Vero Beach's nickname is "Velcro Beach" for cruisers. We are moored at the city marina in a quiet bay in the Indian River between the mainland and Orchid Island with Miami 150 nm behind us. We've watched dolphins burst out of the water hunting for food and manatees flip their paddle tails as they bob around the boat. We are surrounded by herons and pelicans and plan to rent kayaks to explore the mangroves and channel islands.
The marina has excellent facilities (showers, laundry, lounge, fuel) and a free municipal bus stops every half hour to take us to shopping, parks, and great restaurants. The sparsely populated beach is a 15 minute walk away through quiet neighbourhoods. From here we will rent a car on the weekend to catch the last 2 spring training baseball games at Space Coast Stadium, home of the Washington Nationals.
We left the boatyard at Riviera, Beach last Saturday with Vero Beach as our destination, expecting to take 2 days for the 60 mile trip up the Intracoastal Waterway. On the advice of a boatyard worker, we instead headed back out to the ocean 3 miles off shore and caught the glorious Gulf Stream north. It gave us an extra couple of knots and with the wind behind us, we covered twice the distance we expected, averaging 9 knots and arriving at Vero Beach late in the afternoon.
We also sailed which gave us the chance to test all of our new fixes which included some maintenance to our furlers, the drums that roll our forward sails open and closed. Although we were a month in the boatyard, it was well worth it and Alberta Crewed feels like a new boat. I concur with other cruisers who say that it takes at least a year to work out the kinks and get to know your boat. Things as simple as tightened life lines (the parallel cables around the deck that sag over time) and polished stainless steel compliment the purring engines and quiet fridge that hardly runs anymore because it is so cold. Our maintenance list also included the following:
- replaced all of our halogen lights with LED's
- repaired loose wires in SSB radio
- switched tri-light switch at the helm (anchor light switch was too close and having the two turned on at the same time can damage the tri-light)
- added an electronic anchor chain counter
- polished the fuel (we were surprised that it was actually quite clean)
- wired the water maker through the inverter to be able to run off of the engines and not the generator
The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is another new experience for us. It is a 1200 mile long channel from Key West in southern Florida to Norfolk, West Virginia. This series of rivers, lakes, lagoons, and dredged channels, are protected from the open ocean by long spits and islands. It is a water highway and we are diligent about working with the heavy currents and avoiding shallow waters. Shifting sand shoals can make navigation charts somewhat unreliable so we are careful to travel during the day and are learning to avoid the heavy weekend traffic. Our destination is North Carolina where we plan to leave the boat for the summer. In the meantime, we are pleasantly stuck here in Velcro Beach.