7 December, 2015
We were pretty excited about going back to Vero. Besides the awesome tuna nachos (raw Ahi and seaweed on a fried wonton) at the Dockside restaurant, there’s a bait shop next door where I can get one of our fishing reels restrung (?) with Spectra line. The bike riding is relatively safe, and there’s a great breakfast joint out on the beach that we’ll hit after going to the Farmer’s Market. Plus, Bill and Lisa are there on “Changing Course”. Vero’s a popular spot, so when we call on the phone for a mooring ball, Courtney tells me that they’re full, and we’ll have to raft with another boat. No problem. “What’s your boat name?” “Alizann-we should be in the computer.” “Oh. You’re 53’ long. We can’t take boats over 50’ anymore, ‘cause we had a mooring damaged this year, and City Council voted no more big boats” “Gosh, we’ve been there before in high winds with no problems, and…….our friends on “Changing Course” are there now. Same exact boat as ours.” ………….” Well, says here that they’re 48’ long, they must have lied. “ Can’t tell you to do that.” “I’m pretty sure that the info that you have in the computer is in error. We’re 48’.” “Okay, see you tomorrow.” Therein lies the marina conundrum. Do we say we’re 43’ (length at the waterline), 48’ (length on deck), or 53’ (length overall-swim platform and bow pulpit included)? The ICW between Cocoa has lots of variation in scenery, from wild marshy swamps to quaint “Old Florida” homes to 15,000 foot seasonal “cottages” along the way. As Alizann wheeled around the corner into the now familiar mooring field at Vero, it was obvious that they were quite busy, with some mooring balls occupied by 3 boats (how does the 50’ rule make sense when there are 3 forty footers on a single ball?). After a not short pause on the VHF, the Harbormaster directs us to a ball already occupied by a 49’ motoryacht. At first, we can’t find it, as it’s surrounded by rafted-up sailboats back near the mangroves. Once spotted, we maneuver thru the forest of sailboats in the brisk breeze. As we pass each moored boat, heads pop up to watch the show. Boaters and NASCAR fans-kindred spirits, always waiting for the crash. Suz gets the fenders and lines rigged, we’re now 10’ from our target, and there’s no one on deck to catch our lines (I’m pretty sure that someone’s on board because their dinghy is there). As we get to within 5’ and we’re contemplating having Suz jump over to their boat, we see movement down below, and a guy pops out of the side door, only to go back below just as quickly. Whattheheck? So….we’re holding, the wind’s pushing the Girl back and forth, we’ve got a crowd watching, our 2-way communicators’ batteries quit, and we’re not sure what our next move will be. Seemed like a long time, but after maybe 30 seconds or so, the guy reappears with his wife(?), ready to catch our lines. Suz is at the stern, so I back up close, expecting that our stern will be tied quickly, and she’ll come forward to toss the bow line. Meanwhile, we’re sawing back and forth in the breeze. I can’t leave the helm, ‘cause the wind is blowing us back towards the 2 catamarans moored behind us, and trying to shear our bow away from our buddy. A couple of minutes later, she comes forward and tosses our bow line to the dude, then has to tell him where to cleat it so that it won’t damage his boat. After several adjustments, spring lines are made fast and introductions are shared. R and P confess that they’re “newbies”, and have never rafted before (that doesn’t make them unusual-many long time boaters don’t raft). Heading below for our post-docking debrief and learning session, the Admiral informs me that it took so long at the stern because P didn’t know how to cleat a line.
The next couple of days weren’t nearly as exciting. We had our nachos, got the reel stripped and loaded, ate breakfast at the beach after the Farmer’s Market, and rode the “Jungle Trail” around the North end of the island. This 30 mile bike ride traverses along the hard packed and soft sand road that the citrus growers used to move their products back in the day. As a bonus, the holiday lighted boat parade took place one night, starting and ending at the mooring field. All too soon, it was time to go, as the Girl had an appointment at the Hinckley yard in Stuart to have her leaky gearbox repaired. (And not a minute too soon, as I was getting pretty tired of emptying oil out of my little Tupperware container hanging under the get-home motor since Maine.) Along the way, we stopped at Fort Pierce for a few gallons of diesel at the lowest price on the East coast of Florida.
Tales of the Hinckley adventure coming soon.