Yesterday at 10:10 am we entered the Barge Canal off the ICW and crossed our wake; completing the journey we started 373 days before.
Here is an update of our last two days on the Great Loop:
Tuesday (4/19) – Serenity Island – ICW, FL – When we bailed on going to the Bahamas and decided to take the slow road home, we had no real itinerary; we knew we would just keep heading north. We thought we would want to spend more time in Vero Beach as we really like this area. But something was calling us home so we made the decision to leave today and spend one more night on this great adventure, even though we could easily make it all the way home in 6 hours.
So we said goodbye to the VBYC and the staff at this wonderful club. They were super nice and the club has a comfortable ambiance, along with some pretty good food. We will likely stay here again sometime in the future, like next January when we plan to take the boat to Ft. Myers.
Before we got underway, Denise got in a quick run up the bridge and back, and snapped some pictures of the marina and surrounding park area. Here are some pictures to share:
We also had an opportunity to meet a Looper couple who came into the south docks of the City Marina on Monday night. Tom & Connie Rogers were on a Motorcat 30’ catamaran (“rPad”) that can be trailered and which they have taken through many parts of the eastern US, but have not done the entire loop. They are going to trailer the boat to the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Minnesota later this summer and cruise the rivers which will enable them to complete their Loop adventure. We exchanged boat cards and wished each other luck – then returned to the boat.
We watched others leave the City Marina and VBYC, and then we too untied the lines and headed north.
Here are some other pictures we took during our stay in Vero Beach:
It was a nice day to be on the water and we had a good time enjoying all the sights along the way. We had picked out two potential anchorages to stay at for our last night on the Loop. The first one was near the Sebastian Inlet and looked to be a good spot. When we got up to it we found the holding good and liked its close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. But with the wind blowing out of the east, we did not see ourselves spending any time on the beach. We also didn’t like how close it was to a public park and boat ramp, so we decided not to stay and headed north past Sebastian Inlet and past Grant Farm Island.
The second anchorage (Serenity Island) proved to be a terrific little spot and one we will most likely come back to if weather conditions are favorable. Just south of Melbourne City marina (where we have stayed in the past), there are a series of “spoil” mangrove islands that make for great anchorages. One in particular got a great review on Active Captain so we headed to it. We found one (sail) boat already in the anchorage, but was able to secure a spot a little closer to the shore and in front of them. Shortly thereafter another sailboat came in and anchored north of us. Serenity Island has a small sandbar to its south and offered great protection for winds out of the east, so we felt very comfortable here.
We launched the dinghy and went to explore the island, unexpectedly finding a ton of small shells including oyster and scallop shells. We collected a few to bring home and walked through some of the mangrove paths until it got too think for us to continue. We then returned to the dinghy and took it all around the island. We saw so many nests for osprey and herons it was amazing; this place was like a bird sanctuary. We took some pictures but they just cannot convey the beauty and how very connected to nature we felt. It was awesome!
We then cruised in the dinghy to the small sailboat that came in after us. Here we met “Noel” who was very friendly and talked us about the island. He was a local and had been coming here for 20+ years. He told us the island’s sandbar used to be much greater, but it has slowly eroded over time due to storms and large wakes from boaters. He told us about his home-made dinghy and how his old sailboat was new to him and he was trying to get it in shape.
We enjoyed our chats then moved on to the first sailboat in the anchorage, only they were not in their cockpit or appeared available for socializing. So we respected their privacy and returned to our boat in time for happy hour and to see a fourth boat pull into the anchorage. Then all of us (3 sailboats plus us) settled in for the night. Mark fired up the bar-b-que and grilled some great steaks while Denise made rice and a salad. We then watched a terrific sunset. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day, and the last night for us on the Loop.
Wednesday (4/20) – Harbortown Marina – Merritt Island, FL – At an anchorage we have a tendency to go to bed early and last night was pretty much on par. The downside is we wake up really early. For Denise it was with the birds (literally) who started the cacophony in the wee hours and continued to get louder until the sun came up. The cool thing was when they all came down out of the casuarina (aka Australian pine) trees and went down to the water to feed.
Although the boat swung a little during the night, it was mostly due to the current as there was little wind. The water was very calm in the morning and if not for the birds we would have said peaceful. Not wanting to disturb nature, Denise resisted turning on the generator so she could make coffee. However, once Mark was up, the first sailboat pulled out, and the others were visible in their cockpit, she turned it on. Enjoying that first cup was made even more enjoyable by watching the dolphins frolicking in the water nearby. It just doesn’t get any better than this!
Once we had finished breakfast we pulled up the anchor and headed north for our final day on the Loop. We passed by Melbourne City Marina and the Melbourne bridge – one that Denise has run over in a half marathon.
We then cruised north in the ICW encountering several boaters along the way. Some were boats we had passed the day before, including a few sailboats. Eventually we came upon some Loopers on a Nordic Tug called “Lee Loo”. We had seen and heard of this boat, but had never met them. We chatted for a bit on the VHF and wished them well on their journey; they are from Illinois and have a long way to go before they cross their wake.
Eventually we went passed the Eau Galle and Pineda Causeway bridges, and approached Cocoa Village. This is very familiar cruising grounds to us and we have had lots of great times in this area. As we headed under the SR 520 Bridge and past Cocoa Village Marina we took it all in as if it was the first time.
As we approached the SR 528 (Beachline) Causeway we saw that our Looper friends on “Ocean Dancer” were just ahead of us. What a coincidence that we were in Michigan City, IN when they started their Loop adventure, and here they are when we are about to complete ours. We talked for a moment on the VHF and as we passed them and offered our best wishes for their continued Loop experience. We promised to keep in touch and look forward to seeing them next winter in FL.
And then we went under the bridge and made the familiar right turn into the barge canal and we crossed our wake!
But we still had an uneventful 30 minutes of no-wake cruising to get to Harbortown Marina (our home port). We passed a few other boaters, some people picnicking on the shore, and a sailboat. Finally we turned into the marina, got some fuel, a pump-out, and headed into our slip.
After we tied up, settled the boat, ate some lunch, and checked into the marina office, Denise published the last blog update while Mark cleaned the outside of the boat. Soon afterwards we met some of our new marina neighbors and then began the celebrations which included pictures, a champagne toast and now flying our Gold Looper burgee!
And so ends our 5000 mile adventure on America’s Great Loop!