. Bed & Breakfast on a Boat - Privacy and Romance at Sea by Leigh Cort : ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine

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Docked in St. Augustine

Bed & Breakfast on a Boat - Privacy and Romance at Sea
by Leigh Cort

With the anticipation of Spring, there was only one 'escape' that lured us out of our winter nest for a weekend away. We wanted to experience an outdoor adventure that friends hadn't yet found, as well as keeping the stress of long-distance travel reduced to strolling, sunning and sipping beverages as others whizzed by.

SeaClusion Docked in St. Augustine Marina
38' SeaClusion Docked at Sea

The solution appeared as miraculously as the whim to run away to St. Augustine...and it had just docked at the threshold of our favorite City. SeaClusion, a 38' Chien Hwa Flybridge trawler motor yacht, presented a unique "Bed and Boat" experience, an extraordinary match for a private romantic getaway. It promised comfortable accommodations overlooking the famous Bridge of Lions with the 'Old City' to the starboard; permanently moored at the St. Augustine Marina in the scenic Matanzas Bay.

We were glad to learn that the SeaClusion was docked in the center of all of St. Augustine's treasures, awaiting visitors that possess a spirit of adventure. It seemed that our names naturally belonged on the passenger list and so the die was cast for a memorable, romantic weekend.

Check-in began at the Casa de Solana Bed & Breakfast (circa 1803), an historic inn just two short blocks from the Marina. We bid our car adieu for two days of bliss, which, in itself, was one of the most poignant examples of 'carefree'. The joy of not driving was a throwback to childhood beach vacations that are indelibly sweet and innocent, which is precisely what our sojourn became.

Packing light was our motto, knowing that St. Augustine is a very casual city with a myriad of outdoor restaurants, boutiques and galleries. Staying on a boat limited my love for high heels to only thinking about them twice — dinner both evenings. What a revelation that I could survive a weekend wearing only sandals and bare feet while aboard!

The yacht was a very comfy home-away-from-home. We walked along the dock to Slip #82 and the SeaClusion glistened in the midday sun. The top deck had enough chairs to accommodate six and the view of the St. Augustine skyline was breathtaking. I began to realize that the water's gentle motion and lovely breezes were lulling me into relaxation.

Combining the breakfast and amenities of the fine bed & breakfast with the magic of the boat, tossing in a postcard-perfect exotic setting of the tropical bay front, I was a very happy traveler.

Exploring the Chien Hwa was the first activity of the day. Below deck, teak paneling and built-ins dominate the marine decor. The main cabin galley has sink, refrigerator, ice maker, microwave and coffee maker. The lounge area has upholstered seating, dining area, cable TV and portable stereo CD player. There was enough modernity to feel comforted yet the intimate and charming setting could accommodate up to five guests with two full bathrooms without intruding on anyone's space.

Dinner on SeaClusion
Romantic Settings and Stunning Views

We indulged in all of the exceptional bed and breakfast amenities offered by the Inn — a delicious Southern breakfast buffet, evening social with homemade hors d'oeuvres by Chef Gary, bicycles that took us around the historic district the first morning, tickets to the Lighthouse, late-night signature desserts and coffee, which were available just for the asking. We knew we had the best seat in St. Augustine — a seaworthy romantic setting, a stunning view of the skyline and ultimate pampering by innkeepers who know how to make guests feel at home!

What set our accommodations apart from everyone else in St. Augustine is that we felt secluded while on the boat. Yet from the SeaClusion, we could walk 60 paces to the heart of the oldest part of the City. The narrow brick-paved streets offer so many charming restaurants, boutiques, a multitude of art galleries, real museums and historic sites. A short drive over the Bridge of Lions took us to Anastasia Island (one of Florida's barrier islands along the Atlantic coastline). Here we discovered a quaint seaside community with miles of wide sand and dunes of sea oats. The Island imparts a mood of the 1950's which was a wonderful complement to the feeling of 'ancient' downtown.

We dined well in St. Augustine. The most memorable morsels were at Claude's Chocolate, fine European bonbons created by French Chef Claude Franques. Lunch at the Palm Café was excellent; located on St. George Street, it reminded me of a European promenade where everyone nods hello and enjoys exchanging pleasantries. The spring night lured us to dine outdoors again at Harry's, very New Orleans and another restaurant that's within walking distance to everything.

Retiring early isn't usually something I enjoy, but each of the two nights found us sitting on the wide deck of the SeaClusion as the Matanzas Bay sparkled in the moonlight and the city unfolded at our feet. The midnight church bells reminded me to turn out the lights, make a wish on the vast galaxy of stars and listen to the secrets of 400 years of history.