Back in the States: Vero Beach to Fernandina Beach, Florida

We left the Abacos in mid-June since our insurance requires us to be north of Florida by July 15 (well, not exactly, but more on that later!). We motor-sailed from Man-O-War Cay to Vero Beach, Florida with an overnight stop at Great Sale Cay. We had light winds and several squalls in the night, but we survived. We checked in for the first time using Customs and Border Patrol’s iPhone app, ROAM. It was quick, painless, and utterly un-government-like. Many folks have to do a video interview through the app, but we just got a message saying, “Welcome to the United States.”

Back to lazy summer days on the ICW.

Welcome home.

We decided to stop in Vero because we found it to be such a convenient stop during the winter on our way to the Bahamas. The mooring field is very protected and quiet, and the marina is in a residential neighborhood. And everything you might need or want is right there in town (or can be delivered to the marina).
Summer in Florida.
Vero Beach afternoon squalls.
While there, we finally bit the bullet and ordered the fridge of our dreams. It took a few days longer than expected to get it delivered, but once it arrived it fit right in and started right up. It’s amazing and will be the subject of a future blog.
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Manatees stop by for a visit.
We left Vero and spent a few days anchored near Ponce Inlet. There we ran into some new friends. Actually, they ran into us. And we are not, and have never been, friends. They left shortly after the incident in shame.
Anchorage at Ponce Inlet on a busy weekend.
Crunch time! Luckily no damage was done.
We stayed in the St. Augustine mooring field for a few nights. We enjoyed yummies from the bakery and a lovely Thai meal. St. Augustine is excellent since you can walk everywhere!
Ball #2 at St. Augustine.
Our next stop was Amelia Island. We spent one night at the marina to use their courtesy car. Since the fridge arrived late, we were unable to stock it before leaving Vero. So with the refrigerator and freezer stocked up, we decided to stay in Fernandina Beach awhile. It turns out our insurance actually requires us to be north of 30.5º of latitude and Fernandina is at 30.67º. Score!
Amelia Island Marina.
Fernandina Harbor Marina was shoaled in severely and banged up pretty bad in Hurricane Mathew in 2016. Two years later the city council is just now getting everything approved and cleared to begin rebuilding. In the meantime, the marina’s only business has been dinghy dockage for anchored boats, 10 mooring balls for rent, and 3 transient slips. They have a few resident boats and charter operations, but most of these were at slips that went dry for half the day.
Fernandina Harbor's resident alligator greats boaters at high tide.
Fernandina Beach is one of Hasting's favorite dog-friendly towns.
The town of Fernandina was great for us. We had a cozy anchorage on a bend on a river off of the ICW. It was about a 10-minute dinghy ride into town, where dinghy dockage was $3.21 a day. After the second week, the dockmaster got sick of Lucy digging in her purse for the pennies and told us that we’d paid enough. We got some mail and ordered a new wind instrument.
Lots of wildlife on our little river. Roseate spoonbills, herons, white pelicans, dolphins, and manatees every day.
Up the mast to change out the wind instrument.

We hadn’t intended to stay for three and half weeks, but it wound up being great. Persistent rains and storms kept us on our little river, but we found a wonderful Cuban cafe with cafecitos and empanadas. We hit up the farmers market every Saturday morning, where a food truck sells African curries and sambusas that are amazing. On week four, we finally got a break in the weather and headed offshore. We weren’t sure how it was going to work out or even where we were going to put in with the forecast light winds. We wound up motor sailing in very relaxing following seas all the way to the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. 

Dolphin family at sunset.

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