What a Disaster!

Janet and I have been diligently examining many of the yachts-for-sale websites in order to start winnowing the field to a few different manufacturers and models that appear worthy of a closer personal look.

We found two boats that we wanted to look at, so our broker here in Daytona made the arrangements. The downside was that both of the boats were on the west coast of Florida, and we are on the east coast, so it was going to involve an almost 6 hour round trip, not including local traffic.

One boat was a 47 foot Sealine located in Clearwater, and the other was a 40 foot Meridian berthed in South Pasadena, which is just south of St. Petersburg. We set off early Sunday morning, bound for the St. Pete area.

I’d told the broker showing the 40 footer that we planned to be there between 11:00 and noon, and when we pulled into the marina parking lot, Janet asked me what time it was…”11:03, I replied”.

So Janet, what do you think of your OCD engineer time-sensitive husband now, huh?

We found the boat, and noticed that there was a guy on board wiping things down with paper towels. Ahhh, we thought… getting it all spiffed up for us to look at.

I walked up and introduced myself, and he confirmed that he was the broker, then said the words you hardly ever want to hear. “You’re not going to believe what happened.”

We stepped aboard and found the interior of the boat completely and utterly soaked. The carpet squished underfoot, the wood floor in the galley was covered with soggy paper towels, and in the lower stateroom, water stood an inch deep on the carpet.

While I don’t know exactly what happened, his suspicion and mine is that it was related to the air conditioning system. In a boat this size, the a/c system uses the water the boat is floating in as a cooling medium. A pump in the boat pulls water into the boat and pushes it through the heat exchanger portion of the a/c system. This allows heat from the hot air in the boat to be transferred to the water, and the now-slightly-warmer water is then discharged back overboard through a variety of plumbing arrangements, depending on the manufacturer.

The best we could guess was that sometime during the night, something had plugged up the overflow drains for the air conditioning system and the pump, doing what pumps are supposed to do, just kept on pumping. Since the water stream couldn’t make its way overboard, it had to go somewhere, so it came up through the sinks. It’s entirely possible that if he hadn’t opened the boat that morning to get it ready for our visit, the back flow could have continued to the point that the boat would have sunk.

The boat was less than five years old, and was a real looker, but there’s an old adage in boating…”white side up, and water belongs on the outside”.

We saw enough of the boat to realize it would have been too small for our needs anyway,  but I sure felt sorry for that broker as we were driving away. Not only did he lose a sale, he darn near lost the boat.

By this time, my son Nick had joined us, so we all drove to Gulfport a few miles away and had a very nice brunch. Then it was time to drive north a bit to Clearwater to look at the 47 footer. When we got there and stepped aboard, we quickly realized that her best days were way behind her. Everywhere I looked, I saw “projects” and I don’t want another project boat.

We plan on taking a few more boat viewing trips over the next few weeks, and we’re pretty sure we’ll be able to narrow our search to just one or two manufacturers/models, and that’s when the broker here in Daytona will start earning his keep.



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Choices, choices…

After a bit of research, I’ve determined that the number of stars in the universe, and the number of different types of boats there are to choose from are approximately equal.


There are also a vast number of attributes that boats can have, such as passenger capacity, cruising speed, piloting arrangements, power, age, ad nauseam.

For each attribute of course, there are several permutations…single cabin, double cabin, triple cabin, one, two or three heads, slow boat, fast boat, lower helm only, upper helm only, lower helm AND upper helm, single engine, twin engine, straight shaft, pod drive, new boat, old boat…the list is endless.

So, now that Magic Carpet, our 1990 Ocean Yachts 56′ Cockpit Motor Yacht has been sold, and we are in the market for our next boat, where do we start?

I think we’ll start with age. When we bought Magic Carpet, she was twenty years old. That isn’t much if you’re a human, but for a boat, a lot can happen in twenty years. With Magic Carpet, some things were found during the survey, but others were found once we took possession. In both cases, the infusion of Boat Bucks was the solution. (For the nautically uninformed, a single Boat Buck equates to one thousand terrestrial dollars.)

