It has been surprisingly difficult to schedule people to visit us. Between guests having jobs and school obligations, weather whims that we cannot control, and the never-ending list of things to be attended to and fixed on the boat, we have had quite a challenge. However, as we settle into this life and weather turns from Winter to Spring (even here in Florida, for Winter can often mean strong winds, rain, and just difficult boating conditions), we are excited to welcome friends and family.
Our first official guests were our daughter, Katie, and her two life-long buddies, Lindsay Tourault and Katie Kemp. Our families are all close; the girls met in middle school and have stayed BFF’s for the last decade and more. Our Katie was the strong impetus behind this first trip, staking out a week in February back when we bought the boat in November. Both Katies are finishing up their senior years in college, and Lindsay works full time. Katie D’s “Spring Break” (Reading Week in Canada) was February 17-21. She and the girls met up in Denver and flew the red eye to Orlando to arrive on Saturday, February 15th.
After collecting them from the airport we brought them to our Granuaile.The girls were so excited and complimentary – it reminded us how special this life is, and their child-like glee was infectious. After a quick tour, they took a spin on the paddle boards (with our resident manatee popping up to welcome them).
Then it was swimsuits and sun up on the deck, with the weather a balmy 80°. They spent that first afternoon getting caught up with each other. For us, it was magical to have young people on board, ready for adventure.
Later that afternoon, we took the girls to the South Beach Park in Vero. The ocean was rough, but we all had fun walking the beach in the early evening. Katie Kemp was the first to discover a strange-looking sea creature on the beach – not very big (about 3 inches), looked like a blue-purple inflated plastic bag.
Luckily, Katie has some strong knowledge, and stopped us from getting close – actually drawing a circle around it on the sand, with a line through the circle – “Do not cross”. It was some sort of jellyfish – and we saw three more on our walk. As we exited the beach, Katie K mused that it looked like a Portuguese Man O’ War – the rest of us had no idea. After a quick Google search, Katie was proven correct and we felt lucky that we hadn’t accidentally tripped over any of the ones on the beach. We then went to Fishack, a funky restaurant with Rum Buckets and “The best margaritas in Vero!” The food was good too.
The next morning, after a breakfast of pancakes and bacon, we prepped to head out for an overnight anchoring not too far away. We got underway with some wind, but unfortunately, the wind continued to increase. We tried to anchor at Pine Island, only 2 miles away, but was too shallow for our 5’ 8” draft. We continued up the ICW to attempt anchoring at Wabasso Bridge, a location we had wanted to try. Unfortunately, the winds were strong and the anchorage tight, we could not set the anchor well. So we headed back. The girls were happy – a full day out on the decks with lots of sun and “very nice boaters who always wave at us.” Interestingly, this was the first time we had not seen dolphins while out cruising – and it was our least successful attempt at boating! After an uneventful return to our slip, Neil took the girls to the beach again, where they played in rough waters and avoided the Man O Wars…
The next morning proved much nicer wind-wise. We got an earlier start and cruised out to Melbourne. The dolphins were out early and often with us – again, a very good omen. The girls were really excited to see them, as well as several manatees.
The waters were calm, and much less busy. We easily anchored at Melbourne, which was the first place we had gone on our own after completing our training.
We put the paddle boards in the water and played. Swimming, boarding, laughter and music, while pelicans and ospreys fished and soared around us. Oh, and the dolphins came in, seemingly curious about our generator exhaust gurgling in the water, and probably the girls on the paddle boards!
Our only hiccup was a dead battery in the dinghy and an oil leak in the davit. It didn’t dampen the fun, however. We grilled burgers, watching the dolphins play very nearby until it was dark. We stayed up playing hearts and telling embarrassing stories. It was wonderful.
On Tuesday morning, we got up and moving early.
Katie K and Lindsay had a flight out of Orlando that evening. The trip back was again, fantastic. Perfect weather, with our dolphin guides, who got really excited when we ran the boat at wide open throttle creating a large wake. Leaping, spinning, and racing next to the boat, having a blast putting on a show for us.
After returning to Vero, the girls packed up and got ready to head back to real winter.
We left early for the airport, as they wanted to have another batch of seafood. Neil found “Squid Lips” in Sebastian – a perfect “on the water” laid back restaurant with a large drink menu. The girls treated us to dinner – completely unexpected, but very generous – just like them! Dropping them at Orlando airport was hard – these two are family for us. We will see them again in two months for graduations, but it’s never long enough spending time with them.
We had our Katie with us for a few more days, which was exceptional. She was a real trooper, as the weather went south again. On Wednesday, she worked with us getting the boat cleaned (didn’t even complain, just jumped in to help). She is now an expert boat deck swabber. Neil and Katie went out for an early evening SUP ride, then we indulged going out to dinner to teach Katie the magnificence of oysters on the half shell – her first time tasting them, and she is now a new convert.
Thursday was another day of wind, this time along with rain. There were errands to be run and grocery shopping to accomplish – always just a blast. But being able to spend time with Kate made the day special. After another shrimp-versioned dinner, we relaxed and enjoyed the evening.
Friday was Katie’s last day with us. After packing and making sure nothing was left behind, we headed out to the airport, stopping along the way for some lunch near Melbourne. Seeing her off at the airport was so hard, with her traveling back to Vancouver after a week that went by way too quickly. We’ll see her for her graduation in May, but we already miss her.
Having the girls visit reinforced for us why we’ve chosen this life, and how lucky we are to be able to pursue it. It’s easy to get used to the uniqueness of living on a boat – the calm, the water, the breeze, the sun, and to lose the specialness in the minutiae of daily life. Visitors bring that back to us, allowing us to see it through their eyes and renew it in our own. For this and so much more, we are grateful and we can’t wait to welcome our next batch of visitors in a few short weeks!