Last Lock \ Stuart \ Vero Beach \ Melbourne Beach

It’s been 6 days since our last blog post and those days have been ‘crazy busy fun’. Lots of photos to share (too many actually). For every pic below there are 3-5 more that didn’t make the cut. We’ll try to do better as we advance our blogging skills. The past 6 days journal would read… left St Lucie Lock on Feb. 21st en-route to Stuart FL where we stayed at the Harborage Marina (a very nice resort marina). The winds picked up (40 mph gusts) so the crew took a few days off. One of the best adventures in Stuart is the Elliott Museum and the House of Refuge (see several photos below). At the marina we met a very nice couple Tom & Diane Russell who had a Silverton Yacht “Good Time II” in the adjacent slip. Tom is a Yacht broker and they live in Jacksonville FL. The Russell’s had a car with them so we took advantage of their offer to attended church on Saturday night as well as ride to the Farmers Market on Sunday morning before we departed to our next port Vero Beach.

The Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge above was an interesting place. The Federal Government paid people (keepers) to live there and help anyone who was a shipwreck survivor with food and shelter. These houses had only 4 rooms and a basement. The keepers didn’t go searching for ship wreck victims, so you had to not only survive the shipwreck and the swim to shore (avoiding sharks, jellyfish etc.), but you also may have to walk ~10 miles or more to get to one of only nine houses like this built along the Florida coastline. The stories about Pirate Don Pedro Gilbert is interesting (see below) which is how this place was named, and some other things about life in the Houses of Refuge here as well. Read the “House of Shipwrecked Men” article (above)for an account in the early 1900’s of a story on how the house was used from a keepers perspective. the map shows all the shipwrecks of Florida.

Once we arrived at Vero Beach Marina we found excellent local seafood, an awesome beach and free public transportation (including a trip to the library).

Yesterday, Tuesday February 25th, we arrived at Melbourne Municipal Marina which is very nice but also going thru some upgrades. Our slip was just a few yards away from the restaurant and dock masters office (this has happened 3-4 times now, which is awesome). We’ll be here 2 nights before heading to Coco Beach for 3 nights, then Titusville Marina where the boat will stay for the month of March while we travel to Las Vegas for a week, then on a Western Caribbean cruise for a week then Orlando for a week.

Lake Okeechobee to Port St Lucie

What an awesome day on the water! Lake Okeechobee is huge. We left Roland Martin Marina late (~8am). All the fishermen were gone well before day light. Motoring carefully across this shallow (~8-10′) lake took a couple of hours but it was beautiful. Then we were back in the St Lucie Canal headed toward Stuart. We passed our new sailboat friends (Matt and Joyce Gauthier) about the middle of the lake and exchanged some boat pics. After another near perfect docking, we are in walking distance of the last lock and staying at yet another Park (National Park this time), we’re settled in for the night (w/firewood and a fire pit + clean showers and restrooms) just 60 yards from the boat!!!! Winning. (here’s some pics along the way… note the nice homes along the canal and Mary doing exercises on-board)

It’s been >2 weeks already?

Lets catch up with a quick time log, after living aboard for the month of January, we left our home port in Bradenton on Feb. 1st to attend a “Looper Gathering” at Apollo Beach. The next day we left for Sarasota Bay and stayed at Marina Jack for almost 2 weeks (sometimes in a slip and sometimes on a mooring ball) while finishing up local tasks that included church activities, a prop repair, and getting mom ready to move back to Tennessee. On Feb. 13th we stayed at Crow’s Nest Marina in Venice FL, then on Valentines Day we motored to Punta Gorda (Burnt Store Marina). On Saturday Feb. 15th we got a slip at the Ft Myers Yacht Basin on the Caloosahatchee River just in time to visit the Edision \ Ford Winter Estates and catch an awesome parade. After church on Sunday Feb. 16th we were on our way again up the Caloosahatcee River into the Okeechobee Waterway (getting our first experience with locks). We stayed two nights in the lovely town of LeBelle FL at their City Dock where we met several new boater friends.

Day 1 – Finally Underway

Today was the official start of the Great Loop — we got our prop repaired after a week of waiting, and set out from Sarasota Bay to Venice, Florida. We had a great run up the inter-coastal waterway today. We did one bridge raising, and one swinging bridge opening. The Bridge raise was in a no wake zone and we were trying to hurry to get through the bridge. People on the bank shouted out to us to let us know that we were going too fast and needed to slow down — which we promptly did… The Blackburn Bridge is Sarasota county’s only swinging bridge. There is only 9 foot clearance under the bridge, and we need 19.5 feet. The bridge tender has to walk out to the middle of the swing bridge to operate it. We took a video of the swing bridge and will post it sometime later.

We got to Venice at our overnight docking at Crows Nest Marina. They have a great restaurant here, and it is very popular with the locals, however we opted to grill out hamburgers on our new grill which is awesome. Just before sunset we borrowed complementary bicycles for a 7.5 mile round trip ride to the a local produce market. The trip included riding by Venice Beach, several parks, the historical district and a draw bridge, see a few photos below.

Living the Dream parked bow forward on the right; Family Ties is just across on the left

The Bailey’s (Larry and Mary)

Larry and Mary have started the grand adventure referred to as America’s Great Loop. We started this blog to share our adventure with others. As we travel the 6,000 mile journey we hope to make time to journal a few of the highlights with pictures and videos.

Some background….Originally from Tennessee (Larry) and Nevada (Mary), we now call Florida home. However for the next several months we will be calling the ICW (Inter Costal Waterway) our home as we spend our days aboard “Living the Dream”.

We are both retired Mechanical Engineers and now full time sailors. We have 4 grown children, 1 grand child and 2 more grand children due this summer.