Hurricane Season begins on June 1, so time to head north. We left The Ortega River, traveled thru Jacksonville, FL, and headed back to Fernandina Beach again to visit with Ed’s brother Chuck for a few more days before heading to Georgia. On our way, we saw several cruise ships that were docked – silent and lifeless. No one is crowding on to those ships these days.
Back in Fernandina Beach, we saw that businesses and restaurants were re-opening. The empty streets, that previously we rode thru on our bikes, were now crowded with cars, and the sidewalks had lots of people. We confined our walking thru town to early mornings – before the tourists were out and about. We were glad to see some other Looper boats at the Marina. In Quest – we had met in New York as Cat and Dogs, but had bought/sold boats along the trip; About Time, also Meridian owners, we had first met back on the Erie Canal in June; As You Wish, we first met at Great Kills Marina at Staten Island; and Sea Jamm, also from Georgia, we had met at one of the AGLCA Rendezvous meetings before we had even bought our boat! Funny how we keep reuniting with people we have met along this journey. It was nice to catch up – have some socially distanced docktails — and share a sunset or two.
So what to do for a few days here in Fernandina? The boats that do local cruises were operating again, so we decided to do a morning cruise that went past Cumberland Island. It was kind of nice to sit back and let someone else do the driving. The operator did a great narrative of info about the Fernandina Beach area (Amelia Island), as well as Cumberland Island. Cumberland was first inhabited by indigenous peoples of the Mocamas. The island was found by the Spanish and thereafter ensued a history of many “take overs” and different inhabitants. It played a part in the War of 1812, and wood from the live oaks on the island is said to have been used to build the USS Constitution. The Carnegie family eventually bought 90% of the island, and built several estates for various family members. Over the years, the island has been designated a National Seashore and much of it is in the care of the National Park Service. Carnegie descents still maintain property rights there. It’s a beautiful island, home to much wildlife including wild horses that are free to roam. The island is only accessible by boat. We hope to return in the future to explore the island in person.
Back in Fernandina Beach, we rode our bikes to Old Fernandina. Somehow we had missed this historical area during our past visits. This was the area of the Spanish Fort San Carlos, built in 1816. The fort was overtaken numerous times which lead to Amelia Island being known as the “Isle of 8 Flags.” The town of Fernandina surrounded Plaza San Carlos until Senator David Yulee brought the railroad to town – almost. The railroad tracks ended about a mile away, and thus was born “New” Fernandina, as the center of town shifted to that location.
We had a real treat one morning. We noticed a couple of people looking into the water over the side of the dock. Curious as to what they were seeing, we walked down and saw a manatee eating the “green stuff” that was growing on the sides of the dock. It swam along the dock, just munching and munching. It was SO big. It was really exciting to see one so close and to be able to see most of its body. In the past, we usually only got a glimpse of the snout as one came up for air, but this was “up close and personal.”
One of the other Loopers, In Quest (formerly in a boat named Cat and Dogs), presented us with a “gift” one evening. It was a jig saw puzzle that they had decided to pass on to other Loopers. Complete the puzzle, take a picture as proof, and pass on to another Looper. It had already been done by some of the other Loopers in port. Ed’s brother Chuck and his girlfriend Lori are big time puzzlers since the Covid Crisis started, so we took the puzzle to Chuck’s house and employed their help. Oh my goodness – glad we did, because it would have driven me nuts! The pieces were in shapes of dogs and cats, were very small, and they didn’t necessarily “lock” together. Sometimes the pieces just lay in place next to each other. Between the four of us, over a couple of days, it got done, but was definitely a challenge. We eventually passed it on to Doc’s Aweigh — hope they don’t curse us too badly!
Our time is up in Florida – time to move on to Georgia.