Cocoa to Stuart, FL

Cocoa, FL

Monday, December 8, 2003

We awoke to a beautiful blue sky, but a bit chilly. Had some breakfast on board.

Priority one for the day was to resolve the engine cooling problem before moving on. So, with Sandy’s help, Bill checked the flow through the water intake and replaced the raw-water, engine-cooling pump impeller even though it didn’t really seem bad. Then Bill took Sandy ashore to explore the shops while he ran the engine to check the cooling system and charge the batteries. All seemed ok while battery charging. But, running under load will really tell the tale.

Bill visited the local library to set up pages for this web site. And, on Bill Hurt’s advice, he visited the local hardware store, touted as the “World’s Best”. (You needed a clerk to find what you wanted, but if you needed it, they had it. Imagine a piano hinge display with, literally, dozens of sizes and materials.)

That evening we met Bill & Susan for dinner at Murdocks. Nice place, good food, fair prices! This time we said farewell to Bill & Susan for the season. They will leave the boat in Cocoa while they head home for the holidays, return for a month and then head out for their trip to New Zealand and Australia. They plan to return to the boat after that for their own spring season trip to the Bahamas.

Cocoa to Vero Beach, FL

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Dinghy Ride in Vero Beach
Dinghy Ride in Vero Beach

We hoisted anchor about 6:45 for our next leg south. Unfortunately, the engine soon began to run hot, again. Damn! We ran slow to reduce overheating and motor-sailed when we could, but much of the day the wind was on our nose. The engine temperature topped out at about 190° F instead of the usual 160° F. Guess Bill has a bit more work to do!

Nevertheless, we arrived at Vero Beach Municipal Marina about 3:30. The town has a nice setup with a very protected, large mooring field as well as regular slips. In the busy season, they ask boats to raft together with as many as three boats per mooring. It’s really kind of neat as you automatically get to know someone new. We were assigned to raft with John & Pam (Daisy Belle).

Bill went in to check things out and to settle up. The dinghy docks, bath, lounge and laundry facilities looked very nice. Mooring customers pay only $8/day (plus $1.07 for each shower). There’s even free bus service that stops at the marina that we can use to go shopping, etc.

Dinner aboard was delicious … spaghetti with Italian sausage and green salad.

Vero Beach, FL

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Bill found complimentary coffee at the dockmaster’s office at 7:00 and a dock crew that was very friendly and helpful. Many of the boaters refer to Vero as Velcro Beach, since many folks find it so nice it’s hard to leave.

Sandy took the bus into town while Bill tackled the engine cooling problem. When he took the engine cooling discharge hose off of the exhaust elbow, he found a blockage in the line. Clearing the hose, water flow through the heat exchanger appeared to improve and the problem seems likely to be solved.

That evening we went for happy hour at the Riverside Grill overlooking our anchorage. We met Norma and Wayne Tillett (Jura) who once owned Lin & Larry Pardee’s first boat, Seraphim. (For those non-boaters, the Pardees are renowned, around-the-world cruisers, who accomplish their feats in a boat having no engine!)

Vero Beach, FL

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Like many boaters, we couldn’t tear ourselves away after only two nights in Vero, so we decided to stay another day. The weather was fairly nice, but the pattern has been that it cools down as soon as the sun sets and we’re still glad to have our sleeping bags for warmth each night.

Sandy hit the shops in town to do some Christmas shopping. She found her favorite store, TJMaxx, and had some excellent luck with gift buying. (Also, shopping a national chain makes for easy gift exchanges when necessary.)

Meanwhile, Bill cleaned the boat’s hull and waterline and did some writing and photo editing. After that, it was a real laid-back time with dinner aboard consisting of stir-fried veggies and sautéed chicken teryaki.

Vero Beach to Manatee Pocket, Stuart, FL

Friday, December 12, 2003

Bill picked up his coffee at the marina office and we were off about 8:00. It was an overcast, cool morning. We were headed for the Stuart area and a visit with John & Bev Stehman. Along the way, the skies cleared and it became a bright, cheerful day. This leg also told us that the engine cooling system problem seemed to be resolved. Sandy cleaned the boat interior and vacuumed while underway. She doesn’t sit still much, even on the boat!

We got our first taste of clear, blue water crossing the St. Lucie River inlet. This is a taste of things to come. Along with prolific palms and pines, it really evokes the tropical scenery we’re here for.

Hot Dog Stand in Manatee Pocket
Hot Dog Stand in Manatee Pocket

We got to Manatee Pocket, a completely protected embayment near Stuart. We especially liked the floating concession, the “Hot Dog” boat that greets folks entering the Pocket. We circled the area, roughly half a mile long, and it looks like an excellent anchorage. However, we were invited to stay at the house that John, Bev and Bev’s aunt, Blanche, are renting. So, for security’s sake we tied up in the marina at Mariner Cay, a small gated community on the Pocket.

Bev & John showed up a few minutes later in the Thelma Ann, their cute little 16-ft Sea Dory cruising powerboat. They looked over the boat and the changes we made for the cruise. We also watched as the many beautiful sport fishing boats returned from the ocean. They were participating in a fishing tournament and all came in at once to tally up their scores.

We loaded our gear into Stehman’s car and headed for the rental house and our very own bedroom!

Tied Up in Manatee Pocket
Tied Up in Manatee Pocket

Stuart, FL

Saturday, December 13, 2003

What a beautiful, warm sunny day. John & Bill took the Thelma Ann from her slip in Manatee Pocket to a boat launch adjacent to the ICW. There, we picked up the gals and went over to Peck Lake (along the ICW), beached the boat and walked across the dunes to the beach. Blanche, Bill & John sunbathed and talked while Bev & Sandy combed the beach for shells and sea beans. This time Sandy found three and Bev two. Not bad for half and hour!

Aboard the Thelma Ann
Aboard the Thelma Ann

That evening we all visited Jerry & Lynne Snyder (Kali’s Fantasea) who live in Stuart. Bill & John looked over Jerry’ installation of an anchor windlass on their O’Day 35. It’s a nice job and an excellent model if we ever decide to install one on Whistwind. Later, we went out for dinner at some “hop” place … the name escapes us, but it wasn’t IHOP!

Stuart, FL

Sunday, December 14, 2003

The girls left early to hit a local flea market and a few other destinations. They found four stools, at a bargain price, that will be good to use around the kitchen counter in the rental house. Sandy found a Christmas wreath for the boat. Since it was a rainy morning, Bill & John held down the fort, watching and critiquing a movie on TV. Later, they were assigned to pick up the stools with the truck and made a requisite stop at West Marine. Although we all agreed to see a movie that afternoon, the girls finked out so Bill & John went on their own to see “Something’s Got to Give” … great flick!

Dinner was one of Bev’s patented casseroles which was delicious.