Suwannee River Christmas Trip

For Christmas 2022 Sheck and I set off on the Suwannee River for a nice father/son trip. Temperatures were unusually low, with night time lows in the 20’s and daytime highs in the 40-50’s. I had just finished some major repairs to the engine and wanted to put it through the paces to see how it performed. We spent 5 days on the river and covered 251 miles. Our basic route was from Branford down to the Gulf of Mexico (Suwannee Town) and then south to Cedar Key. On our way back we went up the Santa Fe River and turned around at the Ichetucknee River, returning to Branford.

Stats:
Crew: Teddy and Sheck
Miles/duration: 251 miles over 5 days/4 nights.
Fuel consumed: 56.3 gallons
Fuel cost: $255.89, plus $38 in oil used.
Hours on motor: 38

Day One

Started the trip with a brief run up river, in case the repairs didn’t go to plan and I needed to float back to the dock. Luckily it all went to plan and I was soon on my way down river. I almost got the boat stuck on a sand bank later in the day but was able to trim up and float across. We covered about 40 miles on the first day, anchoring along the river’s edge for the evening. This was a cold night and the temps dropped to 26 degrees.

Day Two

Stayed warm last night but had a lot of condensation in the cabin that froze overnight and melted as the day warmed up. Learned to just sleep with the hatches open for better air flow. I got the boat stuck in sand but was able to get out and push it of quite easily. On the way down we went way up a side creek in the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge and it was quite beautiful. After reaching the Gulf of Mexico we travelled out into the ocean for a few miles and then circled back. We travelled 51 miles today and came to anchor near the junction of the Suwannee River and the “east pass” near the town of Suwannee.

Day Three

Woken by fishing boats cruising past me around 6am. We filled up the fuel tank in the morning and set off for Cedar Key. Pro tip: don’t come here during low tide unless you have a dinghy, paddleboard or other way of anchoring off shore and coming in. The public docking is not accessible at low tide, and the only place available was at the boat launch with a 5 minute limit. Oh well! We used the restroom in Cedar Key and then had lunch anchored off shore. The run here and back is about 25 miles and you need to go fairly far off shore to clear all of the shoals. It was a great test of the C-Dory on open water, it handled very well. On our way back we topped off on fuel and then came ashore and picked up some trash in a beautiful swamp along the shoreline. Camped anchored off shore of a wildlife management area and witnessed an absolutely stunning sunset. We covered almost 92 miles on this day.

Day Four

Slept in and hit the water around 0930. On the way upriver we stopped to sonar scan the wreck “City of Hawkinsville”, an old steamship sunken in the river. When we hit the junction where the Santa Fe River dumps into the Suwannee I decided to head upriver a ways. We ended up going all the way to the Ichetucknee River, saw a couple of manatees and came back downriver. We actually went passed Branford on the way back, since I wanted to spend another night on the water. We ended up anchoring near by Little River Spring and settled in for the night. We covered almost 65 miles on this day.

Day Five

Sheck woke me up around 4am after he heard something outside the boat. I listened and soon heard sticks breaking and then splashing coming from the shoreline 30′ away. I sat up and looked out of the hatch and saw a dog running on shore. My first concern was of where her human might be, but she was alone. We came ashore and she was visibly cold, wet and hungry. We fed her a whole bunch of Sheck’s food and dried her off with a towel. I brought her onto the boat and cuddled her up in some blankets, then set her in front of the heater. Thank goodness she had an ID tag on her collar and I was able to contact the owner, who came to meet me at the launch and pick her up. We pulled the boat out that morning and headed home.

All said, what a wonderful trip. I am a huge fan of this boat and look forward to many more adventures on it! Some photos….