04/24/2012, Marineland marina
We got underway, after the weather front blew thru, on Monday morning Ap 23rd. The sun was shining but the winds were blowing about 30kts...fortunately, for us, on our stern! Those cruisers heading past us, going north, were bundled up like we do when going skiing!! Our plan was to stop for the afternoon at Fort Matanzas, and then spend the night at Marineland Marina. We, however, did not find the staff at Fort Matanzas inviting. We were told we had to anchor in the river...the docks were only for their boat...and the holding ground was good except in windy weather (I consider 30knts windy!!). We were also told IF we did anchor, to not anchor near the crossing of their boat...and we could not bring our dinghy to their dock...we had to bring it up on the beach and tie it to a tree!! Well, guess what...we turned back into the ICW and came into "Marineland Marina." What a beautiful stop!! It is new; therefore, not listed in the Cruisers Guides; however, Active Captain (on the net) had it listed! The Marina is small but the people who run it are very accommodating. It is $1/ft (unheard of); has spotless bathrooms and showers; and, FREE laundry facilities. It is part of an "Eco-sensitive" Florida Nature Preserve w/...walking/hiking trails, ponds w/alligators and turtles living harmoniously; and, they offer kayaking tours to areas unable to get to w/boats...to discuss the marine-life, birds, etc, etc. Acres and acres are being developed into and protected as a Nature Preserve. There is some history...don't have the whole story... that the Dali Lama had something to do w/the acquisition of this land for same...his nephew was killed nearby by a motorist talking on their cell phone... Across the street is "Marineland Dolphin Adventure," an affiliate of Georgia Aquarium. It is an interactive education program, and for a fee (hefty!), children/adults get in the pool and learn how to feed, train, etc, the dolphins. After our nature walk, we did go to Marineland, where we were spectators only!! Had an early to bed, and awoke to temperatures of 41 degrees!!!! Thank goodness Jim installed the 2-reverse cycle ac's...a MUST for anyone considering cruising!! I awoke to the heat on and hot coffee brewing!! Thank you Jim!!.
We decided to stay another day (what a surprise!) and do more exploring by bikes/hikes!! We biked (against 20kts of wind!) North to the Matanzas Inlet. Had lunch at a great little local restaurant on the water...Matanzas Innlet (yes, w/2 n's) Restaurant. The same family has owned it for 19-yrs... it used to be a tackle shop under the Claude Varn Bridge! After filling up on a great lunch, we continued over the Matanzas Inlet. This Inlet was the scene of crucial events in Spanish colonial history. The massacre of French soldiers here in 1565 was Spain's opening move in establishing a colony in Florida. In May, 1565, 600 French soldiers were attempting attacks on Spanish treasure fleets. Philip II, a devout Catholic, ordered the massacre of the French Huguenots...Protestants...on this site...hence the name "Matanzas" (means massacred or slaughter in Spanish).
Jim swallowed his pride, and decided to bike further...to visit Fort Matanzas. We were brought across the river in a boat via the rangers. The Fort...50ft on each side w/a 30-foot tower...was built of coquina, a local shellstone. The Fort could cover the inlet w/5 guns. Besides warning St. Augustine of enemy vessels and driving them off if necessary, the Fort served as a rest stop, coast guard station, and a place where vessels heading for St. Augustine could get advice on navigating the river.
After we left the Fort, we went across the street to the most beautiful beaches I have seen!! White sand and blue water for as far as the eye could see. (When visiting these beaches, it seems impossible that RI could call itself the "Ocean State"....). The natural habitat is protected, and we saw a Gopher Tortoise digging a hole to get out of the heat. Apparently, their "tunnel" is shared by many other wild-life...up to 362 different species of animals also use their tunnel...what I don't know is if they are there all together ...LOL.
Back to boat...after a flat tire on the bike...and all secured to leave tomorrow am for Daytona. Stay tuned...
