We departed Stuart April 16 for Vero Beach, about 45 miles north on the ICW. Navigation conditions here are quite different from what we are used to in the Pacific Northwest. The broad rivers have narrow, often winding channels, shallow waters – only 5 to 10 feet under the keel is typical – and shifting sandbars. Our first day was exciting and generally confidence inspiring as we gradually made our way to our destination, but we had our challenges and learned some lessons too:
– pay attention to the channel at all times and speeds, or you’ll find yourself bumping along a sandbar, as we did. Apparently this is not uncommon, however the first time it is certainly disconcerting. Fortunately we were at ‘slow cruise’ when this happened and we were able to power off the sandy bottom with relative ease.
– the Admiral (Ria) is not strong enough to secure the ring for the mooring buoy when our vessel is being buffeted by 20 knot winds, no matter how hard we try. If it hadn’t been for the assistance of a nearby Good Samaritan in his dinghy, we would have had to stay at the Vero Beach Marina dock. Without going into the technicalities, we learned from this a better way to secure our boat using the ‘bridle’, which is a necessity for anchoring a twin hulled vessel.
Despite the apprehension (a nicer word than fear) about unfamiliar waters, and a few scrapes and bruises, we’re having a great time. We’ve really enjoyed the cruising, the scenery, and the places we’ve stopped (Vero Beach and Eau Gallie). Hopefully the following pictures will do justice to the tropical beauty and character of this part of the Florida coast.