FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – The Crown Jewel of Amelia Island is back open.
The Fernandina Harbor Marina is booked 100% this Memorial Day weekend after being restricted to boat owners and occupants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The marina was closed for three years after being badly damaged during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
It was reopened in January, but was only open in parts once the pandemic hit.
This weekend, boaters are thrilled to be back.
David Owens is passing through from South Carolina and was excited and surprised to see it so crowded.
“We just got in maybe 1 1/2 hours ago, so we just came ashore and they did not have slips available at the Marina," Owens said. "We had to take a Mooring ball. So looks like it’s a busy weekend.”
The Marina is still in the process of repair.
Joanie and Michael McNulty have watched the changes over the decades they've lived here.
They were some of the first to dock after the Marina reopened.
“This year I was the second guy to ask for a slip, I ended up getting one and I’m very happy to be here and I’m gonna be here all summer,” McNulty said.
The Marina is heavily in debt after borrowing money from other city accounts to stay afloat.
While people enjoy what’s open this holiday weekend, improvements are ongoing.
City commissioners said at a meeting last month that July is the estimated date for final marina construction.
Because the marina is 100% booked this weekend, there’s no short term or day docking available today or tomorrow.
The city is doing its Memorial Day Service at the Veterans Memorial Monument in downtown at 11 a.m. Monday.
Crowds are asked to wear masks and social distance.