Sunday, April 11, 2021

Treasured friends on the Treasure Coast

We are underway northbound in the Indian River Lagoon, part of the ICW, bound for Titusville. Wind is 25 knots gusting to 30, and the lagoon is a frothy mess. Vector is handling it with aplomb, although we're listing a few degrees to port, with the wind on the starboard quarter and the fins pegged. Even though it is the weekend, the waterway is blissfully devoid of traffic.

When last I posted, we had just dropped the hook in Fort Pierce. In all the times we have stopped in that general area, this was our first opportunity to actually go ashore downtown. The municipal marina has a nice dinghy dock, free for day use, just a couple of blocks from town, and we made the 3/4 mile tender ride, threading our way between the rip-rap breakwaters that protect the marina from the relentless surge.

I loved this mural of a vintage locomotive emerging from a tunnel in downtown Ft. Pierce, with the crossing signal of the adjacent tracks in front of it.

There are perhaps a dozen eateries in walking distance, and we chose a sidewalk table at Casa Azteca, right on the main street. While some other places clearly had a more local flavor, including the local brewhouse, it had been a long while since we had Mexican flavors. Unfortunately, it was disappointing, and we've scratched it from the list, but vowed to come back here sometime to sample one of the other places.

On our way back to Vector we spotted our friends' boat, Summer Star, at one of the marina slips, and we swung by to say hello. Kristina and Atle invited us aboard for some conversation; it was a lovely end to the evening. We left the tender in the water after arriving back home, as I figured to do a little exploring in the morning, before the tide was favorable to leave.

We had plans to be in Vero Beach that evening to meet up with friends Chris and Alyse. But Alyse texted me early on to say that she was under the weather from her second dose of Pfizer the previous afternoon. We were happy to postpone a day, and we just stayed right where we were, returning ashore for dinner at the aforementioned local brewhouse, Sailfish Brewing. Pizza and drafts made up for our disappointment of the previous evening.

These African Redhead agamas are invading the Treasure Coast. This one is muted, but some have almost iridescent blue bodies.

During the day I had scanned the route ahead looking for a place to get some Amazon orders. While there was an easily accessible locker in Eau Gallie, the delivery was too many days out, and I ended up ordering everything to Titusville, where I am hoping to get ashore at the city park. The docks there were destroyed a few years back, so creativity will be involved.

Thursday morning Alyse again texted to say she was still not fully recovered. Since Louise is due for her second dose of Pfizer in just a few days, we made note that we should be well situated and expect at least a day and maybe two of down time. We considered remaining a third night in Fort Pierce and trying one of the other joints in town, that would make for a very late departure on Friday if we wanted fair tide, and have us arriving at a popular anchorage very late in the day, a risk.

"Blind Date," outside of city hall.

Instead I went ashore stag to explore a bit more and get some gas for the dinghy, and we decked the tender after lunch. We weighed anchor in plenty of time to make the 3pm opening at the Fort Pierce North Bridge, north of the inlet. Or so we thought. As it happened, the anchor came up fouled and we spent 20 minutes hovering in place getting it untangled, I think to the amusement of the four Krogens that had anchored nearby since our arrival.

A combination of boat poles and choker lines eventually untangled the anchor, and while Louise was still rinsing the mud off, I made a beeline for the south bridge. I cranked it up just past the no-wake zone, we rode the ebb to the intersection of the inlet, and I called the North Bridge just as we started pressing against the ebb in that direction. We made the 3pm opening by a hair.

The rest of the trip to Vero Beach was uneventful, with the tide coming in behind us for the second half of the two-hour run. We dropped the hook in the lone usable anchorage (map), getting the last spot that would fit us. Soon after, another boat arrived, and had we been any later, we might have missed it.

Historic Sunrise Theater, downtown Fort Pierce.

We splashed the tender and headed to the Vero Beach Yacht Club for a casual dinner on their patio. You may recall that we joined the St. Petersburg Yacht Club a couple of months ago, and one of the key reasons was access to a large list of reciprocal clubs including the 35 clubs of the Florida Council of Yacht Clubs (FCYC). We get one free night of dockage per month at each of these clubs, an excellent benefit.

I had called the VBYC ahead of time to ask about docking, but the largest boat they could accommodate was 42'. Similarly, we would have liked to have stopped at the Captiva Island club when we passed that on our way to Fort Myers, but the entrance channel is not deep enough for us. So in reality, we might only be able to actually dock at perhaps half of these clubs.

