Jacksonville to St. Augustine

Saint Augustine Travel Blog

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Thursday, June 12 2008 marks a new day in my life. Today I go from live-aboard sailboat owner to cruiser. The slip I had occupied until this day is no longer mine; in fact, I no longer have any slip to call home. Home is now wherever I decide to make it for the day or week or month.

At 8:15, I cast off the lines from Fleming Island Marina but this time I took those lines with me. A long day of travel ahead, I sailed north from Orange Park, FL towards downtown Jacksonville. Jacksonville had previously been the furthest I had travelled but now it was only the beginning. Orange Park is located south of downtown on the St. John's River. In order to get south to St. Augustine I had to first go north, past downtown Jacksonville and out of the St.
John's into the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW). Once in the ICW it is a long, slow ride south to St. Augustine. There's not much room to maneuver because the channel is so narrow so the entire trip consisted of listening to the diesel engine instead of the sails. This had not been something that I was very excited about but once I arrived in St. Augustine approximately 10 hours later I found that it was very much worth it.

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but at one point I looked down to realize that the water that had once resembled the lakes back home in Oklahoma had now turned a sea foam-green color. I realized then that I had no desire to go back into the murky St. John's. I came up to the St. Augustine Inlet around 6 pm and made my approach to my first anchorage out of the River.


The crew of Pirates Lady, Boomer and Christy, have become very close friends of mine over the last several months. In fact, we were planning a trip to the Bahamas together. However, they ran into some misfortune in the form of a rock pile along the ICW and were sorting things out in St. Augustine when I arrived. Unfortunately they will not be making the trip to the Bahamas this year and will be spending a few months sorting things out with their boat. We were able to spend the next 2 days together in St. A. and I sincerely hope to meet up with them again at another time, in a more southerly latitude.

To be completely honest, anchoring in an unknown location is the one thing about sailing that scares me
probably more than anything else. There was plenty of room in the anchorage just north of the Bridge of Lions so I found my spot and made my way in.
Without too much drama, and after a couple of attempts, I finally had the anchor down and was holding well. After a short chat with Boomer and Christy, and feeling good about my anchor's ability to keep put, I had a fantastic sleep.

The following morning I lowered the dinghy down into the water and made my first attempt at piloting the 8-foot inflatable. Any doubts I had about the ability of a 5-horse outboard being sufficient power were very quickly erased. If anything it is entirely too much power. I found that I could not throttle-up past half way without burying the stern and letting in water. The city marina has a great facility and your $10 buys access to the dinghy dock, restrooms, showers and laundry facilities. In addition, the marina is just across the street from the heart of activity in St.
A.

The city of St. Augustine is possibly the neatest town that I have been to in the US. It reminded me a lot of New Orleans but with a Spanish influence instead of French and, of course without the debaucheries associated with New Orleans. I had only planned on spending the night in St. A. but ended up staying for 3. If ever you are planning a trip to Florida, skip Orlando or any of the other high-tourist areas and spend your time in St. Augustine. The shops, architecture and ambiance are fantastic!
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