Our focus today was on the water, it’s depth and speed. While the scenery was beautiful, we were concerned with shoaling that we had been warned about – in both nautical bulletins and a Coast Guard survey boat moving buoys to mark the newly discovered shallowed shoals. There is a saying regarding this section of the Atlantic Intracoastal – “It’s not IF you run aground, it’s WHEN you run aground”…..
Our second concern was with a fast moving river current and changing tide. It was a full moon! The combination was scary how fast the current carried us. We slowed our engines to marginal RPM’s and yet our speed continued to increase. This was great for fuel economy – however – docking was a bitch! Two boats before us got caught in the current and wind – one forced into the marina office concrete wall (ripping out the boat’s window panels) and another slammed into a docked sailboat (creating havoc and damage). On our second try, we got docked safely into a slip at St. Augustine’s Municipal Marina, next to the very busy Bridge of Lions bascule lift bridge.
Despite hurricane damage to half of the marina and restaurant, this was a very vibrant and busy port – home to the pirate ship “Black Raven”, a sightseeing tour boat, the sail-ship “Freedom”, along with water taxis, parasailing, kayaking and Putt-putt golf.
This port was also a regular stop for the cruise ship “American Star”. This is a small 100 passenger cruise liner owned by American Cruise lines. In the winter it travels the southern Atlantic Intracoastal on weekly cruises and in the summer it travels the northern Intracoastal waterway and New England. Despite it dwarfing us and blocking our view (first picture), we enjoyed visiting with passengers coming and going into St. Augustine. And yes, despite it’s size, it got through the Bridge of Lions bascule lift-bridge……..
St. Augustine, founded in 1565, is the oldest existing city in the United States. Because of it’s rich history, it is an extremely popular tourist destination, with the Castillo de San Marcos., a 315 year old fort, a lasting landmark of seventeenth-century St. Augustine. Henry Morrison Flagler was an American industrialist and founder of Standard Oil. He was a key figure in the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida and founder of what became the Florida East Coast Railway (all the way to Key West). He is known as the father of St. Augustine and is the namesake of the Flagler College. Along with it’s history, St. Augustine is a natural port with access to the Atlantic Ocean. It has numerous recreational opportunities and an abundance of boutique shopping (of which Karen spent too much time in).
The mooring fields (boats tied to secured floating balls) on both sides of the Bridge of Lions was popular with the sail boats. They would dinghy in to be a tourist and enjoy all the port had to offer, which included lot’s of great restaurants. The attraction of the mooring balls is expense. They are considerably cheaper than tying up at the docks and yet you get all that the marina offers (showers, laundry, water and supplies).
While we were here, Ronnie B. from the west coast (Tampa) joined us here on the east coast. It was nice to have a car to sight-see and re-provision. And of course, Ronnie B. and Ronny A. need a chaperone (Karen) whenever they are together. We started at the beach and another marina, The Conch House. It had an neat tiki bar and interesting seating options. And no visit to the beach would be complete without seeing the World Famous Alligator Farm and The St. Augustine Lighthouse. The lighthouse is the last in a series of lighthouses that have marked the entrance to the old city since the 1500’s. It is the oldest brick structure in the city and is said to be haunted.
The rain had subsided but it was still cool and windy. That didn’t stop us from having dinner on the patio at Harry’s. Being a great New Orleans style restaurant, seafood gumbo was in order.
The next morning, it was breakfast at Brunch (the restaurant) and a walk down St. George St. before his drive home. Thanks again for the car tour.
Our last evening here was windy and rocking, but we still met “Loopers” on the docks. We had crossed paths with Tim and Ramie and dog Ringo as far back as Sarasota. They are doing the loop on “Miss Norma”, a beautiful Ranger Tug. However the real story here is the story they tell in their book “Driving Miss Norma”. It would be an important read for all of us.
Sorry this posting is so long but I didn’t know where to put my little bird in the blog……I just really like him….