We enjoyed our 2 nights in St Augustine, despite the mooring buoy banging into the hull at times when the wind and current were opposed. Being so close to the City made it easy to explore and we spent many hours wandering the lovely streets and browsing the shops. The marina launch will pick you up from the mooring if you don’t want to use your dinghy but as the service stops at 1800, we didn’t use it in case we were later back.
You can’t go hungry in the US and we have finally learned to order a meal between us, even a starter will feed the both of us at lunch time. We visited the coffee shop in a little wooden hut, serving a huge choice of coffees, shakes and smoothies. Their shady garden was a nice place to stop and check the map and plan the day.
We decided on a handful of tourist attractions as we only had the day, plus an hour out to watch the Easter Parade at 1500. The Lightner Museum houses a stunning collection of glass, china, furniture and items from all over the world. Even a stuffed lion, apparently given to Sir Winston Churchill by the London Zoo, as a thank you for the WWII efforts. Doubt that would be PC these days. They had some life size cardboard cut outs of the main Downton Abbey characters which were a bit unnerving but they were advertising a display of the clothing from the time later in the year.
There are many beautiful buildings in St Augustine and we enjoyed seeing the historical information posted outside some of them, including where Martin Luther King stayed.
The Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse was another interesting place to visit, with an animated teacher and ‘graduation’ certificate but it is very small. We had a tasty lunch of beetroot and feta cheese salad for me and a huge pile of french toasts with cinnamon apple in between and cream on top, at the Ice Plant in the Distillery before heading back to the main road for the parade.
A marching band of over 120 people, ‘royalty’ on horseback, the local police and sheriffs, plus many town clubs all took part and it was fun to watch. The easter bunny was there of course.
After a long day of walking, we dinghied back to the boat but spotted our friends on ‘Atalanta’, from the Rio Dulce and stopped by for a catch up. Murray gave us an enthusiastic welcome before going back into ‘Murray mode’ and ignoring us the rest of the time! Kay and Richard asked us out for dinner but the lunch had already filled us completely so we promised to catch up in Charleston instead.
The following day we dropped the mooring, requested a bridge opening and headed north on the ICW towards Jacksonville. We didn’t see any shallows on the trip and anchored in a bight near Pablo Creek in 9 metres of water. As usual, we were the only boat and had a very peaceful night.
Looking at the weather, we decided, reluctantly, that we wouldn’t be able to make it all the way to Deltaville in the Chesapeake in time for our flight and looked at alternatives. Brunswick Landing is a renowned hurricane hole and through last year’s storms the boats there remained undamaged. We contacted them and were glad to hear they have space for us for May and June, so decided we would book in there. It will be 150 pounds a month more expensive and we have extra flights to book but it takes the pressure off as we are nearly in Georgia and enabled us to enjoy Jacksonville and move more slowly north for the remaining 10 days.
Jacksonville is a long way up St John’s River and we motored another 20 miles to another empty anchorage opposite Exchange Island. It is a pretty spot with a great dinghy dock, BBQs and tables on the island and marked trails. They also have recycling bins.
We stayed a night, then motored in the dinghy to the Met Park docks, a free marina where you can stay for nothing for 72 hours. There was another yacht there and a small motorboat, that was all. We decided we may as well move Beyzano to the dock as it had a good 10 metres of water and take the water taxi into town. Half an hour later we were tied up in the fast current and by 1100 on the water taxi.
The taxi can be hailed on Ch. 11 and runs from 1100 to 2100, going to about 5 different stops along the river. It cost $10 each for the day. We looked around Jacksonville Landing first, then walked over the bridge to San Marco which is a little bit prettier. It was a long walk but took in the fountain and on the way back we did the Science and History Museum. This was a little bit too child focussed for us, as the information and exhibits were simple but the history of the town exhibition was really good. Outside a little pond had some terrapins sunbathing. We also attended the planetarium’s lecture on Orion, again for young children but we learned a little.
We got back to the water taxi dock by the fountain in time to see the bridge lifting for a couple of yachts. It was the first we’d seen which lifted the entire middle section up rather than 2 halves opening to the sides but it worked well.
The city skyline was a big contrast to all the low level anchorages we’ve been frequenting and a beautiful sight at sunset. The following day we were off again, this time on the ‘outside’ in the ocean. Our first trip in blue water for over 2 weeks.