Florida’s length is 447 miles, a distance greater than our multi day passages from the San Blas to San Andres, from Providencia to Grand Cayman, or from Grand Cayman to Isla Mujeres. Thus, we might quibble with Verne’s characterization of our U.S. rentry point as a “mere Peninsula.” Our passage up the Florida coast included time in Key West, Marathon, West Palm Beach, Stuart, Fort Pierce and Vero Beach. We visited old friends and made our first passage in the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). Along with abundant sunshine, we experienced record rain falls and a tornado. By the time the weather improved it was clear that summer had arrived to the Peninsula and we elected to head out to sea at Fort Pierce and jump several hundred miles north to Charleston, South Carolina rather than move more slowly up the ICW. The amenities for cruisers along the stretch of the coast we visited eased our reentry to the United States and made us feel most welcomed.
We made it as far north as Vero Beach (adjacent to the pelican on the map) leaving hundreds of miles for future exploration.
The well preserved Key West neighborhoods and vintage architecture provided a wonderful setting to get our land legs back for a while.
We joined the crowd at Mallory Square to watch the sun go down at the United States’ most southern point.
Manatees come dockside to drink freshwater from drain spouts and run off from the ice machine. At Boot Key a manatee family hovered nearby.
Sunset at Boot Key mooring field on Marathon Island. Boot Key has an active cruisers network and shoreside facilities, including a shop space for boat projects.
We ventured up the ICW from Fort Pierce to Vero Beach. Here, Elizabeth Jean approaches a bridge being raised to allow her 58 ft. mast to pass.