Last night, we had our Matanzas River Anchorage all to ourselves. There was no other soul in sight, except for the periodic power boat that would make its way through the pass. The solitude was special and the sunset spectacular. The sky and water were afire with scarlet and crimson. There was a current which reversed with the tides. But, our anchor was securely set, and the evening was wonderful. We enjoyed grilled pork chops for dinner and watched “The Theory of Everything” before going to bed.
I awoke in time to see the sun rise as dolphins made their way past our floating home. After our morning prayer and daily Shakespeare (yes, we are still up-to-date with reading the entire works of Shakespeare this year), we lowered Dalí into the water for the first time in almost two months. Delightfully, our 15 h.p. Yamaha outboard started right up as if we’d used it yesterday. We dinghied over to the park ranger station for the Fort Matanzas National Monument for a little exploring. We picked up our free tickets for the ferry which shuttles guests from Anastasia Island (where the park headquarters is located) to Rattlesnake Island, home to Fort Matanzas. Prior to boarding the ferry, however, we watched a short informational video on the site, and, then, took a half mile walk on a beautiful nature trail.
Fort Matanzas was built by the Spanish in 1742 to guard Matanzas Inlet. (The inlet gets its name from the Spanish word for slaughter (“matanza”), so named for the 1565 Spanish slaughter on this site of Jean Ribault and his band of French Huguenots, who were the last remaining French forces from Fort Caroline, situated near Jacksonville. The primary defense for the main entrance to the Spanish settlement of Saint Augustine was the well-fortified Castillo de San Marcos. However, Matanzas inlet could be used as a back-door entrance from the south, and, therefore, needed securing. The fort which was built in response to this need is a masonry structure of coquina (shellstone). Generally, the fort was occupied by six soldiers, consisting of an officer in charge, two gunners, and four infantry men. All guns from the fort could reach the inlet, thus securing St. Augustine’s back door. The only time Ft. Matanzas fired on the enemy was in 1742. British officer, James Oglethorpe, of Georgia, led twelve ships toward the inlet. Cannon fire drove away all the boats without the return of fire. I was taken by the smallness of the Fort. I expected something more along the lines of Castillo de San Marcos. However, it was obviously big enough to fulfill its intended purpose.
After our morning ashore, we returned to Beatitude for lunch and afternoon at leisure. Around 3 p.m., we weighed anchor for a short trip up the ICW to St. Augustine. The current was running with us and we averaged 7.5 to 8 knots as we motored north. Within two hours, we had passed through one drawbridge and one fixed bridge (with over 65’clearance!), and picked up mooring ball #8 in the Menendez Mooring Field at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina. Cindy picked up the ball without difficulty, and we were quickly tied up for the night.
We made sure all was secure before taking Dalí into the marina to register. We tied her up to the dinghy dock, paid our mooring for a few days, and walked across the street for dinner at O.C. White’s, a restaurant located in a house which dates back to 1790, and served as one of the first hotel’s in St. Augustine. After a lovely dinner, we stopped by the boater’s lounge at the marina for some wifi. I love being in St. Augustine. Everything, including the Old Town, is within a short walking distance from the marina. One of the most appealing things about this cruising lifestyle is the variety it affords. One night we are anchored in an isolated anchorage all by ourselves in the shadows of an 18th century fort and the next we are moored in a historic city like St. Augustine with all the amenities of restaurants, food, and shops. It’s great!