04/23/2012, Marineland FL
Just a quick update--we have done it again. If it is possible for two humans to affect the weather we have achieved nirvana! The weather man just reported that today's temperature will set new state records! Oh that's LOW temperature not hot!! Of course it beats the snow storm we here that is happening in New England!! Check it out on the weather channel!
04/22/2012, St Augustine Harbor
Jims comments -
Great town more varied restaurants than one can imaging. Real food and all the junk food as well. I have eaten my way through St Augustine.o0
The mooring field is delightful as compared to anchoring. The wind and the currents opposing or flowing together make for an interesting orientation. Sometimes wind blowing 20 knots on the stern!! With boat pointing into current and any other combination you can think of.. if we were anchored I am sure we would have fouled the anchor and dragged it a few times. I sleep much better on their new moorings.. Temperature so far has been bearable with the wind to help keep it cool when its sunny and 85 degrees.
04/22/2012, mooring 28 harbor
Night #7 in St. Augustine, and we plan to get underway-south-tomorrow am. Experienced torrential rain w/thunder and lightning yesterday, last night and again this morning...but as I blog tonight, the sun is shining - getting ready to set - and the church bells from Trinity Episcopal Church are being heard from the shore. What a way to end our 1-week in charming St. Augustine!!
Those of you who follow my blog have become pretty familiar w/my love of the history of the churches we visit - and the city of St. Augustine has not disappointed me! The Mission Nombre de Dios was the 1st permanent Christian settlement in the United States. Father Mendoza Grajales, a Spanish Diocesan Priest, offered here the 1st parish Mass in this land. This marked the beginning of missionary work in the 16th century by Spanish diocesan priests, Jesuits and Franciscans along the Atlantic coast from present day Miami to the Chesapeake Bay and westward to Pensacola. This is the site where western culture and Christianity faith took root in our country. The "great cross" (208 ft.) was erected 150 yrs ago to mark the original landing spot.
Not to be surprised, Henry Flagler was involved in the development of many of the churches in St. Augustine. He wanted the land upon which the Methodists had a small wooden church. Because they were unwilling to sell, he offered them another piece of land upon which HE would finance the building of a new Methodist Church...now called the Grace Methodist Church. The original land, which he acquired in the exchange, became the land upon which the Ponce de Leon Hotel...and later the Flagler College...now reside!
The Baptists, not wanting to be over-powered, asked Mr. Flagler to finance a new church for them. Mr. Flagler, not really being in the church-building business-agreed to donate $10,000 if they raised the 1st $10,000...with one very important stipulation. The new church could have a bell tower, but never have a bell...to this day, the Ancient City Baptist Church has never put a bell in their bell tower.
Mr. Flagler, being the son of a Presbyterian minister, wanted to build a Presbyterian church to the glory of God as a memorial to his daughter, Jennie, who passed away as a result of childbirth in 1889. The pews are made from imported mahogany, and hand carved. There are 12 bronze double-cross chandeliers, originally gas. The dome rises over 100 feet and encompasses several religious symbols. There are 92 stained glass windows, which contain the Apostle's Creed. The baptismal font is intricately carved from a solid piece of marble. Of particular interest is an exceptional lovely pipe organ...depending upon whose version you believe, it consists of anywhere from 465 to 5000 pipes!! No matter...it is still spectacular! The reason there is no bell in the Baptist church is Flagler did not want it to interfere w/the music from the pipe organ! Next to the entrance door is the tomb area in which Flagler's 1st wife, daughter, her baby and Flagler himself are entombed. There is an empty tomb...supposedly for his 3rd wife (his wife upon his death) but her family had her body buried in their hometown. The story goes...his 3rd wife died 6-months after he died...supposedly from poison but history reports that she imported her make-up (during those days in was important to have "pasty looking skin") from Europe, and some of the creams contained arsenic!! That story came directly to me from a tour guide-believe it or not as Ripley says!!
We spent this morning at a lovely, moving service at Trinity Episcopal Church, established in 1821. There are 28 stained glass memorial windows in the church. There is one Louis Tiffany window in the chapel. Above the altar are 3-stained glass windows in which Christ is Blessing the Children.
