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Settled on the north bank of the St. Johns River, Fort George Island Marina is surrounded by historic landmarks. Fort George Island and Batten Island have a past rooted in the maritime history. The island has been impacted by the cultural influences of the nations that have laid claim to her over the years. First it was the French Huguenots in 1562, then the Spanish in 1565, the British in 1763, and eventually becoming a part of the US in 1821.
By 1840 the local population of the Batten Island made their living piloting ships passing through the mouth of the St Johns River to or from the Atlantic Ocean .These “bar pilots” boarded ships and maneuvered them through the swift currents, around the shifting sandbars and up the river to Jacksonville. The river provided trade access that supported the economy of the Fort George Island Plantations. Cotton and sugar were transported on the river from the plantations to trading posts. As river commerce grew, a community developed on Batten Island which became known as Pilot Town. Pilot town was inhabited mostly by harbor pilots and sea captains who made their living piloting ships through the currents to and from the Atlantic Ocean. Fort George Island Marina now rests on the site of the old Pilot Town ferry dock. Fort George Island Marina is only a quarter mile from the mouth of the St. Johns River making it the closest marina to the Atlantic.
Directly across the street from the marina you can venture out to see the historic Broward House. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Jr. was a bar pilot who became the 19th governor of Florida 1905. As a young man he worked on boats and eventually received his pilots license. He continued to work as a sea captain and bar pilot and in 1895 he built a seagoing tugboat that on its maiden voyage carried munitions and expatriates to Cuba. Captain Broward commanded his boat on eight voyages through Spanish blockades to deliver arms and equipment to Cuban revolutionaries. After a few close calls with US authorities determined to seize his ship, he turned to peacetime freight and passenger business. Broward and his wife bought summer house in Pilot Town.
Ribault Club, Kingsley Plantation, and Huguenot Memorial Park are within 3 miles of the marina. From Fort George Island Marina you can explore this historical area on foot or bicycle.
A leisurely boat ride north will take you to Amelia Island were you can spend the day wandering around Centre Street enjoying the numerous shops, restaurants and bars. Just north of Amelia Island across the St. Mary’s Inlet are the pristine white sand beaches of Cumberland Island where the horses still run wild. Being longitudinally central gives marina guests that benefit of having numerous destinations to choose from. Heading west down the St. Johns you can visit the Jacksonville Zoo, Metropolitan Park / Everbank Stadium, the Jacksonville Landing, or the Riverside Arts Market on Saturdays. A pleasant ride south down the ICW will land you at St. Augustine, Florida’s oldest city, here you can take advantage of the many waterfront eateries or tie up downtown and take a stroll down St. George Street.