24 April 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…