As much fun as I had at Indiantown Marina I knew I had to be moving along. I wanted to see my friends Lee and Karen again before I made my way home. As it turns out, I got to see John and Paula and my cousin as well.
From Indiantown you just head east through the St. Lucie Lock (drop of around 14 feet) to the level of the St. Lucie river. The lock master there is, like all the lock masters, wonderfully friendly and helpful - when it's not crazy, he'll handle lines for you and stay and talk while the lock is cycling. It's almost worth going through just for that.
As an aside, here's what I've found: state functionaries are typically friendly and helpful. Federal ones are typically obsfucators and resistant to helping. This is not true for all of them, of course, but for a significant proportion of them. I mentioned this in the difference between the people who run the national park in Sanibel and the state park on Cayo Costa - mere miles apart from each other.
Traveling down the St. Lucie river is easy and you can watch mile by mile as the terrain changes from the wilds of central Florida to the relatively urban setting of Stuart. It is also, for me, like making my way back.
Here on this part of the trip I'm thinking I'm not exploring anymore. I've been here. I'm closing the loop of the adventure. My psyche is yelling, "Go back! Go back! Get thee to the Bahamas!" Of course, I don't. I reach the end of the St. Lucie River and make a left to go north past Ft. Pierce and to Vero Beach.
The wind is out of the southwest at 15 to 20 knots so up go the sails and away I go - it's essentially a straight shot to Ft. Pierce and an easy ride. As I get near Ft. Pierce I think I'll call Joe and Del, my cousins, to see if they are still in Florida and if we can get together. Del is and Joe will be back in a couple of days! Cool!
I made it to Vero Beach City Marina mooring field around 5ish and rafted with Lee and Karen aboard Morning Glory. It was sure good to see them! And Grace, the dog, too. We had dinner aboard that night and by the time it was done, I was truly ready for sleep.
The Vero Beach City Marina moorings are cheap - $13/day. The marina itself is pleasant and for $1.60/ft/day you can stay in a slip. So if that's what you need, it certainly is reasonable. True, it's far from anything like shopping, but Lee and Karen had a car...
The next day we had lunch at Toojay's which is like a NY Jewish Deli. They have terrific corned beef and pastrami as well as meatloaf and other very tasty comfort food dishes. There may be a couple of them, but I only know the one in Vero. Del came and joined us. She also convinced me to stay until Joe came down to pick her up.
I got my shopping done with the help of Lee. His patience and good humor still amazes me (Karen's, too). We got propane and food and did some stuff at Staples and went to Stuart and generally had a good time.
If you'll remember, Teri and I had met John and Paula in Key West and had hacked around for two weeks there. Then they went up the east coast and I the west hoping to meet again somewhere like Indiantown. I had gotten there first and finished before they did but as I checked my email I found they'd be in Stuart when I was in Vero. As usual, Lee and Karen were all up for seeing my other friends and off we went to Stuart for dinner with John and Paula.
I can't begin to express what a nice time it was - It was wonderful seeing them again and finding how they've grown as cruisers. It's like watching your fledglings leave the nest, you know, when you've been their boating mentor. Anyway, we ate at Luna's Italian restaurant in Stuart, just a short walk from the city marina where Jack and Paula were staying.
The next day they headed off to Indiantown for a haul and storage until next winter.
The night before I left we had dinner at a ribs place with Del and Joe. I had the all you can eat for $10.99. They had dry rub ribs and I love them! It seems that I spend an inordinate amount of time eating. Well, single-handing is a high caloric activity. (That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.)
Lee and Karen were waiting for their mast and new sails to be done. They expected to be heading south to Ft. Pierce for it all to come together. I had decided to leave and go out the Ponce de Leon inlet for points north.
Bidding Lee, Karen, and Grace a fond farewell I turned Pelican north for our next adventure, the trip to McLellanville via Titusville and the Darien River.
It is very possible I saw you on the water!