Why go further than northeast Florida, when there are great sailing vacation opportunities right here. Now you can charter Now & Zen, a 42 foot sailing catamaran, from Jacksonville or Amelia Island for sailing vacations, or schedule day trips and sunset cruises to explore these fabulous unspoiled and historic destinations.
Departing from Jacksonville for a Sailing Vacation
Now & Zen makes its homeport in Ortega, just 10 minutes from downtown Jacksonville for most of the spring and fall. This is a great starting location for a sailing vacation to Amelia and Cumberland Islands. It is an absorbing 3-4 hour trip down the magnificent St Johns River going by the Port of Jacksonville to the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). Upon departure you will be sailing right through downtown passing the Jacksonville Landing, the Times-Union Center/Symphony Hall and the Jaguars’ Stadium. You also pass under the striking Dames Point Bridge, the second longest cable-stayed bridge in America, the sixth in the world, and the only one with harp stays. A few miles further east you can either turn and head north up the ICW or continue out the St Johns inlet for an ocean sail up to Fernandina.
Enjoy the Beach and Ocean Swimming at Little Talbot Island
About an hour north up the ICW from St Johns River is the Talbot Islands State Park. Here the Fort George River provides a protected anchorage nestled among the salt marshes and sand flats for Now & Zen. It is a perfect place to stop en route from Jacksonville or great overnight trip from Fernandina. This remote area of the park is only accessible by boat. Here you can bird-watch or play and swim off the extensive sandbars that appear and disappear with the tide. It is a captivating dinghy ride winding your way through the back waters and dunes of the Fort George River arriving at a beautiful flat sandy almost private ocean beach of Little Talbot Island. Here you can swim in the ocean waves as the roll over the sandbars off the island.
Explore the Quaint Seaside Village of Fernandina
About 3-4 hours north of the Fort George River is the picturesque village of Fernandina, on Amelia Island. Now & Zen is often found docked at the Fernandina Harbor Marina, especially in the summer. Although Europeans first landed in 1562, the town we see today was largely built in the late 1800s after the civil war. The tree lined streets are dotted with Victorian homes, interesting shops and many excellent restaurants. It’s easy to spent an afternoon (or two) exploring the town and dinning out. It is also perfect starting point for sunset sail or day sail to Cumberland Island.
Sunset and Day Sails to Cumberland Island
If you only have 4 hours, we suggest a sunset cruise leaving the dock at Fernandina about 3 hours before sunset. You can sail up close to Cumberland Island all the way up to the Greyfield Inn. You almost always see dolphins, manta rays, and wild horses on the island. On the way back is the perfect time to stretch out on our comfortable bow trampolines as the sun disappears below the horizon and the sky fills with pinks, purples, and oranges of the sunset. If you have 5-6 hours, there is enough time to go ashore and see the ruins of the 59-room brick Queen Anne style mansion, Dungeness, finished in 1886 and burned in 1959. You will be sure to see a dozen or more wild horses on your walk. Or you could use the extra time to sail out the St Mary’s inlet past Fort Clinch for some ocean sailing. With 7-8 hours you could do both.
Over Night Excursions
After visiting Cumberland, a great overnight stop is to visit St Mary’s, Ga. Smaller and quieter than Fernandina, the historic district there beckons with white picket fences, ancient trees, charming Victorian Inns and enchanting shops and cafes dating back past the civil war; definitely one of the top historic seaside towns in the south.
Another 3-4 hours north of Cumberland is Jekyll Island, GA. In 1886, a group of millionaires purchased the island and converted it into the country’s most exclusive club. You can visit the Millionaires’ Village and see the beautiful restored homes formerly belonging to the Rockerfellers, Macys, Goodyears, J.P. Morgan & more. If you have time, you can sail to the historic town Brunswick GA, or the beach community of St Simons Island on the Intracoastal Waterway. Or, you can even make the trip down to St Augustine for a taste of that great historical town.
Planning Your Sailing Vacation
There are so many great destinations for a memorable vacation, that it is best to give us a call so we can help you plan your excursion. We’ll help you strike a balance between the fascinating seaside towns; exploring the mashes, sandbars, and beaches; historical sights; marinas and remote anchorages; ocean and Intracoastal sailing. We’ll make the most of the wind, weather and tide combined with your personal preferences to ensure you have a fabulous vacation.
An Experience You Will Remember for Years to Come
So whether you have time for just a sunset sail, a day trip to Cumberland Island, overnight to the Talbot Islands and the Fort George River, or several days to explore all the islands and waterways; your sailing charter on Now & Zen will be an experience of a lifetime. So for an unforgettable escape on the water right here in the greater Jacksonville area and Amelia Island, be sure to mark a sailing charter on Now & Zen on your “must do” list.