Sunday, October 16, 2011

October 16th - St. Augustine, Florida

Today, we arrived in PORTUGAL or SPAIN!! ... But it sure could be. No, this is St. Augustine, Florida. After a nice day at sea we turned in to this tiny little inlet with BIG breakers on both sides. I wasn't quite sure how to get in safely but a quick call to BOAT US on the VHF radio and they gave me a clear picture of where the sand bars were. At this point in the day we were looking more for the liquor bars. After rounding the last bouy and turning the corner, what a shock. We were met face on by this very large, very fortified, old Spanish fort with guns pointing from all sides to protect the port.
The Castillo de San Marcos as it now stands, was constructed between 1672 and 1695 and with it's commanding site on the west bank of the Matanzas Bay allowed it's guns to protect not only from attack by sea, but also the ground to the north against land attack. You had to watch those French you know from sneaking up from behind.

On "our" day we journeyed to the Castillo and witnessed them demonstrating the cannon firing. Funny how all the commands were in Spanish except for the last one...."HOLD YOUR EARS ... FIRE!!!!" What a loud boom that made for. The guys explained that with this little 6" gun they could fire a connon ball 1 1/2 miles ... but witht the 16 inch cannon that was built in 1613 in Spain, they could send one of these things 3 miles with some amount of accuracy.

Now, this Castillo never lost one of the 10 battles it was in. The walls are 40 feet thick and made of Coquina, which is a substance made of shells, sand, salt water and lime. Better than cement as it will absorb a striking of a cannon ball and the cannon ball would fall to the ground in the mote. At the end of the day, the soldiers would all go and collect the French cannon balls and the next day they would just fire them all back at the French. Talk about recycling.

St. Augustine was first discovered by Juan Ponce do Lion in 1513 and claimed for the king of Spain. There is a statue of this short discoverer in the main square by the bridge. Oh yeah, he was only 4'11" tall but was the tallest man on the ship as he refused to let anyone taller than himself to go on the trip.

The word here is that the statue has Juan pointing to the north, as a jesture that all the French could go back to the north from where they came.

As one entered the harbour past the Castillo, it was very obvious that this treasure was Spanish. The architecture, the tiny streets, even the Ponce de Lion (or Bridge of Lions) had the flavour.

The Bridge of Lions as seen here is a double bascule bridge and opens on demand except during rush hour. At night it is all lit up.

This is the Anglican Cathedral of St. Augustine. At night the dome is lit up and it looks like gold.

This is the old church of St. Augustine with his statue above the main doors.

These are some of the buildings belonging to the Flagler College.

This building is the city hall and it still carries the architecture from the past.

Another photo of the Flagler College buildings

Aviles Street is a prime example of the narrow back streets here that are full of small pubs and shops. The road is made of inlaid brick that has been in place for over 300 years. Many of the back streets look like this one.

Jan has always wanted to take a horse drawn carriage ride, so since it was such a beautiful night we decided to go. It was amazing driving down the very narrow back streets. The feeling alone took you back 300 years.

Told you it was all lit up at night.

We were on a mooring for a couple nights right off the historic waterfront district and got a full appreciation of the city by night ... the foood .. the music, and the people atmosphere.

And the night view

Day one was finshed off with at terrific sunset. One of the prettiest yet.

Day two started out with a great breakfast of scrambled eggs cooked by chef Ronaldo, then it was time to go sightseeing again. We bought tickets for $10 each that would allow us to travel on this small train all around the city and get on and off at over 21 different stops including the original Ripley's Believe it or Not museum. That place was full of interesting stuff. The train ticket was valid for 3 consecutive days.

The next morning it was time to depart this beloved city and head on down the ICW for Daytona Beach ... and that's where we are now .... at the HALIFAX HARBOUR MARINA ... and get this .... we're the ONLY boat at this 553 boat marina that actually has the word "HALIFAX" on the stern as a port of registry.

As a funny add-on to this ... yesterday we got an email from Larry Guptil who told us that he was watching the 3rd round of the PGA in Georgia when prior to going to break they scanned the harbour in Brunswick Ga.
In Larry's own words "They showed this nice looking sailboat for about 10 seconds and I thought, GEE WHAT A NICE BOAT ... Hey I know that boat ... Holy Gees, that's Ron on the Stern and Jan driving !!!" Man, you never know who's watching you these days.

Nite all ...

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