It’s late. We’re sitting in the cockpit listening to Jimmy Buffett… and other sounds of the city around us. It was hot today – 82. The low tonight is 67. There’s a slight breeze. It’s a little stuffy down below. Madge is swinging gently on her mooring. Looking out behind us is like watching the feed from a slowly panning security camera of all the boats north of us.
We’ve been in Vero Beach for 9 days. We understand now why it’s called Velcro Beach. At first, I planned to be here four nights. Rain was approaching, and I needed to do some route planning. South of here, things start getting complicated. There’s more development and we get into what I call urban cruising. I had thought we might cut across the Okechobee Canal to Ft. Myers, then turn south to Key West. But I’ve heard horror stories of the north fetch and rough conditions in the mooring field in Key West, and the very long dinghy ride to shore. It didn’t sound like something I would like. As an option, we could continue down the ICW to the Keys, but I wasn’t sure if we could get there in time. Plus, Madge draws 4-1/2 feet, and in many places, the ICW through the Keys is barely over five feet. That means taking the Hawk Channel from Biscayne Bay to Marathon. We’ve been told that it’s convenient to leave your boat on a mooring in Boot Key Harbor and take the bus to Key West, but then we heard that there’s a 40-boat waiting list for moorings at Boot Key. I’m starting to think that the best way to see the Keys is by land. Anyway, we needed a break to figure where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. We are committed to meeting friends in Key West in a couple of weeks, but we have options for doing that. There’s a big mooring field at Dinner Key in Miami, and we could hitch a ride to Key West with some friends who are driving down from there.
I figured maybe four days would give me enough time to work things out. Then, we had the alternator belt problem coming into Vero Beach and decided to spend some time giving Madge some needed attention. When the rains came, we had to fix some leaks. Four days stretched into seven. We identified some other issues, ordered some items online, and are now waiting for delivery on Friday, taking us up to 11 days. There’s really no incentive to leave quickly. We’ve decided to leave Madge at Dinner Key and ride with friends to Key West. It will take us 4-5 days to get there from here, and we don’t have to be there until about 15 days from now. Vero Beach has good, inexpensive facilities and a free bus, with everything we need a short ride from here. We’ll probably kill time here until it’s time to move south to Dinner Key. After Ket West, we’ll have to decide whether we jump to the Bahamas, or come back north, cut across the Okechobee Canal and try to catch up with friends who are cruising Florida’s west coast. If we opt for the Bahamas, we’ll have to wait for a weather window. A couple of days ago, a great weather window opened up for the Bahamas, and some of our friends here in Vero made the jump. Were it not for the Key West commitment, we could’ve gone with a great buddy boat – which makes a first-time crossing much less stressful.
So, that decision is still ahead of us. In the meantime, we’re trying to be productive by working on things for Madge. Rain is back in the forecast in the next couple of days. A front is moving through. Maybe we’ll get something done. Maybe not.