We left Fort Pierce after breakfast for a shortish – two and a half hour – run north on the ICW, and tucked in just after the Vero Beach Bridge to pick up our assigned mooring in the Vero Beach Municipal Marina south mooring field by noon, in time for lunch. This one at one of the top cruising destinations in Florida –  nicknamed Velcro Beach because sailboats arrive intending to stay for a few days and end up spending weeks or months.

Unfortunately, this is most of what we saw of Vero Beach:

Plumbing Repairs!

Plumbing Repairs!

Yes, another repair stop! This one to fix our broken kitchen faucet. However, to be truthful, we were able to see enough of Vero Beach to understand why it is such an attractive stop for cruisers. The Municipal Marina is very cruiser-friendly, with a large, inexpensive mooring field ($15/day) and a small marina next to a pretty park with mature trees draped with Old Man’s Beard (aka Spanish Moss) and epiphytic Bromeliads. The area around the marina is attractive, with nice residential streets and a decent walk to the beach.

Pretty park near marina

Pretty park near marina

After lunch we lowered the dinghy to go into town, stopping first to say hello to Lynn and Stewart on Caladh, whom we spotted in the north mooring field. We registered at the dock, and picked up a great registration folder/kit which included maps of the area, a bus schedule, and other good stuff. We were on a mission – to get to a Home Depot or Lowes to buy a kitchen faucet to replace the broken tap which we have been putting up with for a couple of weeks.  Vero Beach runs a courtesy bus system (one of the cruiser friendly services) which stops at the marina. We hopped on the bus and the couple (cruisers too) behind us gave us directions to the Publix and West Marine, which are on the #1 bus route, as well as to Walmart and Home Depot, which involved changing buses to #2 at the bus station (where all the buses congregate and wait until all of them arrive and swap passengers, then they all leave together). So we went on to Home Depot, purchased new taps for the kitchen sink, and then went on to Walmart for a few groceries. We decided to stay on the #1 bus on its return trip to the marina, as it then does a loop to the seafront beach and back again to the Marina. We enjoyed  our little free tour.

Back on Tai Chi we packed away our purchases in time for happy hour with Lynn and Stewart who dinghied over. They are regulars here to were able to provide us with inside scoop.

Stewart and Lynn returning to the South Mooring Field in their dinghy

Stewart and Lynn returning to the South Mooring Field in their dinghy

We had decided to stay two nights on our mooring so that we could (a) fix/replace the kitchen faucet and (b) see a little of Vero Beach. Our bus trip of the previous day gave us some indication of the pretty town, with parks and neat residential streets dripping with lush tropical vegetation and ranch style homes. As it turned out, the plumbing job took almost 12 hours, with intermittent burst of swearwords from Skipper Steve as water leaked on his head while he did contortions under the kitchen sink. His saddest discovery in fulfilling his sailing dream has been that it is not enough to learn how to sail – you have to learn to be an electrician, carpenter and plumber too, not to mention contortionist, acrobat and trapeze artist.

Lush gardens in residential street near marina

Lush gardens in residential street near marina

The saving grace was that the repairs required two shore trips to the nearest hardware store. This involved a pretty walk through the lovely neighbourhood surrounding the marina – admiring gardens, plants, birds and homes as we strode along in the sunshine….a pleasant reprieve for me from being ‘surgical assistant’ to the frustrated plumber-in-training.

So instead of strolling along through the park to have dinner out at the highly recommended Riverside Café as originally planned, Steve finished his job to our mutual satisfaction and cleaned up by 8:30 pm, and I cooked up a quick chicken stir-fry! We had both ‘earned’ a glass of wine by that time.

Sunrise, Vero Beach mooring field

Sunrise, Vero Beach mooring field

We planned to leave first thing in the morning for Cocoa.  We were disappointed that we had not experienced more of Vero Beach, but we had seen enough to understand why it is such an attraction for cruisers, and to want to return someday.

Day 275: March 13;
Distance travelled on this leg: 13 NM;
Current Position: 27° 39.31 N; 80°22.25W;
Left Fort Pierce City Marina at 0850;
Picked up mooring at Vero Beach City Marina at 11:10;
Wind N 10-15 kn; a little chop on ICW, sunny and clear, 20°C.

Passing Lynn and Stewart underway - wrapped up against the cold!

Passing Lynn and Stewart underway – wrapped up against the cold!

The next day we left our mooring just after sun-up at 8 am. It was the coldest morning I had experienced since my quick trip home in January, so I donned my extra-warm woolly Mark’s Work Wearhouse socks, polar-fleece and jacket. But the day was sunny, the sky clear-blue, and again we enjoyed the scenery – birds and people fishing off wooded spoil islands. I loved watching pelicans diving on fish, rocketing into the water with a terrific splash and then gulping their catch. ICW barges carry huge loads, and recreational fishing vessels abound.

Mosquito control

Mosquito control

A mosquito control plane circled overhead several times. Having a bigger boat (longer water-line) we cruised past Lynn and Stewart on Caladh – all wrapped up in their warmest woollies in their cockpit.

We took turns on the helm so it was a relaxing day cruising up the ICW, with only fixed bridges, no bascule or swing ones. Just after 4 pm we dropped our anchor off the village of Cocoa, just before Cocoa Bridge. The pretty anchorage and nearby public dock is somewhat spoiled by a number of abandoned and derelict boats.

Cocoa Town Pier and anchorage in background

Cocoa Town Pier and anchorage in background

We tied the dinghy up at the public dock and ambled along the pretty boardwalk and through the Riverside Park. Cocoa Village has a very nice old town center with shops, restaurants and a theatre. We were making up for the previous day by dining out, and had read great reviews about a sushi/Thai restaurant nearby called Thai Thai.

When we arrived there were several large groups waiting, to be seated in the packed restaurant but they were able to find a place for us immediately at the sushi bar.

Our sushi chef with one of his works of art

Our sushi chef with one of his works of art

It was a perfect ending to another great day – the sushi was amazing, the sushi chefs friendly, efficient and artistic. They made us a special treat spicy crab appetizer, and we chatted with the Québécois couple next to us – snowbirds who over-winter nearby. One of our best meals out ever. We walked around the village center afterwards before returning to Tai Chi, sitting pretty on anchor in the crescent moon light.

View our photo journal for Vero Beach and Cocoa.

Day 277: March 15;
Distance travelled on this leg: 48 NM;
Current Position: 28° 21.13 N; 80°43.17W;
LeftVero Beach City Marina at 0850;
Anchored at Cocoa Village at 1614;
Wind N 10-15 kn; a little chop on ICW, sunny and clear, 8°C in morning – 20°C by afternoon.

Map:

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