A Little About St. Augustine

The City of St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest permanently occupied European settlement, founded by the Spanish in 1565.  It was founded forty-two years before the English colony at Jamestown, Virginia, and fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. Throughout it’s history, the city has been under the governments of Spain, Britain and United States.

In the late 1880s, St. Augustine had its birth as a resort community with the arrival of Standard Oil co-founder Henry M. Flagler. He built two hotels and took over another to serve as the base of his Flagler System hotels. He also founded the Florida East Coast Railway as a means of transporting guests to and from the north to his hotels in St. Augustine, Palm Beach, and Miami.

The heart of the city is its downtown Plaza de la Consitucion, with most of the historic buildings located within a block or two of the Plaza, to the north and to the south. The streets are full of scenic buildings, with both Spanish and British influences.

The  Bridge of Lions spans the Intracoastal Waterway (Matanzas Bay) here.  The bridge is part of State Road A1A, and connects downtown St. Augustine to Anastasia Island.  A pair of marble lions guard the bridge, which was begun in 1925 and completed in 1927.  From its earliest days, it was hailed as “The Most Beautiful Bridge in Dixie,” and has long been a symbol of the nation’s oldest city. The lions were removed in February 2005 and returned in March 2011.

The Department of Transportation declared the bridge “structurally deficient and functionally obsolete” in 1999 (yikes!),  and after nearly 80 years of service, an official closing ceremony for the original Bridge of Lions was held in May of 2006 (the lions were removed in 2005). A temporary bridge was constructed, adjacent to the original bridge, and traffic was diverted to it while the original bridge was being rehabilitated and reconstructed. Renovations were completed in March  of  2010, and the bridge reopened for use; the lions were returned a year later. The temporary bridge was removed and used as part of an artificial reef just offshore.

Castillo de San Marco is one of the oldest standing structures in North America, and the nation’s oldest masonry fort. It took 25 years to build, making it a VERY costly project for time. The fort was initially built by the Spanish, to protect their empire in America. It has flown six different flags, survived hurricanes, bombardments and sieges.

The fort was built in a star shape, formed by diamond-shaped projections (“bastions”) at each corner. This design eliminates blind spots for guards, and increase the fort’s firepower by allowing multiple cannons to fire on the same target (a crossfire effect). The Castillo de San Marco was attack many times in it’s history, but was never taken in battle.

The city of St. Augustine offers many tours: general history tours, culinary tours, haunted tours, and all types of pub crawls. There are several museums and boat tours as well. St George Street is very popular with tourists and locals; a long stretch of a pedestrian only street, lined with endless shops and restaurants. This city is well worth a visit!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Our Week In St. Augustine

We have spent the last week on a mooring ball in St. Augustine. When we passed through on our way south in 2008, we had a great time, and wanted to stay longer this time around.

We arrived on Monday afternoon, checked in with the dockmaster and relaxed for the evening. On Tuesday, we cleaned up the boat and prepared for a visit from our friends Larry and Lena. Scott found Larry two years ago, on an online trawler forum. He and his wife, Lena, have been living aboard and cruising on Hobo, another 42′ Krogen. They have a paravane system that Scott wanted for Sea Life, so he flew down to Jacksonville, Fl. and drew up plans to install our paravanes based on Larry and Lena’s. He hit it off with them, and has kept in touch over the last two years.

Scott met them onshore, and brought them to the boat by dingy. We spend several hours visiting, and exchanging boat information. We also picked their brains for cruising tips, as they have spent years circumnavigating the globe, visiting 46 countries! After our visit, Scott and I walked through town, and stopped for happy hour at the White Lion…1.25 draft beer!

