Live-ish From Jacksonville Florida – Launch & Test Pre-Cruise Day

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Royce Humphreys and crew in his 1967 Riva Ariston – happy to be boating in Florida.

WITH ONLY FOUR DAYS TO GO until the official start of the 2015 Sunnyland Boat Festival in Tavares, Florida – classic boaters from around the country are gathering together a few days early for the popular St. John’s River Southbound Cruise.

The Sunnyland ACBS Chapter organizes two cruises through central Florida in conjuction with the Sunnyland Boat Festival. The South Cruise, which begins today in Jacksonville and runs until Thursday and then the North Cruise which takes place immediately after the show. We have had the pleasure of participating in sections of both cruises over the years and they are fantastic. You get to experience areas of central Florida that you can only see (and appreciate) from the water.

Fellow Woody Boaters Chris & Julie Bullen and Rich & Linda Hughes towed their boats from Ontario, Canada to Florida to participate in this year’s Southbound cruise and sent us this report from the launch site near Jacksonville. Today is like a “pre-cruise – launch & test day” – for many, the first time back in their classic boats after being in winter storage. – Texx

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“Fascination” from Lake Okoboji, Iowa – Mike Hagen’s 1929 28′ Chris-Craft Triple.

Gentlemen – Start Your Bilge Pumps!!
Live-ish From Jacksonville, Florida
Story and Photos by Chris & Julie Bullen

Rich Hughes and I – with our lovely wives – made it down to Jacksonville, Florida on Friday for dinner. We had one stop for a minor repair in Pennsylvania to my trailer, as the axle nut was coming undone – that would have turned into a bad day… Other than that – and the fog, rain and crazy transport trucks on the Interstate – the trip from Canada to Florida was uneventful.

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Rich and Linda Hughes on board “Aqua Velvet” their 1968 Greavette.

Today (Saturday) we did a shakedown cruise to see if our boats would go. Mike Hagan in his 1929 Chris-Craft triple led the way into downtown Jacksonville for lunch, we were joined by Royce Humphreys in his 1967 Riva Ariston and Rich & Linda Hughes in their 1968 Greavette.


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We are looking forward to Monday as by then 27 boats will be ready to head out on the river for some classic cruising under the Florida sunshine.

Chris & Julie Bullen

Thanks for the update Chris & Julie, sounds like the south cruise is shaping up to be another fun event. If possible, they will try to send us an update from the cruise along the way.

From the Sunnyland Chapter ACBS website, here’s a short overview of this year’s St. John’s South Cruise.

Festivities begin Sunday evening (Mar. 22) with dinner at the Florida Yacht Club. Transportation will be provided that evening and Monday morning.

On Monday (March 23) we will cruise to the Outback Crab Shack for a seafood extravaganza before stopping for the night in Palatka. Dinner is on your own. Tuesday (March 24) we cruise Dunn’s Creek to Crescent City. A great B&B, the Sprague House, will host us for lunch. Then back to Palatka. Dinner, again, is on your own.

Wednesday (March 25) we will stop for lunch in Welatka at Shrimp R Us. You raved about it last year! Then on to Silver Glen where we will take a dip in the beautiful clear spring water if you like. That evening we will be in Astor at Astor Bridge Motel or Castaways. Dinner on your own at Blackwater Inn. Thursday (March 26) we will have a nice box brunch as we head out for Sanford stopping briefly at Blue Springs to see the manatees before we pull out in Sanford. Then, grab lunch and head for Tavares and the Sunnyland Boat Festival.

This year’s Sunnyland Boat Festival promises to be a great event, featuring the iconic Chris-Craft Cobra models from 1955. Over 15 Cobras are scheduled to be on hand for the show, including a few freshly restored by Katz’s Marina in New Jersey.

Cobra 1.6

For more information on the Sunnyland Boat Festival you can Click Here to check out the Chapter website. – Texx

22 replies
  1. Brian F.
    Brian F. says:

    Looks like a great first cruise for the season and the weather looks perfect!!
    Out here in the great PNW we finally have our winter rains so our only boating is being done inside… Here is a pic of my 2.5 yr old getting his first taste of fresh varnish! In a 25+ year old home built (Rob DaPron) runabout rocker.

  2. Steve Moreau
    Steve Moreau says:

    Looks like a great time will be had by all. We can’t wait until we get the chance to make it!
    Brian what a good looking Lil fellow you got there I know your making motor noises when you guys are playing.
    Texx thanks for the back story always love them. So is this a second generation boat?

  3. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    Just having our coffee now and heading for Sanford. We will run the 130 or so miles straight up to Jacksonville today to meet everyone for the banquet tonight, then stick with the cruise starting tomorrow. ☺

  4. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    Forgot to mention that while she may not be the prettiest boat in the flotilla, our 1965 24′ Sea Skiff Kabot’s Habit is a perfect boat for this kind of trip. Very roomy, fast enough to keep up a decent pace when needed, capable of easily handling Lake George which can be rough, and it provides weather and sun protection if required. It is nice to be able to move about in the boat and have storage for coolers, munchies and all our gear.

    We have some Ariston-loving first timers with us, Mike and Helen Moore from Surrey, England – they are very excited to get out on the river. I think they will be particularly interested in befriending Royce!

