It's taken a 1,000 miles....but finally "I get it"

Melvyn Brown
Tue 18 Jan 2011 19:51

27:20.00 N 80:25.83W


We left Vero Beach after six days, extending our stay over the weekend because there was a Boat Show in Stuart and those in the know told us it would be “mayhem” on the water.  After a few days I was beginning to appreciate why cruisers got to Vero and never moved on (hence it’s nickname: Velcro Beach).  Having arrived in Stuart I now know why cruisers stay put!


Vero Beach was posh – verging on intimidating (if you know what I mean).  The upmarket jewellers, art galleries, boutiques and knick-knack (sorry “life style”) shops were not the sort you felt comfortable “browsing” (at least not wearing jeans and anorak).  They also appeared to be the residents’ corner shops (as opposed to being geared towards holiday makers) because when I went walking on Sunday the vast majority were closed.  We were told there were more Fortune 500 residents here than anywhere else.  However the recession must have had an impact even in Vero Beach because the local paper advertised:


Coconut Cove Marina, South Hutchinson Island

Builder’s Closeout

Luxury Town Homes with Free 45’ Docks

2 x were $1.1 million, now $450,000

2 x were $950,000, now $349,000

All others were $890,000, now $375,000


We were warned that the waterway got busier from there on South and indeed it was pretty lively on the Coastguard VHF channel (which is permanently on whilst we are motoring).  It started with a boat adrift outside one of the Atlantic inlets, and then there was a capsized catamaran with two children on board and then a man overboard SOS (all out at sea rather than on the ICW).  It occurred to me that if you fell overboard along certain stretches of the ICW, providing you could doggy paddle 10 yards you would find solid ground and could actually stand up and wait to be rescued.


It was very overcast when we left Vero Beach and the forecast was for a 60% chance of rain.  It caught up with us just as we were approaching Stuart (which is 7 miles off the ICW by the way, which just brings us to our 1,000 miles – starting in Norfolk, Virginia).  The Coastguard issued a thunderstorm warning, but we didn’t hear any, however I did point out to Melv a large black thunder cloud which had a tail beneath it…..later on the Coastguard issued a tornado warning, although I’m not sure that’s what I saw forming.


Two of the sailors we met back up on the Pungo Ferry (remember the 5* marina we tied up at?) are here in Stuart, saw us sail under the bridge and by the time we logged on to the Internet there was a message saying “we know you’re here”.  We are mooring for $15 a day (as opposed to $68 in the marina).  We get all the same facilities but we have to dinghy into the marina (Zarafina is the furthest boat to the left of the guy crouching down).  This morning was the first time I had to get in the dinghy since way back in Marion, NH and I had to grit my teeth and tell myself I was saving a fortune…..!  At least we have an outboard motor (as opposed to oars).  I “encouraged” Melv to get the faulty motor looked at back in New Smyrna, before that it was simply decoration on the rail of the boat.


The marina is really nice.  I’m presently sat in the Captain’s Lounge which is very pleasant – decorated as you would your own lounge, not with mismatched pieces of furniture you might utilise in the rarely used guest bedroom.  There is a thick-pile carpet, kitchen area (with microwave), dining table and six chairs, huge TV and the usual library of books which cruisers continually take and contribute to.  There are also a large number of 1000 piece jigsaws, from which I think we can assume people remain here for months at a time!  A British boat sailed out past our mooring this morning and from the few words Melv managed exchanged with the skipper it transpired he had been here 3 months waiting for the optimum weather to sail to the Bahamas.  He had now decided he could wait no longer and was going on down to Miami and hoping for a window.  We met another British-born Canadian this morning and our “how long are you staying” elicited the now common response “oh, all winter”.


The marina has various weekly events – Wednesday is Ladies Lunch Out on the patio, there is a Cruisers Get Together that evening, and yoga in the Lounge on Wednesday morning.  They run a free bus to the shopping mall on Wednesdays and Saturdays and you have free use of the bicycles.  There are lots of tables, umbrellas and chairs dotted around the place and a shop on-site offering coffee and cold drinks and selling the essentials such as Heinz Ketchup.  There is a bar – do you recognise the person in the sign?  How could we not feel at home???!!


We walked into the town (half a mile at most – which is why we choose this Marina as opposed to the one Chuck and Jeff are staying at over the other side of the river).  There is a theatre called The Lyric and although we missed Herman’s Hermits and An Evening with Burt Reynolds, if we are still here on February 10th I’m going to get a ticket for…..wait for it……Davy Jones (ex Monkees)!


And so, dear reader, I’ve had a change of heart.  I want to stay here.  Even bobbing about in a dinghy with the very real possibility of falling overboard doesn’t seem such a potential catastrophe when the temperature is 76 degrees. 


Although I might change my mind if it rains…..