Tag Archives: Fernandina Beach

Fun and Funky Fernandina

Fernandina Beach, FL – Tuesday, 4/14

We left St. Augustine at 8:00 am as planned knowing our travel today would only take about 3 hours.  Mark had hoped to go offshore to Fernandina Beach (via St. Mary’s Inlet) but the seas did not lay down as expected overnight.  So it would be the ICW all the way, winding our way north and slowing for the inevitable fishing boats, slower trawlers, and sailboats along the way.

Morning on the San Sebastian River

The trip was mostly uneventful. We passed by the ever-increasing houses with boat docks in Palm Valley and Ponte Vedra Beach.  Denise likes the one on the edge of the state park, particularly their tree fort (not visible in picture).

We passed under all the bridges that are part of Jacksonville, and navigated the shoals of the entrance at the St. John’s River. Here we saw several ships at anchor in the river, and grateful none were moving as can often be the case. This is usually a busy area with large freighters and container ships moving up and down the river as they make their way to the Port of Jacksonville.  Fortunately, the crossing was uneventful and we quickly found our way back on the ICW heading north towards Fernandina Beach (Amelia Island).

At anchor in St. John’s River

We continued winding our was north, happy to see that the dredging that had been done in 2019 was holding and we did not encounter any shallow areas along the way, including around Nassau Sound; an area known for chronic shifting of the bottom and the creation of shoals. 

White Pelicans in ICW near Amelia Island

We passed under the bridge that takes you to the island and the famous Down Under Restaurant.

Downunder Restaurant

Just past the bridge is the entrance channel to the Amelia Island Marina. Last time we came this way we stayed there because the Fernandina Beach City Marina (located downtown) was still being repaired from hurricane damage suffered in 2016 and 2017. But the marina is now up and running (now part of Oasis Marinas) and we had reservations for the night.

It was just a short time later that we arrived at Fernandina Marina and Captain Mark expertly parallel-parked our Island Office into the slip.  Immediately we were met by a knowledgeable young dockhand who assisted with tie-up and our power connection. Within 10 minutes he was back with our Welcome Kit, and all the information we need for our stay. Everything was very efficient and we didn’t have to go up to the office to check-in. Additionally, we were on the inside of the long dock, which meant the big yachts across the dock on the outside would be blocking all the boat traffic passing along the ICW.  We were very happy.

We spent the afternoon doing work; Denise had 2 conference calls and Mark had a few issues to handle with clients.  Mark then washed all the salt off the boat while Denise did some in-house chores, periodically getting interrupted by passers-by who commented on our boat.  In the last few days on the ICW, and at this marina we have seen more Looper burgees on boats then we have ever seen.  More and more people are discovering this fun and exciting adventure, and as “Gold Loopers” we are always happy to accommodate.

Because of Covid we were not sure what we would find open for restaurants, but it appears all but one has some form of take-out or dining in options.  We were glad to find our favorite “Timoti’s” was open and opted for a quick and delicious bite at this family-friendly outdoor-only dining establishment.

Once our stomachs were full of food we wandered up and down the main street (Center St) of Fernandina and was delighted to see many of the shops were still in business. It must have been a tough few years for this town, but it looks like it is back up and running.  There were several new stores and a few old ones, and we were happy to see that the famous Palace Saloon was still operating in its newer post-fire digs. When we lived in Jacksonville and would take our sailboat here, this was a familiar stop at the end of a long day of off-shore sailing up from Mayport.

Palace Saloon

After our walk around downtown, we walked the long dock at the marina, and introduced ourselves to Loopers Todd & Patty on “Alcyone” (like Halcyone without the H).  They are from Michigan and have been on the Loop since 2019, interrupted in 2020 due to Covid and some real estate transactions that now have them owning a place in Punta Gorda, FL.   We chatted for a while and then completed our walk back to our boat for the night.  Tomorrow we will head towards Cumberland Island, GA, leaving the state of Florida in our wake.