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Besides the fact that I will probably have to wait another 9 hears until the kids are out of the house before I can do this cruise, it sounds like I need a new boat as well!

      Squirt sounds like the most imperfect boat for the cruise. Small, no room for people or gear, slow as a snail if not on plane, burns more fuel than a big cruiser when not on plane but only carries 20 gallons, no protection from the elements, and she is no fun in rough water. I think I better warn the wife that we need another boat!

      • Tom
        Tom says:

        m-fine Poor excuses not to do the cruise. First of all take the kids they will enjoy it and probably get rides in other boats. MAny peolle have taken kids on the trip some as young as 1 year old. Plenty of gas/pee stops along the way as long as you can read your gas gauge (not Paul Harrison fault last year).

        I have done this trip in a 1939 duke playmate with a 25 hp motor top speed 8 mph with a strong current pushing and no sun protection. That trip was the best one I have been on. I have also done the trip in fast boats, yes we got there first but we did not see all the wildlife along the way and we burnt a ton more fuel.

        As for rough water the majority of the trip is in small river setting, Yes crossing Lake George can be rough and wet but people have in the past hugged the shoreline or waited until it calmed down before crossing. Just remember you are in Florida and not back home shiverring or shovelling.

        This cruise also has luggage transport so all you need on board are the essentials (sun screen and fluids). When you get to the hotel your luggage is there waiting for you and dry.

        So put down the bacon and start planning for next year your kids will love you for it.

        • m-fine
          m-fine says:

          Tom, first, you are ruining my argument on why we need more boats! With the kids, it is not that they are too young, but more too old. We are at the age where missing close to two weeks of school would be tough. Finally, look at the lovely scene out my window right now. Nothing welcomes Springtime like a fresh layer of snow and lake effect flakes the size of volkswagons. Why would I or my kids want to get away from something like this?

          • Tom
            Tom says:

            I thought the same thing as you are about the kids missing too much at school. We asked the teacher for the homework that would be assigned while we were away and the kids got it done at night or early morning. When we got home the kids got an extra week of holiday from homework because between snow days and other things the teacher didn’t get that far. We learned it was better to catch up when they got home.

            What better education for your children learning about geography, history and nature all the while interacting with people from all across planet. Think of the stories they can tell their friends about all the characters they met. Some you may not want them to repeat.
            Sorry this may not get you a new boat now but think of the family memories you will have forever.

  5. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    Was a bit foggy yesterday as we started the 100 miles north from Astor. Was sunny by the time we hit Jacksonville. Looking forward to a good week and hope the weather channel is wrong.

  6. Dave Clyne
    Dave Clyne says:

    Congrats to Rich and Linda Hughes for making the trip with their boat. (And everyone else too.) This show is about the boats but the people too. These are good people, Rich and Linda. Enjoy your week !

  7. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Paul:-You are right about the Skiff…I always said, if you want to come home dry, look for a ride in a Chris Craft Sea Skiff.
    Looks like the weather will be warmer this year than last.
    Al Benton gets here (Tallahassee) in motor home Wednesday and we head out for Tavares bright & early Thurs. AM.

  8. Tom
    Tom says:

    Looks like the Canadians have invaded again. Joining the Bullens and Hughes this year will be the Harrison from Alberta, Keyes and Zidner from Ottawa, ON making that 5 boat of 27. Very impressive seeing the Canadian dollar is worth $0.70 American.

    This is what Woody Boating is about using your boat meeting new people and catching up with old friends. Not towing your boat to land display or tie it to a dock for the weekend in Florida.
    Enjoy the cruise everyone and keep sending pictures. Hopefully next year I will be able to make the trip Southbound again. Missing it for the first time in 4 years.

    Enjoy the cruise .

  9. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Love the drone video! We had such a great time going to Crescent City last year, not sure why we are not doing some of it this year, but we are not.

    M-fine my brother and I are talking about bringing down the sister Continentals for 2017 trip. Maybe that will give you enough time to put the plans together.

    After a pleasant flight to Orlando yesterday we ended up at the RV lot. Before it was all over we had 6 of Florida’s finest welcome us to their great state. (They really were a nice bunch of guys.)

  10. Murray Parnell
    Murray Parnell says:

    Thanks Chris B for the up dates in Florida
    Now for the up dates in Ontario,-12 and 3″ of snow
    Plows and sanders going crazy Glad to hear you are keeping your nuts tight

  11. 72hornet
    72hornet says:

    Great shots confirming that Mr. Hagan and Ralph Day were in fact wearing pants! It takes a village (or drone for that matter)!
    I had my trusted right hand man of Chris Mugge along for his inaugural trip on the St. John’s. Good help is so hard to find these days!

  12. KB
    KB says:

    My boats ready, but my trailer isn’t. Maybe next year we can make the cruise. For now, I am just happy to be able to make it down for the show! See you all Thursday Night!

  13. Rich
    Rich says:

    Just dropped the trailers off in Sanford for the end of the trip. 89 deg. F. (whatever F means). Us Canucks are having some difficulty adapting to this Florida weather, but we are willing to try!

  14. Bert Harris
    Bert Harris says:

    Soggy forecast for the start. 100 percent chance of rain. They might catch a break in a few hours, enough to make the run to the Crabby Shack.
    I am not on the run but I will run over to Palatka tomorrow to say hello. I am 20 miles east of there.

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