North Florida and New Crew

November 22, 2017

New Crew
Our friends, Chet and Lynette join us at Fort George Island Marina in Jacksonville, Florida.  The original plan is for them to be on board as we continue the journey south through the ICW.  However, poor weather and uncooperative tides/currents cause another change in plans.  We decide to wait out the weather and have fun exploring nearby Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Fort George Island, Amelia Island, and Fernandina Beach.

Chet's low tech fashion statement
Fort George Island
We spend a day exploring two historic sites on Fort George Island, one of the chain of coastal sea islands reaching from South Carolina to Florida.

Kingsley Plantation
This large national park is one of the few preserved plantations in the state of Florida.  Initially founded in the late 1700’s, and maintained by slave labor, this 1,000-acre plantation grew sea island cotton, indigo, and sugar cane.  Remaining buildings include the main house, kitchen house, barns, and slave cabins.  The main house looks out over the waterways that used to bring ships to the plantation.  To help preserve the original interior or the house, visitors are not allowed inside.
The architecture is unique as it utilized tabby; a cement-like material made of roasted oyster shells, sand, and water.  This material is used in locations where wood is not readily available for house construction.  Even though this island has been subjected to numerous tropical storms and hurricanes, the tabby walls and foundations are still in good condition. 

Spanish moss hangs from trees that have stood over this location for hundreds of years.  Old black and white photos document the original condition of the buildings on the grounds.

Ribault Club
As the plantation system changed, some of the land and facilities were repurposed to attract tourists.  During the Roaring 20’s, a private club was built on a portion of the island.  Rich business tycoons and their friends came by train and car to dine, dance, and play golf and tennis.  The club is now a state park but is still rented out for weddings and other events.

Amelia Island
We continue our explorations north to Amelia Island.  Well known as a location for antique and exotic car shows (a la Pebble Beach) we discover there also are a wide variety of fun things to see and do.

Downtown Fernandina Beach is the main town on Amelia Island.  It is hopping on a Friday night with lots of restaurants, cafes, and shops.  Side streets are tree-covered and lined with unique old beach cottages.

Lots of folks are enjoying the warm weather and ambiance.

The weather is still uncooperative, so we decide to take the Budweiser Brewery tour and the sights of downtown Jacksonville.  The brewery tour includes a visit to the taproom and a little “kick back” time.

Wandering along the waterfront park, we discover that Jacksonville Jaguars owner, Shaid Khan, has his yacht Kismet moored right along the riverside walk.  It is just a little bit bigger than Bravo!!

St. Augustine
We decide to take a day trip south to St. Augustine.  Working our way through the old section of town, we wander in amazement on the grounds of Flagler College.  The buildings and grounds are spectacular and look like you stepped into the Harry Potter books and arrived at Hogwarts.  The buildings and grounds were once an ornate hotel built by railroad tycoon, Henry Flaglar, to entice rich folks from the cold northeast to ride his railroads south for winter in warm sunny Florida.  The dining room, not open to the public, is encircled by one of the largest existing installations of original Tiffany glass windows.

Across the street is the former Alcazar Hotel, now a museum, civic offices, and a venue for weddings and other catered events.  It too was a spectacular hotel that beckoned the rich and famous to St. Augustine.

Other sections of “Old town” St. Augustine are a bit touristy, but we wander the narrow cobblestone streets window shopping and looking for unique local treats. 

Chet decides a gourmet ice pop is a good idea.  There are at least 20 exotic flavors on the menu.  After much debate and interrogation of the ice pop vendor, Chet finally chose pistachio (10 minutes later with an impatient line behind him!).  It was so tasty that Chet decided to return for a second helping.  Fully intending to sample another flavor, Chet again spent a good 10-15 minutes agonizing what new flavor to try, and after asking for opinions, recommendations, best sellers, and content of the various flavors, he once again chose pistachio.  Good grief!

Chet's 2nd Pistachio ice pop of the day

St. Augustine also has some quirkiness to it...

Chilling on board
After all of these tourist activities, we need some R&R.  A bright sunny day and we break out the deck chairs. 

Chet checks out the pilothouse.  Manhattans are the “house drink” in the specially chilled glasses. 

Heading South
Chet and Lynette have to head back to Bellingham and Bravo needs to follow the warmer weather south. We say good-bye and head out to sea.


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