Annual Redfish Spot Fishing Tournament September 19th

Press release by Dickie Anderson – The Amelia Island Guides Association (AIGA) and Amelia Island Marina (formerly Amelia Island Yacht Basin) will co-host the 2nd Annual Redfish Spot Fishing Tournament on September 17, 2016 to benefit the Folds of Honor Foundation.

Folds of Honor, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is committed to the families of the armed services who have been wounded or killed while serving our great nation and to ensure no military family is left behind or forgotten. Since its inception in 2007, Folds of Honor has awarded more than 10,000 scholarships to children of fallen or disabled military men and women in all 50 states. You may make a donation to the Folds of Honor Foundation directly on their web site at www.foldsofhonor.org.

The tournament is open to all anglers fishing from powered boats, sail boats, kayak, canoe, the shore, bridges, piers, etc., with 100% of the entry fees paid out in prize money. The Captains Meeting will be held on Friday, September 16, 2016.

The public is invited to listen to live music and watch the anglers present their fish to spot counting beginning at 2:00 pm.

Additional information can be found on the AIGA website at www.ameliaislandguidesassociation.com. If you would like to donate to the raffle or silent auction or have a booth at the event, please contact Capt. Scott Thompson at 904-430-6014.

The Amelia Island Marina, formerly Amelia Island Yacht Basin, is located at 251 Creekside Drive, at the foot of the Shave Bridge.

New Vessel Law helps Officials Manage Florida’s Waterways

Press release – A new Florida law, approved by the Legislature and Governor during the 2016 Session, will enable county and local authorities along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to more effectively manage the state’s waterways. The new law (F.S. 327.4107) allows law enforcement officers to issue non-criminal citations to owners who allow their boats to become “at risk” of becoming derelict.

“This law allows officers to take action before a vessel crosses that line between at-risk and derelict, and hopefully prompts the owner to rectify any issues with the vessel before it reaches a state of disrepair,” said Phil Horning, FWC’s derelict vessel program administrator. “Prior to this law being enacted, officers had to wait until a vessel met the legal criteria for a derelict vessel before beginning any sort of official interaction with the owner.”

Under the new law, a vessel is deemed to be “at-risk” if any of the following conditions is observed:
-The vessel is taking on or has taken on water without an effective means to dewater.
-Spaces on the vessel that are designed to be enclosed are incapable of being sealed off or remain open to the elements for extended periods of time.
-The vessel has broken loose or is in danger of breaking loose from its anchor.
-The vessel is left or stored aground, unattended in such a state that would prevent the vessel from getting underway, is listing due to water intrusion, or is sunk or partially sunk.

If an officer observes a vessel with one or more of these criteria, a non-criminal citation may be issued that requires the owner to correct the problem or face stronger penalties after 30 days have passed. If problems are not fixed, non-compliant vessel owners can face additional fines issued every 30 days until they are.

Officials expect that this new law will decrease the number of vessels becoming derelict, a problem which continues to burden the state’s public waterways.

“Our goal is to keep Florida’s waterways safe and protect their environmental stability,” said Horning. “We are committed to protecting this valuable resource for the people of Florida and its visitors.”

Vessel owners are also reminded to sell their vessels properly.

“Many owners don’t realize that not only is the buyer required to get the vessel retitled in their name, but the seller is also required to notify the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles within 30 days that they have sold their vessel,” said Horning.

Failure to do so is a violation and may cause the prior owner of record legal troubles should the vessel become derelict at a later date. The FWC will be assisting state and local governments with derelict vessel removal grants that will be available soon. The grant funding was also approved by the Legislature and Governor during the 2016 Session. Interested applicants may contact the FWC Derelict Vessel Program office at 850-617-9540 or email DVGrant@MyFWC.com for more information.

Florida leads the nation in family fishing and boating spots

Here is some interesting information that hit my in-box from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission about Florida being a great place for family fishing and boating. With the 4th of July just around the corner, and anyone that lives here already knows, “Yes, it is a great place for activities on the water.”

Florida swept the Take Me Fishing™ 2016 “Top 100 Family Friendly Places to Boat and Fish in the U.S.” list, hosting the top four locations with nine locations on the list in total—more than any other state. Recreational boating plus saltwater and freshwater fishing contribute more than $20 billion annually to Florida’s economy.

