Florida closes due to Covid – Stuart to Cocoa, Florida

343 Days Looping
5,005.5 Nautical Miles Total (5,760.2 Statute Miles)
40.6 Nautical Miles This Week
5.1 Hours Underway This Week
8.1 NMph Average Speed
0 Locks This Week, 154 Total Locks

Monday – Mar 16th – 0 NM – In: Stuart, FL
We have been listening to the news about Covid restrictions in Florida and the rest of the country and were becoming concerned about the rest of our Loop trip. Some of our friends who were still in the Keys were being told that if they wanted to leave, they had 3 days to get out, or they would have to stay a minimum of 30 days and perhaps longer.

As is normal in times of crisis, people were raiding the grocery stores, we saw video on the news of some fighting in the isles over toilet paper! We needed some re-supply so before things got too crazy we took an Uber to the grocery store and re-supplied.

All through Florida, we were seeing a great deal of support for President Trump and with the upcoming election, the split between Trump supporters and non-Trump supporters is becoming very derisive. Fortunately in the boating community, while many will “display” their loyalties, in general, most of the discussion surrounds boats, marinas, food, family, and food, not politics. We did have one boater arrive who was walking the docks “pontificating” that Covid was not real, just a democratic scheme to disrupt the election. It takes all types! Pretty much everyone just ignored him.

Trump Supporter

In the evening Tom Barnett and his girlfriend came to the boat to visit and go out to dinner. Tom was my personal trainer at the Gym in Murrells Inlet and he got a position as a Professor at a college just outside of Stuart. We had dinner at a restaurant just around the corner from the marina. It was great to catch up with him!

Tuesday – Mar 17th – St Patricks Day! – 0 NM – In: Stuart, FL
On Tuesday, we spent the day on the boat. I worked on the blog, and Brenda did some cleaning and cross-stitch.

In the evening, the restaurant at the marina was having a Cornbeef and Cabbage dinner special for St. Patrick’s day, so we went up and had dinner there. When I got back to the boat, I continued the celebration with a glass of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey!

Wednesday – Mar 18th – St Patricks Day! – 40.6 NM – To: Vero Beach, FL
We left Stuart for Vero Beach at 8:30. We planned the stop in Vero to visit with Chris and Alyse Caldwell (of Ask Captain Chris fame). The Covid restrictions in Florida are steadily increasing with marinas closing for transient boats. We called Loggerhead Marina to make sure that our reservation was still good. They said that we were welcome to come, but that the office, bathrooms, showers, and pool were closed. That’s fine with us, we are not big pool users and we have a shower and bathroom on the boat.

The run to Vero Beach is pretty easy. All of the bridges were tall enough for us to pass under so no waiting. As we passed through Fort Pierce and past the Fort Pierce Inlet, there was a bit of traffic and there was a bit of dredging going on, but aside from that, we were able to make good time.

We arrived at Loggerhead around 1:30 and found that there were a number of Loopers there. Bella Gatto, Adagio, Pegasus, Gyp-C, Phoenix, and SeaHorse. We chatted with them and washed down the boat, then just relaxed for the rest of the day. Loggerhead is actually a few miles north of downtown Vero Beach and there is not a lot there.

We had dinner on the boat and called it an early night.

Thursday – Mar 19th – 0 NM – In: Vero Beach, FL
On Thursday Chris and Alyse Caldwell picked us up and gave us a tour of Vero. We’ve been here before when we came for one of their classes but had not done a lot of exploring in the area. We went to Ocean Grill which is on the beach and had a nice lunch. After lunch, we went back to Chris and Alyse’s house and they kindly lent us their truck to use for re-provisioning and some more exploring.

In the evening, we had dinner on the boat.

Friday – Mar 20th – 0 NM – In: Vero Beach, FL
Friday Brenda did some Laundry and I did a bit of varnishing on the boat. The Covid restrictions are tightening up and the marina doesn’t want any close contact except between family members. I tried to get a haircut but the barbershop had closed due to Covid restrictions.

After I finished the varnishing, I worked on the blog and did a bit of reading.

In the evening we had pizza on the boat. After dark, we had a nice bright moon and Brenda got some good photos.

Saturday – Mar 21st – 0 NM – In: Vero Beach, FL
Our original plan for our visit to Vero was to do a few of the museums in the area, however, they were all closed due to the new Covid restrictions. Since the only “safe” place, is out in the open away from everyone, we decided to take down the dinghy and go for a ride through the mangroves to see if we could see a manatee or two.

The dinghy motor started without any trouble after our service in Fort Myers Beach and the instructions to run it dry when we put it away for an extended period.

We went up the west side bay of the Indian River skirting keeping the mangrove islands between us and the ICW. We looked around the little islands but didn’t see any manatees. We then crossed over the ICW and into the mangroves on the east side, and cruised through the Vero Beach City Marina and mooring field, then under the Vero Beach bridge, and up to one of the side channels for a bit.

We passed a guy in an interesting boat. Part Kayak, part sailboat, part outrigger. It looked like he was on a long-range trip given the luggage on the boat. I would also expect he may be filming for YouTube as he had several cameras attached to the boat.

After about 2 hours, we headed back to the marina. When we got back, we had new neighbors. Carolynn and Somewhere had arrived. Again we had dinner on the boat.

Sunday – Mar 22nd – 0 NM – In: Vero Beach, FL
When we got back from our dinghy ride yesterday and chatted with a few of the “locals” they gave us some hints for finding manatees. So on Sunday, we took the dinghy out again manatee hunting!

This time, we got lucky. As we were cruising between some of the mangroves we saw the tell-tale “water pillows” that the manatees make on the surface with their tails. We killed the engine, I grabbed the oars and we slowly paddled toward them.

There are strict rules about getting close to and harassing manatees. So we kept our distance. Someone failed to send the manatees the memo with the rules! They seemed to be curious about the “thing” floating near them, and they swam up to us. We got some great photos.

We saw a small island with a little beach area and a picnic table, so we headed to it and tied the dinghy to a tree so that we could explore. It was pretty small, but we looked around at what was there, watched a few boats go past on the ICW, then jumped back in the dingy and headed back to the marina.

When we got back, we put the dinghy back on the upper boat deck and headed to the local Public’s Supermarket to do some shopping while we could. We were not sure when we would be able to do our next shopping. After dropping our groceries back at the boat, we drove to Chris and Alyse’s house to drop off their truck. We spent a little quality time with Bert and Ditto (their Labradoodles), then Chris gave us a ride back to the boat.

That evening, the boaters at the marina decided to take our lives into our hands and have “Docktails”. To keep the marina happy, we put the chairs into groups of two or three depending on the boat families and kept those groups at least 6 feet apart. We each brought our own drinks and snacks so that there was no “touching”. We all had a good time.

After docktails we finished the left-over pizza and turned in as tomorrow we were heading to Cocoa Village.

Next Week: Cocoa Village and visiting with Bethanny (our daughter)

Kiss Some Frogs To Find Your Prince
Thanks for visiting! –Tom & Brenda

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