Highlights of historic Fernandina, the beaches, and coastal nature at Florida-Georgia border.

FEMA Funds To Fix Fernandina City Marina

Damaged Dock, Fernandina Harbor Marina After Hurricane Matthew
Fernandina Harbor Marina After Hurricane Matthew

Fernandina Harbor Marina

It took FEMA a year, but the city government of Fernandina Beach has finally been notified in writing. FEMA will cover 75% of costs to fix the downtown city marina. Damaged in October 2016 by Hurricane Matthew, some marina docks were repaired this past year. However, the most costly repairs have been on hold.

Boating traffic has not been able to fill up tanks at the Fernandina Harbor since Matthew. Hopes are that fuel will be flowing again at this downtown marina by early 2018 (thanks to separate grant, non-FEMA). The more near-term repairs will be on the north side of marina area (fuel area, northern 300 feet of dock, and wood boardwalk adjacent to Brett’s Waterway Café at this spot).

Fernandina Harbor Marina (North Side)
Fernandina Harbor Marina (North Side)

As of early autumn 2017, the city marina offered “12 mooring balls, 5 transient slips, dinghy dock, short term dock, boat ramp and showers”, according to marina management (see marina news postings here). Mariners can also call (904) 310-3300 for further information as time goes by for updates. The marina is located on the Intracoastal Waterway at mile 716 (coordinates LAT: 30.671284 LONG: -81.465513).

Charters & Tours

The Fernandina Harbor Marina is a pivotal place of downtown commerce. Transient mariners stop, whether to just get gas along their travels, or come ashore to tour downtown, shop, or pop into a restaurant. The marina is also a key base of operation for local charter fishermen and boating tours.

Amelia River Cruises Dock Near Brett's, Fernandina Harbor
Amelia River Cruises’ Dock Near Brett’s, Fernandina Harbor

Amelia River Cruises is the largest local tour operator. Their vessels were temporarily relocated to a southern area of the marina after Matthew, but have since been moved back to their usual departure dock adjacent to Brett’s near the foot of Centre Street.

The marina has also been a port of call of American Cruise Lines, a stop on their “Historic South and Golden Isles Cruise” along America’s southeast coastline.

Sunset Gathering Place

Downtown Fernandina riverfront docks sunset photo
Fernandina Harbor Marina Docks, Great Spot To Watch A Sunset!

The downtown marina area is also a favorite gathering place of sunset watchers (as pictured above along the floating docks). People wander around the waterfront and admire boats as evening approaches. Anticipation hangs in the air as folks linger, waiting to see what unfolds. Often it’s a beautiful display of color as the sun sinks to the west over the river. Walking the dock, pictured below, has not been an option this past year.

Looking Lonely, Empty Dock at Fernandina Harbor Marina (9-23-2017)
Looking Lonely, Empty Dock at Fernandina Harbor (9-23-2017)

Watch this video by CBS 47 Action JAX News , Deanna Bettineschi reporting from the Fernandina Beach Harbor Marina about the FEMA news, with interview of city manager, Dale Martin.

Just eleven months after the October 2016 hurricane (Matthew), another came through, Irma. Luckily, this second hurricane had less impact to Fernandina’s downtown marina/waterfront.

St. Marys, Georgia

Unfortunately, this was not the case just north of here in St. Marys, Georgia. This nearby riverfront city was devastated, docks destroyed, and dozens of boats sunk at the marina. This Georgia city is the only departure place of Cumberland Island National Seashore ferry transportation.

Cumberland Island, GA

Cumberland Island National Seashore has been closed over a month now at this writing, as the National Park Service wrangles with challenging issues to get the park back open. (See related article, “Cumberland Island Closed” with First Coast news video filmed at the St. Marys waterfront after Hurricane Irma).

Dealing With Destruction

Thus, hurricanes have hurt marina activity at two vital riverfront cities here at the Florida-Georgia border, inside a year’s time. This is unusual tropical activity in such a short period, compared to the weather of the past 50 years. Fingers crossed we’ve seen the last of destructive storms around here for a long while.

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