As I close my blog tonight and listen to the chimes from Trinity Episcopal Church, I look forward to dropping the mooring tomorrow morning and heading south for more adventures...and feeling very blessed that Jim and I have our health to do our cruising and our families who understand our being away. To be continued...
04/19/2012, smooring St. Augustine
Did more visiting the city. Brought the bikes in to expand the visit. Back on board at 2pm to avoid rain squall. Back ashore after nap for dinner and a nice walk.
04/18/2012, Mooring #28, St. Augustine
We arrived in St. Augustine, FL, on Monday, April 16th... after a beautiful cruise down the ICW...sometimes surrounded by swamp and other times by million dollar property! We picked up a mooring (the dock masters become a little "testy" when requesting a mooring close to the dock!!), went ashore, and immediately became captivated by the city's Old World Charm. I thought I had left my new found love for history back in Georgia, but, alas, St. Augustine dates back to the Renaissance, with European flavor and Spanish-inspired history. It is considered the oldest city in America; on September 8, 1565, this city was founded by Pedro Menendez de Aviles and named St. Augustine because his fleet had reached the Florida shores on the day of the festival of San Augustin. The history of this city, without even mentioning its economic and urban growth in the twentieth century, is simply extraordinary. The story of St. Augustine indeed is the history of the discovery and first successful settlement of North America, the establishment of Christianity and colonial development of what would eventually become the United States. It is a chronicle of more than 4-centuries of community life in the New World.
We have become true tourists as well as historians!! We visited Castillo de San Marcos, located along the shore. It was constructed in the late 17th century in response to repeated raids of the city. The last killed a quarter of the residents in response to a Spanish attack on a British outpost. 85 dead British soldiers lie under the grass-lined banks of the fort; that particular area of grass lies void of any plantings, statues, etc...it simply lays desolate w/the story of the killings being told.
Standard Oil founder Henry Flagler built the Hotel Ponce de Leon , a nearly perfect example of Spanish Renaissance architecture. He built it for his rich and famous friends to visit...and left no stone unturned in its' design and/or materials. In the mid-1900s, it became Flagler College...a small private liberal arts college. I toured it today...and it took my breath away (not exactly like my alma maters of URI or Salve Regina!!). The dining hall houses the largest collection of original Louis Tiffany windows...assessed value unknown to the public but insured for 36 million dollars. It is designed w/3 consistent themes...religion (he was the son of a Presbyterian minister); nautical and Spanish. The lavish woodwork, ceilings, statues, fireplaces, etc, ALL follow 1 of these 3 themes. 11 of the chandeliers are original Tiffany, designed w/Austrian crystal. The original floors were covered in leather. Mr. Flagler, because of his religious upbringing, did not believe anything in this world was perfect; hence, everything he designed has a very small imperfection! I could go on and on but...
"Lincolnville" (formerly the African section) was the site of the 1st Civil Rights demonstration...Martin Luther King spent 17-days protesting here and was arrested twice. At the same site, aptly so, is where the Emancipation Act was 1st announced in Florida.
Not to be outdone, Al Capone had a house here...during the prohibition years...
Jim and I BOTH partook in the Fountain of Youth...I am sure you will notice our youth when we return!!
Jim visited the Lighthouse today...and will blog about that...while I enjoyed the beautiful little brick streets laden w/shops!!
We attended a service this morning at Trinity Episcopal Parish, established in 1821. In 1783, when Spain regained possession of Florida, the Anglican Church ceased to exist in the city as an organized religion. It would be another 38 years before a protestant denomination would again take hold in St. Augustine. The church has a spectacular Tiffany window in its' chapel; and, a gorgeous "Dove" round window (a replica of the window in the Basilica in Italy) above its' entrance.
There is still so much to do and see...we have only skimmed the surface!! The weather is not favorable for the next several days (a cold front is coming thru w/some strong winds) so with our desire to do more exploring, and our discussions w/the local immigration officers as well as the minister (yes, we have made some influential friends!!), we will stay in this charming city until at least next Monday. So stay tuned...