6 Lessons in 24 Hours: Titusville Florida to Vero Beach

in Intracoastal Waterway / Life at Sea / Sailing the World
save a lot titusville

1. A cheap grocery store is worth the taxi fare

We asked our taxi driver in Titusville to drop us off at some shops by the marina so we could walk through town and pick up a few essentials on the way home.

Which is how we found “Save A Lot,” a down-home local grocery store that was so cheap that apparently they couldn’t afford shelves. Half the store was just stacks of boxes in the aisles with the tops torn open so you could pull out the items yourself.

We tried really hard to leave with just milk and chicken, which was all we needed. But after walking through the store, turning down one great bargain after another because we couldn’t carry it all, we finally just stopped and decided it might be worth the cab fare to load up our boat with cheap goodies.

So just like that, we hauled out 3 large boxes filled with food and another 10 bags, all for a whopping $134. Back in Manhattan, at my local Whole Foods (or Whole Paycheck, as we like to call it), $134 would have bought me a small bag with a few cuts of meat, a block of gourmet cheese, bread and some organic vegetables.

Note to self: Find another “Save A Lot” before heading to the Bahamas.

2. Not all cruisers are friendly

We decided to wait out the morning fog in Titusville before pulling up anchor and heading to Vero Beach, Florida. We thought about delaying the 72-mile trip until the next day, but we’d heard so much about “Velcro Beach” being a party port, that when the fog lifted at 10 am, we decided just to get going. Even if it meant arriving to Vero at 9:00 pm.

In my mind, all cruisers are like Burning Man folk. If you’ve never been to the Burning Man Festival in Nevada (we went for the first time in August), I highly recommend it. It’s basically a week-long camp where no money is exchanged for anything (people just spontaneously “gift” things like food, booze, hugs, drugs and sno-cones), and regular folk like you and me spend the week building art, making music, throwing parties and just hanging out covered in dust. And everyone is so happy to be there that they can’t possibly say or do a mean thing to anyone.

That’s kind of how I thought all cruisers were.

But maybe 9:00 pm was too late to arrive to a mooring.

In Vero Beach, there’s no anchoring, so it’s common practice to raft up 2 or 3 boats to a mooring, depending how busy the marina is. This tends to create a communal party atmosphere, where everyone gets to know each other very quickly.

But instead of pulling up to a party, Hideaway was met by the grumpiest couple I’ve ever met on a boat. And while the couple helped us tie up begrudgingly, they also avoided eye contact and spoke about us in the third person. For example, the wife muttered, “You’d think her husband could help.” While I was standing an arm’s length away. Meanwhile, the husband muttered, “They don’t have the right fenders.”

Ryan and I both looked to our sides, then behind us, then at each other. “I think they’re talking about us,” Ryan mouthed at me, as I tried not to laugh.

The next day, we made the excuse that we’d like to be closer to the dinghy dock, and untied ourselves to find another, more hospitable mooring.

And as we pulled away, I was pretty sure I saw the woman smile.

3. No-see-ums are the devil

My body is covered in patches of hundreds of tiny bites which flare up every few hours, causing me to scratch at my ankles, back and arms constantly.

I’ve used everything possible to repel the no-see-ums – citronella, mosquito spray, Avon Skin-So-Soft, garlic (I know they’re not vampires, but I had to try.) Nothing works. They just keep sneaking under our clothes when we’re trying to sleep, making us fidget like we’re possessed. And apparently the bugs don’t actually bite – they puke on you, and the puke is what causes the itch. I didn’t make that up, I swear.

I look like someone who has a severe tick, I spend so much time slapping at myself and scratching. But, hey, at least it’s warm!

4. The cats don’t like their new litter

I woke up to a funky stench and a damp left foot. In my sleep I thought, “We really need to put more vinegar down the head.”

Then I moved my foot to work out why it felt damp, and there was a cold squish. Which is how I knew: I’d been pooped on.

I’m not sure what time it was, but I jumped up shrieking, cursing Charlie (because only Charlie would do such a thing) and pulling all the sheets off the bed in a frenzy. I was used to Charlie peeing on me when she got mad that her litter box wasn’t clean. But pooping on me was taking her dissatisfaction to a new level.

I had recently changed Charlie and Celia’s litter from the usual gray sand-type litter to an organic corn dust litter that made a terrible mess and caused Charlie to sniff at it suspiciously. One day, she peered into her litter box, looked up at me, then walked into the V-berth and peed in my shoe. Not Ryan’s shoe. My shoe. I guess she knows who cleans her litter. Little bugger.

So, as you can imagine, I’ve gotten rid of the organic longer-lasting corn litter we were trying to get the cats used to. And we’re back to our old, gray “normal” litter.

After all, we’re only here on earth to please our cats.

5. Mold is my enemy

As a result of Charlie pooping on me in bed, I had to pull our water-proof mattress cover (water-proofed for these purposes) off to wash it. That’s when I noticed a disturbing spread of black mold on the underside of the cover.

Upon further inspection, we discovered that the last month of cold air in the V-berth along with our hot sleeping breath made a good environment for mold to grow rampant in…under our bed, on the ceiling, on our clothes and up the sides of our storage baskets.

This discovery led to a full day of taking everything out of storage lockers and hanging lockers and spraying the insides down with mildew killer.

Note to self: Add mold checks to our list of monthly maintenance jobs.

hideaway catalina 34 mold

The state of Hideaway when we’re cleaning out mold.

hideaway sailboat mildew

Celia, inspecting the mold on our storage baskets.

6. Raft-ups are awesome (with friendly people)

When we spotted AnneTeak, a Canadian boat from our hurricane hole at Solomons Island, Maryland, we were pleased to see they didn’t have any raft-up buddies.

We asked if we could come tie up to next to them, and they seemed genuinely happy to have us. They even talked to us while they helped us tie up, which was an incredibly welcome change from our treatment at the previous mooring.

We owe AnneTeak numerous bottles of wine as, so far, they’ve helped us out by loaning us their plunger so we could un-clog our sink, giving us their home-made colloidal “silver water” to use on our bug bites (it’s an amazing and natural cure for everything including itchy bites, apparently), and getting us drunk in their bug-free enclosed cockpit.

And just like that, with a little friendly company, “Velcro Beach” is starting to live up to its reputation.

vero beach dinghy dock

So many dinghys in Vero Beach!

vero beach cruisers happy hour

Cruisers’ Happy Hour at Vero Beach City Marina.


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