There’s an old saying in the boating community that a boat is simply a large hole in the water into which the owner throws money. While that’s pretty accurate for a boat of any vintage, it seems that generally, the older the boat, the more frequently that hole needs filling. Having sent far too many Boat Bucks to their watery grave, we want something several years younger this time, hoping to slow the hemorrhaging of cash.

So how new is new enough? Good question. Our first thought was new. As in brand new. As in, nobody else has owned it yet. Then we looked at our bank statement, laughed heartily and immediately scrapped that idea.

So we said “OK, 10 years old or newer is what we’ll look for.” That would mean boats manufactured during or after 2007 would be in the hunt.

And then Janet discovered something while perusing Yachtworld.com, a website that is to boaters, as crystal meth is to tweakers. Once you’re on it, you just can’t get off. What she found is that the number of selections for the years 2008 through about 2011, depending on the manufacturer, are pretty slim compared to years before and after that range. To our untrained eyes, it looks like the result of a slowdown of production during those dark years of the Great Recession. Not as many produced equates to not as many available on the used boat market, ergo, a three or four year stretch has been effectively removed from our selection pool.

The problem with that is, for a boat with some of the other attributes we think we want, which I will disclose and discuss in future essays, as their vintage creeps closer to the current day, the asking price creeps upward. In some cases, it skyrockets upward.

So it looks like we may have to go back a couple years further than we would have liked in order to find the volume of boats to choose from that we need. That just means that if we find one we like, and decide to go see it “in the flesh”, we’ll have to be particularly diligent in our inspection. Having gone through so many changes and improvements with Magic Carpet, we have a much better idea this time what to look for, what we can deal with, and what to run from.

I’ll be back soon with further discussion of our thought process as we look for our next aquatic adventure ride.

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Turn the page…

That’s what we decided to do.

After much discussion, we decided to put Magic Carpet on the market. There were several reasons for this, but the overarching consideration was that we were just not using the boat as often as we wanted, and when we did use it, there were usually just the two of us rattling around in three staterooms and a large salon.

Within twelve hours of listing her on Yachtworld.com, we had a written offer, and over the next week, we got three more written offers as back-ups. The first potential buyer came from out of state for a personal inspection, then scheduled a haul-out, survey and sea trial. There were some issues noted during the survey, as there always are, but during the sea trial the boat ran fine, and we came to terms with the buyer and signed a contract.

I put a lot of time, money and sweat into Magic Carpet, and it was a tough decision to make to sell her, but I think in the end, we’ll realize it was the right decision.

Not sure what our future holds (who among us really ever is sure) but I think it will involve a different boat.

I’ll probably keep this blog going as we search for the next one, although I may have to change the masthead photo so I don’t suffer pangs of regret every time I see the Admiral standing on Magic Carpet’s aft deck. We think we’ll be looking for something newer, smaller, faster, but I guess time will tell what sort of temptations King Neptune tosses in our path.

Stay tuned, and join me in wishing the new owners good luck, fair winds and following seas.

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Walkin’ The Dock

Some time ago, Janet decided that I needed something to do. Isn’t it wonderful how she looks out for my welfare like that…making sure I have plenty to do and no “wasted” time?

I started running through a mental checklist of things I could do to bring in a couple bucks and keep myself off the streets and out of the bars.

I thought about doing some freelance civil engineering work…for about a nanosecond.
Nope, been there, done that.

Maybe I could be a Walmart greeter?
Nah, I’d be too inclined to tell the slobs coming in wearing their PJ’s to go the hell home and get dressed.

Perhaps I could volunteer at the local library and help them stack books and stuff.
Oh please…shoot me now.

And then I thought “Wait! What you need Jimbo, is a job where there is a moderate chance of bikinis!”

And of course, knowing me as I do, I was right!

So I quickly ran through a list of jobs that might fit this criterion:
Bikini fitting room attendant…no, too many guys already on the waiting list for that one.

Super-buff beach lifeguard…yeah, right.

Bikini portrait photographer…tantalizing, but almost certain to cause telescopic-lens-up-the-butt syndrome when Janet finds out.

Then, a flash of inspiration…it is well documented that there are occasional bikini sightings at the marina, ergo, I shall WORK AT THE MARINA!

A quick phone call, a written application that would do the CIA proud, a background check that must be absolutely laughable in its ineptness, and voila!…I’m a dockhand!

