Cruisers’ Thanksgiving in Vero Beach

Thanksgiving morning (50 degrees out but sunny) Looking out over the Vero Beach mooring field

Thanksgiving morning (50 degrees out, but sunny) Looking out over the Vero Beach mooring field

Our 3 SYC boats rafted together

Our 3 SYC boats rafted together

It’s hard to be away from family during a holiday. Those are the special times we share, giving thanks for just being together, because that is what really matters. Our family, with four children and their spouses, plus step-families and in-laws may not have traditional holiday gatherings, but we always find ways to be together and celebrate during the season. This year is the first time we will not be with any family for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Cruisers gather together here in Vero Beach and become ‘family” for the day. The CLODs sponsor and organize a Thanksgiving Day dinner for all boats that are staying here over the holiday. What is a CLOD? I had to ask that myself since I did not recognize it as a nautical term. A CLOD is a “Cruiser Living On Dirt.” 🙂 Remember when I wrote that Vero Beach is often called Velcro Beach because so many cruisers take up residence here when their cruising days are over? They are wonderful people who make this day special for those of us who are away from family by cooking turkeys and hams. Turkeys and hams just don’t fit inside most boat ovens.  All the boaters bring the side dishes. It was a very nice day.

A tag sale in the morning

A tag sale in the morning

The "parking lot" filling up with dinghies

The “parking lot” filling up with dinghies

 

Over 150 people gathered together for dinner

Over 150 people gathered together for CLOD-sponsored dinner

There was no shortage of delicious food!

There was no shortage of delicious food!

Cruisers filled the dining hall, the porches, and the patios

Cruisers filled the dining hall, the porches, and the patios

Cutting Class (Marcia and Dan) with us

Our Thanksgiving table with Marcia and Dan (Cutting Class)

There was no turkey in sight, but this white crane kept an eye on the festivities

There was no turkey in sight, but this white crane kept an eye on the festivities

 

 

 

 

 

Shenny Rendezvous in Vero Beach!!

We arrived in Vero Beach on Sunday afternoon (Sunday, November 17th) and joined Cutting Class on mooring ball #17.  We hadn’t seen Marcia and Dan since they left Shennecossett Yacht Club a week before we did, waaaay back in September. Mooring ball #17 – that’s our house number back home! How appropriate!

Mooring #17 - "Home away from Home" for SYC boats

Mooring #17 – “Home away from Home” for SYC boats

We plan to stay here at Vero Beach through Thanksgiving, kick back, chill out, relax, and do boat maintenance, laundry, and provisioning. Vero is a very popular place for cruisers – nice lounge, laundry, bathhouse, free bus to shopping. Did I mention FREE bus to shopping??  And only $15 per night – a bargain compared to New England mooring fees. Vero will become crowded as Thanksgiving approaches. It is well-known for its cruisers’ Thanksgiving. The town provides turkeys and hams and the cruisers all bring the side dishes. Vero is also known as “Velcro Beach” because so many cruisers settle here after their cruising days are over.

Vero Beach City Marina ~The lounge with wifi, tv, books, magazines ~The laundry ~The fuel dock

Vero Beach City Marina
~The lounge with wifi, tv, books, magazines
~The laundry
~The fuel dock

Some boats are eccentric or have quite a sense of humor. This is one-of-a-kind! Is the owner lonely?

How can this person relax and nap in the hammock when these other two guys in the cockpit are playing loud music on their banjos?? Do these three companions hold up their end of the conversations?

Monday was a beach day, a real beach day! A short dinghy ride brings you right across the road from the public beaches.  We all went swimming. Swimming in November!! We northerners think the water temperature was just right -about what it is by late August back home.

On our way to the beach!

Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class on their way to the beach!

Vero Beach

Vero Beach

And then there were three! San cles arrived in Vero Beach and joined us on Mooring #17. We have all kept in touch as we traveled south at our own speeds and needs;  and are delighted that we reached Vero around the same time. Now it’s really  a rendezvous/reunion! What fun it is to all be together again!

San clés, Kindred Spirit, Cutting Class

San clés, Kindred Spirit, Cutting Class

Reunions = HAPPY Hour. Shenny boats know how to put together some awesome appetizers. Who needs dinner after this spread?

Yummy! A toast with Bahama Kalik beer to our Bahama Bound group.

Yummy! A toast with Bahama Kalik beer to our Bahama Bound group.

