St. Augustine was simply amazing. From the moment we arrived, we were swept back in time by its rich history while being warmed daily by the vibrancy of this City of Lights. We did not have time or opportunity to visit everything, which just means that we’ll be back on our way north next spring. But we did have front row seats and a unique 360 degree of the Boat Parade of Lights on Day 55! Wow! Loved being on a mooring ball for that!
More noteworthy, though, in the total experience of St. Augustine was the reminder of the natural ebb and flow of life. We have obviously been immersed in nature’s ebb and flow of the tides when planning and navigating the ICW. But the last few days in St. Augustine made me more aware that there is a natural ebb and flow of friendships. When I was much younger, I somehow expected friendships to remain constant and I remember being disappointed when they waned like the moon. But as the number of friends increased, and time to spend with them decreased, it seemed only natural that many friendships would fade away.
But now, rather than seeing these relationships as disappearing altogether, I think it’s more realistic and optimistic to describe them as ebbing, which then suggests that they will flow back. And sometimes, they may just flood back. And that’s what happened in St. Augustine, with not just one friend, but two!
Part 1: The day after we took a mooring ball near the fort, we were greeted on shore by Maury, a former client of mine, who retired here after a long career in facility management. I first met Maury in the late 80s, and he hired Duvall/Hendricks in 1991 to do an ADA survey, shortly after the Americans with Disability Act had been signed into law. He and his wife Phyllis were sailors, which of course caught my attention, and they invited my family to visit their marina in Annapolis. Over the years, we met up at local and national industry events, and although we eventually waned in our communications, a mutual work colleague connected us a couple of years ago. At that time, Dudley and I were dreaming and scheming this water adventure, and Maury said to look them up when we visited St. Augustine.
Note that he didn’t say “if” we came to St. Augustine. He knew we would. That’s how he and his wife found this place. It only took them two seasons cruising on the ICW in their Bristol sloop to make St. Augustine their home. They are now settled into a beautiful new house and are deeply involved in the community.
So we did contact Maury and he generously offered to take us on a driving/walking tour of the city. And wow, what a flood of information flowed! This man is as busy in retirement as he ever was as a facility manager! Volunteer is his middle name! Wearing various badges throughout our day tour, depending on the places we were visiting, Maury took us to sites that included the Fountain of Youth where a chalupa is being built by him and a host of volunteers of the St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation. And yes, this chalupa cannot be purchased at Taco Bell! This chalupa is a 37 foot long replica of a utility boat that was used in the late 1500s with a crew of 8 oarsmen and a helmsman.
Switching badges, we also visited the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum as his guests. The lighthouse is still operational, and impressed us with its wealth of educational programs, ongoing research and expeditions, sea archaeology (ship wrecks!) and yes, more boat building projects. Maury is a board member there too, and oversees many of its boat building projects.
Switching hats, we stopped briefly at his marina, Camachee Cove. And for a total of five hours, we continued to drive slowly through the city, learning the history and becoming immersed in the culture. A highlight was lunch at The Blue Hen in the Lincolntown part of the city.
And as though that wasn’t enough, Maury invited us to dinner at their home on Day 56, after his grandson Jake gave us a personal tour of the Fort.
Yes, volunteering runs deep in this family. Jake is an official volunteer at the Fort and his deep knowledge of history enriched our visit on a beautiful sunny afternoon. After the Fort fired its cannons, Maury, Phyllis, and Jake hosted us with a delightful dinner in their beautiful home. Southern hospitality apparently doesn’t stop at the Florida-Georgia line!
We bid them farewell, knowing that we were leaving their City of Lights on Day 57. But just like friendships that ebb and flow, so do sailors as they leave and return to favorite ports. And St. Augustine is certainly a favorite port. We’ll be back.