A Brief History of St. Augustine
St. Augustine, Florida, is the oldest permanent European settlement in the continental United States. Fifty-five years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock, and thirty-two years before Jamestown, the Spanish Explorer Pedro Menéndez de Aviles settled the St. Augustine area in the year 1565.
On August 28th of that year, Menéndez’s fleet first sighted Florida land. The settlement was named in honor of that day, which was the feast day for St. Augustine. Over the next 200 years the settlement survived under Spanish rule. They were attacked by Sir Francis Drake in 1586 and by Robert Searles in 1668. The Castillo de San Marcos, a coquina fort, was constructed for protection.
In 1702, St. Augustine defeated an assault by South Carolina Governor James Moore, and another by General James Oglethorpe from Georgia in 1740. However, their victories came to an end in 1783 when Spain lost Florida to England in a territorial exchange.
For the next twenty years the British ruled the area. Florida became a territory of the United States in 1821, gaining statehood in 1845. St. Augustine’s “golden era” began in the late 1880s, when Henry Flagler attempted to turn the quaint town into a vacation spot for tourists. Flagler, an oil millionaire, and his friends built elegant hotels and churches. Their interests turned further South in the early 1900s, but their structures remain behind.
The history and sights of St. Augustine are well worth exploring. Try to make the time to take in the flavor of the Nation’s Oldest City.
The Story of Camachee Island and Camachee Yacht Harbor
Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor is situated on Camachee Island which was originally in the middle of the Tolomato River with swift currents on both sides. Subsequent changes in topography over the last 200 years created marshes between the island and the mainland. The river now flows only along the east side of the island with the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway forming the main channel of the river.
The original portion of the Cove was created in the mid 1950’s by dredging soil for the athletic fields of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. The development of the present marina began in the “South Harbor” in 1976 and encompasses some 12 & 1/2 acres of land and water. This area contains most of the commercial facilities of the Harbor including the yacht club, restaurant, boatyard, retail stores, shops and other facilities. A large dry storage facility was also incorporated in the early development, but was sold and dismantled in 1981 to “pave the way” for the residential development that was planned.
Late in 1978, a major expansion program commenced with the purchase of an additional 44 acres. After all of the necessary permits were obtained, the expansion of the harbor itself was started. This project involved removing 18 feet of earth from about 5 1/2 acres of upland to create the “North Harbor”. Approximately 3 years were required to remove some 150,000 cubic yards of dirt, bulkhead the entire perimeter of about 1800 feet, and install fuel facilities and concrete floating docks for about 250 additional boats. When the project was completed in 1981, Camachee Cove could accommodate about 350 boats in wet slips and had become one of the largest marinas along the eastern seaboard.
In 1982, construction was started on Camachee Island Villas, a luxury townhouse / condominium project. By 1986, there were fifty condominiums completed in a Mediterranean / Spanish motif around the North harbor. The remaining residential land area around the harbor has been developed as single-family residences following the same motif.
Camachee Island is the home for several organizations that contribute to boating in the area. The St. Augustine Yacht Club, which was originally chartered in 1876 and rechartered in 1978, makes its home here. The Northeast Florida Marlin Association, which is the premier bluewater fishing organization in the area, is also headquartered here.
The Camachee Island complex continues to grow as a community for boaters and serves all of Northeast Florida and thousands of visiting boaters each year that transit the waterways and coastline of Florida. Nearly two dozen privately owned shops and stores provide the services and supplies that bring an added dimension to the Camachee Island lifestyle.