Saturday, July 18, 2009

Port of Call: Jacksonville, Florida

Several days ago I wrote the article The best day trips outside of Jacksonville, Florida. It brought back memories of the year (2003) we spent at the Ortega River Boat Yard in Jacksonville.

The marina was a hurricane hole and a favorite for many cruisers. Some had sailed around the world while others came from faraway places like the UK and Israel. There was a big liveaboard community. The boatyard, located on the edge of charming Avondale, is in a great location - near other boatyards including the prestigious boat builder Huckins, and thus very easy to get marine parts or get work done on the boat. It is also an easy walk to Roosevelt Square which has almost all your needs (our favorite supermarket Publix, Panera Bread, Belk department store, to name several).

After the tech bubble burst in 2000 and the Sept 11 terrorist attack in 2001, the only thing that kept going up was real estate prices. Nowhere was this more evident than the waterfront properties, and developers took notice. When they bought the Ortega River Boat Yard and marina, we boaters found ourselves on the verge of being kicked out. We and our land neighbors against new developments rallied and participated in town hall meetings to get our voices heard. We left Jacksonville in April 2004. The last we heard was that the developers won. They drove all the boaters away and built upscale highrise condominiums with private docks. Another marina bit the dust.

Below is the video of our good old times at Ortega River Boat Yard (Potluck on the docks and the Jacksonville Sea and Sky Spectacular in 2003)
Blue Angels at the Jacksonville Sea and Sky Spectacular

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Tall Ships return to Boston

The first tall ship arrived in Boston yesterday amidst fog, rain and thunderstorms. Today's weather is not that much better. To add insult to injury, the traditional Grand Parade of Sail is not happening this year due to budget woes.
Japanese Tall Ship Kaiwo Maru II

But don't worry. You can still enjoy the Grand Parade of Sail by watching the video clip below. That was when the tall ships last visited Boston. In July 2000. Enjoy...


Read about all the ships participating in this year's Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge which began in Vigo, Spain. After stopping in the port of Boston, the fleet will race to Halifax, Nova Scotia, after which they will head for their final destination in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  

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