SpinSheet Magazine March 2020

Page 80


St. Augustine

a Chesapeake Cruiser’s Winter Haven


By Capt. Mark Einstein, Photos by Suzanne Einstein

fter an ambitious 2019, beginning with a cruise from St. Thomas to Rock Hall via Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, The Bahamas and Florida, followed by a busy charter season in Rock Hall, MD, Suzanne and I decided it was time to take a break, relax, and enjoy the cruising life a little closer to home. At less than 1000 nautical miles south of Rock Hall, we pointed Island Girl toward “America’s Ancient City,” St. Augustine, FL. Having made a short stop on our way up the Florida coast last year, it was clear that St. Augustine is a special haven that we wanted to revisit in cruising style. St. Augustine represents the very best of many possible worlds. As a colorful cruising destination, the city and its surrounding areas cannot be beat. With a large liveaboard community, the town boasts a myriad of marinas, yacht services, marine supplies, and provisioning opportunities. The city operates a world-class marina that sports an exceptional staff, very reasonable floating docks, and three large mooring fields for long term and transient vessels. For those on a tighter cruising budget, the free anchorage is roomy with

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easy access to town from the municipal marina dinghy dock. Because the city is located right on the ICW as well as a major ocean inlet, the cruiser can dinghy to nearby places such as Vilano and St. Augustine beaches for a completely different Florida vibe. As a cultural center, St. Augustine stands out as a premier touring destination for anyone who loves 16th and 17th century Spanish history and architecture. Amid the conclave of well-preserved and restored buildings, streets, and alleyways,

there is more to see and do than one can imagine. The famed Castillo de San Marcos, the nation’s oldest masonry fort, stands watch at the harbor’s edge, as the awe-inspiring Flagler College, the exotic Liechtner Museum, and numerous fine art galleries grace the busy King St. just a few steps away from the marina. St. George St. and the entire waterfront bustle into the wee hours with bars, restaurants, live music, shops, and happy hours galore. When it comes to festivals, events, and stories of pirates and ghosts, it is no wonder why the streets of the Ancient City are flush with horse drawn carriages, trams, trolleys, and enthusiastic tourists seven days a week. Suzanne and I had hoped to reach St. Augustine before Thanksgiving after leaving Rock Hall on November 1. With a few nice weather windows, a mix of offshore and ICW sailing, and several anticipated stops, we were able to complete the journey by November 23. Perfect timing! Upon our first sunset, we found ourselves relaxing aboard Island Girl tucked into a beautifully secure and centrally located slip with a front row view of the annual “Nights

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