The top four locations on the list are:
No. 1 Everglades National Park;
No. 2 Bahia Honda State Park, Florida Keys;
No. 3 Blue Springs State Park, St. Johns River; and
No. 4 Lake Kissimmee State Park.

The additional five Florida locations on the list are: No. 12 Suwannee River; No. 21 Hickory Point, the Harris Chain of Lakes; No. 44 Lake Osborne, Lake Worth; No. 52 Lake Okeeheelee, West Palm Beach; and No. 92 Katheryn Abbey Hanna Park, Jacksonville.

“Fishing and boating are dynamic activities that bring families together and get more people active and outdoors,” said Tom Champeau, director of FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries. “Our state’s ranking on this list further proves that Florida truly is the Fishing Capital of the World. The FWC is dedicated to and will continue to provide great fishing and boating opportunities.”

More than 100 state parks offer fishing as a family-friendly activity. To find one in your area, visit FloridaStateParks.org. Some parks also offer fishing piers along the coasts, rivers, lakes and springs.

“Florida State Parks are an outstanding resource for Floridians and visitors,” said Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione. “Fishing and boating opportunities are abundant in many of our 174 state parks, trails and historic sites, and I am thrilled to see that three of our parks are considered among the best in the nation.”

The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing™ campaign initiated a nationwide vote to provide families and outdoor enthusiasts with a recommended list of the best family-friendly places to experience the joys of boating and fishing. Criteria for the top places to fish and boat included having a public body of water within driving distance of a major city, good fishing opportunities and family friendly amenities. Approximately 35,000 different anglers and boaters cast nearly 650,000 votes to support their favorite fishing and boating locations.

“The best way to enjoy fishing and boating is to find a special place to fish with family and friends, so we’re thrilled that so many people shared their favorite place to engage in this national pastime,” said RBFF President and CEO, Frank Peterson. “If you and your family haven’t tried fishing, we hope you’re nearby one of the Top 100 spots to cast away. It’s a great way to enjoy, conserve and restore our nation’s aquatic natural resources.”

View the entire “Top 100 Family Friendly Places to Boat and Fish in the U.S.” list at www.takemefishing.org/blog by clicking on the featured article.

Operation Dry Water Makes for Safer Waters

Operation Dry Water Makes for Safer WatersAs the summer recreational boating season gets into full swing, the FWC Law Enforcement Division is ramping up its enforcement efforts as part of a national crackdown on boating under the influence.

The annual three-day, heightened awareness and enforcement campaign, Operation Dry Water, focuses on deterring boaters from boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Law enforcement agencies nationwide will be out in force June 24-26, looking for boaters who choose to boat under the influence, and then removing them from the water. Increased awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence, along with officers focused on identifying impaired operators, aim to drastically reduce the number of accidents and deaths due to impaired boating.

“It is our job as law enforcement officers to identify and remove impaired boaters from the water so that everyone else can continue to have an enjoyable boating season and not become a victim of boating under the influence. Protecting the public goes to the heart of our mission,” said Maj. Richard Moore, FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section Leader. “Our agency is participating in Operation Dry Water, and joining thousands of law enforcement officers nationwide to decrease the number of accidents, injuries and deaths that come as a result of boaters who choose to drink and boat.”

In Florida it is illegal to operate a vessel with a BAC level of .08 or higher. The FWC wants to remind boaters to stay safe this summer by staying sober on the water. Alcohol use is one of the leading contributing factors in recreational boater deaths. During the national weekend of heightened awareness and high-visibility enforcement, boaters can expect to see an enhanced law enforcement presence and increased messaging about this dangerous and preventable crime.

Amelia Boat Club and Rentals, Formerly Suntex

Amelia Boat Club and Rentals, Formerly SuntexAmelia Boat Club & Rentals took over the Suntex Boat Club & Watersports business located at Amelia Island, Florida, in July of this year. Amelia Boat Club & Rentals continues to operate out of Amelia Island Yacht Basin which is the same location Suntex Boat Club & Watersports operated.

