had wipers… On our little ’69 Cavalier I use Rain-X on the outside and Fog-X on the inside, then just have to go fast enough for the wind to clear the droplets (works quite well here in the rainy Northwest where we go boating no matter what the weather is!)

  12. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    Did the torrential rain on the cruise in ’09 in ARRRGH! no top. Full rain gear, pants, hats, jackets & sunglasses. Sat so we could see above the windshield, fingers as wipers on glasses. Rain stopped day two and hit again later. We stayed dry & had a blast! First year ever for a fiberglass boat to do the cruise. WOOHOO!

    • Tom
      Tom says:

      Sorry Woodygal the first fiberglass boat to ever do the cruise was way back on the second cruise. Gerry Wilkin did the cruise in a Barefoot Nautique which he had for sale because his new Garwood Yes it is was not completed . During the cruise Ted Keyes boat broke a transmission and he and his wife rode with the Wilkins. By the end of the boat show Ted purchased the boat from Gerry.

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