Sailing out of St. Augustine for a few hours, some outstanding Cuban food

We’ve had something of a crazy and exciting day today. Our family woke up early this morning and drove up the A1A to St. Augustine to go sailing on a 40-foot Lagoon catamaran. (Lagoon is a French yacht manufacturer, headquartered in Bordeaux, which was acquired by Beneteau.) The catamaran’s owner spent 13 years living on a sailboat, sailed around the world and homeschooled her children through all that. She was a worldschooler before it was trendy! Truly a kindred spirit.

We sailed east for a couple hours and then turned back. We weren’t certain if we should continue on with our plans, as Tropical Storm Arthur was out there and the water was reportedly very rough. (My husband made fun of me, but I broke out my St. Christopher pendant for the trip. St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers.) But we had a great captain, a gentleman from Romania (Transylvania, to be precise – yes, I did jokingly ask him about vampires), who had spent over 50 years on the sea. He was not even remotely intimidated. And he had fantastic stories, which made the rough waters seem to pass quickly.

When we told him we were looking at buying a power boat, he was less than impressed. I’ve since learned that sailors and power yacht people are like single malts and blended scotch. They both obsess over deeply lovely experiences, but they are convinced that the others are mediocre in some way.

Jumping the channel from St. Augustine was indeed a messy endeavor. The combination of the tides and the storm made the first 30 minutes of the trip out feel like a wild rollercoaster ride, travelling up and then down immense hills of water. Once we were out, however, the sea was fairly relaxed. Not totally smooth, but not wild either. The clouds had been pulled north by the storm by then and the sun was intense. We went up front and played on the trampoline and watched dolphins and pelicans. It was brilliant.

Not scared of losing sight of land at all.
My favorite feature of the sailboat. Being able to watch the ocean roll beneath your feet.

Some friends of our captain’s caught up with us in their monohull and we raced along together for a while. That was also a lot of fun. It was like our own private regatta.

We sat on the trampoline for most of the way back in and just absorbed St Augustine’s beautiful skyline. Now that Florida has almost fully reopened, the beaches are more crowded than I have ever seen in my life (and I grew up in Southern California, so that’s saying a lot). There are cars parked all the way up and down the A1A, filling empty lots, filling all of the side streets, double-parked on the grass. Governor DeSantis ordered restaurants to scale up to 50% capacity, but they are seating all their tables anyway. No one here cares anymore. Like I said in an earlier post, Florida is going to party its way out of this recession.

Anyway, we walked around St. Augustine for a couple hours after we got off the boat. We went to a small Cuban restaurant on Aviles Street, which is the oldest street in the United States (St. Augustine was founded in 1565) and now home to a quaint little art district. I had skipped both dinner last night and breakfast this morning in anticipation of rough seas – I did not want to have any cookies to toss – and so I devoured a Cuban sandwich and glass of sangria in about thirty seconds.

Cuban sandwich and sweet plantains.
Street art.

I was happy to see the Cathedral of St. Augustine was open again, and people were lounging around in the courtyard outside. A church very much at the center of everything.

A fantastic day. We are so lucky Florida is back to normal again.

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