23 days. That’s how long it takes for me to go insane, apparently.
It happened slowly; probably while we were tearing apart our boat to run endless wires behind cupboards and floorboards to our battery bank (more on that project later). Or shaving the cats to keep their shedding fur from clogging up our bilge as well as our nostrils. Or maybe it happened while I was scratching my skin off in an effort to quash the incessant itch of a million miniscule no-see-um bites.
I hadn’t even realized we’d been in Vero Beach, Florida, for 23 days until we paid our mooring fees on our way out this morning. We’d stopped at the fuel dock to get diesel, water and a pump-out and discovered that we’d been in “Velcro Beach” for so long that 1) We couldn’t even find our Skipper Bob ICW Anchorage guide, it’d been so long since we’d looked at it, and 2) We didn’t even need fuel since we hadn’t moved since the last time we filled up. Which apparently was in Vero Beach.
It’s just we’d lost our minds since then, so we couldn’t remember it.
In fairness, 10 of those 23 days were spent in New York for Christmas, so really it was only 13 days in Vero Beach, but still… I’d understand the long stay if I’d actually fallen head-over-heels in love with this Must-Stop Cruisers Port we’d heard so much about on our way south. But, in all honesty, if it weren’t for the opportunity to catch up with friends we’d made on our way down the Intracoastal Waterway, I’d have been happier to forgo Vero for a less sleepy Florida port. And preferably one lacking in an itchy no-see-um infestation.
But we’d met so many cruisers who recommended the place, saying, “They don’t call it ‘Velcro Beach’ for nothing.” So we just had to find out if we, too, would get stuck there. And, sure enough, it turned out to be just like Hotel California… “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”
I even tried to pay the marina for our mooring on three different occasions, and each time the harbor master shrugged and said, “Just pay when you leave.” As if he knew we’d never leave.
I have to wonder, now that I’ve experienced “Velcro Beach” myself, if cruisers find it hard to pull themselves away, not so much because the town is so amazing, but because it’s convenient to sit in Vero and get some boat work done. I mean, for $15-a-day moorings you get a dinghy dock, hot showers, laundry and a community room where you can watch Jeopardy in the evenings, if you so choose. And there’s a free shuttle bus that takes you to and from the West Marine and the Publix grocery store, or the beach, if you didn’t want to walk the mile and a half to get there. There are also more potluck dinners and happy hours in the marina courtyard than anyone could possibly attend. Not that we didn’t attend some. It just got hard to fit the potlucks in between wiring and drilling and siliconing.
So, maybe it’s not Vero Beach’s fault I was so thrilled to see the back of it today when we left.
Maybe it’s just that, for me, memories of Vero Beach are a mash-up of the endless work needed to get ready for the Bahamas; wearing knee socks in 100-degree weather to keep the bugs off; sundowners inside the safety of Anne-Teak’s enclosed, bug-repelling cockpit; our first New Year’s Eve as cruisers, and a hungover New Year’s Day walking along the beach — the one day we could take off from worrying about boat projects.
Don’t get me wrong: Vero Beach isn’t the worst place to spend 23 days (unless you’re allergic to bugs). But I did wonder, if we weren’t working on our boat every day, what would we do in this sleepy retirement town, where dinner is collectively eaten at 6:00 and the lights go out at 9:00?