On Wednesday we rented a car, and had another day of errands and store stops. While we had a car, Scott wanted to locate Sailors Exchange. A marine thrift store that he’d heard was in the area. We searched online, and came up with an address that led us to an industrial location, full of stuff piled everywhere

Scott poked around a bit, and then we found out that this was a warehouse for the actual store, which was just a few miles away….so off we went. The store was unbelievable. Before we even got inside. Scott spent time in the vast amount of stuff they had outside in the parking lot

We made our way inside, to sensory overload for any mariner or boater. Scott had a hard time taking it all in. We wandered through the place for quite awhile. I couldn’t believe all the things they had in there…even a reading room!

After our field trip to Sailors Exchange, we pulled up to a load/unload spot in front of the marina, loaded all of our stuff into a dock cart, wheeled the dock cart to our dingy and loaded it in, took the dock cart back, took things to the boat and unloaded, put groceries away, dingyed back to the dock and car, and returned rental car…..whew! We shared a grouper dinner and drinks at OC Whites, right near the marina, and then headed back to the boat for the evening.

Thursday was boat day. We stayed onboard and worked on various jobs and projects. On Friday we stayed onboard again, due to a strong cold front that passed through, bringing steady 25 knots through the mooring field all day. The howling of the wind, and the constant chop of the water became really unnerving, but we reminded ourselves that this front was keeping Joaquin at bay. We’d rather be tolerate this, than dealing with 130 mph winds; we watched a six hour miniseries.

On Saturday, we met my friend, Kevin, for lunch. He’d met us in Fernandina Beach, and had time to drive down from Jacksonville again, which was great! We had lunch, drinks and fun conversation, and then he headed back north, to retrieve his dogs from day care, before they were locked in for the night. Thanks so much for taking time to meet us twice, Kev!

Scott and I continued to wander around St. George Street, and ended the day with pizza from Pizza Time. If you are in a 50 mile drive of this place….GO! The pizza is amazing! They make their own sauce, and are very generous with the fresh toppings. Along with a slice of white and a slice of margarita, we also tried eggplant and lasagna!

Yesterday we met Larry and Lena again, for lunch in town. We shared burgers and a few hours of conversation, before they headed home. Thanks to them as well, for  making the drive to visit us!

We went back to the boat, so I could do a load of laundry and hang it out to dry. Then we headed of for a walk across the Bridge of Lions, and to the Conch House. We’d seen an ad for it in one of the local magazines, and it looked interesting to us. After leaving the boat, and getting to shore, we realized we’d left our phones onboard, with the directions on how to get there. So, we went back to the 1980’s, and just figured it out as we went!

The Conch House has great atmosphere, their website doesn’t do it justice. They have a restaurant, dock bar, hotel and marina. A lot of attention to detail was put into it, and the place has a great feel.

It was Reggae Sunday, which is what drew us there. They had good drink specials, and the beer was cold (for those of you who know me, that’s a big deal)! We spent a few hours listening to the music, watching the crowd and wandering around admiring the details.

Before it got dark, we walked back to town and went back to Pizza Time for more pizza! We had a few slices for dinner, followed by some gelato, and then ordered a whole pizza to take back to the boat with us. It’ll make for yummy lunches, while we make our way farther south this week! The thing weighed a ton. It was too big to fit in the box, so some of the crust was folded over! We walked it back to the marina, took our dingy back to the boat, and prepared to head south in the morning.

Here are the photos of our week in St. Augustine. Boaters will enjoy the additional pictures of Sailors Exchange.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Hurricane Joaquin

We’ve had several friends contact us, worried about us being affected by Hurricane Joaquin. Not to worry! We are fine, and out of harm’s way.

This time of year, hurricanes tend to swing north, and eventually east, versus going west, like they tend to do in July. As those of you who live in the mid atlantic know, the area is more likely to be in the path of something tropical in September and October.

Here is the current predicted path of Hurricane Joaquin:

Image result for predicted path of hurricane joaquin 2015

 

We have enjoyed great weather here in St. Augustine, aside from some heat and humidity. Things cool down this weekend, thanks to a front that is also keeping Joaquin out to sea, and away from us.

We have our eye on the storm, and are keeping our fingers crossed that our friends and family in the Baltimore area dodge a bullet!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”