We were up early Monday morning for the long run to Vero Beach. While there were intermediate stops along the way, after exploring exciting Titusville, we decided to make a long run (~75 miles) to an area that was supposed to be a great place to visit. Our plan was to stay there for two nights before the final run to North Palm Beach.
At 7:15 am, Adrienne steered Curiosity out of our slip (no drama) and into the ICW. Unlike the night before, the winds were light, but we did have some light to moderate rain at times. There was light fog to contend with, and occasionally the visibility dropped to about a half of a nautical mile. But these moments were episodic. For the most part our run down the ICW to Vero Beach was more or less a straight shot along the Indian River Lagoon and the Banana River without much shoaling and few no-wake zones.
However, it was not without its exciting moments – particularly for Adrienne. It seemed that every few minutes, we would see a pod of dolphins in the lagoon, heading straight for Curiosity. Within a minute or two, we would have anywhere from one to four dolphins playing in our wake. Occasionally, we would have groups of dolphins on both the starboard and port sides. The dolphins would swim side-by-side just off our starboard or port stern quarter, taking turns jumping and splashing. The splashing was so loud that it could be heard in the helm over the sound of the engines.
I have to confess that it was really fun to watch them play and Adrienne was totally enthralled. Using her iPhone, she was able to make several short movies of as they followed us. She more than made up for her failed first attempt at filming the dolphins.
The last few miles of the ICW to Vero Beach were lined with beautiful homes.
We pulled into the Vero Beach City Marina shortly before 3pm. The winds had increased to between 15 and 20 kts, but the marina sits in a protected cove off the ICW. When we made the turn in, the winds died down and we had an easy side to tie-up along a face dock. The marina seems to be a popular stop over for many boaters. In addition to the docks, there is a mooring field with many boaters spending a week or more here before heading either north or south. There also seemed to be a number of live-aboards. One was on a sailboat docked right next to us. Before we finished tying up we were warned about the owner, who apparently was somewhat unpredictable. I later learned when I checked us in that she had been involuntarily committed by a judge and that the commitment had been extended. So it did not look like our paths would cross. Just as well.
We did our boat chores, got settled in and then relaxed a bit before an early dinner at the Riverside Café, which was an easy walk from the marina.
The following day we put on our tourist hats and set out to explore Vero Beach. The cruising guides and the marina information referred to Vero Beach’s “historic downtown” area. This looked like a good place to start. But where exactly was this downtown area? This proved to be more difficult to find out than you would think.
Vero Beach is divided by the Indian River. Most of the development is on the west side of the river, but the marina and beach development are on the east side. A free and pretty good bus system connects the two sides and provides transportation around the west section with more limited service on the east side. We hopped on the bus at the marina stop and headed for the west side. The bus driver dropped us at a stop with directions to walk to the left to find the downtown area. Not exactly. We wandered about for a while, finding nothing “historic” about the area we were in. Finally, we went into a coin dealer shop who told us that we had to head west for about 2 miles and a bit more south and we would hit the historic area. It was a sunny but cool day, so we decided to walk.
Once we crossed the railroad tracks we started to see street banners that had “Historic Vero Beach” on them. This was a good sign. Eventually we came to an area that had a few blocks of buildings that dated from the early 1900s. There were some shops, localbusinesses and art galleries, but there weren’t many people around. Still, it was more of a typical downtown area than the strip malls that usually line Florida streets. It didn’t take us long to explore this area.
We hopped on a bus to return to the ocean side for lunch. The ocean side area was more blustery and therefore chilly, but seemed to be a more vibrant area. We walked about a bit along the waterfront. The weather system that had brought us all the fog and rain over the past few days was still churning out in the Atlantic. The winds were whipping right on the coast. The surf was very rough and was churning all the way up the beach to the bulkheads.
We stopped in at the Red Onion for lunch. The food was excellent. Great sandwiches made of quality ingredients and interesting food combinations. I had a roast beef sandwich that had Cajun seasoning and a chipotle mayo that was so hot it made my hair follicles tingle! It was good though.
Afterlunch we wandered through many of the shops and then headed back to the boat through some of the neighborhood streets. These were lovely in the late afternoon. Many had mature live oaks that arched over the streets creating a beautiful scene with light filtering through the branches.
We had done a fair amount of walking, so we were happy to get back to the boat and rest the feet. We took it easy for the rest of the afternoon before setting out again for the ocean side area for dinner at the Ocean Grill. The food was good basic seafood, but nothing to get excited about. The interior of the restaurant was decorated to the max for the holidays. Every surface seemed to be covered with lights, bows, santas, artificial snow, candy canes, etc. It was actually nice to see this over-the-top display; unlike St. Augustine, Vero Beach didn’t do much in the way of decorating its exterior for Christmas.
We walked back to the boat after dinner and made it another early evening. Tomorrow would be our last run, the one that would take us to North Palm Beach! We were both ready for it.