By Wednesday, the weather, once again, changed to the dark side – rain. And more rain. And some more rain. At first, we were able to do things in between the showers, but by Thursday, the rains were downpours. I felt as though I were sleeping underwater at night – the sound of water rushing beside me, under me, and over me. Is this what a submarine is like?

The Shennecossett Reunion grew – Bill, one of our SYC launch drivers, lives in Vero Beach during the winter and Connecticut in the summer. He came out to visit us in that dreadful downpour. Now that’s the spirit!

~Al welcomes Bill aboard ~And returns him to shore in the rains

~Al welcomes Bill aboard
~And returns him to shore in the rain

After the rain, comes the clean up. Our decks may be very clean from the rain, but the dinghies were filled with water.

~Dan bailing his dinghy out ~Dave baling his dinghy out ~Dan bailing our dinghy out?? How did you manage that, Capt Al? Thank you, Dan!

~Dan bailing his dinghy out
~Dave baling his dinghy out
~Dan bailing our dinghy out?? How did you manage that, Capt Al? Thank you, Dan!

With clear skies again, we went over to walk on the beach. The sea was much rougher than just a few days ago.

Warnings on the lifeguard stand . ~Red flag for small craft advisory  ~Small red flag near the ground was a "no swimming" sign

Warnings on the lifeguard stand .
~Red flag for small craft advisory
~Small red flag near the ground was a “no swimming” sign

~Bigger waves ~Close-up of the beach erosion from the recent storm

~Bigger waves
~Close-up of the beach erosion from the recent storm – layers of little shells

The nicer weather also meant it was a good time for boat maintenance.

Dave and Al working on a chain gang. Oops, No! Working on their chain plates.

Dave and Al working on a chain gang. Oops, No! Working on their chain plates.

I do “boat maintenance” as well; it’s just not as exciting as chain plates, water pumps, and stuffing boxes. I cook, clean, organize, do laundry, and do more laundry. But I also have fun, such as kayaking and watching my egret friend.
M kayaking

Vero Beach City Marina holds a Cruiser Happy Hour every Thursday. Everyone gets together and shares appetizers, conversations, and stories. Vero is a great place to connect again with new and old friends. Boats we have met along the way have appeared again here – Classic Cyn, Hydrotherapy, Horizon, Traveling Soul, Salty Paws, Moonraker, Simple Life. The camaraderie among cruisers is amazing. Cruising is the great equalizer, and there is no cruiser stereotype. We come in all shapes, designs, and sizes.  It does not matter what size or type of boat you have, what you once did in your land life, or how much money you have.

~Making new friends - Good food and good conversation!  ~Salty Paws' crew jamming

~Making new friends – Good food and good conversation!
~Salty Paws’ crew jamming

Shennecossett sailors ~Sue and Dave on san clés ~Marcia and Dan on Ctting Class ~Michele and Al on Kindred Spirit

Shennecossett sailors
~Sue and Dave on san clés
~Marcia and Dan on Ctting Class
~Michele and Al on Kindred Spirit

SYC closed out the marina happy hour and went over to the Riverside Cafe for dinner

SYC closed out the marina happy hour and went over to the Riverside Cafe for dinner

The glow of the bridge as we dinghied under it on our way to the Riverside Cafe

The glow of the bridge as we dinghied under it on our way to the Riverside Cafe

Cruisers exchange boat cards. What’s a “boat card”? It is a business card for boaters so that we can easily share information, especially since we rarely have paper and pens with us when we meet on the water. Boat cards have evolved over the years, transforming from simple text and graphic to photos of the boat and the people. Boat cards usually include the name of the boat, the make, homeport, crew’s names, emails, and phone numbers.  We were advised to include a picture of ourselves because it makes it easier to remember people if you have that extra memory jog. Generally we remember people by their boat names anyway. We are collecting quite a few already, but how do you organize them? Power vs sail? Homeport? Where you met them (if you even recall that?) I haven’t figured that out yet.

"Boat cards" - cruisers' version of the business card!

“Boat cards” – cruisers’ version of the business card!

Kindred Spirit's boat card

Kindred Spirit’s boat card, designed by Al’s daughter, Alicia.

