By Julie Lucas
NAS Jacksonville Public Affairs Office

One of the more significant lifestyle gems available aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville is the Mulberry Cove Marina. The facility sits along the St. Johns River and offers a variety of water-related activities for the whole family. 

"Boats, canoes, fishing - we offer it all," said Mulberry Cove Marina Manager Phil Collins. 

If you ever wanted to try your hand at the popular stand-up paddle boarding, the marina features a free class Thursday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. by a World Paddleboard Association certified instructor. Free kayak and canoe rentals are available for active duty all day Thursday.

Power boats include pontoon boats, Boston Whalers, 14-foot Trackers and Edgewater center consoles with fish finders. 

"If you want to use one of our boats, I highly recommend making a reservation," said Carlos Garabis, lead deck aide who is in charge of prepping the boats for renters, cleaning up and setting the up.

To rent a powerboat, a Florida Safe Boater card is required. The card is available free of charge online at www.boatus.org. Reservations for powerboats must be made in person with a $25 deposit. 

"When you rent a boat from us, we will go over all the features of the boat and make sure that you are getting a great piece of equipment to enjoy," said Hailey Caton, Mulberry Cove Marina aide.

Tents, sleeping pads, cots, camp stoves, lanterns, large grills, coolers, turkey fryers, and much more are also available to rent.

The marina shop sells bait, ice, snacks, fishing licenses, tackle, sunglasses and boat items. Slips, moorings and dry storage are available on a daily, monthly and yearly rental basis for boat owners. Fresh water and 30/50 power is available.

Sailing classes are offered every month at the marina. The Skipper B course teaches the basics on a 19' Flying Scott. The instructors have more than 30 years of sailing experience in teaching, racing and cruising. All classes are two consecutive weekends from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and are open to military (active, reserve, retired), dependents and Department of Defense civilians.

The fee for the class is $150 and includes an instructional book, a log book and certification card as well as use of equipment and instruction. The remaining classes for this year are Sept. 10, 11, 17, 18; Oct. 15, 16, 22, and 23. The class is limited to 12 persons.

"I had always wanted to learn how to sail and I loved taking the class on the marina," said HN Matthew Lewis.

"Because I live on base, it was so easy having access and now I take my friends out and show them what I learned."

Employees aboard NAS Jax can take their lunch out to the numerous picnic areas and enjoy the views. There are four larger parks and pavilions available for rent and many include horseshoe pits, power outlets and playground equipment. Fees for command functions can be waived.

"You really can't beat the convenience that is offered on the base," said AWO1 Jeremy Williams, who grew up in Florida and kayaks with his wife when he is on leave. 

The marina's hours of operation until Sept. 15 are Monday 8 a.m.-3 p.m., closed Tuesday and Wednesday, open Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and open Saturday, Sunday and holiday hours from 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. For questions about rentals and classes, call 542-3260.