So now you find yourself asking “Why am I reading this?” …No wait, you’re asking yourself “What scintillating duties are assigned to a dockhand?”
Well dear reader, they are many and varied. Please allow me to paint a word picture of a typical day as a dockhand. (For the purpose of this exercise, we shall assume this fictitious day takes place during the summer, greatly enhancing the chance of an encounter with the local species of Bikinius Tinyus.)

In the morning, we open for business at 0700 hours. (Most of you would refer to this as 7:00 AM. I know the conversion is complicated, but try to stay with me.)

The morning shift is responsible for setting up the dock for the day. That means unlocking the two skiffs we use to get around the marina by water, getting a couple of the bikes out so we can move around on the dry side, reading and recording the tiny little numbers on the fuel pumps so we can keep track of how much fuel is pumped that day, and hosing copius quantities of duck poop off the fuel docks. Not sure what the draw is, but the ducks just love the fuel dock, and I guess they didn’t get the memo about “Never poop where you sleep.”

These and a few other less exciting tasks are performed each morning, and then we are ready for “The Show”. The cast of The Show are the boaters who come in and out of the marina. I’ve found that boaters come in three broad categories.

The first group, and by far the fewest in number, are boaters who have their shit totally together. They know how and when to use the VHF radio to talk to you and to each other, they know how to operate their vessel and how it reacts to wind and current, they have lines (landlubbers refer to them as “ropes”) attached to the boat both fore and aft, and they are a joy to work with when they come in for fuel or a pumpout. (I’ll expound on that “pumpout” thing momentarily)

The second category contains all of the boaters who have at least a basic idea of what is going on, could probably engage the appropriate authorities in case of an extreme emergency, and do not, by their simple existence, pose an imminent threat to others on the water.

The third category is comprised primarily of those who exemplify why birth control is a good idea. These folks are clueless as to the operating rules of boating, have no idea whatsoever of the forces that act on and against a boat, and should not be allowed to operate anything more complicated than a manual can opener.

Among those in the third group, my favorites from a comic relief standpoint are those who approach the dock with a fist full of tangle, knotted, frayed line, and a wild-eyed look, just itching to throw that line at somebody, anybody, at the first opportunity. Never mind that the wind is pushing the boat slowly toward the dock…they seem to think that if that line is not thrown, with vigor, straight into the dockhand’s face, that their tenuous attachment to earth will be lost, and they’ll mysteriously vanish into the stratosphere.

So usually, just to humor them, knowing full well what is about to transpire, I’ll say “You can toss me that line now” and then watch as they go through a windup that would do a major league pitcher proud, and then let fly with the aforesaid rat’s nest of rope, only to have it splash ignominiously into the water about eighteen inches from where they stand. Of course by the time they haul it all back in, wad it up again and begin a second windup, the wind has eased the boat alongside the dock and I gently reach out and take it from their hands.

These folks will then begin to shout at each other to “Put the bumpers (buoys) (round things) out!” They fear damage to the side of their craft from rubbing against the dock, neglecting to note that the entire edge of the dock is lined with a rubber rubrail designed specifically to prevent such damage. And as to the “bumpers/buoys/round things”… come on folks, they’re “FENDERS”… bumpers are on cars, buoys are attached to the seabed, not the boat, and  “round things”?…don’t get me started.

Once the hoopla is settled and we have them all fueled up again, we’ll ask those in the larger boats, if they need a pumpout. Many moderate to large boats have a bathroom on board (in boat-speak, it’s the “head”) and everything that goes into the head is collected in a tank on board so that we don’t drop a few ounces of poop in the water (not to be confused of course, with the hundreds of outdated municipal wastewater treatment systems that drop tons of poop in the water…every day) and that tank, the “holding tank”, is designed such that it can be emptied into a landside sanitary sewer system.

