There is a cruiser saying about Vero Beach Florida, they call it  Velcro Beach because it can hook you and keep you longer than you planned.  We planned on 5 days and stayed 6 so it wasn't too bad but it could have been a lot longer.  The area is really set up to cater to the cruiser and so people usually stay longer and spend more money than planned.  The marina is very friendly, has a good laundry facility and nice hot showers.  The local bus stops at the marina, runs every hour, and is free (they do take donations).  The bus runs past the West Marine, Publixs, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and the mall (what more could you want).

The marina has mooring balls that people are tied up to and with it being busy usually there are two or three boats tied together at the mooring.  For us it was nice because first we were tied to a Manta 40, Salty Paws, then a couple days later to another Manta 40, Faring, then to a Leopard 39, and then finally to another Manta 40, Esmeralda.   With the other Manta owners we were able to share ideas and issues about the boat and figure out ways to make ours even better.  There were over a hundred boats in the anchorage so talking to other cruisers about getting to this spot and what plans they had for the future helped us make our plans.  Derek was also able to meet some kids on other boats and play for several days with them.  Everyone has a different pace and direction so we might meet up with them in the future but one never knows.

We have been spotting more and more Manatees and in fact tonight we are anchored in Manatee Pocket.  So a few facts about the Manatees;
    The manatee's closest relatives are the elephant.
    They consume 10-15% of their body weight in vegetation daily.
    Manatees have been known to stay submerged for up to 20 minutes.
    Length: 10-12 feet.
    Weight: 1,500-1,800 lbs.
    Lifespan: 50-60 years in the wild.
    Rarely do individuals venture into waters that are below 68 degrees F
Usually you will see a circle of water with some bubbles and then their nose will appear and in the next 5 to 10 seconds you will see they back followed by their big flipper.  It is rather exciting to see them and our friend "Eagle Eye Bob" can spot them faster than anyone else.

So now we are waiting for a couple of packages to catch up with us, we usually have them shipped general delivery to the post office of a city we are going to spend some time at.  Not the most scientific way but it usually finds us with out much trouble.  After our goodies arrive we then get to sit with everyone else and watch the weather.  The Gulf Stream flows between Florida and the Bahamas and creates a current of 2 to 4 knots flowing to the north.  If the winds are out of the north the opposing wind/current creates waves of 5 to 10 feet and usually it is recommended that you do not try and cross with that kind of weather.  As the fronts move through the area the winds will clock from the north to the east then south and finally west.  With that in mind everyone is watching the weather to find when will the winds move to the south which will allow the seas to be 0 to 4 feet.  There are not that many spots where you make the crossings so if the weather does not give good southerly winds the  anchorages will get fuller and fuller of boats waiting to make the crossing.

We will probably wait for some packages, do some more provisioning, and then make the crossing with the weather.  We will probably continue to move south as we wait, as Miami is the closest to the Bahamas we might as well head south to make the crossing more comfortable and a shorter distance.




Update 12/08/11; Vero Beach and south
Bahamas map