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Friday, December 13, 2013

Manatee Pocket vs Vero Beach

cruiser destinations on the icw
Vero Beach.  We're glad we traveled the ICW rather than
the Atlantic that windy day!
"They call it 'Velcro Beach,'" MaryAnn told us.  "Cruisers come to pass through, and never leave."

Vero Beach didn't stick for us though.

AFTER missing 3 busses to make the 2 1/2-mile trip to Vero Beach's Publix, the nearest grocery store, we finally caught the 4th bus.  Okay, we blew it.  $50+ and 3 hours later we discovered our "Skipper Bob's ICW Anchorages" explained a 3/4 mile dinghy ride would've brought us within 2 blocks of a market.  Maybe we'd like Vero better if we hadn't missed the marina happy hour because we got to a grocery store too late to contribute nibblies or our own sips.
cruising anchorages on the icw
Vero Beach bridge view from our cockpit.


Mostly though, we're just not into places that flunk the walkability index; we gravitate toward ones where it's easy to walk to basic everyday stuff like affordable grocery stores, or even a mini-mart where we could buy a soda.  Instead the Vero Beach Municipal Marina was surrounded by boring banks, uninspiring insurance companies, fancy financial advisement facilities, all-too-many attorney offices, hordes of hotels, expensive knick-knack shops and upscale eateries.
cruiser anchorage on icw
Spanish moss on trees at Vero Beach.


Vero's sure popular though.  So popular it's more the norm than the exception for cruisers to "raft" together, to share the marina's ample but not ample enough mooring balls. Sure seems like a staggering amount of weight to trust to a single ball and chain to hold fast against a swift current. Still, we were grateful to snag a spot, even though like every other ICW (intracoastal waterway) anchorage this trip, we found ourselves camped under a bridge, nicely lit but a mecca for the hum of late night vehicles passing by.

icw wildlife at cruiser's anchorage
Pelican at Vero quickly left us behind
on his cruiser rounds at Vero Beach.
As we pulled away, even the local "Whatcha got?" pelicans quickly spurned us, as they moved onto the next boat, in search of more interesting company.

What a difference a day's sail down the ICW makes.

Outside of "Skipper Bob,"  we'd never heard of Port Salerno's Manatee Pocket, a protected inlet off the ICW Free anchorage, internet, nearby access to a host of services and the right distance between stops prompted our stay.   
wildlife on the icw
We're betting these guys had pelican nummies!
Initially we figured we were due for a disappointing deja vu. When we asked what to check out in the area, the guy at Pirates Cove Marina scoffed and replied,  "We're all that's worth going to in walking distance."

Prickly pears were among the more exotic
produce at Green Apple Produce.
Unlike Vero and most of our stops,  these homes were almost painfully plain.  While not picturesque, we found it refreshing to encounter an waterfront area where home ownership was not reserved for multimillionaires.
port salerno icw cruiser destination
This fabulous strip-mall fruit stand
would be easy to miss!


The friendly folks at the marine consignment shop along Dixie Highway A1A were much more helpful the Pirate's Marina guy. On their advice we wandered across the railroad tracks to check out the local Latino market and produce stand.  We bought a bagful of spices, condiments and enchilada cheese for a mere $15 at La Tapatia Market.  We kicked ourselves for loading up on overpriced mediocre produce the day before at Vero Beach's Publix.  Live and learn!

La Tapatio's facade is unimpressive,
but easier to spot walking by.
Not everyone we know is more inclined to shopping in ethnic markets and independent produce stands, instead of clamoring for Vero's free bus to faraway Walmart or Publix.  But for us, the offbeat and the indies are what travel is all about.

Even if I didn't find the extra dried hominy I was looking for, I may just check out a feed shop or pet store like the produce guy suggested.  "They feed that kinda stuff to pigs," he explained.  What the heck; who knows what I'll find there?
cruiser stop in port salerno icw
Produce storefront also tough
to spot from the street.


Cheaper and far fresher than
Vero Beach's Publix.
Oh, and despite quite a few boats, our anchorage here in Manatee Pocket is the quietest we've encountered yet.  No bridge nearby.