We left North Palm Beach Marina and headed north towards Vero Beach. Vero is a nice place and we have stayed for several days in the past, but this year we just used it as a convenient place to moor overnight and left the next morning. (It is such a nice place that some cruisers call it “Velcro Beach” because it is so difficult to pull yourself away.) After mooring at Vero we spent two nights at anchor near Cocoa Beach. Cocoa is kind of cool in that it has 2-3 square blocks dedicated to touristy stuff. We (read Ann) especially likes a little spice shop that is in the middle of the downtown area. They have a nice selection of spices and some kitchen equipment. We (read Mike) also like the gi-normous hardware store located in Cocoa. It is spread across eight different buildings! The anchorage itself was okay, but there was quite a bit of roll – less for us than for smaller boats – but I am still thinking that maybe next time we’ll go to the marina instead.
We also stopped at the marina in New Smyrna Beach. This is the second time we have stopped there. Last time was in January and we were going to get off of the boat and explore the town. It was sooo cooolllddd, however, that we stayed on board and turned up the heat. This time, since there was supposed to be a front coming through, we stayed for two days. – besides it was Easter Sunday. We had a decent burger at a sports bar on Saturday night, but New Smyrna Beach was almost completely closed on Sunday – not even the restaurants were open. The one exception was a small, local art gallery. It held the works of twenty-plus very different artists. Some were painters and some sculptors, but others were very unusual. There was the lady who grew alpacas and crafted clothing from their fur, there was the artist who created very macabre figurines from normal household objects, the guy who carved beautiful birds out of wood, the moccasin-maker and many more. In short, it was a very interesting local art colony and it almost made the downtown trip worthwhile.
After New Smyrna Beach, it was on to Saint Augustine. Again, St. Augustine is one of our favorite cities in Florida, but we have been there several times already and, for the most part, we were trying to hit new locations on this trip. As a result, we used the St. Augustine mooring field as more of a mooring-of-convenience than we did as a stop to see the city. Then it was on to the anchorage at the Fort George River.
The Fort George River abuts the Kinglsey Plantation, which, for those of you who don’t know, is a National Park (and yes, it has stamps for those, like Ann, who keep a National Park Passport). The plantation was the home of Zepheniah Kinglsey and family. Zepheniah and family are kind of -- let’s just say unusual. He was married to Anna, an African-American woman and former slave. (Actually, he had four wives, but I am trying to keep the story simple and uncomplicated.) Anna herself had slaves and periodically ran the plantation for old Zeph, which meant she ran his slaves through the overseer. This was not a problem for Zeph, as he had written a treatise proposing a three-tier caste system with free white men and women in the top caste, free black men and women in the second caste, and black slaves in the third. This contrasted to the system that was evolving in Florida with only two castes – free whites and enslaved blacks. In fact, Anna and other members of Zeph’s family eventually had to leave for Haiti as they were constantly losing the rights they had as free men and women of color. Believe me, it gets more complicated, but of you want to know more, you have to go yourself.
The anchorage itself was nice enough, but the water was a little shallow entering the Fort George River and the river itself a little narrow down near the plantation. But it was a fun and interesting day.
I know this is a fairly short entry, but next time we will write about our stay at Jekyll Island, home of the former Jekyll Island Club and several hundred years of Georgian history.