Some days I would give my weekly ration of chocolate for an accurate forecast; however best to save that for a jump out or an overnight. One of the reasons we bid farewell to St. Augustine on Monday rather than Tuesday was the disintegrating forecast that made Thursday look like crap. Before Monday night, the forecast was updated and Thursday looked decent. Not ones to let the weather out-smart us, we decided to take advantage of the good weather and explore a couple of new places along the Indian River. Our bridge and inlet shenanigans made sure we couldn’t get too far on Monday, so taking an extra day to arrive at Vero just made sense.
Tues found us anchored on the Indian River’s west shore at Cocoa; a cute town with a free dock, oodles of waterfront boardwalk and several small and low finger docks where you tie up your dinghy. We met up with Patti on Lutra and learned she will be in Nassau for a crew change at Christmas time, same as we.
The Haulover Canal Bridge is always an experience and the bridge tender with an attitude gets your attention. She chided a boat, about a half hour ahead of us, for not bunching up with the ones in front of him and then trying to “make the opening.” I don’t think she kept it open for him. Ok then, we looked around- way around and concluded we were alone and no bunching required! Missed one little detail though, and that was what about northbound vessels? You can’t see the bascule bridge until you turn the corner and then it’s maybe 1/8 mile away. The canal is narrow- but two boats can easily pass.
Just before the turn we hear a northbound tug and barge call the bridge- uh oh. We radio the tug, then the bridge, confirming we will stand off before the bridge to allow the tug to proceed first. Not that we had a choice, a movement restricted commercial vessel wins over even the big cat! A much smaller m/v behind us also radioed the bridge to confirm they’d wait behind us.
After we passed through, I looked back and for a few seconds the m/v and barge looked close to a collision. The bridge tender sure thought so because she gave the m/v heck for not getting out of the way. Poor guy, he said he thought he was. I think he was fine and don’t you imagine the tug captain could take of himself if he had concerns about the other boat? Like I said, an attitude.
Wednesday morning we bid farewell to Lutra and walked into town. Today was market day in the town center- quelle chance.
Anchor up and underway by 10:30 to another new spot; Melbourne Beach Pier. This would bring us to SM 920 which means we’d traveled 920 statute miles (800 nautical) since Hospital Point in Portsmouth, VA, mile zero. Our total miles since leaving CT would be a tad under 1,200nm. We’d sailed 63 hours, approximately 430nm of that total.
Melbourne Beach is on the east shore of the Indian River and you simply leave the ICW channel in the river, head toward the pier and anchor close, but not too close off the pier. The pier is quite old and an historic site. Steamboats would bring beach going visitors to the dock and a hand powered trolley would take them the several blocks to the beach.
The pier has two lower docks, one on each side for easy accessibility by dinghy. We walked to the beach after lunch; by that time the sun had all by vanished. Our great find of the visit was the Melbourne Beach Supermarket. Oh baby, did they have a HUGE assortment of bottled soda (we’re not soda drinkers just impressed). We ooh’d and aah’d over the meat case and the assortment of desserts. We came away with affordable sausages, lamb chops and a slice of chocolate mousse cheesecake. Russ couldn’t resist sulfite-free red wine at 4 for $10. Drinkable but a bit wimpy.
Thursday found us sitting in the first fog of our entire trip. Closer to Vero Beach we held our breath passing under a bridge whose height board read a measly 62ft and 9 inches. Feel more certain that we need 62 ½ ft as we both agreed we had a few inches to spare. What’s with all this high water?
Before picking up our mooring a stop at the fuel dock was needed for diesel, water and a pump out. A few moorings had rafted boats and plenty of open moorings too. We spent the next two days food shopping, both at Publix and the terrific every Saturday farmers market, doing laundry and getting ready for our raft buddy Polar Pacer.