Suntex Ventures, a Dallas-based company owning and operating marina properties, merged with Big D Boat Club and Watersports in April of 2013. From that merger, Suntex Boat Club and Watersports was formed and operated boat clubs and rentals in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; Acworth, Georgia; and Amelia Island, Florida. Monty Kitchen founded, managed and operated Big D Boat Club and Watersports in 2009, which grew to three locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area on Lake Ray Hubbard, Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Lewisville. After the merger with Suntex, Kitchen remained with the newly formed company as the National Director. A little over a year later, Kitchen and his wife Capprice, purchased the Amelia Island Suntex Boat Club location and changed the name to Amelia Boat Club & Rentals to reflect a greater sense of community.

amelia-boat-club-fishing-boatAmelia Boat Club & Rentals (“ABC”) is a boat club and boat rental business that offers unlimited boating access for a monthly fee to its members, and daily boat and wave-runner rentals available to the public. The concept is simple – people don’t have to own a boat in order to enjoy a boating lifestyle. ABC’s fleet includes an array of pleasure boats, fishing boats and wave-runners. Gear and accessories may also be provided and are included with memberships. When clients arrive at the dock, the reserved boat is clean, fueled, staged with requested accessories (tubes, skis, fishing rods) and life-jackets, ready to share priceless memories on the water with family and friends. Several clients begin as rental customers and enjoy the ease of boating so much, soon become boat club members. Boat owners that sold their boat due to the overwhelming burden of maintaining it are eager to join the club and rekindle their love for boating without any of the hassles of ownership! Other folks simply want to learn more about different boats before purchasing their own, but usually find the club so easy they never make that purchase. And of course, there’s the casual boater simply wanting to enjoy the beautiful waters surrounding Amelia Island by renting a boat or wave-runner for a few hours. ABC can also provide a Boat Captain and private sight-seeing tours upon request. Amelia Boat Club & Rentals has boating options for every boater.

amelia-boat-club-pontoonMonty Kitchen built a first-class boating operation with his three Big D Boat Club and Watersports locations in Dallas, Texas. Today, Kitchen follows his successful business endeavors with the continued development and operation of Amelia Boat Club and Rentals that he now locally owns and manages.

Kitchen is thrilled to be operating his own boat club and rental business again and appreciates the warm reception received from the many local businesses and residents on the island. Kitchen stated, “The generosity and desire of local businesses and residents that support ABC has been overwhelming and we’re so grateful. Amelia Island and the people that live and visit here make it very unique, like no other place I’ve lived. It’s truly a little piece of paradise.”

Amelia Boat Club & Rentals is open year round with the exception of the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Holidays. If interested in learning more about the boat club or rentals, visit www.ameliaboatclub.com or call 904.572.3216. Membership tours available upon request. Amelia Boat Club and Rentals is located at 251 Creekside Drive, Off Hwy A1A, Island Side of Shave Bridge, Dock E at the Amelia Island Yacht Basin, on Amelia Island, FL.

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Fernandina Lifeguards Attend Annual Jax Beach Challenge

fernandina-lifeguard-team2014On Saturday, July 19th, The City of Fernandina Beach Parks and Recreation Department took eleven pool and beach junior lifeguards to compete in the annual Jacksonville Beach Junior Lifeguard Challenge. Many of the junior lifeguards trained during the junior lifeguard programs offered by the City this summer. They showed off their skills in a variety of events including; a distance run, a distance swim, a paddle board race, run-swim-run, a swim relay race, and beach flags.

Highlights include Hamilton Rainey who took home many medals including four gold medals.

Also, Madison Gates who trained at the pool and at the beach throughout the summer was one of the youngest to compete at age 10 years old. Madison was extremely brave along with the other junior lifeguards who persevered through heavy surf, swimming to buoys hundreds of meters offshore.

Madison was one of ten kids that participated in a junior lifeguard program that offered pool lifeguard training after school last spring, and continued with beach lifeguard training throughout the summer. This program was sponsored by the Ed Gaw Open Water Challenge Fund which donates funds to programs that promote youth water safety in our community.

A very special rescue board was used at the competition by Jonathan Azar, a Fernandina Beach ocean rescue lifeguard to patrol the competition waters keeping the junior lifeguards safe during their races. This rescue board (seen in pictures) was donated to Angela Ray and the City of Fernandina Beach Parks & Recreation Department by the Princess of Monaco Foundation in association with the International Surf Lifesaving Association in a campaign to prevent drowning in communities around the world.

