Since the 1900’s St. Augustine Scenic Cruise has been giving visitors to St. Augustine a unique view of the city and a way to enjoy St. Augustine’s historic land marks and natural beauty.

The Usina’s were among settlers from the island of Minorca, off the coast of Spain, finally settling in St. Augustine in 1777. Many of their descendants remain in St. Augustine today. In 1900 Captain Frank Usina and his wife, Catherine, could not return to Miami were he had been working as a carpenter on the Miami train station because of an outbreak of yellow fever.

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They settled in the area known today as North Beach, then accessible only by boat. Henry Flagler approached Frank and his wife, asking them to hold oyster roasts for friends and guests staying at his Ponce De Leon Hotel, now Flagler College, and the Alcazar Hotel, now the Lightner Museum. The outings to North Beach became a regular attraction, and thus, the family boat business was born. Initially starting with a chartered launch, Frank ferried guests to and from North Beach for Minorcan Style dinners, oysters, music, dancing and sightseeing along the Matanzas Bay. Shortly thereafter, Frank purchased a 45′ launch stuck on a mud bar. He repaired, refinished and christened it the Victory, replacing the chartered launch, but remaining at the helm as Captain.

Guests could enjoy picturesque view of Historic Saint Augustine while cruising along Matanzas Bay to and from North Beach. In 1918 the Victory II was launched. Built in St. Augustine by Warren Sanchez and assisted by Frank’s son, Francis Everisto, who at the age of 17 became a licensed captain and joined his father’s business. Eight years after the Victory II was built Frank passed on, but continuing the tradition of his father was second generation Captain Francis Usina, this time adding fishing excursions. The Victory II was the main mode of transportation to the ever popular attraction North Beach until the 1930’s when a bridge and paved highway opened access by automobile.

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In the late 1930’s, when fire destroyed part of the bridge once again making North Beach only accessible by boat, the Usina’s assisted in ferrying North Beach residents to and from work, and their children to and from school, along with their regular trips. Residents knew they could count on the Victory II for transportation to community events on the mainland.

During World War II St. Augustine became a military service town, and a halt was placed on fishing excursions. Gas rations were approved by the USO for the Victory II to take serviceman on sightseeing excursion for Rest and Relaxation.

In the late 1940’s, The Florida Department of Transportation chartered the Victory II to assist in ferrying North Beach residents to and from the mainland as construction of a new bridge once again halted access to the North Beach area. Once again the Victory II became a passenger ferry carrying local residents to and from the mainland.

The City of St. Augustine set their sights on promoting tourism, and approached Francis about starting a sightseeing cruise business, similar to that operated for the USO, to give visitors a view of the picturesque city skyline and historic landmarks that visitors only ferrying to and from North Beach had been enjoying.

So in 1949, the Victory II became a full time sightseeing boat. Francis captained on a daily basis and in the summer was joined by his two sons Frank and Jack who worked as mates until receiving their captains license, while his daughter Mary Lou sold tickets. When Frank and Jack received their captains license they joined their father in captaining the Victory II until his death in 1973.