IO at Fernandina Marina

Just Jekyll!

melia Island, FL (Thursday 4/11)
It was a nice day to be leaving Amelia Island, with beautiful sunny skies, but a bit of wind. We wanted to leave as late as possible to give the wind a chance to die down, but before the very shallow tide would make the channel from the marina a bit dicey.  So at 9:15 we left our slip, went and got a pump-out and were on our way.

It was a short run up to Jekyll Island and a beautiful day with many familiar sites. When we left Amelia Island we were followed by a fleet of Personal Water Craft (PWCs) rentals who chased us up through the downtown Fernandina Beach area.

PWC s following us from AIM canal

PWC s following us from AIM canal

We passed by the municipal marina docks which were (finally) undergoing repair from storms Matthew and Irma, and the harbor was being dredged.

Fernandina Beach Marina - Docks being repaired

Fernandina Beach Marina – Docks being repaired

We passed through St. Mary’s inlet without issue and rounded Cumberland Island.  In no time we passed along the St. Mary’s submarine base with their degaussing structure.  This structure is so large it is visible for miles and is heavily patrolled by the USCG, who since 911 has made this part of the ICW a controlled area; they can restrict transit (and they do) when a sub is entering or leaving St. Mary’s inlet.

St Mary's submarine degaussing structure

St Mary’s submarine degaussing structure

The rest of the day was uneventful. The most challenging part was crossing the St. Andrews Sound; an exposed area between Cumberland Island and Jekyll Island.  There are now 2 routes to take: one directly across the sound, and another that goes behind a shoaled area known as Horseshoe Shoals.  Having always taken the direct route, we opted for the trek that was slightly longer, but protected from the swells off the Atlantic Ocean.  We did not notice that big of a difference, but the waves weren’t that bad in the sound, and in 15 minutes we were back on the usual ICW route.  We tied up to the long face dock at Jekyll Island Harbor Marina at noon and settled into eating lunch before checking in at the marina office.

Jekyll Island Harbor Marina

Jekyll Island Harbor Marina

Along the way we had been discussing our planned itinerary and how we were going to lose so much time in South Carolina.  We planned slow-going to Charleston so as not to arrive too early, then spending a full week in Charleston.  Once done we still had to get through most of SC and all of NC before getting to the Chesapeake Bay.  All of that would take us into the first week of May with good weather, limiting our time to explore new places in VA and MD.  After challenging our paradigm of Mark flying to the client in NC from Charleston, we opted to have the boat positioned in NC for him to drive to the client.  After reviewing numerous options in NC, we determined the best spot was back to New Bern where we stayed in October of 2017 for the same client.  Because of that, we decided to only stay two nights (instead of three) at Jekyll Island Marina, and planned out the next two weeks.  We called the appropriate marinas and secured dockage for the requisite nights, coordinating with need for attending mass on Palm and Easter Sundays.

We checked into the marina office and then went back to the boat for chores (Mark washed the outside, Denise cleaned the inside), showers and an afternoon of watching boats come into the marina.  Included in the fleet arriving were “Corkscrew”, “Compass Rose” and “Lady Catherine” – all of whom were at Amelia Island.  We also had work to do and future events to schedule with clients, so we ended the afternoon taking care of these tasks.

Originally, we intended to take the loaner bikes into town for a dinner at The Love Shack in the Jekyll Market. We love their pulled-pork and the barbeque shrimp, and it’s a quick and inexpensive meal in a very casual setting.  As luck would have it, Mark was able to convince a marina employee (who shall go unnamed) to let us take the golf cart into town; something that is not usually granted after hours.  In 5 minutes we were at the Love Shack and ordering our dinners.  We learned on this visit that Love Shack cups are no longer offered and the ones we have on the boat are now collector’s items.

Love Shack collectors item
Love Shack collectors item

We also wanted to try and see the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch at KSC from the beach boardwalk, but got delayed just long enough to miss it. Others on the boardwalk told us that you still couldn’t see it, despite best efforts; it was just too far away.  So we took the golf cart for a quick tour around town and saw the development of a “Home2Suites” by Hilton now being built.