The method by which this is accomplished is really quite simple. Imagine if you will, a 30 to 100 gallon box filled with raw sewage. I know, it kind of gross, but imagine it anyway. Now imagine that there’s a hose running from the bottom of that box to a hole in the top of the boat, and there’s a nice dockhand standing at that hole with an industrial strength vacuum cleaner in his hand. That, in essence, is what we do. Granted, it’s not really a vacuum cleaner, it’s a vacuum pump, but the effect is the same. The vacuum pump sucks the sewage out of the holding tank, and discharges it into the sanitary sewer system. Now this all works just hunky dory, as long as the seal between the vacuum hose and the boat is nice and tight.On those occasions where the seal doesn’t stay tight, and those occasions do arise, well, let’s just say we sometimes need to make a mid-shift change of  shirts/pants/shoes, depending on the trajectory of that which escapes through the leaky seal.

The above, repeated several times a day, is pretty much what we do.

But what, you ask, (at least I know the guys are asking it) about Bikinius Tinyus?

Well, in the winter months of course, it’s in hibernation, but from spring through fall, it can be found proudly adorning many (predominately female) boaters of all ages, shapes and sizes, and without any apparent regard for age, shape or size.

Common reactions to sightings of Bikinius Tinyus range from “Oh my goodness, I must have died and gone to Heaven” to “Oh my goodness, please gouge my eyes out with a red hot spoon.”

Now please…before you start sending in complaints, just let me state that I am only too aware that if Mark Spitz were to stroll down to meet a boat full of ladies wearing his Olympic Speedo, the reaction would be much more positive than if I were to do so similarly garbed. I’m just saying that some displays of Bikinius Tinyus are more ethereal than others, and we, as properly trained dockhands, are always keeping close watch so as not to let any sightings go unsighted.

For a pittance per hour, and a few tips occasionally thrown our way, we labor in sun or rain, heat or cold, to make our boating public happy. So the next time you stop at a marina for fuel or a pumpout, please remember…your dockhand is your friend…tip generously, tip often. And if we seem distracted by a nearby Bikinius Tinyus, please bear with us…we’ll be back in a minute.


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Long Time, No See

As in, it’s been a long time, and you haven’t seen anything from us. I have no excuse for that, other than life got in the way. There has been a lot going on, and from the perspective of this blog, I guess the most significant thing is that we’ve decided to put Magic Carpet on the market.

We aren’t getting out of boating, we’re just planning to stay in it in a different boat.

Magic Carpet has been a great boat for us, but we’ve come to realize that neither of us really wants to invest the time or energy into building a chartering business as we had planned. We have had some folks charter the bat, and we really enjoyed our time with them, but to make it a real business, we need to invest a lot more time and effort into the marketing aspect, and that just isn’t something we are interested in doing.

Without the chartering side of things, a boat this size just doesn’t make much sense for the two of us. It does give us plenty of room to spread out, but at fifty-six feet, we find that slip availability can be an issue, and finding a spot in a crowded anchorage can be pretty frustrating too.

So, we are going to see if someone else can give her a good home, and then we’ll start our search again, this time for something a little newer, a little smaller, and a little faster.

The Admiral and I are already slightly at odds as to the specific definition of “a little smaller”. We have a size range in mind, and while I’m bumping up against the upper end of the range, the Admiral is tending toward the lower end. It will be interesting to see how that gets settled.

If you want to see a marketing video that our broker put together, you can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXFb52efdN4

At this point, we have an offer from a couple who traveled from several states away to look at the boat, said they wanted to proceed to a marine survey, then called a day later and said they’d changed their mind and didn’t want the boat, then called a day later and said they’d reconsidered and now were back to wanting to proceed to a marine survey.


I’ll try to keep you updated as this progresses.

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Day Three Headed South

Up early on day three of our trip south. It is another gorgeous day. Our destination is Palm Beach Gardens. After a quick bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee, we start the engines, untie the lines and point Magic Carpet south out of the marina.

The intracoastal is still fairly wide on this stretch as we head towards Ft. Pierce.  The boat traffic is limited because we are traveling on a weekday. The dolphin were incredible today. At the risk of dolphin overload, I’m attaching several photos we took. We actually took MANY more, but this will give you an idea of what a great morning we had!

Cool shot of the dolphin group

This was a pod of about 7 just having a blast. So interesting how some like to jet sideways out of the water like this one.

Very cool dolphin shot

Another sideways jumper.

Awesome shot of dolphin

One of my favorite shots. Don’t they have the cutest expressions?