These highly efficient rescue boards are very expensive and we are extremely fortunate to have one donated to our City! Angela was able to establish connections with the International Lifesaving Association and Lifeguards Without Boarders when she and Hannah Wrenn (also from Fernandina Beach) participated in a lifesaving mission in Nicaragua last April. These connections will help support drowning prevention efforts in our community through grants and scholarships, training support, and international opportunities for local lifeguards.

Pictured: Junior lifeguards and instructors from right to left; Top row: Angela Ray, Cutter Naismith, Hamilton Rainey, Nancy Chandler, Ryan Noble, James Oakes. Bottom row: Erica Teare, Mary Emma Degaris, Felicity Acosta, Mary Ferguson, Amelie Nichol, Rebecca McConnell, and Madison Gates.

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Group and Private Swimming Lessons Available in Fernandina

Group and Private Swimming Lessons Available in Fernandina
Have you or someone you know been looking for group or private swimming lessons in Fernandina Beach?

Private lesson are available for children and adults (two years old and up)!

30-Minute Single Session
$20 City resident
$25 Non-City resident

30-Minute Packages
(4) Pac
$60 City resident
$75 Non-City resident

(8) Pac
$100 City resident
$125 Non-City resident

Availability is limited, especially during the summer months, due to limited pool time and instructor availability. Requests will be honored as time and instructor availability allows. PLEASE allow 3 weeks for a response to schedule lessons.

“Lean to Swim” Program Summer Group Swim Lessons
Summer group swim lessons will be held at the City of Fernandina Beach Aquatics Facilities began at the end of May. Registration for Summer 2014 lessons has begun at the Atlantic Recreation Center. Morning sessions will be held at the Atlantic Recreation Center Pool, and evening sessions will be held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center Pool throughout the summer.

No rain cancellations; indoor water safety activities will be substituted.

No refunds issued. Accommodations may be made in future session with valid medical excuse if space permits.

Registration is limited to one session until the current session is completed.

Fees:
Levels 1 and 2 (one-week courses): $40 City resident, $50 Non-City
Levels 3 and 4 (two-week courses): $55 City resident, $68 Non-City

For the full schedule of lessons for Summer 2014, please click on the following link:
Summer 2014 Group Swim Lessons Schedule

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2014 Blessing of the Fleet and Decorated Boat Parade

2014 Blessing of the Fleet and Decorated Boat ParadeThe Blessing of the Fleet and Decorated Boat Parade will take place at 1:30 pm on the Amelia River, Sunday May 4th, during the 51st Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival that runs May 2 – 4, 2014.

Home to the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry, Fernandina Beach holds this annual festival to celebrate our shrimp fleet and show other communities that we support wild caught shrimp.

Do you want to bring your boat to Fernandina Beach for this exciting water parade? Visit ShrimpFestival.com and fill out your application today.

The Blessing of the Fleet takes place around the world with each port praying for a bountiful season. In Maryland, they celebrate to open the oyster harvesting season, here on Amelia Island, we seek blessings for plentiful shrimp. The Priest says a prayer and asks for a safe and productive travel as shrimp boats, commercial vessels, recreational and pleasure crafts line up to be blessed with a sprinkling of Holy Water. This traditional ceremony came to Amelia Island with the immigrants that settled here from Mediterranean fishing communities.

Prizes will be awarded to the Best Decorated Shrimp Boat and all participating boats are invited to be in the Boat Parade and the Blessing of the Fleet.

Even if you don’t have a boat, you will still want to make it to the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival for shrimp, fun, arts, crafts, antiques, entertainment and scores of pirates!

There is NO admission fee to attend!

Festival hours are Friday, May 2, 6:00 to 10:30 pm; Saturday, May 3, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm; and on Sunday the festival is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

For more information about entertainment, contests and where to “Park and Ride” please visit ShrimpFestival.com.

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Boat Club and Rentals Launched at Amelia Island Yacht Basin

Boat Club and Rentals Launched at Amelia Island Yacht BasinSuntex Ventures announces merger with Big D Boat Club & Watersports. Suntex Boat Club will initially be launching boat clubs and rentals at Glade Marina in Acworth, GA, and at Amelia Island Yacht Basin in Fernandina Beach, FL.