We got back to the boat as the sun was setting, and the bugs coming out.

Sunset over marshes near Jekyll Marina

Sunset over marshes near Jekyll Marina

Even though we have great Wi-Fi here, neither of us was interested in streaming any movies or watching TV.  Mark did some work and Denise read a book until bedtime.

Jekyll Island, (Friday, 4/12)
It was a very warm and muggy morning (70 degrees at 6:30) when Denise went out for a run.  Loving this area and knowing the now-familiar route she was excited to get out and move her legs.  Within the first quarter mile she game across a few deer, still working on their breakfast.  Later she ran along the beach route and back to the marina, struggling with painful back and leg issues that pop up on occasion.

 

After breakfast, we settled into a boat repair project: the switch in a reading light above the bed was not working.  First we made sure it was not a bulb issue (it wasn’t), we then dismounted the fixture from the wall and discovered a plastic housing had broken.  This should have been a quick fix, but we discovered our super glue was totally dried up so an alternative plan had to be devised.  Thirty-minutes later with some duct tape and a broken Popsicle stick, we were able to rig a fixture that enabled the switch to work again.

Unfortunately, last night the hand-held shower coil separated from the head and now we have that to fix. But the hose underneath is intact so not impacting the ability to shower on the boat. However, we now must add this to our ever-increasing list of things to do, fix, or replace on the boat.

For the remainder of the morning there were boat chores to do, work for clients, and plenty of boaters in the marina to talk to.  Mark did manage to speak with Richard and Catherine (“Lady Catherine”) about their planned itinerary.  Denise spent some time talking to a local who was fishing from the dock using a cast net; he caught a bunch of sea trout and some shrimp.  It is always about the people you meet along the journey.

After lunch Mark spent some time resolving issues with a client while Denise cataloged pictures and worked on this blog.  We then tried to get a golf cart to go adventuring, but someone took it without checking it out because they saw it in the parking spot. These people didn’t know that we were waiting for the charging to be done as the previous users went longer than planned and the battery died. So we opted for the bikes and went on a 6 mile bike ride into Historic Jekyll Island and around the grand hotel.  On our route back we passed the couple in the golf cart which had stopped due to a dead battery.  KARMA!

Bike Path through Historic District

Bike Path through Historic District

Bike Path through marsh near Historic District

Bike Path thru marsh near Historic District

When we returned to the boat we had one last chore; put water in our tanks. Even though we have an inline water system that we use via hook when at a marina, we like to make sure we have sufficient water for when we anchor out.  We also like to be prepared in case the marina does not have potable water at their docks. Although we rarely encounter this, it did happen at Dog River Marina in Mobile in 2015, after the remnants of Pacific hurricane Patricia had crossed land and the Gulf of Mexico and caused so much water in Dog River that we had 6 inches of it above the fixed docks.  The marina shut down the water and electric due to flooding. You can find that story here.

We spent more time doing work on the boat, then got cleaned up for drinks aboard “Lady Catherine”. Richard (Captain) had come down earlier in the day to invite us aboard.  Their charter guests had left and they were alone for a few days before picking up their next client. They gave us a tour of this 1947 Trumpy Yacht that Richard had almost single-handedly restored, and graciously shared some wine and some of their life’s stories.  They were awesome hosts and we loved learning more about them and their charter business.  As they had dinner plans ashore, we bid our farewell and made plans to stay in touch for a possible reconnection in the fall.

Afterwards we walked up to the onsite restaurant (Zachary’s River house) for a fish dinner. It was packed and it took us awhile to get seated.  Finally, we got our meals and headed back to the boat to prepare it for tomorrow morning’s early departure.

We always have a great time in this place and love stopping here.  We continue to see new things and then there are things we can count on seeing; like the AirBNB houseboat that has not moved in all the years we have stopped here.  We hope to return again on our way south this fall.

AirBNB Houseboat at marina

AirBNB Houseboat at marina

Our next posting may be in a few days as we have a long day tomorrow, and on Sunday much to get done in a short schedule of time.

Stay tuned for more adventures aboard Island Office.