Back to back dolphin

There were actually several more dolphin in this group…interesting that they can move so fast even when they are so close together.

We could tell when we were approaching Ft. Pierce Inlet. There was a distinct color difference in the water.  Here’s a photo I took to try to show that as well as a shot of the inlet looking out to the Atlantic Ocean.

Showing water color change at inlet

Ft Pierce inlet I thinkSouth of Ft. Pierce, on the eastern shore of the intracoastal, we pass by Hutchinson Island and Jensen Beach before reaching the St. Lucie Inlet. The St. Lucie River meets the intracoastal right at the inlet. All the different waterways meeting makes for some strange currents and traffic patterns as you have boats approaching from lots of directions. When it became apparent that two larger boats coming from the St. Lucie River were going to meet up with us as we passed by the inlet, Captain Jim radio’d them to ask their speed and where they were heading. Regardless of who should have the right of way, it is always a good plan to communicate. We backed off a little on our speed and let them get ahead of us since they were wanting to maintain about 15-20 knots and we were doing about 9.

Speaking of the St. Lucie River, did you know that you can get from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico by boat without having to go around the tip of Florida? The St. Lucie River/St. Lucie Canal will take you all the way west to Lake Okeechobee, Florida’s largest lake (and the second largest freshwater lake in the US). On the western shore of Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River connects all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, ending near Sanibel Island. It is called the Okeechobee Waterway. A series of 5 locks get boats through the 152 mile long route. The waterway averages about 8 feet deep and anywhere from 80 to 100 feet wide. The lake can get shallow depending on the season so boats with a draft of more than 4 or 5 feet are cautioned.

Well maybe on a future trip we will try the Okeechobee Waterway, but today we continue south. Right after the St. Lucie Inlet, the intracoastal waterway narrows considerably. I found it a lot more conducive to sightseeing. Whether we were in an area of beautiful homes or where there was nothing but vegetation along the shorelines, you could clearly see both sides.

A perspective how the waterway narrows

Here is a photo with enough boats to give you an indication of the width of the waterway. In many places, it was even narrower than this.

As we move further south, the homes get larger and the landscaping is more tropical.

amazing homes to look at

In Jupiter, the intracoastal takes a jog west as you pass Jupiter Inlet. After passing under U.S. 1, the waterway turns south again. Right here the Loxahatchee River heads west. I’m guessing there is some pretty pricey real estate all along the shores of that river and its tributaries. Just for the heck of it I looked up famous people who have called Jupiter Island home. According to Wikipedia, Jupiter Island has the highest per capita income of any place in the country. Celine Dion, Country music singer Alan Jackson, Olivia Newton-John, Burt Reynolds, Michael Jordan, and lots of pro golfers including Greg Norman and Tiger Woods have all called the island home at one point or another. And Kid Rock bought a house there a few years ago. Good thing we didn’t know that when we passed by. Captain Jim knows he would have had to keep me from jumping in and swimming to shore so I could see if I could find his house!!

After enjoying more of the beautiful shoreline and homes along this stretch, we finally made it to our destination for the night, Loggerhead Marina in Palm Beach Gardens. It is a quaint marina with exceptional service! The dockhands who met us as we entered our slip were nicely dressed in khaki shorts and white shirts with epaulets…what a nice touch! They were courteous and professional too.

There was a gorgeous boat next to us and a beautifully-restored yacht with lots of teak across from us. We spent a little time settling in and then took a walk. After dinner on board, we spent some time looking at charts for the next day’s trip. We needed to coordinate when we left in order to time some bridge openings. You’d never know Capt. Jim was a retired engineer…he typed out a detailed spreadsheet of each bridge, the height at maximum clearance, when the scheduled openings were, a column that estimated the time we should arrive at the bridge, and a blank column for me to write down when we actually arrived. I would make fun of him except it did come in very handy and he was pretty dead on with the timing.  One more blog from me tomorrow to finish up my take on our trip.

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Day Two of Trip South

It’s day two of our trip south and it is another perfect-weather day. We are up early eating our breakfast before untying the lines and getting underway. Today will take us past Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Merritt Island, Melbourne and Sebastian on our way to Vero Beach. As we leave Titusville, the VAB and other Kennedy Space Center structures are visible on the eastern shoreline.

