Riggs and I are killing time, and trying not to freeze.
After 4 enjoyable nights in Vero Beach (ICW mile 952), on Wednesday we cruised 25 miles south to the St. Lucie Inlet, where the St Lucie River meets the Atlantic, thus recharging our batteries and getting us ever closer to our next rendevous, which is to meet friend Bev Bishop in Miami on Jan 24 or so. But that's two weeks away, and Miami is only 3 days cruise distance, so we've still got time to kill.
We spent Wednesday night anchored in Manatee Pocket (mile 988), right off the inlet, which has many boating facilities which serve the sports fishing community (the Atlantic here is sailfish territory) and other boaters. Manatee pocket lived up to its name, as we dinghied up to the end of the pocket and found 3 manatees hanging out. The water was murky, so all you could really see was huge nostrils poking up now and then and taking a breath.
Thursday we came up the St Lucie River, stopping at the town dock here in Stuart FLA, where we walked the small historic district and grabbed a slice of pizza for lunch. We then continued upriver to the first lock on the Okeechobee Canal. The idea was to go through the lock and anchor across from the park up there for a few nights in fresh water so as to kill off any nasty hull growth such as shipworm larvae. When I contacted the lock tender with my plan I was told I couldn't anchor there but would would have to take a slip at the park, which requires a reservation. So we turned Spray around and came back to Stuart, renting a mooring at the city marina, and here we still are, three nights later.
The issue of transient boaters anchoring in FLA has been contentious over the past few years. Some towns have tried to ban anchoring in 'their' waters, and have set up mooring fields where, for a relatively small fee, transients can stay, but they cannot anchor for free. The state of FLA fought this, arguing that these are state waters, and that towns have no authority over them. Within the last year the state won a court case on this so, just outside Stuart's mooring field, some boats are anchored, and legally so.
Here's how I compare the municipal mooring fields in Vero Beach and here in Stuart:
- Cost: V.B. = $14/night, Stuart = $10/night - Stuart wins
- Protection: V.B. much better protected, both from winds and boat wakes.
- Shore Facilities: Both are very good, with dinghy docks, laundry, hot showers, cruiser's lounge.
- Local Shopping: Advantage Stuart. Here its 3 blocks to a supermarket, and 3 blocks to the historic district, with shops and restaurants. But, V.B. has a free bus system that will take you to those things.
- Dog friendly: Stuart has a park very close, but V.B. has an official dog-park very close. Advantage V.B.
- Privacy: Stuart puts 1 boat on each mooring while V.B. will raft 2 or 3 boats/mooring if needed. That sounds rough but apparently it works OK. I can't really say as we didn't get rafted there (did my deodorant fail?).
Overall: Its a tie. Both are very good.
Let's talk about the weather. As you've no doubt seen in the news, its been COLD! We're coming on two straight weeks of nights in the 30's, and days in the 50's (there have been a couple of 70-degree days in there just to torture). Yesterday was especially nasty, with strong north winds, rain, and high temps in the low 40's. Today was cold and windy too, but at least sunny, which helps alot. Spray has a propane heater, which I've mostly been using to take the chill off in the morning, until the sun can do its thing. Yesterday the heater was used more. The predictions are for gradual improvement over the coming week. Let's hope so.
One thing Spray lacks is a generator, so at anchorage or a mooring we live off of ever-dwindling battery power, and 4 or 5 days is a practical limit. Then we need to cruise somewhere so the main diesel engine's alternator can recharge the batteries. If its nice tomorrow, we'll go somewhere, not sure where yet, otherwise for sure on Tuesday. Stay tuned.