This morning we made it into St. Augustine and searched for a place to anchor. We noticed all of the other boats were on mooring balls and had read that moorings here were in the $20 range, perfect for our cruising budget. We decided to grab the first one we saw, which looked like 4 times the size of a propane tank floating in the water. Seriously, the biggest mooring ball we’d ever seen. Once we were tied up, we called the marina to let them know we were there, and were promptly chastised for not making a reservation. Then told that we could not stay there on that ball because it was reserved for larger boats and that we needed to move to another ball farther up the river. O-kaaay. We totally forgot that we were part of the great migration South with about a thousand other cruisers as company. Of course mooring balls and marinas would be scarce in popular stops such as this one. We’re such rookies. We moved to our assigned mooring and noticed that we’re right next to a boat from Eastport, MD! How cool to be this far from home and end up next to a boat hailing from the same small part of the world as we came from. This is a very small community indeed.
We tied up, secured the boat, and headed ashore to explore the city. It’s so beautiful here! We visited Fort Matanzas, an old Spanish fort dating back to the mid 1700’s and walked around St. Georges St, a pedestrian street lined with every type of shop and restaurant you could think of. Had we not been on a cruiser’s budget, we could have done some serious damage here. Unfortunately the fort was the only free attraction around. All others, including the famous Fountain of Youth, had hefty admission fees and were crowded with tourists and school trips. So, we stuck with the cheap option and wandered around to explore the city on foot.
Nestled among the beautiful historic buildings of the Old City, is Flagler College, a liberal arts college in the former Ponce de Leon hotel. This was probably the most beautiful school we’d ever seen. It puts our York College of PA to shame for sure. I googled tuition costs, and it’s a cool $25k a year to attend. Not crazy Harvard standards, but about 3x more than what we paid per year. We detoured to explore the campus some more, figuring that since Matt had a backpack on, we might blend in. Yeah right. We stood out like chaperones at a school dance. Guess we’re officially old.
We wandered back to St. George St. and were lured into an outdoor cafe where a guy was playing an acoustic version of some Buffett song. Definitely our sort of place. The bartender immediately recognized Matt’s Chauncey’s t-shirt as being a surf shop in OC, MD and told us he was originally from Severn. Ha! We just keep finding these little pieces of Maryland no matter where we go!
We hurried thru lunner, as we were keeping an eye on a severe band of storms approaching from the west. The FL coast gets hit with showers nearly every afternoon, but this one was a band of red and orange on the radar, and a tornado warning had been issued until early evening. Time to get back to the boat and batten down the hatches, before the skies opened up and dumped on us. And dumped they did. We barely had time to throw an extra set of lines on the mooring when the sheets of rain were upon us. At one point, you could barely see 50ft on either side of us. Crazy how quickly these fronts come up.
The heavy rain was over about an hour later, and we noticed that our boat was facing the exact opposite direction of the other hundred or so boats in the anchorage. Hmmm… which one is not like all the others? We think our bridal off the front of the boat was too long so with the wind and currents opposing each other the mooring ball somehow went under our boat more than half way and, ta daa, we face the other way. I’m sure the people on the boats around us had a good laugh as they looked out their windows and saw our boat facing the complete opposite direction as theirs. Again, Rookie move. And here we thought we had this sailing thing down.
Tomorrow we head out and make our way to Lake Worth where we’re stopping to visit a friend. Hoping to be there by the end of the week. Until then….