We Provide the Boats, You Provide the Fun!

Dallas, TX – Suntex Ventures, the Dallas-based owner and operator of marina properties, announced today that it has merged with Big D Boat Club & Watersports. The new operation will be called Suntex Boat Club & Watersports. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Big D Boat Club & Watersports, founded in 2009, has operated boat clubs and boat rentals in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex on Lake Ray Hubbard, Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Lewisville. It is a rental boat club membership business with a vision of introducing people to the boating lifestyle in a more cost effective way. Memberships provide access to the boat club’s fleet of pontoons, ski and fishing boats, deck boats, wakeboard boats and jet skis. The memberships also include all the gear and accessories. When members arrive at the marina, their reserved boat is clean, full of fuel, staged with the requested water toys and life jackets, and ready for a day on the water.

“This merger and partnership made sense for Big D Boat Club to grow into markets we desire,” explained Monty Kitchen, founder of Big D Boat Club/Director of Suntex Boat Club & Watersports. “Suntex is very customer- driven in how it operates and that was extremely important to me. We had no desire to grow without a partner that sees business the same way we do, customer service is number one. Unlike other franchise-type marina boat clubs across the country, we will be the first to bring customers in as renters or club members, and then maintain that relationship for life.”

Suntex Marinas and now Suntex Boat Club are subsidiaries of Suntex Ventures, a real estate company investing exclusively in niche mixed-use marinas and their related operating platforms. They have acquired, developed, and operated over 30 full-service marinas in the United States, the Caribbean, and Mexico for nearly 20 years. Over the course of these years, Suntex has developed a solid reputation by being dedicated to their customers, clients, guests, communities, employees, and investors. “We are thrilled that the Big D Boat Club is now a part of the Suntex family,” stated Joe Vrankin, Partner & Chief Operating Officer of Suntex Ventures. “Monty Kitchen has built a first-class business and by combining his club with the Suntex group we have the opportunity to gain the synergies from our marinas. We believe this will result in an even higher level of guest service combined with a high-quality, consistent line of boats in the club at every location. Our plan is to grow the boat club to two additional Suntex marina locations this season and eventually open a Suntex boat club at all of the marinas in the Suntex family.”

Suntex Boat Club will initially be launching boat clubs and rentals at Glade Marina in Acworth, GA, and at Amelia Island Yacht Basin in Fernandina Beach, FL. Vrankin said, “The merger of Suntex and Big D Boat Club, LLC is a big step in revolutionizing the marina industry. We truly want to become the first marina organization that offers everything under one roof for its customers… boat storage, service, boat rentals, and boat club, along with various other convenient amenities for our boaters. Suntex can provide options for every level boater.”

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Operation Dry Water Kicks Off June 22, 2012

Operation Dry WaterPress Release – State marine law enforcement officers across the nation will be participating in Operation Dry Water 2012 June 22-24 with the goal of enforcing Boating Under the Influence (BUI) laws and educating boaters to the risks of operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Officers in every state will be looking for boaters whose blood alcohol content exceeds state limits. Operation Dry Water could include increased patrols, breathalyzer tests and checkpoints, depending on the resources of the state. Impaired boaters can expect severe penalties including fines, jail and loss of boating or even driving privileges.

BUI continues to be a major problem in the U.S. A boat operator or even passengers with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit run a significantly increased risk of being involved in a fatal boating accident. Alcohol was a contributing factor in just 6 percent of boating accidents overall, but figured in 16 percent of boating fatalities in the U.S. last year. When impaired by alcohol, boating accidents are more probable and more deadly for both passengers and boat operators, many of whom capsize their vessel or simply fall overboard.

Operation Dry Water (ODW) is a multi-agency education and enforcement initiative launched by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in 2009 in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard. For more information and for posters, stickers and other promotional items that can be posted at marinas visit www.operationdrywater.org.

The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators is a national nonprofit organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety. NASBLA represents the recreational boating authorities of all 50 states and the U.S. territories.

The United States Coast Guard is a military, multi-mission, maritime service within the Department of Homeland Security and one of the nation’s five armed services.

