St. Augustine



We made our departure from Jacksonville at 0640 to catch some of the outgoing current on the St. Johns. We ended up getting a pretty nice ride from the outgoing tide, despite the fact that we just caught the tail end of the change. Our normal 7-1/2 kt. cruise was boosted up to nearly 10 knots! That’s pretty fast for us! We were able to take advantage of currents on nearly the whole cruise to St. Augustine, doing 8+ kts. for most of the trip. We arrived St. Augustine about 1530, found a nice spot in the anchorage amongst all the derelict sailboats.

Florida’s liveaboard homeless problem shows itself! Some of the boats look like they’re doing underwater farming on the bottom!


St. Augustine is beautiful. Quite a dramatic change from the antebellum architecture we saw in the low country of the Carolinas and Georgia, the Spanish influence is visible with the first sighting of Castillo de San Marcos,


and the skyline with its red tile roofs and….   as the city puts it: Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in the United States.” The town is rich in history of Spanish, French, British, North, South all had a hand in shaping the land, and there are visible influences remaining that remind the visitor of the heritage of the area.

Henry Morrison Flagler


St. Augustine and a lot of Florida owes much of its development to railroad and oil magnate Henry M. Flagler, whom some called visionary for his time. He visited Jacksonville in the late 1800’s and saw a future for Florida  as a resort destination. He began buying up regional railroads, local real estate, and generally began the groundwork for his vision of Florida as what would become known as the “Newport of the South”. His Ponce de Leon hotel was built in 1885 in 18 months at a cost of $2.5 million, an astounding amount of money for the time. Artisans were brought in from Europe, and no cost was spared in the construction of the palatial resort. It opened in 1888, guests for the first season were by invitation only, and only those listed on the New York social register were even considered. Guests were expected to book the entire three month season, and pay in advance. The hotel was innovative for its time, the first building in Florida with electric, the electrical construction was completed by Thomas Edison. The original system was DC, with a coal burning generating plant adjacent to the hotel. The original coal plant was promptly replaced by an oil-fired system; Flagler was one of the original partners in Standard Oil with Rockefeller, so Edison obliged and


changed the system. The hotel’s interior designer was Louis Tiffany, and the building boasts a multitude of Tiffany original stained glass windows, chandeliers, and signature “Tiffany blue” colors in certain areas. The Ponce was the only one of Flagler’s many hotels to survive the Great Depression, and hosted visitors until the 1950’s.  Today, the Ponce is home to Flagler College, a 4 year liberal arts school. Flagler built another hotel, the Alcazar concurrently, directly across the street from the Ponce. T

Flagler went on to extend rail service further south into Florida, building hotels along the way, eventually extending the rails to Key West, making the tourist trade in Florida a possibility with the advent of easy access to the region via his rail system. The “Guilded Age” had arrived in Florida.

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