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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Florida ICW (2018):
- Oh No!! Bridge Closed – And Exploring Marineland, Florida
- One Week Turns to Five in New Smyrna Beach, Florida
- Cruising the Space Coast – Melbourne to New Smyrna Beach
- Ft. Pierce to Melbourne with Mom Aboard!
- Two Months in Ft. Pierce, Florida – Causeway Cove Marina, Tackling Boat Projects & Enjoying ‘City Life’
- Continuing North up the ICW – Boca Raton to Ft. Pierce & the MTOA Southern Rendezvous
- Leaving Miami in the Rear View – Heading North up the ICW!
- Leaving Miami and Resuming our Great Loop Cruising Season for 2018!
- Miami the Hard Way – Boat Haul Out, Repairs & Living On the Hard
- The Keys (2017):
- South to the Keys:
- The Great Loop: South to the Keys (Part 1) – Ft. Myers to Naples
- The Great Loop: South to the Keys (Part 2) – Naples to Marco Island
- The Great Loop: South to the Keys (Part 3) – Cruising Ten Thousand Islands
- The Great Loop: South to the Keys (Part 4) – Everglades National Park – Little Shark River & Cape Sable
- Sometimes Nomads Need to Grow Some Barnacles (Two Months in Fort Myers)
- Starting the Great Loop – First Adventure: Punta Gorda, FL to Fort Myers, FL
View all our Great Loop Posts
on our Interactive Map!
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.)