In a place like Vero Beach, where the municipal marina wants $17 plus tax to tie up a tender, just being able to dinghy in to these club docks is a valuable benefit in its own right. Since we ended up with an extra night in Vero, we decided to give their restaurant a try. On this evening, they were having some sort of music event, and so they were serving a very limited menu. We look forward to going back on a less busy evening.

Our trusty anchor, upside down and wrapped in its own chain. Line in back is the choker we will use to free it.

Friday morning Louise worked on trying to line up a more local alternative for her second dose than the pre-scheduled one, back in St Pete. We were prepared, if need be, to drive back, and I had a rental car booked in Titusville just in case (at $90 a day - rental cars here are through the roof). Meanwhile, I went ashore at the park and walked the mile to the beach area, where there are a few restaurants and some shops.

We returned to the yacht club docks Friday evening, where Chris picked us up in the doggy-mobile. That's a mini-van with most of the seats removed to accommodate their two enormous doodles, Ditto and Bert. This is just the second time we've been in an automobile in over a year, but with Chris and I both fully vaccinated and Louise over two weeks into her first dose, we felt safe with the window open. Well, safe from everything other than two very needy doodles.

Alyse made us a wonderful dinner, preceded by tasty hors d'ouvres, and we sat on their lovely lanai for several hours catching up. A little wine and a lot of laughter made the evening fly by, and it was after dark when Chris dropped us back at the dock. It was great seeing them.

This tire-cycle sculpture was outside of the local tire place in Fort Pierce.

Yesterday we weighed anchor in the morning for the five-hour trip to the Eau Gallie area of Melbourne, where we usually anchor near the town docks and Squid Lips restaurant. Storms with high winds were forecast for the evening, and our plan was to tuck in as close to the causeway as possible for a little protection.

After we were already under way, it occurred to me we might have a reciprocal club with a dock somewhere in Melbourne, and a quick check of the list revealed the Eau Gallie Yacht Club, which is really across the river in Indian Harbour Beach. When I called they still had space on the dock for the night, and we told them we'd take it if the wind permitted us to dock.

It was already blowing 20 when we came around Dragon Point into the mouth of the Banana River, where the club is located. Fortunately, it was blowing generally toward the T-head, and after a brief struggle to get the boat turned around, lined up, and positioned, the wind just brought us alongside and we tied up (map). We confirmed that our dockage would be free for the night and that we would just pay for power.

Rental scoots in Fort Pierce.

We enjoyed a nice casual dinner on the club's pool deck, which fortunately was in the lee of their grill restaurant, mostly shielding us from the fierce wind. After dinner I walked a mile or so to the shopping center, where I had errands at Office Depot, Ross, and Publix. While I was in Publix the approaching front hit with a vengeance; Louise reported 35 knots steady. I made it back to the boat in a gap between showers, and when I arrived the wind had clocked around 180°, and Vector's stern was being held three feet off the dock, with the stern line bar tight.

We doubled up the stern lines and did our best to straighten the boat out, then adjusted the fenders and settled in for a rough couple of hours. I had to flatten all the deck furniture, but nothing was lost overboard. By the time I turned in, it had mostly eased up and we had a comfortable night. But with the about-face in wind direction, we were thankful we were not in the anchorage.

We felt a little sorry for the couple who were having their wedding on the club's main deck, who had wind for the ceremony and were driven inside later by the rain. I think the guests can honestly say they were just blown away at the ceremony.

The beachfront in Vero. Mulligan's restaurant in the background.

We awoke to a beautiful morning, and I topped up the water tank and offloaded the trash and recycling before singling up. Guests were being seated outdoors for the club's Sunday brunch, which sounded lovely, but we were still over-full from dinner last night. Beyond that, we knew another storm was coming, and we wanted to get under way. I'm guessing that patio dining was short-lived at brunch today.

I had to stop typing for an hour or so during the worst of the storm today. Our top wind speed was 40 knots, and for a while I had to run the fog horn as visibility was less than 1/4 mile. As I wrap up typing we are a half hour from our anchorage. My Amazon order is not yet delivered, so that will be tomorrow morning's errand. Louise managed to get a Pfizer appointment in Daytona Beach for Tuesday afternoon, which should be an easy cruise from Titusville if we can get under way by mid-day. It means we will miss going offshore at Ponce Inlet, but there were no appointments available between there and Titusville.

Update: We are anchored in a familiar spot, south of the Max Brewer Causeway in Titusville, Florida (map). I was still placing photos when I had to drive into the anchorage. The storm has more or less passed; winds are now ten with light rain. The temperature, which was in the 70s this morning, is now in the 50s, so between the rain and the cool, we'll be eating aboard. Still no word from Amazon, so my fingers are crossed it will still arrive today.

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