We arrived in Vero Beach yesterday after spending 3 fun days in Cocao.  Cocoa Village Marina is conveniently just a few blocks from town.  They also have washers/dryers for $1!  (I’m totally obsessed with laundry!!)  As we approach Cocoa, Joe (Onward) was planning to anchor on the other side of the bridge but found to his dismay that the bridge height only showed 63 ft–about 1 ft less than his mast height.  He decided to anchor off of the marina and do some research into why the bridges are lower than they were last year.  To keep you in suspense, I’ll report on his findings later…

Bridge too low?

We ate and shopped, shopped and ate for 3 days in Cocoa.  The town is neatly arranged around a center square that houses the “Dog and Bone” English pub.  It’s a favorite stop, not only for the beer but because all manner of dogs are allowed inside.  Bailey met a furry chow, 2 labs and many other varieties while we enjoyed the brew.  Saturday night, we sampled the sushi and thai food at Thai Thai.  Sunday, we had breakfast at Ossorio and then waited until after noon to check out the shops.  We found a neat used paperback bookstore but, although the doors were open and the lights were on, nobody was there to wait on us–strange!  We went back on Monday and met the nice owner who will probably give her son the business for leaving the store unlocked!

The streets of Cocoa village are lined with unique stores.  A favorite find is ‘From Olives and Grapes’ where large urns of olive oils and vinegars are available for tasting before purchase.  The best part was that the owner had 3 shelties and loved meeting Bailey.   After stopping at the Dog and Bone for refreshments, we enjoyed an early dinner of wood-fired pizza at Ossorio.  Joe also let us sample his Brioche–a pastry he always wanted to try.

On Monday we hit the rest of the stores.   Travis Hardware is the highlight for some folks.  If you like several blocks of the oddest, most dusty assortment of stuff, this is your kind of place!  Cocoa village has the same holiday set-up as last year, including a small ice rink.  I didn’t brave it this time (hideously dull hockey skates for rent–ugh!)  The General Store served delicious pulled pork sandwiches for lunch.  For dinner, we tried the Brazilian steak house.  It was okay–not my favorite.  They bring freshly grilled meats out on a skewer and keep serving you until you say ‘stop’.  For dessert, they bring fresh grilled pineapple with cinnamon–yummy!

Having seen all of Cocoa, we left early Tuesday for the trip to Vero Beach.  To finish Joe’s bridge saga, he made a bunch of calls to FL state offices, Core of Engineers and the Coast Guard.  No one seemed to know why the bridge height markings were changed.  The person who handles bridge maintenance said that he would look into it.  Fixed bridges on the waterway are supposed to have 65ft clearance at mean low water.  Joe did happen to see a large catamaran go under the bridge on Monday and talked to him on the radio to find out that his mast was 64ft high.  Joe inched his way slowly under the bridge (and the 4 other fixed bridges along the way) with only his VHF antenna hitting.  Hopefully, they’ll find out more about the bridge markings and provide more specific information (e.g. height is at the fender boards–add 2 ft for the center.)  Another boat that arrived the same time as we did ended up going offshore rather than risk losing his mast–not a decision some people would prefer.

Close fit for Onward

Vero Beach is an interesting place to hang out.  They have docks and many moorings where boats are usually rafted 3 to a mooring.  We rafted next to a Canadian boat with Vic and Marilyn aboard.  They were fun to talk to and even took Bailey for a walk when we went ashore to check in and get showered. 

The Thanksgiving feast will be a ‘pot luck’ with cruisers signing up for various dishes.  I’m going to make dressing tomorrow.  I boarded the local free bus this morning to buy groceries.  As I left Publix, a nice woman asked if I needed a ride back to the marina.  She lives in Vero and took some cruising friends shopping.  How nice to avoid the crowded bus ride back!

I’m looking forward to the festivities tomorrow.  There are lots of people here that we met last winter in the Bahamas.  We’re starting to feel like real cruisers!

Cloudy, rainy day before Thanksgiving at Vero Beach