After our, ahem, “exciting” journey to St. Augustine, we decided we needed some R&R, so instead of just a few days at the dock in the marina, we decided to splurge for a full week here at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina to recharge our batteries and prep ourselves for sailing on our own (literally and figuratively).
Bruce had a few things to cover with us on Tuesday morning, namely, getting Brian up the mast to see if we could fix the anemometer (we did – the old unplug/plug back in trick seemed to do it!) and a quick tutorial on tossing dock lines – it is apparently not very sailor-ish to toss 50 feet of line to a guy standing 4 feet away. While we were doing some of this, a guy (Pete Gulick from The Catamaran Company) stops by to say hello and check out our catamaran, and after a few minutes, we find out he’d lived on Nantucket for many years! Small world. Even better, he took a look at our broken stanchion, had some suggestions for how to fix it (without a major welding project), and told us he’d check with the guys at the local marina to see what we could do.
We sent Bruce off and beelined it for the marina showers. I know I’ve waxed poetic before about showers, but they are even more extraordinary when you are absolutely exhausted and thankful to find yourself on solid ground. Then we were off to check out the town.
We started strolling down the streets and were instantly charmed by the town. Yes, there were a few too many cheesy t-shirt shops and pirate-themed gift shops, but the architecture was absolutely lovely.
When we saw “250 beers” on the sign for Rendezvous Restaurant, we knew we’d found a town we could enjoy!We sampled a few of the 250, got some food, and chatted with the bar staff about the town and what we needed to check out while we were here. We got a few recommendations on bars and restaurants to also check out, and tried out one of them later that night, called Barley Republic, where we had an amazing rib eye for $16 and a lamb shank for $14 – would have easily been double that price in NY (or back in South Florida, for that matter)
While in search of a mailbox, we stopped at a “Tourist Information” kiosk, and got ourselves roped into one of those timeshare things – we were offered free tour trolley tickets, a $50 gift card, and 2 free nights at a hotel for use later on, and all we had to do was show up the next morning to sit through some sort of presentation. While we would have never done that if we were living our former lives, nowadays, we can use all the free stuff we can find!
So, the next morning, after sitting through a 90 minute presentation about some sort of “travel club” that seemed like a complete rip-off, we collected our free stuff, grabbed a bite at the divey but awesome St. George Tavern, and caught a cab to West Marine in the hopes they could help us reprogram our AIS (surprise! They couldn’t). A quick trip to Target and we headed back to the boat for a bit of rest.
Thursday night, we found ourselves across the road at JP Henley’s, where we met up with the captain and first mate from the very pretty and very large yacht that we almost hit on our way into the marina. The boat is apparently owned by the founders of NASCAR, and we had a great time talking to the guys about beer, the lifestyle of working on boats, and (after a bunch of pints) who knows what else. It really reminded us both about how cool this life is, with all of the different people from all different walks of life that you get to meet.The next morning, we had to drag ourselves out of bed to clean the boat and get laundry done, as my mom was coming to visit us. I was amazed and thrilled when she said that instead of staying in a hotel, she asked if she could stay onboard with us.
After many circles of the town to try and find a parking spot for her, we finally got our chance to give her the tour, and she loved it. We headed out for a nice dinner and stayed up a bit too late, but had a great time.
The next day, we woke to cold, rainy weather, and got a lazy start, but took advantage of Mom’s car service to go do some provisioning. After a nice lunch across the street from the marina, we ended up lazing around the boat for the rest of the day, and while I felt a little bad we weren’t out touring the town, Mom’s been here before, and really, in 50 degree rain…not worth it! We were at least able to get a brace put on our stanchion, courtesy of Dave at St. Augustine Marine – should hold us until at least Annapolis, but hopefully until we’re on Nantucket and have the time to take the boat over to the Cape, when we don’t have a schedule and we can stay with Brian’s dad if we have to.
We sent Mom off the next day after breakfast, and got in some more rest time, managing to drag ourselves back over to JP Henley’s for dinner but not much else.
In summary, we loved St. Augustine’s bars and were really struck by the great beer bars, cheap and good food, cheap taxis, the walkability of the town, and the gorgeous architecture. Complaints? A few – there are NO grocery stores, not even convenience stores, within easy walking distance (I have got to find that collapsible bike I’ve been trying to find), I had a hard time finding a coffee shop open at 9 AM on a Thursday, and even after getting roped into that tourist thing, we STILL couldn’t find a mailbox to save our lives. Despite those annoyances, we’re definitely looking forward to spending time here again on our way south in the fall.
Today, we’ve been prepping for our first sail all by our big kid selves! We are nervous, but also confident that we know what we’re doing and we’ll be just fine. Hoping to make Cumberland Island tomorrow evening…wish us luck!