Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Oh Happy Day. We are in Palm Beach, and it is warm. We are so lazy we are just sitting here on the boat doing nothing constructive, nothing at all.
We left our anchorage north of St. Augustine in cold, gray, dreary weather. We had only gotten started when Bill said “$#!T, I forgot to check the fuel tank this morning.” He dove below, raised the floorboards, looked at the gauge on the tank, and said, “We are down to less than ¼ tank.” It is not a good thing to run a diesel engine out of fuel. It can take hours to get it running again. Fortunately, we carry 3 five gallon jugs on deck. We turned off the engine in a wide spot and drifted along as Bill quickly (but not quickly enough for me) poured the three jugs’ contents into our tank. I made a mental note to ask every morning how much fuel we have left.
We motored on for the rest of the day which grew warmer and brighter. We anchored in Daytona Beach which for some reason every year is like a line drawn on the temperature map. It was sunny and warm as we were anchoring. The next morning we only needed our light jackets; not our thick puffy coats. Wooly caps could stay in the drawers. Yippee!
The layers continued to slowly come off as we went south. The Titusville drawbridge at the NASA Causeway has restricted opening times so folks can come and go to their jobs at Cape Canaveral. We arrived at the evening rush hour and anchored north of the bridge which would not open for an hour and a half. It was really warming up. We left our main hatch open till after supper.
The next morning it was warm but cloudy. We left after the morning rush hour and motored on south. The temperature suddenly fell, rain started coming down in buckets, and the wind speed climbed to 25 kts. I left Bill in the cockpit and went below for a few hours until it all blew over. Because of the bad weather, we made it a short day and anchored early in Melbourne.
In years past we had just gone by Vero Beach not stopping at all. Lots of other cruisers told us we needed to stop and spend a few days. Besides the weekend was coming up, and the small boat traffic on the ICW can be really annoying for slow boats like ours. So, we decided to spend a few days in Vero Beach and picked up a mooring at the city marina.
We had a great time in Vero Beach. In spite of one guidebook’s admonishment that the ocean beach was a long walk but short taxi ride, we several times made the pleasant 20 minute stroll to the Atlantic beach side of Vero. The beach strip is not full of Wings beachwear shops and firecracker stands but rather high end fancy boutiques and jewelers. The neighborhood between the marina and the ocean is not at all what I think of as Florida. The houses were mostly small and ranch style; about 50 years old. The yards were full of huge live oak trees and small palms. It was all very quiet and well kept. I liked it.
Vero Beach has a free public bus system which takes you to all the shopping areas. We caught the bus right at the marina dinghy dock and went to the grocery store (and of course Bill’s favorite place -- West Marine). On our first walking trip to the beach, Bill and I found an Ace Hardware store which we visited several times. On the last visit the clerk gave Bill a piece of chocolate candy that was an entry into the grand prize drawing later that evening during the street fair on the beach front. First, we stopped off at a local restaurant for a beer and supper. Then suitably stuffed, we went to check out the street fair and win what would certainly be our prize. It was windy and cool outside in the crowd, so after a while we dropped into a beachfront bar for a drink before the prize drawing. Well, one drink turned into two and before you know it we had missed the drawing, but we did catch the band’s last three numbers before everyone packed up and went home.
Sunday, I did laundry and Bill piddled about on the boat repairing wiring or something like that. With all that out of the way, we walked to the Vero Beach Museum of Art to view a traveling exhibit, “American Masterworks: 150 Years of Painting from the Butler Institute of American Art”. Staying in an artsy mood we walked back to the beach and toured the local artists’ less highbrow ‘Art in the Park’ display and sale. We bought postcards for the grandchildren, but this being Vero Beach we could not find the usual Hello-From-Sunny-Florida sort in the shops and had to settle for 100% cotton paper Kate Spade designer cards. If we had paid for them with dollar bills, the money would have weighed more than the cards. As it was, it took a Visa card to settle the transaction.
Fearful of staying forever, we fueled and watered the boat, had the holding tank pumped out, and left Monday morning. South of Fort Pierce we hoisted our sails and did our first serious sailing on this trip traveling down the Banana River on a reach to south of the St. Luce Inlet where we anchored in a wide spot in the waterway, Peck Lake. Just as we finished anchoring, we were hailed on the radio. Lincoln and Florence from the nearby sailboat Chelsea offered to dingy us over to the sand strip that separates the ICW and Peck Lake from the beach. We took them up on the offer and saw one of the few shell covered undeveloped Atlantic beaches in Florida. I had just finished baking a loaf of bread, so we had them over for drinks, cheese, and fresh bread in Irish Eyes cockpit. It was a lovely evening.
During the night a cold front passed through changing the wind direction and rearranging the positions of all the anchored boats. Irish Eyes bumped on the bottom at low tide which is disconcerting to say the least, and in the morning we found ourselves too close to an anchored motorboat. We woofed down our breakfast of fresh baked biscuits, jam, and butter. We pulled up the anchor and departed leaving the washing of the dishes and ourselves ‘till after we were underway. By lunchtime were anchored in Palm Beach’s sunny, warm, and deeper Lake Worth. We are doing nothing; nothing at all; just taking an afternoon off. I told Bill I didn’t even want to launch the dinghy. I’ll knit, read, and snooze. We are here; it is 74°F, bright, sunny, and warm. In the last 25 days we have burned 80 gallons of fuel, traveled 850 miles and gone from the dead of winter to the beginning of summer. Nice.