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St. Augustine

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 St. Augustine is one of the prettiest and most historically compelling communities on the East Coast. It’s also an exceptionally practical place to stop. Hundreds of boats use the nearby ocean inlet weekly, including many that take advantage of productive fishing offshore.

Like most inlets, this one develops shoals. It’s a good idea to check the latest local knowledge if you’re unfamiliar.

The inlet brings you into the Intracoastal Waterway, which flows past the eastern shores of the city. Ahead, a tall stainless steel cross commemorates the first Roman Catholic Mass celebrated on the continent (Sept. 8, 1565). As you head south, approaching the Bridge of Lions, you see a huge fort, Castillo de San Marcos, which was completed in 1695. In the relatively open harbor, the St. Augustine Municipal Marina has moorings and slips. When northerly or southerly winds blow hard against the strong-running current, the area can become very rough.

Just north of the inlet, Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor offers dockage within a protected basin and a full-service yard, marine and chandlery services at First Mate, a restaurant and other opportunities. The marina has two loaner cars for slip-holders, the historic district is two miles away, and a 10-minute walk gets you to the ocean beach and a new Publix supermarket at Vilano Beach. Several other marinas and yards are in the area, and additional marine services include Sailors Exchange, West Marine and Hansen Marine Services.

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St. Augustine is the oldest continuously civilized community on the continent. The early Spanish influence predominates, in architecture and place names. There are 144 blocks of buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, hundreds of annual festivals and events, and more than 150 restaurants.

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You’ll also find plentiful shopping, museums, tours and theme parks, such as the Alligator Farm. The historic district, near the waterfront, is known worldwide for its “Nights of Lights” during the Christmas season. The World Golf Hall of Fame and a number of championship courses are nearby.

The area is so appealing that many boaters spend the entire winter there, seeing no reason to head farther south.

November 2012 issue