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02 February 2011 @ 10:37 am
probably moving my "home port" soon or in the next few months  
It has been six months now that I have been living here along Spring Garden Run, tributary of the Saint Johns River.

My "home port", my link to "civilization" and the place I keep my car has been Tedders Fish Camp.

It has gradually become clear that there are two problems with this location.

First, the protection from the wind simply sucks terribly, as I've described thoroughly already.

Secondly, except for the wonderful State Park, I am too far from everything. I haven't described this issue yet so I will shortly.

I have spent most of the time since the last journal entry visiting and considering alternative locations.

Over the weekend, I found out to my surprise that I can rent a covered wet slip down at North Shell Fish Camp for the same very low price that I am now renting one at Tedders. (When I visited there the day I chose Tedders, I could not find anyone around to tell me the price, so I figured the place was not interested in new customers for some reason. And it looked too nice to be very cheap, so I just assumed the price would be a lot higher than Tedders anyway.)

If I would have talked to Fred then, the man I found a few days ago, I would have chosen North Shell instead of Tedders from the beginning.

Here are the differences between there and where I am:

I am now nine miles from the center of Deland but North Shell is just five miles away.

I am now right next to DeLeon Springs State Park but twelve to eighteen miles from everything else on the water I am interested in, and with two large lakes between. At North Shell, I'd be ten miles closer to all these other places and with no lakes to cross but still only eight miles from Deleon Springs. The other places I am referring to are the several small parks and many marinas near the drawbridge and Lake Beresford, Hontoon Island and Blue Springs State Parks, and water access to the hundreds of miles of hiking trails and parks in the Ocala National Forest.

I'd also be around many other houseboats down there. Since I've been up here, I've only seen one other houseboat, someone visiting the State Park one day.

I'd also be in a bigger "hamlet". -Around Tedders there are only eleven houses and sixteen residents, although I've made friends with all of them. At North Shell, shown here, I'd be in the back of an affluent subdivision of 58 houses:

I estimate I'd be surrounded by at least ten times as many people (potential friends), all of whom have back yards on the three canals in the subdivision. So I'd be likely to finally get to know someone who I could pay to take care of Ghost if I go to Ohio for several days or more. Here at Tedders, everyone has come to like Ghost, but nonbody can really offer to babysit him, because they have dogs, or for other reasons.

Next, the safety of the waters down there is totally different. Near North Shell, all of the tributaries and the Saint Johns itself are surrounded by lush forest whereas Spring Garden Run is bordered by denser woods on only one side. And all of the waterways near North Shell, even the Saint Johns itself, are narrower than Spring Garden Run. There are no big windy lakes to be crossed to get to safe inlets if a storm approaches, unlike here. And there are many clear but tree-lined inlets and canals not clogged with weeds throughout the area down there, and all of them have trails or streets next to them in case something would go wrong while I was escaping severe weather there. Here, there are just two very short, very isolated canals, way out in the run and across the windy lake from Tedders, with overhanging trees and floating waterplants to worry about.

Finally, the wet slip itself down at North Shell I could actually use. I am paying for one at Tedders, but the roof is so low here that I have been unable to park my boat there ever since I finished putting the present shelter on it. I have been parking the boat at the end of the dock I improvised, putting up with the noisy boats and airboats using the ramp about 35 feet away. At North Shell, the stall is much wider and taller, so I could always use it, even when the water gets high. And the boat ramp is ten times farther away so I'd actually have some peace and quiet when parked.

So, it's obvious I want to and need to move, the sooner the better. The only question is when.

Well, first of all I have only used six months worth of the one-year rent I paid for at Tedders. But that is just a minor consideration because both places are very cheap and because safety is so much more important than the money involved.

The main thing that is keeping me from making the move right now is the fact that I have really come to love it here in spite of all the deficiencies. And the people here will really miss me too, because it's such a tiny community.

I am wanting to take my time. However, the weather continues to seem to be pressuring me. In fact right now I am in one of the two tiny canals because a line of thunderstorms is approaching, with more forecast for three days from now, and more expected six days from now. A week ago when I was hiding in the canal a tornado warning was issued for the exact cell that passed directly over me, because the radar indicated it contained a tornado, although none touched down anywhere. I need to take every one of these storms very seriously. This is the worst time for tornados here. Exactly four years ago, on February 4th, 2007, an F3 tornado struck right near North Shell and killed thirteen people.