Association of Marina Industries is a non-profit membership organization dedicated exclusively to serving the needs of the marina industry.

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Joe Springer Receives Certified Marina Manager Designation

Joe Springer Receives Certified Marina Manager Designation

Copyright: 2012 WESTREC Marinas

Fernandina Beach, FL & Encino, CA – WESTREC Marinas’ Fernandina Harbor Marina, announces that its Manager, Joe Springer, has received the designation of Certified Marina Manager (CMM) from the Association of Marine Industries at their International Marina and Boatyard Conference in January.

“CMMs represent the elite in the marina and recreational boating industry. They value true personal and professional excellence and strive to maintain the highest levels of ethical and moral conduct in their commitment to the marina industry,” says John Louis, Westrec Southern Region Manager. “CMMs are marina professionals who have completed an extensive training and certification process through the globally recognized International Marina Institute (IMI) and embrace the continuance of education and training for themselves and those who work within the marina industry,” he added.

Joe Springer joined Fernandina Harbor Marina in 2010 after the City awarded management of the facility to Westrec following a thorough RFP process. During his tenure, Joe has worked diligently to provide excellent services for marina patrons, their guests and transient boaters visiting the historic destination. With the support of the Westrec team, Joe leads his marina employees in providing excellent customer service emphasizing environmental responsibility in all aspects of marina operations as well as community outreach events.

While Fernandina Harbor Marina has just completed 2012 dredging operations, to ensure the best possible access in 2013, additional dredging operations are already underway. With a siltation rate of approximately one inch per month, maintaining a usable depth is an ongoing concern for the Fernandina Harbor Marina. Following a presentation in 2011 to the Florida Inland Navigational District (FIND), a partnership was agreed on that leveraged FIND funds with municipal budget, enabling the marina to remove over 15,000 cubic yards of dredge material for acceptable depth.

FernandinaHarborMarina,FullBerths,CleanMarina

Copyright: 2012 WESTREC Marinas

“Even though this project was just completed, we are working on the plan for the 2013 fiscal year to remove even more material. Thoughtful dredging operations allows us attract the broadest spectrum of boats and yachts,” says Mr. Springer.

Another key management goal since Westrec was awarded the Management Contract for Fernandina Harbor Marina by the City of Fernandina Beach, was obtaining the Florida Department of Environmental Protection CLEAN MARINA status. This has been a top priority for Joe Springer and his marina team.

To become designated as a Clean Marina, facilities must implement a set of environmental measures designed to protect Florida’s waterways. These measures address critical environmental issues such as sensitive habitat, waste management, storm water control, spill prevention and emergency preparedness.

“There are over 2500 marinas located in the State of Florida; only 257 have achieved the Clean Marina designation. We’ve all worked very hard to complete the requirements, to show our commitment to this program and are honored to have been awarded the Florida Clean Marina designation on National Marina Day last year,” he says.

Fernandina Harbor Marina also celebrates the very nature of boating. Recently, the site hosted the 2012 Marina Trawler Owners Association’s MTOA Spring 2012 Rendezvous and was a proud sponsor of the city’s Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival.

About WESTREC MARINAS
As the world’s largest owner operator of marinas and marine-related businesses, Westrec Marinas provides professional management services to its properties, affiliates and clients throughout the world. Founded in 1987, Westrec manages marina facilities located both in fresh and salt water environments, handling vessels ranging in size from personal watercraft to megayachts. Solutions unique to Westrec have been incorporated into our corporate philosophy throughout Westrec’s rapid growth. Service, our most important product, has remained unchanged since day one.

About Fernandina Harbor Marina
Fernandina Harbor Marina—the first marina built on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) in Florida, is located directly on the ICW (at mile 716) via a well marked, charted and easy-to-navigate Federal Shipping Channel six miles from the Atlantic and is located in Fernandina Beach’s Downtown Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The marina, including the retail store and fuel dock with high speed pumps—is open from 6:15 A.M. to 8:15 P.M. seven days a week. A full-time staff of eight ensures smooth operations for all marina guests and slip holders.

