Teddy and Sheck’s goofy adventures: Suwannee River, Part 1
October 14-15, 2020
About two or three months ago I came up with the idea that it would be a good bit of fun to explore the Suwannee River a little further than my usual routes. Specifically, I thought it would be kind of wild to take my boat from my house all the way to the ocean. I’d do this by way of the Santa Fe, past the Ichetucknee and down to the Suwannee River. Along the way there are 61 mapped springs and plenty more to discover.
Before I’m ready for that trip though, I needed to figure out the fuel economy of my boat when it’s loaded up with enough fuel/water/dog to complete that journey. My motor is still new to me but thanks to some wave-jumping misadventures earlier in the summer (requiring the motor and I to get quite intimate) I’m confident that it’s up to the challenge.
So- part 1 of this adventure was a trip UP the river as far as my fuel supply would allow. When I hit 1/2 of my fuel supply I turned around and headed back downriver, comparing fuel used on both legs. This gives me a good idea of my range for when I do the Gulf of Mexico trip. I was hoping that I would have enough range to not only go to the ocean, but come back under my own power too.
I was in need of a new fuel tank anyways, so I went ahead and got a massive 12 gallon one in anticipation of some more extended-range adventures. Quite a bit of fuel for a 15hp outboard, it will be fun to see how far I can make it.
So anyways, day one.
Sheck and I got a pretty early start, putting the boat in at the TREPO boat launch on the Santa Fe. We went upriver first because I wanted to have Sunbeam Spring as our “starting point”, since its the closest part of the river to my house, less than a mile. On the way there we encountered some engine difficulties, I’m attributing to the fact my boat hasn’t been used much lately. After some trial and error I was able to get it working for the most part. Still a few little issues to work through, but it works. Such is life.
We turned around at Sunbeam Spring and headed downriver. We were soon at the convergence with the Ichetucknee River and decided to head upriver towards the 27 bridge. We went a mile or so upriver and then slowly drifted back down.
Back on the Santa Fe for a bit, then quickly to the Suwannee. Heading upriver we stopped at Branford Spring, Little River Spring, Troy Spring, Mearson Spring, Hidden Spring, Running Spring, Telford Spring and several others. We made it to the 51 bridge by evening and that’s about when we hit 1/2 tank. The highlight of the trip back was seeing an eastern diamondback rattlesnake swimming in the middle of the river. Yikes.
On the way back we were looking for places to camp, finally deciding on a secluded little creek near Troy Spring. I pulled the boat up the creek a little ways, electing to sleep in the boat because I was lazy and didn’t pack my tent. The evening was eventful with many visitors including several deer, an armadillo and an army of mosquitos. At some point Sheck freaked out and ran after the armadillo, popping my sleeping pad in the process. Next trip I’ll bring us a tent. Day 1 we covered 69 miles.
We were on the river by 8am, zooming through Branford pretty early. We went slowly though a few sections, I was using my sonar to look for unknown river springs. I’m getting more competent with recognizing them, with the difference in water temperature it’s actually pretty easy once you realize what you’re seeing.
We were quickly back at the TREPO boat launch on the Santa Fe, but still had a few gallons of fuel and at least a few hours of enthusiasm. We continued up the Santa Fe, stopping frequently to check out springs. We made it as far upriver as Suck Hole before turning around.
All in all this was a great shake-down trip for the ocean adventure.
Total mileage: 110
Fuel used: 11 gallons