Frank's Blog - Yes, Finally
Getting Stuck - 4 February, 2016
When we first approached Vero Beach last year, we were warned that its nickname among the cruisers was "Velcro Beach,"
because it was so easy to get stuck there. Last year, our cruising plans included going to the Bahamas and/or to Miami. We
never made it more than 50 miles north or south of Vero.
The problem was scheduling. Because of Suzanne's cancer, she was still seeing a set of doctors in Richmond every three
months for follow-up care. One of those visits was set for the middle of January. When we got to Vero Beach in
mid-December, we had planned to spend two or three days, reprovision and keep going. We figured we would be in the
Bahamas or Miami when it came time for her to fly back to Virginia.
While we were in Vero, I checked on ways to get her back to Virginia by air from the Bahamas. We had originally planned to
be in the Virgin Islands for the winter, so we had done all of our planning from there. Flights from the USVI and Puerto Rico to
Virginia were very reasonable, so we had assumed that the same would be true of the Bahamas. That was not the case.
Getting Suzanne to and from Nassau would be six to seven times what we had figured the cost to be. In addition, we would
have to pay for a cruising permit and we would have to pay for the dogs entry and Jonesy, not having had all of his shots yet,
would never be allowed to go ashore.
So, the Bahamas were out. We decided to stay in Vero a little longer, then go to Miami. I booked a flight out of Miami that was
only twice what it would have cost to go from San Juan to Richmond. Then, we started looking for someplace to keep the boat
We have been to Miami before, on a chartered 40 foot Hunter. One of my memories of Miami was reanchoring every evening
after having had the anchor drag in a storm. We were in the Biscayne Bay area for five days, every one of those days had a
storm cell come through in the late afternoon and every time one of those storm cells blew through, the anchor dragged.
Now, I will admit that I believe part of the problem was the ground tackle (anchor and anchor line) on that Hunter. If we had
taken Rockhopper down there, we would have been using our own ground tackle. But, at the time, we still had the CQR
anchor - it was in Vero Beach that I ordered and received a replacement Rocna. So, I was not really comfortable with the idea
of anchoring in Biscayne Bay and leaving the boat - and the dogs - alone for several hours while I took Suzanne to and from
the airport. We looked at the cost of slips and ruled that out. I looked for moorings in the area, but could not find any for less
than $40 a night - roughly three or four times what we were paying in Vero. So, we decided to stay in Vero and rent a car to
drive to Miami.
By the time Suzanne got back from that appointment, it was too late to go anywhere far away, so we spent the rest of the
season going to Fort Pierce, Jensen Beach, Cocoa Beach and back to Vero. We got the dogs into the vet - in Vero. Suzanne
went to see a podiatrist - in Vero. We ordered a new anchor and a new refrigerator - in Vero.
So this year, we decided we would make a quick stop in Vero, make all of our appointments for a week or so, get everything
accomplished and the head to the Keys. Suzanne no longer had to go to Richmond for a week, she would get appointments
with cancer specialists in Vero. We would transfer the rest of our doctor and dentist needs to Vero - and cluster them.
We arrived in Vero on the 4th of December. We have not left Vero, and won't for another two weeks, at which time we will start
heading north to get back to Maryland in time for the teaching season there. What happened?
First off, every doctor's appointment we have made has been pushed back multiple times. Suzanne was supposed to get an
PET scan done at the end of December. Two days before it was supposed to happen, the office called to say that their MRI
machine had broken down and was out of service. The cancer specialist rescheduled her with a different company, but that
would not happen until the end of January. The day before that appointment, the office called to say that our "out-of-pocket"
charge for that PET scan would be $1,700 - five times what we were paying for it in Virginia and four times what the first MRI
company wanted. Suzanne cancelled the appointment, and called the cancer specialist back. They rescheduled her with the
first company - their MRI machine was working again and had been for awhile. However, now that appointment isn't scheduled
until the middle of February - and after that, we still have to wait until she sees the actual cancer doc again before we can get
started heading north.
We had similar issues with the dentists - it took over a month to find a dentist who could see us while we were here. We ended
up just making appointments with our old dentist in Virginia - for April. The dog vet visits did go as anticipated, thankfully.
So, we lost another year of cruising. On the positive side, we did get a chance to rent a car and go to the Keys that way. I will
say, though, it is really tricky to dive into the warm, clear water from the side of a 2013 Dodge Charger. Maybe next time, we
should opt for an SUV.