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Having a BALL in St. Augustine, Florida

There was no doubt that we’d be stopping in St. Augustine on our way north – it’s been a stop we’ve looked forward to for quite a while.

So after a nicely balanced visit to Marineland, we were ready cruise northward up the ICW.

But first, the video version:

The Cruise and our FIRST Mooring Ball

Our 16.2 nm cruise from Marineland to St. Augustine. Cruising Time: 2 hr 38m.

It was a short and lovely 16. 2 nautical mile cruise up to St. Augustine. We had actually planned an anchoring night along the way at Ft. Matanzas – but afternoon thundershowers had been pretty fierce lately.

Local knowledge informed us that the anchorage is lovely, but when storms are around there’s potential for winds and currents to counteract each other and cause uncomfortable conditions.

Since we really didn’t need to split the cruise up, we decided to pass.

Besides, our minds were focused on preparing for our first mooring ball experience.

For our non-boating friends – a mooring ball is most akin to a designated dry camping experience in the RV world. The marina (or authority in the area) sets a huge anchor in the seafloor and attaches a floating ball that you then attach your boat to with lines. This helps manage anchoring in more popular areas.

The St. Augustine Municipal Marina suffered a lot of damage during Hurricane Irma, and their docks had not yet been fully repaired. But their mooring fields had been inspected and were ready for use. It was also the way cheaper option – at just $140/week as opposed to near $600 for a week in one of the few repaired slips.

The mooring fee includes dinghy dock access, shore facility (bathhouse, laundry, lounge), pump out boat and even water taxi service to your boat if desired.

We were looking forward to our first mooring ball experience – especially now that we have a reliable generator.

We had been studying up on attaching to the pennant of a mooring ball and running it through our heads. We timed our arrival to slack tide to minimize currents we’d have to contend with.

From the St. Augustine Municipal Marina instructions.

We radioed the marina to get our ball assignment and requested one in the north field (locals told us this is the better area for city views – assuming winds are not out of the north).

We went under the Bridge of Lions (probably one of my favorite bridges) and approached the ball with Chris at the helm and me on deck. I caught the pennant with my boat hook with no problem – but then realized the lines I had set out would be too thick to attach the way the marina prefers (two eye splices at the pennant).

So I quickly adjusted my plan and just ran two lines through the pennant – their second recommended attachment method.

Overall, it was more work than I was anticipating, but considering it was our first time – I’m pretty darn proud of our team work. We got nicely attached, and even received compliments from neighbors thinking we were pros.

And now I know a heck of a lot more about how to have my lines ready for next time.

 

Attached on our ball!

Exploring St. Augustine

Living in Melbourne for so many years, St. Augustine was a frequent weekend getaway for me. My family and I would take corporate retreats up here, especially for the holiday lights.

Later when I got my first RV (a pop-up trailer), I’d come to Anastasia State Park for weekend camping trips. And then when Chris and I met a couple years later, him roaming around in his little 16′ teardrop trailer – he and I did one of our first RV trial runs together here.  We’ve also been back a couple times in the bus over the years.

St. Augustine is near and dear to my heart filled with decades of wonderful memories.

But staying right downtown in our boat takes the cake – there’s nothing like just being part of the city like that. Instead of looking longingly at all of the boats moored downtown as we strolled, we WERE one of the boats tourists were ogling over.

But I doubt anyone ogled our boat as much as we did.. we were simply pinching ourselves at every corner. We were really here!

St. Augustine has so much to offer – from strolling the incredible public park spaces, the shops along St. George St, the water front, the Castillo de San Marcos fort, lighthouse, Flagler College and so much history! It is afterall the oldest continuously inhabited European settled city in the US.

We ended up staying 10-days on our little island off the city fending off pirate ships and cannons.

With easy dinghy access to the marina’s dock we ferried fresh water back to the boat. We made daily trips to shore for exploring – dining out, pub hopping, exploring back streets & neighborhoods and we even hit up a live musical at the Limelight Theatre (amazing!).

Oh, and did I mention it was my birthday?  A perfect place to celebrate!!

 

Abundant Social Time

One thing we didn’t anticipate was how social our stay would be!

We met up with fellow boaters Bill & Gill for drinks who we had met at our last stop while they were on a little vacation.

Tim & Linda of Casa Roll Notes spotted us moored while making a trip over from Anastasia SP, and invited us out for dinner to meet up with them and their travel buddies Mike & Sherry.

We also had a surprise boat visit from old RVing friends Christian & Alayne, who had settled in the area a few years back. We followed up with a night on the town with them.

And we happened to have fans Tony & Lisa of Epic Liveaboard moor right next to us, who we enjoyed getting to know too.

Whew.

All and all.. we had a BALL (har har har.. see what I did there?) in St. Augustine.

Well balanced with lots of play time, while getting in work hours and boat projects.

This my friends.. is what the dream of cruising is all about.


Our Great Loop Progress (we’re obviously not in any hurry!)

Great Loop Log (8/11/2018)

  • Great Loop Log (8/11/2018)
  • Distance: 652.7 nm
  • Stops: 43
  • Marina Nights: 342
  • Anchored / Moored Nights: 41
  • Bridges : 120
  • Locks: 0

Other Travel Posts in this Great Loop Travel Series:

View all our Great Loop Posts
on our Interactive Map!


Current Update

Oooooo.. boxes!

We are still in Jacksonville, and have a few weeks left on our stay here – which should get us out of peak hurricane season.

Assuming the tropics settle down, we intend to start cruising up the St Johns River in mid October. Boat will then go in storage and we’ll start making our way back to the RV for a winter of exploring the southwest.

We’ve been busy busy busy the past couple of weeks working on an exciting project – installing our new inverter and lithium batteries in the boat! We’re almost done with the installation (a complete electrical system upgrade), and are anxious to get out at anchor to give them a full shake down.

And, we’re of course excited to share all the details and update our lithium blog series (we installed lithium on our bus over 7 years ago.)

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4 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. Thank you for this VERY timely post!! I am currently sitting in an airport about to fly to Jacksonville from NJ as I got a job offer in St Augustine. My husband and I are on our way there to stay for 2 nights to try to decide if we could be Floridians and would be happy in the St. Augustine/JAcksonville area!! As people who love to go out to eat, kayak, and RV, your video made us very excited! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ahoy again marked!!

    Tim and Linda here of
    Casarollnotes.blogspot.com

    Thank you for the wonderful fortuitous opportunity to meet up in St. Augustine and spend some quality time with fellow adventurers. What a treat to introduce ourselves and get to know our plethora of common threads.

    No doubt we’ll cross paths again…looking forward to it ☺️

    Tim and Linda
    Professional Travelers
    Casarollnotes.blogspot.com

  3. It was such a pleasure to meet you at the dinner with Tim and Linda Bunyan in St. Augustine. We have since subscribed to your blog, and must say we have gleaned some very helpful information. All the apps for the weather were awesome. We did get caught in the tropical storm Gordon while in Pensacola before we knew of the apps. It was supposed to hit New Orleans, but of course it came right over us. A little unnerving to be in a tin can RV with 70 mph winds. We were in the Navy Base park and felt they would take care of us if anything catastrophic came our way.

    Anyway, here we are back in CA, and getting ready to get on our boat to cruise to San Francisco Bay for Fleet Week. Please do contact us if you are ever in CA.

    Mike and Sherry Gouweloos

  4. I’ve never been to St Augustine, but I’m definitely putting it on my list! Glad you had such a good time. Cheers!

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