Wednesday, December 05, 2007

St. Augustine's Backside

If you visit Saint Augustine, you will most likely spend your vacation time on the other side of those trees, for there lies the heart of the old city. The photo above was taken on the San Sebastion River, a tidal estuary that flows along the west side of town. With the bay on the east side and this river running along the west until it meets the bay to the south, Saint Augustine sits on a small peninsula.
That makes for an excellent defensive situation which is why the Spanish chose this particular site to create a military outpost. British troops from Georgia and South Carolina had only one land approach ... from the north ... and this greatly complicated their unsuccessful attempts at destroying the Spanish garrison here.

I like this view, this day, because I think if one of my St. Augustine relatives from the 1800's were standing with me, they wouldn't feel too out of place. A sea of masts, a stern wheeler, and a forest of trees with city spires poking through would be familiar views in the second half of the 1800's.

Looking south.
When I was a kid, there were bustling shrimp boat construction yards along this river, but the focus these days is mostly pleasure craft.

Look at that brown beauty trawler style boat in the midst of those sailboats. Now THAT is a boat!
A guy could chug off to exotic islands on that baby ... if he could afford the boat
... and the diesel.

I did manage to find a few working shrimp boats moored along the San Sebastion. I have a softspot for them that's half nostalgia and half sheer admiration for a time tested seaworthy boat design. The small one on the right is kind of dinky for the Atlantic. The big one to the left is more traditional.
These girls can handle foul weather.
The view above is looking south from a construction site where a fancy rich guy marina will replace the old working fish docks along King Street.

This view is of the same two boats in the previous picture, but from a more southerly viewpoint.

I spent countless hours in and on the San Sebastion while growing up. Things happened there that deserve their own post when time allows a thoughtful analysis of the effects of saltwater, marsh mud, and fish on growing boys.


Thunder Dave said...

Nice photos! I've got to get Lightnin over there sometime!

Anonymous said...

I would love to go...but do they have creepy crawly things like at FC's place? Oh man, what have I gotten myself into?

smilin-buddha said...

Imagine that hot boat. Running Biodiesel.

Sharon said...

I love that place :)

threecollie said...

Beautiful boats...what a lovely and timeless place

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the wonderful photos-essay.
Reminds me of my teen years on the docks of Mayport(now Jacksonville).


SophieMae said...

I reckon I think way different from most people... present company excluded, I'm sure... I just couldn't stifle a sad sulky sigh when I read about the marina replacing the docks... IMO, the old working fish docks are MUCH more beautiful than their replacements.

That big brown boat's a beauty alright! This post brings back some wonderful memories... thanks! 8-]

Scott aka Florida Native Musings said...

Son of a Son of a Sailor...great pics.

I can see that Trawler loaded up with Mango's or Banana's off St. Kits....ah to be Mr. Buffet.

Yours in the Bond

Moultrie Creek said...

Back in the days before air conditioning, my morning wake-up call was the sound of the shrimp boats motoring out of the San Sebastian and through the bridge on their way out the inlet. The cannon from the Arsenal at 5:00 told us we'd better be heading home for dinner.

Like you, I miss the shrimp boats and find the fancy yachts a poor substitute. Keep up the good memories!

Floridacracker said...

Thunder and Lightnin,
She will love it, just don't take her to the Alligator Farm.

Ohhhh yeaahhhh! Now you're talkin'.


The charm is still there.

I loved Mayport too as a kid. The Ferry, Stricklands Restaurant ...

Me too. A working fishing wharf is a cacophony of smells and sounds that I really miss.

Mr. Buffett might have had something beyond mangos stowed aboard in his younger days.

Moultrie Creek,
First ... I love your nomme de plume ... I spent alot of time on Moultrie creek too.
Second, No A/C in my St. Aug childhood home back then either. I couldn't hear the arsenal cannon from my house, but I could hear the FEC trains running along the San Sebastion from my open bedroom windows.
Thanks for the comment!

roger said...

out here on the left coast "marinas" are also replacing harbors for working boats. the wharf in our masthead was originally built to ship out limestone for cement. then it was an actual fishing boat base, which i recall from my own young years. now the anchorages are taken up by sailboats in the summer. most of the fish are gone anyway.

Cathy S. said...

I wish my backside looked as good as St. Augustine's.

Alan said...

Thanks for sharing the rarely seen back-side. We just spent Saturday in the "front" side in the old city for the living history gathering and grand illumination. St. Augustine is always a somewhat magical place, but when there are 200 people dressed as though it were 1707 instead of 2007, it just adds a little extra spark. There's a few photos on our blog if you're interested, though I'm sure you've seen it all before many times.

Love your blog - it satisfies my love of history, nature, and marine biology all in one place! :)

Mrs Mecomber said...

What a beautiful area.

It is strange seeing such landscapes without snow. I'm getting an eyeful of the white stuff north of you.

I'll have to visit St. Augustine someday. It's so rich in history that it drips.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, St. Augustine, always so beautiful. Great photos, FC, thanks for the virtual trip!

Laura, Vsea

Floridacracker said...

who are all these people with big boats and time on their hands?

Cathy S,

Thank you for the kind words.
I used to wear the uniform and participate in the grand illumination (wonderful parties afterwards). I have an old picture but Mrs. FC won't let me post it.

Mrs. McC,
Your last line says it all. I hope you get there some day.

No problem, I never get tired of sharing my hometown.