“Velcro” Beach

We’ve been in Vero Beach for a few days and have generally enjoyed it very much.  Vero Beach bills itself as “the gateway to the tropics,” and the city is teeming with lush plants, from bamboo to palm trees to live oaks.  Flowers are bursting out everywhere; favorites are hibiscus, bougainvillea, and cordyline.  And, let’s not forget the ubiquitous Spanish moss.

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A residential street we walk to get to the beach about a mile from the marina.

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One of the trees at the marina.

The mooring field is tucked in the Indian River Lagoon, and it is incredibly protected and quiet.  We routinely see dolphins, great blue herons, and a variety of diving birds.  Apparently manatee also frequent the field, although I haven’t seen any yet.  We see many kayakers coming through.

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View of the channel lined by mangrove from our boat.  Our mooring ball is on the outer edge of the field against the channel, which is narrow but navigable.

One thing we’ve noticed is how quiet this mooring field is, and we attribute that to the fact that it is mostly filled with full-time and/or “serious” boaters rather than people coming to party on the weekend.  People are generally courteous about going slowly in their dinghies and not throwing up a large wake that rocks the nearby boats.  We haven’t heard any loud music or yelling from boat to boat, and it all adds up to a very peaceful atmosphere.

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Two boats rafted.  The dockmaster tries to match boats both by type (sailboats with sailboats, powerboats with powerboats, catamarans with catamarans) and size if they are being required to raft. 

Vero Beach is known for being a cruisers’ hangout.  It is popularly known as “Velcro Beach” because the living is easy here, and many cruisers spend their entire winter season here.  Being at the Vero Beach moorings is the closest many of us come to having the comforts of living in a house.  Among the many amenities:

  • Fuel dock with a very easy approach that has both diesel and ethanol free gasoline
  • Laundry room with 6 washers ($2) and 6 dryers ($1.50)
  • A lounge with TV
  • Heads with three shower rooms each
  • Free wifi which is actually pretty good, at least where we are situated in the field
  • Really lovely picnic and grill areas
  • The marina office accepts mail and packages.
  • You can drop off your propane tank in the marina office for same-day refills.
  • A city bus comes to the marina and takes you pretty much everywhere—for FREE.
  • Every store you could ever need is on or near the bus route, including Publix, Walmart, West Marine (express), Home Depot, Lowes Home Improvement, Target, Harbor Freight, auto parts stores, TJ Maxx, dive shops, and a small mall.
  • The beach is an easy mile+ walk from the marina or a short bus ride away.
  • For the dog parents (or dog stalkers like me), there is a dog park just outside the marina.

The list goes on and on.  The only caveat is that we’ve noticed the bus service is unreliable.  There as apparently a recent change in the schedule, and the bus doesn’t usually arrive at the named stop at the time printed in the schedule.  We also had a problem with a bus that simply didn’t come to a particular stop; after waiting an hour and a half and calling the office, we ended up just walking.

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The amenities do not include close proofreading.  Note the creative spelling of “picnic” on the sign.

We’ve managed to gorge ourselves at two Chinese take-out restaurants, which is one of our rituals when we come into port.  We’re striking out on a non-chain donut store, which is our other ritual.  We’ve gotten great ideas from looking at other cruisers’ boats, from ways to attach our propane tanks to the lifelines to adding pockets to our dinghy chaps.

The Indian River County public library is large and commodious and can be reached on the #1 bus that comes to the marina; it requires a short walk from the bus stop.  You cannot use the computers or wifi if you aren’t a library cardholder.  We purchased a year’s worth of computer access for $5 each, so now we are officially library card holders, at least for that limited purpose.

The Saturday farmers’ market was an excellent experience.  It is a true farmers’ market full of vegetables and fruits, meats, honey, cheese, mushrooms, some limited personal care items and candles, flowers, plants, and the like.  There were very few craft booths, and there was a live musician playing.  It is clearly a destination and was totally packed.  We both had an Italian omelette sandwich in a hoagie roll that required two hands to eat and many napkins.

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I was praying this vendor was giving away samples, but no.

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Hibiscus bonsai! I’ve never seen anything like it.  They were really lovely.

So all in all, we see why people come here and stay here.  However, we want to keep pushing south next week.  Our plan is to leave Monday for an anchorage outside of Stuart and then arrive in Lake Worth on Tuesday.  We will anchor there and wait for a weather window to do an offshore passage to Dinner Key Moorings in Coconut Grove.

 

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