We were up early Thursday morning, and by 7:18 am, we were pulling out of the slip headed for Cocoa Village, some 45 nm south. It was a beautiful morning with another gorgeous sunrise over New Smyrna Beach.
As we traveled down the ICW, we could see the diversity of living styles in Florida. We passed beautiful sailboats, large homes, mobile home parks filled with fixed double-wide mobile homes, dilapidated RV parks, and a small boat whose owner seems to earn his livelihood catching live bait. A diverse crowd.
After a brief rain shower, the dolphins showed up. Unfortunately for most of this time, we were in a no wake zone. However, there was a period when we were up around 9 kts at which point the dolphins came out and played. One never really gets tired of watching them frolic.
Just before 1 pm, we were turning into Cocoa Village Marina. Last year, we had been on their face dock and we expected to be there again. However, some large boat had pulled up for lunch and had taken our space. So we had to go around the backside of marina into a slip that was a little small for us. We made it without too much effort, and Curiosity was soon safely tied up.
After rinsing the boat, we headed into town. Our first stop was at S.F. Travis, said to be the largest privately owned hardware store. I had noticed a number of screws missing from one of the rub rails and wanted to get replacements. I took a matching screw with me so that I would get that right ones. S.F. Travis is a real old school working hardware store – big on inventory, totally lacking in décor. No air conditioning. Rows of parts, buckets of screws, nuts and bolts. Three or four guys were sitting around the counter when we entered, shooting the breeze. I showed them the screw and one of them immediately led me through a labyrinth of shelves and doors with plastic sheathing to a shelf way In the back of the store. He pulled down a small box and there were the screws. No computer inventory here – all man-based knowledge. $1.20 for 10 stainless screws and we were on our way.
When we had been in Cocoa Village last year, it had been a Sunday. It seemed to be a vibrant little artsy town with lots of restaurants and people milling about. Unfortunately, most of the galleries had been closed. We were looking forward to wandering into them and seeing the local art scene. This was Thursday, so everything was opened. However, on a weekday, the town did not seem very vibrant. There were few people around and the restaurants did not seem particularly inspiring. The galleries were open but the local art seemed rather kitschy and not very good. It was a disappointment.
For dinner, we decided to try something very different than the usual Florida seafood by going to a relatively new Vietnamese restaurant called Mamasan’s. It was on the outskirts of town on a busy commercial street (think auto repair shops) about 0.7 miles away. The restaurant is in a converted donut shop, with maybe 8 – 10 coffee shop type tables. Three of them were filled, two with Vietnamese locals. The waitress brought us the menus, including color pictures of their specials, and explained the various items on the rather limited menu. It was all very Asian, except for the waitress who was your typical all American Caucasian teenager. I ordered the beef pho and Adrienne ordered caramelized shrimp with rice and broccoli. The waitress had explained that it takes two days to prepare the broth for the pho and everything is fresh and cooked on premises. It turned out that both dishes were excellent. Even better there were leftover shrimp for me to have for lunch. While we were eating, Mamasan herself came wandering out for a few minutes. Although Mamasans was out of the way, it was well worth the visit.
It was time to head back to the boat. The sun was just setting. To get to the restaurant, we had walked through some sketchy neighborhoods so we decided to stick to the main thoroughfares for our return trip. On our way we passed the Cocoa Village Water Tower. Now you would think there was nothing exciting about this tower, but you would be wrong. According to the dockmaster and the flashing neon sign in front of the tower, this was the 2015 Tower of the Year holding the best water in the entire State of Florida! It was quite exciting to just stand beside such an icon.
Soon we were back at the boat, ready for our journey to Fort Pierce the next day.