This stretch of the Indian River/Intracoastal Waterway is quite wide and unless you are passing under a bridge, there are few, if any, minimum wake zones. Keeping at about 9-10 knots, we create some pretty healthy waves off our port and starboard sides. The dolphins seem to love the waves and our wake. This morning we run across several pods at different times.

single dolphin surfacing







Typically they will be feeding up ahead of us and then all of a sudden they are playing in the wake. Some jump completely out of the water; others surface occasionally. It is so fun to watch them. Even the babies get in on the fun. After seeing so many dolphin in the wild, it is impossible for me to support any of the businesses who keep them in captivity in order to entertain people. Jim and I try to take as many people as possible on our boat to see the real Florida. We can’t guarantee you’ll see dolphin and we can’t guarantee what they will do, but the experience leaves a lasting impression that they are happy to be free to jump and play and feed on their own schedule.

This one was with us for a couple minutes this morning. It felt like she was smiling at me.

total dolphin awesomeness

As we passed by Patrick Air Force Base, we saw several helicopters overhead.  Patrick is the headquarters of the Air Force Space Command’s 45th Space Wing, which operates the space launch facilities at Cape Canaveral.  The Air Force Base is closed to the public for security purposes; however, if you are someone who is interested in space exploration, you should definitely visit Kennedy Space Center.

Further south is the town of Merritt Island. At the southern most tip of the island is the entrance to the Banana River from the Indian River/Intracoastal Waterway. That end of the island is referred to as Dragon Point. In 1971 the owner of the large estate located there hired an artist and constructed a 65-foot-long concrete and steel dragon that greeted boats as they passed by. Over years the mansion and the dragon fell into disrepair and a storm did major damage in 2002. Sometime around 2012 an organization was formed to ‘Save Dragon Point’ and they were successful in getting a new property owner to agree to build a new dragon. If Wikipedia is correct, the new dragon should be completed sometime next year. I always enjoyed seeing the dragon so I am hopeful that a new work of art will be constructed.

dragon point

The original dragon. Only rubble is left now.

Further south through the communities of Melbourne and Sebastian, the intracoastal narrows and beautiful homes are abundant. We also passed by Sebastian Inlet today which provides access to the Atlantic Ocean for some of the best fishing in Florida. But if you’re not a local, it is a BAD IDEA to use the inlet. The Orlando Sentinel did a story in 1996 about Sebastian Inlet.

“…For many, it will become a horror beyond their worst nightmare – a belching monstrosity that tosses 2,000-pound boats about like matchsticks. In a good year, only 15 or 20 boats will sink or be bashed against the inlet’s giant boulders. In bad years, the total might reach 200. Veteran boaters call Sebastian ”a bad, dangerous inlet – the worst in the state.” Some think it might be the worst on the Atlantic Seaboard. To the unsuspecting, Sebastian Inlet is a sneaky, deceptive adversary. Its waters can seem as placid as an inland lake, punctuated by only gentle, rolling swells. Yet twice each day, its character undergoes a Jekyll-Hyde transformation. The change is almost imperceptible at first but magnifies as each outgoing tide rushes through the inlet’s narrow throat to collide with an immovable ocean. Tons of water accelerate to speeds of 5 to 10 miles per hour, then slam into the ocean waves and rebound.
Once gentle swells become 4- and 5-foot waves crashing first one way then another, as if in a giant washing machine. At certain times, when wind conditions are right, waves can build to 7 or 8 feet. The inlet veterans talk of meticulous boat-handling to ”surf” a wave to safety, maintaining precise speed to keep the boat on top of the wave’s crest. It requires a delicate touch and steely nerves. Many try, but fail. For those who misjudge, it is the roller-coaster ride from hell.” Jim and I started out the inlet several years ago on our 28-foot walk-a-round. We got about three-quarters of the way out before Jim came to his senses and turned around.

We arrived in Vero Beach at the Municipal Marina in good time. We took a walk to stretch our legs and then enjoyed hamburgers and beer back on board. There was a beautiful sunset as we wound down the day.

vero beach mooring field

We spent some time in the evening looking at charts to prepare for the next day’s trip. Tomorrow it is on to Palm Beach Gardens.

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