Socializing in Stuart
16 April 2009
Now that we've had a couple of days to decompress, we have to begin the complicated process of buying a vehicle, finding a marina to store Sea Sharp and decommissioning her to prepare our way back home. We decide to head up to Stuart, some thirty five miles (but with about ten bridges to transit) north. We choose this place for a number of reasons; there are at least two marinas which we're considering leaving Sea Sharp, it is a boater friendly place with, supposedly a good mooring field, there's lots of stuff here and, perhaps, most importantly, our friends from back home, Peter and Sandi Macmillan live here. We hope to impose on them for advice and support as we work through this labyrinth of things we have to do to finalize our cruise and become landlubbers.
We had amazing luck with the bridges and got everyone on time, not having to wait at all. In fact, in an uncustomary way, one bridge tender delayed the scheduled opening for a couple of minutes while we frantically piled on as much "steam" as possible to get there on time. Usually they open and close their bridges with military precision and seem to delight when they can tell a boater that they're too late and will have to wait for the next opening. This guy was polite and accommodating.
As we work our way through these bridges we pass many, many stunning homes (and lots with for sale signs on them) en route to Stuart. Stuart is a very pleasant city, some six miles up the St. Lucie River, off of the ICW. A new marina is nearing completion which we understand at one time was the municipal marina. There still are a good number of solid moorings at a reasonable price but now there is an absolutely stunning new dock/marina which will be open in a month. We are directed to mooring ball number 1, closest to the docks. We intend to make this home base while we shop for a car and find a marina to store the boat.
We had contacted Sandi and Peter and they generously offered to give us whatever help we need to sort out our affairs. They live not far away in their winter house (they still maintain Fredericton as their home as we do). Sandi and Peter are long time boaters, having had a succession of sailboats, then power boats; they now own a beautiful Nordic Tug, Alexander Kelly, which we have been on in Maine where they now keep it. They are very interesting and generous folks. Peter is a car buff, both professionally and recreationally and, while I only know a small fraction of what he does about vehicles, I really enjoy his stories and commentary. Sandi is a very talented artist and decorator; her medium being quilts. Their lovely home is wonderfully decorated appropriately in a tropical/Floridian style and her beautiful quilts are true works of art.
In summary, we spent some considerable time with them over the several days we were here including one night where we stayed at their house. They have a great cat, Angus, and while I cannot remember the breed, he truly looks like a bobcat with huge paws, a bob tail, pointy ears and the coloration to boot. Poor old Chopin does not share such distinguished lineage (he's a trailer park tabby) but was invited with us to their house. Chopin and Angus did not fight but they were wary of each other and I could imagine Angus wondering how this trailer park trash got into his home.
As it turns out, other very good friends from Fredericton and former boaters are in their land yacht (motor home) a few miles away and we contact Herb and Helen. We contact them and arrange to visit them at the motor home park.
We rent a car for a week which will provide us with transportation as we search out a vehicle. We drive out to see Herb and Helen. They were so supportive when we returned to NB in December including opening up their house to some of our relatives who travelled in to John's funeral. We are most grateful.
Anyway, I've never seen a campground/motor home park like this. It was absolutely exquisite. Herb tells me that they allow only the huge Class A motor homes - no pup tents. The area Herb is in is for transients but there is another whole area where the sites are individually owned. You talk about fancy. Each site is landscaped and appointed with their own combinations of elaborate bars, patios, greenery and all of the requisite toys. In addition to these huge, bus-like motor homes (Herb tells me that they can go up to $1 million and more) there are motorcycles, golf carts, fancy cars and various other forms of propulsion. Very impressive.
Anyway, we have a great visit with Herb and Helen at their motor home and later in the week we have them on Sea Sharp for dinner.
We have a very relaxing (for the most part) stay here and the companionship and congeniality of Peter and Sandi and Herb and Helen were wonderful. It did blow hard here for a couple of days and while we were secure a very heavy and well maintained mooring, the boats were pitching and yawing. One day it was particularly bouncy and rough. We had just bought our new (to us) vehicle (the story will follow in the next blog) and Judy went back to the boat by herself; I was to join her later. She got in the dinghy and made it to the boat but could not get from the dinghy to Sea Sharp! She went back to the marina and they took her out in their launch. Even that was treacherous and in the process of disembarking Judy, the launch operator hit our boat. No damage done but yet another adventure.
Stuart tuned out to be a great place to do our business and we expect to return her in the fall after our boat is launched to prepare and reprovision our boat. The new marina will be open by then and their prices are reasonable. We recommend this place to our fellow cruisers.