The marina features 5,875 linear feet of dockage which provides 60 lineal side-tie “slips” and 20 moorings, a 25′ depth at mean low water beyond the attenuator and 6′ at inside slips, allowing yachts up to 200′ and boats of all sizes to take advantage of the most modern of marinas while enjoying the amenities the community offers. Just 35 minutes from Jacksonville International Airport, 13 miles of pristine beaches, 5-star resorts, and first-class tennis and golf are just a short drive away.

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The French Are Coming…!!!

These schooners can be viewed on Saturday at the Fernandina Harbour

Four hundred and fifty years ago around this time of the year, some natives might have wondered about the ships on the horizon when French Sailor and settler Jean Ribault decided to step ashore and build a small settlement on our island which he had called Ile de Mai. The year was 1562.

Until then there had been little interest among the early discoverers of the new world. That would soon enough change however and Ile de May changed flags no less than 8 times before it finally became Amelia Island.
To commemorate the start of it all, we are welcoming two Atlantic crossing French Navy Schooners (L’Etoile and La Belle Poule) this weekend at the docks of Fernandina Beach and in honor of the decision to make the first mainland stop of their historic Atlantic crossing here on Amelia Island, we will party: French style, which means games, good food and lots of throat caressing fluids.
This is quite a different welcome than 450 years ago when French and Spanish were contesting supremacy in the area. Without going into the details once again of the cruel life created by religion in those days, it should be noted that in true sense of history, Amelia Island was settled 3 years before St.Augustine, when Ribault built a settlement here called Fort Caroline.
The bloodbath in “the name of the Lord” at Matanzas led to the annihilation of the residents of the island’s first settlement and in the process created yet another historical abberation that qualifies for the “He who Wins, Writes History” trophy.

The fight over the title " oldest settlement in America"

The fight over the title " oldest settlement in America"

This time around however, the French sailors, after tying up to our docks, will find pleasantness, music, wine and good food and an invitation to participate in a Spring Pétanque tournament on coming Sunday, in which the “local” Petanqiers, coming from Tallahassee, St. Augustine and Amelia Island, hope to playfully “massacre” the sailors in a competitive encounter at the downtown riverfront.

The Ships

The 123 ft long sister ships were built in Fécamp, France in 1932.
The “Belle Poule” was named after the original 26-gun frigate that started the French intervention in the American War of Independence in 1778 in its famous battle with England’s “Arethusa”. Both ships served the Free French Forces during the Second World War and since serve as training vessels.
They came to Florida in honor of the 450th anniversary of French Capt. Jean Ribault’s arrival. After celebrations in Jacksonville on May 1st, they will head to Savannah, Annapolis, Philadelphia and New York. Fernandina Beach welcomes the sailors for a well deserved weekend of R & R after their 7 week voyage across the Atlantic.

How Amelia Island became their first stop on the Mainland USA?

One reason, and one reason only. That reason is called Philippe Boets; the same guy that brought us the game of Pétanque and the Dutch Bells on the Waterfront a couple of years ago. Philippe read about the history and the Schooners sailing to the “New World” and climbed in the phone to arrange for our island to get its proper place in the historic line-up. And…he pulls it off once again. I won’t bother you with all the logistics involved in having two foreign Navy schooners dock in a US port for a couple of days of R&R. Most people would walk away from it at one point or another in the slow and frustrating process. Not Philippe Boets.  The man is just remarkable and I’m proud to call him my friend.

Program of Celebrations

Here is the celebration program for this weekend.

Fri  April 27
At 4pm (irrespective of ships arrival time)
Brief welcome by:
● Ms Arlene Filkoff, Mayor of Fernandina Beach.
● Mr François Kloc, Consul of France in Jacksonville.
● young singers from St Michael Academy.
at the north pier of the FB Harbor Marina.
Sat  April 28
Ships are open to the public.
From 9 to 11am and from 2 to 5pm.
Visits are free.
Sun  April 29
Petanque (French bowling game) tournament.
From 12:30 to 6pm
Local teams from Amelia Island, Jacksonville, St Augustine and Tallahassee will take on the French sailors.
At the south end of the Marina parking lot.
Free to the public.
Wine, beer, food and lots of French music.
Around 10pm. Ships depart
PS: Did you know that Fernandina Beach once back in the 1860’s had a French Mayor who developed the production of Olive Oil on the Island?  His great grand children just visited me at the Amelia Oceanfront Bed and Breakfast. Quite a fascinating story. More about that next week.

