Fernandina Beach, Florida

Fernandina Beach, Florida is one of our favorite stops along the ICW. We seldom skip this area and actually spend some time in what we have come to call the St. Mary's triangle. There are many options for anchorages and the Downtown Municipal Marina is a great place to layover and spend some time in the historic district of Fernandina Beach. The area was originally inhabited by Timucuan Indians and around 1562, settled by the French, Spanish and later the British. The historic "Old Town" is a treat and easily accessible from the Municipal Marina, including one of their moorings, or from a nearby anchorage using the marina's dinghy dock, for a charge of course.

Our original plans were to stop and visit a long time friend that now lives in Fernandina. Early on we were having a problem with the transmission and nursed it along until we could stop at Tiger Point Marina on Egans Creek in Fernandina. The marina has done repairs for us on our sailboat Sea Trek and we trusted them to do quality work and charge reasonable prices. As expected, the following day after our arrival, the mechanics were on board and the transmission removed. To save some money, we volunteered to take the transmission to Cass's Transmission & Marine Service (904-731-0060) in Jacksonville, FL. They are experts on our Paragon transmission and the only transmission shop in northern Florida that has the proper equipment to test the transmission once the repairs are completed. Time was not on our side since we had arrived just before a long holiday weekend. We dropped the transmission off on Thursday afternoon, knowing it may not be worked on until the following Tuesday. Once again, it was time to make the best of a not so pleasant situation. This delay would force us to take a break and just relax, yeah right. It also gave us some extra time to visit with our friend.

Staying at Tiger Point left us far from town and any supplies we might need. Our friend has an extra vehicle that is seldom used so we had transportation, but if staying at Tiger Point as a transient, there is little access without some form of transportation. When staying at the Municipal Marina downtown, the Historic District of Old Town is just beyond the marina. A short walk will bring you to restaurants, art galleries and many local shops, including Books Plus which now carries our book, The Great Book of Anchorages. A hardware store and small marine supply store is several blocks away. But grocery stores, pharmacies and most other shopping will require a cab ride, trolley or car rental. There are a few shops downtown that sell gourmet items and some basic groceries. This is a major tourist area, and on holiday weekends, the town get very crowded. The Hampton Inn is just outside the marina. There are also many historic homes that make for an excellent afternoon of walking the tree-lined streets and stepping back in time. The major attraction for the early settlers was the deep, well-protected, natural harbor that later became a major shipping port. Large ships still call at the port, mostly to unload material for the nearby paper mill.

Once the repairs are completed, we plan to stay in the immediate area for a while to make sure everything works okay. A visit to nearby Cumberland Island and its great beach and walking paths can easily take up a day or two. We may also do a visit to St. Marys to see what has changed since we were there last. It only takes about an hour to an hour and a half to get from one place to the other by water. Then our slow trip north will continue.

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