We made it to Vero Beach once again. Vero Beach has a great City Marina with very inexpensive mooring rates so it’s always a good place to stop on the ICW. We stayed on a mooring about a year ago when traveling down the ICW with the Rally, and then we stayed here after coming back from the Bahamas in April. Because it was such a harrowing trip back we opted to get a slip, and ended up staying almost a whole week just to get our bearings back. But we are on a mooring ball this time, and interestingly at Vero Beach they put anywhere from one to three boats on each mooring ball. The ball we are on is also occupied by another Beneteau 411 by the name of Cardea. We had run across Gary and Susan on Cardea a couple of times last year, both going down the ICW and then again in Georgetown in the Exumas. It’s good to see them again!
It has not been the most interesting week since leaving Walburg Creek as it has been pretty much just slogging down the ICW. And the weather has not been the best with cold temperatures and more rain and wind than we are used to – or like! We left in high winds from Walburg Creek last Friday morning and anchored by St. Simon’s Island which is by Brunswick, Ga. The wind blew all night, and although our anchor held well we were glad to get up and get going again. The wind varied from 11 – 20 knots from the NE all day, which was pretty much dead right behind us, and the high temp was only 61 degrees for the day. Compared to Michigan right now that is still pretty balmy, but it felt even chillier with the wind blowing across the colder water right from behind – we have eisenglass side curtains along the sides of the cockpit that we put up, but none across the stern so we always feel the wind.
The next day, Saturday, was even windier! It was pretty much 18 – 22+ knots from right behind us again all day so even though the wind may have been pushing us along a bit it was still an uncomfortable day. We had to pass through St. Andrew’s Sound and it was exposed to the Atlantic which meant the waves were in the 2 – 4 foot size coming from the side. We took an alternative route inland which kept us about a mile further inland from the ocean but the waves were definitely a factor there too. The temperature started out at 48 degrees in the morning and only got up to 61 with cloudy skies all day. We were definitely wrapped up in coats, hats, scarves, gloves and blankets all day. That afternoon we put our anchor down at Cumberland Island, right at the border of Georgia and Florida. Sharon and Max went ashore at Cumberland for a walk out to the other side of the island to the ocean beach. The island continued to be beautiful as they walked through the woods but once they got to the ocean side the blowing sand was so uncomfortable they didn’t stay out there long.
The sun returned on Sunday morning although it had gotten down to 43 degrees throughout the night. We had a short day to go so we didn’t pull up our anchor until 9:15 am, and shortly thereafter we were in Florida! Because St. Augustine didn’t have any mooring balls available until Monday we went only about 31 miles to an anchorage we found right in front of the Atlantic Blvd. Bridge. The wind was better during the day but when we got to the anchorage the current was very stiff there. It took us three attempts to get the anchor to hold but once it grabbed we were good to go. The evening ended up being beautiful with the reflection of the full moon and the lights of the bridge and other boats reflecting on the water. Check out the pictures below.
We were able to make it with no problem to St. Augustine the next day and after fueling up we were situated back on a mooring ball. We soon headed out in the dinghy and treated ourselves to a wonderful shower and then fantastic pizza at Back Alley’s Pizza. Great end to the day!
We stayed at St. Augustine for two nights and were able to spend some time walking around and enjoying the city on Tuesday. We also met up with Eric on his catamaran, Music & Lyrics, who we got to know in the Bahamas last year. It was cool to see him and his boat again and we were sad to have missed his wife who was in California for a work trip. Another interesting couple I met in the St. Augustine West Marine was Lauren and Kirk from their boat Sailing Soulianis. They are actually from Wisconsin and took their sailboat down last year as well – they took it down the Mississippi route. They are very accomplished YouTubers and because I follow them it was cool to meet them in person.
I should also add that on Tuesday the temperature was 75 degrees and sunny, and at times we even felt very warm! Nice! But, that ended quite abruptly Tuesday night as the temp went down 20 degrees within a matter of a couple of hours and the winds started howling again. It was projected to do this so we weren’t taken by surprise, but it was still quite a shock. Other cruisers we had talked to onshore were kind of surprised we were going to leave the next day, but it was our hope that the high winds would not be an issue on the ICW as it most certainly would out on the ocean. We wanted to get all the way to New Smyrna on Wednesday, a distance of about 61 miles, so we hoped we would be able to do it.
Tuesday night was a bit unsettling with the 25 – 30 knot winds making a moaning sound through our rigging, but it was down to the low 20’s when we woke up at 5:30 am to get ready to leave. We finally threw off the lines to the mooring ball at 6:40 am and off we went. Throughout the morning the sun tried to come out but the clouds won out time and time again. The winds continued to be 18 – 28 knots from behind, but thankfully the current was in our favor for most of the day, as well as the wind probably pushing the boat forward, and we made great time. Even though it was a cruddy day we figured there was not a lot better to do than just keep traveling. So we reached New Smyrna and put our anchor down after 61 miles at 3:00 pm. The anchorage was just off the ICW and ended up being a great place to spend the night.
That allowed us to be in a good position to get up and going on Thursday morning toward our goal of Vero Beach. We went another 61 miles on Thursday and anchored just 30 miles short of Vero Beach in Melbourne, Fl. The sun had come out a bit during the day and it got up to 75 degrees so it was definitely feeling more like Florida. We did have to anchor in a light drizzle, but it was a warm drizzle so all was good.
Today, Friday, (I know it’s a day late in getting this posted!) we left the Melbourne anchorage at 8:00 am and had an easy run here. The wind had shifted from more to the east so we even had the headsail out for a while – cool! Unfortunately, as was forecasted, it did rain in the afternoon. And even more unfortunate was that just as we tied up at the fuel dock and started to fill the diesel tank the clouds opened up and did it ever rain! We finished with the diesel with no problem but then waited a bit as we needed to get a pump out and fill the water tanks. As other boats were circling the fuel dock we ended up just getting out there in the rain and getting it done. At least it wasn’t that cold, which was a great thing! Soon we left the fuel dock and were safely rafted up along Cardea.
We will be staying here probably four nights and will then head toward Miami. We have some things to get done here and finish off with the provisions, but once we leave here we will probably just keep going and start looking for weather windows to make the jump to the Bahamas. We don’t know if we’ll be there by Thanksgiving or not, but we’ll have to see.