HMS Bounty Comes to St. Augustine

HMS Bounty Comes to St. AugustineSt. Augustine, FL — The tale of the H.M.S. Bounty is perhaps one of the most infamous tales of mutiny on the high seas. And pirates in St. Augustine have become the stuff of legend.

This month, the two join forces for Pirates on the Bounty, an action-packed weekend of pirates and privateers in the Nation’s Oldest City, presented April 28 through 29 in conjunction with the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum and the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration.

A joint and discounted ticket to tour the H.M.S. Bounty and The Pirate Museum will be available at The Pirate Museum and on the museum website: www.thepiratemuseum.com. The ship will be open for tours on April 27 through 29 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; the museum is open throughout the weekend from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

ADULTS: $18.99 ($22.99 value)
CHILDREN 5-12 YEARS OLD: $9.99 ($11.99 value)
CHILDREN UNDER 5: FREE

Known for the storied 1789 mutiny in Tahiti aboard the historic vessel, the current Bounty replica scheduled to sail into St. Augustine for the first time in history was built for the 1962 movie Mutiny on the Bounty with Marlon Brando, and has appeared in documentaries and films like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

“This city is so rich in history,” said Tracie Simonin, director of the H.M.S. Bounty. “The Bounty has never been to St Augustine before and I like to bring the ship to new and interesting cities.”

The H.M.S. Bounty sails the country offering dockside tours on the history of sailing vessels from a lost and romanticized period in maritime history. And it will lend its towering presence to Pirates on the Bounty.

“This is a great opportunity to provide the community with a first-time, hands-on historic experience that ties in with its rich maritime and pirate history,” said Dana Ste. Claire, St. Augustine’s director of heritage tourism and historic preservation, and director of development for the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration.

Tours of the world-famous tall ship will kick off at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina at 111 Avenida Menendez. The Pirate Museum is located within short walking distance from the marina at 12 S. Castillo Drive, just opposite the Castillo de San Marcos.

“Mutineers and pirates are the perfect combination, especially for St. Augustine where centuries ago tall ships sailed in and pirates pillaged,” said Pat Croce, celebrity founder of The Pirate Museum and renowned pirate historian.

Opened in December 2010, the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum features one of the world’s largest collections of authentic pirate artifacts, Florida shipwreck treasures and interactive fun, including the world’s only pirate treasure chest and Disney Imagineer-designed audio show. It was named a top national attraction by Budget Travel magazine.

“We’re excited to be a part of such an amazing weekend of pirates,” said museum executive director Cindy Stavely.

For more information about the H.M.S. Bounty, visit www.tallshipbounty.org or call (631) 584-7900. For more information on the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration, call (904) 825-1053.

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Fernandina Marina Manager Receives Certification

Fernandina Marina Manager Receives CertificationFernandina Beach Marina Manager Joe Springer to receive certified marina manager designation.

Fort Lauderdale, FL – Joe Springer, manager of Fernandina Harbor Marina has been selected to receive the designation of Certified Marina Manager (CMM) from the Association of Marine Industries at their International Marina and Boatyard Conference later this month.

“CMMs represent the elite in the marina and recreational boating industry. They value true personal and professional excellence and strive to maintain the highest levels of ethical and moral conduct in their commitment to the marina industry,” said John Louis, Westrec Southern Region Manager. He went on to say, “CMMs are marina professionals who have completed an extensive training and certification process through the globally recognized International Marina Institute (IMI) and embrace the continuance of education and training for themselves and those who work within the marina industry.”

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Fernandina Beach Boat Ramp Closes for Dredging

Fernandina Beach Boat Ramp Closes for DredgingImportant City Notice

The boat ramp at the west end of Ash Street may be closed during dredging of the Fernandina Harbor Marina.

Dredging operations will occur starting January 2, 2012 thru March 30, 2012.

Boat ramp closures will be unscheduled and may occur without further prior notice.

Boaters are encouraged to use the Nassau County or Egans Creek boat ramps on North 14th Streets.

SHOULD YOU HAVE QUESTIONS OR NEED FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT
FERNANDINA HARBOR MARINA AT (904) 491-2086.

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