Sights along Florida’s ICW: St. Augustine to Vero Beach

We left St. Augustine (STM 778) early on Friday morning, knowing that we would have 3 long traveling days ahead of us in order to reach Vero Beach (STM 952)  – 174 statute miles on the ICW or 151 nautical miles. It was three long, tiring days without much to see or do; and yet somehow I did manage to take some photos.

There were curiosities along the way:

Award for most decorative fixed bridge supports, somewhere around Daytona?

Award for most decorative fixed bridge supports, somewhere around Daytona? That’s all tiles, not paint!

This tug was docked right on the ICW in a residential area. Notice the artwork – I do believe that may be the Pink Panther???

This tug was docked right on the ICW in a residential area. Notice the artwork – I do believe that may be the Pink Panther???

This half sunken sailboat with a structure on top was right off the ICW – ActionTeamFamily You Tube. ???  Of course I googled it to find out the story.  I found two videos by a family, mostly of their children -“an introduction to the action team family our boat and our mission check it out!”  Both videos end with a request for donations to support their “environmental life style.” Hmmm, still not sure about this.

ActionTeam Family You Tube

ActionTeam Family You Tube……. ?

A US flag marks a crab pot. Perhaps there is a reason, but I really did not think that is an appropriate place for our flag.

A US flag marks a crab pot. Perhaps there is a reason, but I really did not think that is an appropriate place for our flag.

Some folks are ready for Christmas even though isn’t even Thanksgiving.

Decked out for the holidays!

Decked out for the holidays!

We were in manatee waters now, and eagerly looked for them as moved along. They are difficult to spot, but we did see 10, but not close enough to get a good picture.

Manatee signs all along the Florida ICW. Maybe more signs than manatees??

Manatee signs all along the Florida ICW. Maybe more signs than manatees??

Through one stretch, if you looked east, it seemed as though you could just head out tot he ocean. But don’t dare! The waters are only 1-4 feet deep.

Looking east

Looking east

At the same time, if you looked west —

icw west shoreline

ICW looking west

The residences on the ICW vary from mansions to nice homes, all with docks, to fishing camps and trailer parks —

Beautiful mansions on the ICW

Beautiful mansions on the ICW

ICW condos

Condos

A canal off the ICW

Homes with a canal off the ICW

Fishing camp on the ICW

Fishing camp on the ICW

This was a delightful surprise – a herd of deer grazing right on the ICW.

Herd of deer grazing

Herd of deer grazing

The scenery does change as you move along from day to day. The first day was a series of bridges – 4 fixed and 3 “restricted” which required an opening. These restricted bridges opened “on request”. We heard an interesting short exchange between a boat and a bridgetender. When the boat inquired if the bridge opened “on demand,” the bridgetender replied that it is never “on demand,” it opens “on request.”

Haulover Canal Bridge

Haulover Canal Bridge

Haulover Canal was a neat little stretch. The ICW literally make a sharp right turn to enter it. It felt a a little strange to make that kind of a turn with a boat.

Turning into Haulover Canal, pelicans on watch

Turning into Haulover Canal, pelicans on watch

Inside Haulover Canal, which was short and narrow, there were people fishing on the banks.

A wave from a fisherman

A wave from a fisherman

The bridge is at the end of the canal. As we passed through, the pelicans were everywhere, flying, diving, swimming.

Pelican action

Pelican action

Just past the pelicans, was a couple with a kayak fishing in the shallows. I wish I had his email to send him these pictures. Look at what he caught!

He caught a BIG one!

He caught a BIG one!

Spoil islands are a byproduct of dredging in the ICW to maintain passable depth. They vary in size and amenities. Some have picnic tables and camping sites for boaters to use. On a nice weekend day, these tiny islands became an oasis of fun for people who want to be on the water, camp, play and fish.

A small "spoil island"

A small “spoil island”

Another spoil island

Another spoil island

Island camping on a weekend

Island camping on a weekend

Over the three days, I tried to photograph the dolphins. I really tried. You have to know when and where they are going to jump or surface, and you have to have the camera focused and ready at that spot. That all requires clairvoyance and more expertise with a camera than I possess!

My dolphin photography attempts

My dolphin photography attempts – fins and tails

This one went right past our hull!!

This one went right past our hull!!

Finally, we arrived in Vero Beach and joined our Shennecossett friends, Marcia and Dan on the mooring!! Yeah!! We will be staying here until after Thanskgiving.

And the sun sets at Vero Beach City Marina

And the sun sets at Vero Beach City Marina