First Stop in Florida – Fernandina Beach

posted in: Florida | 1

We left Cumberland Island, somewhat regretfully, and traveled 7 miles (yes, only 7 miles) over the border to Florida. We noticed that the pelicans are now white, not gray/brown.

Florida's pelicans
Florida’s pelicans

It was time for a fueling stop and Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, is directly on the ICW.  Fernandina Harbor Marina has $20 per night moorings.  Active Captain (the boater’s go-to for the latest information) reported concerns about mooring balls covered in barnacles and less than helpful staff. Our experience was the opposite. The ball was fine and the staff was very helpful! The “boaters lounge” near the showers and laundry gave us a chance to meet fellow boaters and chat.

The dedication on this bench along the waterfront caught my eye!
The dedication on this bench along the marina’s waterfront caught my eye! Doesn’t that make you smile? I would like to meet Florence and Arthur.

We only intended to spend this one day so we set off to explore. The main street of Fernandina Beach is quite charming with shops and restaurants…. and book stores. In our short time, I discovered two independent shops right on that main street. I indulged and bought a novel that takes place on Cumberland Island, Plum Orchard.

With a guide in hand, we walked through some of the historic district. Fernandina Beach was established in 1811 and named for King Ferdinand VII of Spain. The residential  houses represent architectural styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – Victorian, Italianate style and Queen Anne influences.

Upper Left, clockwise -~Prescott house (1896) ~Noble Hardy (1902) ~Hirth (1886) ~Baker (1859)
Upper Left, clockwise -~Prescott house (1896)
~Noble Hardy (1902)
~Hirth (1886)
~Baker (1859)
Love the weather vanes atop the cupolas
Love the weather vanes atop the cupolas

We stopped for lunch at Timoti’s Seafood Shak, recommended to us by Sue and Dave (san cles). One of our favorite pastimes on this trip is to try local restaurants. We give Timoti’s 4 gold stars for good taste and reasonable prices.

~Award winning Timoti's Seafood Shak ~ Al and his oyster po'boy ~Michele with a mahi mahi wrap
~Award winning Timoti’s Seafood Shak
~ Al and his oyster po’boy
~Michele with a mahi mahi wrap

Next door to Timoti’s was a very cool shop with lots of curiosities for outdoor/indoor decorating. It is a very good thing that we have no room for any of these creations on the boat, otherwise we would be tempted to bring so much home with us!

Colorful metal artwork
Colorful metal artwork
These old pieces of wood become fish with messages in the hands of their creator.
These old pieces of wood and scrap become fish with messages in the hands of their creator.

Have you ever heard of petanque? The Petanque American Open was in progress in Fernandina Beach that weekend. Petanque, pronounced  “pay tonk”, originated in southern France (early 1900’s)  and is one of Europe’s most popular outdoor games. It looks a lot like Italian bocce and is related to horseshoes. 

The aim is to toss, or roll a number of hollow steel balls (boules) as close as possible to a small wooden target ball, called a cochonnet (French for “piglet”). All players take turns throwing their boules from within a circle, keeping both feet on the ground. The team that ends up nearest to the cochonnet after all balls are played, wins. 
The target ball (cochonnet) can be hit, and thus moved, at any time, which can totally upset the score. 
Official bocce is played on a smooth, prepared court with markers and sideboards, while petanque can be played on most outdoor surfaces.

All around us we could hear French, Spanish, Italian, and English. We watched two teams play – one team in white shorts and black shirts, the other in white long sleeves and jeans. It was an intense game, requiring a measuring tape in the final round.

The game of Petanque
The game of Petanque

Although short, we had a very nice day in Fernandina Beach. The next morning  brought another dawn departure so that we could make it all the way to St. Augustine in one day. With only 11 hours of daylight, we need to take advantage of each minute.

Leaving Fernandina Beach to head for St. Augustine
Leaving Fernandina Beach at dawn to head for St. Augustine 

  1. Colleen Murphy

    Wow! I am so envious of all the beautiful sites you get to see, but am grateful you have a working camera so you can share them with us!! I think the architecture is my favorite from this stop! Happy sailing!

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