It’s hard to believe that we spent two full months in New Smyrna Beach (NSB) Florida! When we docked at the courtesy wall in mid-December, we planned to stay in NSB for just one night. But the quaint town tugged at our hearts and we moved to the city marina for one month, and then extended another month. NSB was a great place to leave Belle Bateau for our respective journeys “home for the holidays.” But more importantly, we established roots in NSB as we made friends, discovered favorite haunts, tapped our feet to live music, checked off boat projects, enjoyed weekly town events, frequented the Saturday farmer’s market, and became part of the community. And because we were staying in one place for a bit, we informed a few of our customers, and voila, we were able to secure a few billable hours as well. That cruising kitty was getting a bit low so the consulting gigs were welcomed breaks in our sailbatical.
Time in NSB really flew! We had a long list of boat projects, and still do, but we were able to check off quite a few. And it was helpful to stay in a marina so that we could order and receive numerous parts. Sometimes we would receive several packages per day.
Most of these boat projects were completed by us, but we hired a couple of locals to do a few.
For instance, replacing the sacrificial zincs is an important job.
Zincs need to be checked regularly, and replaced in order to continue their protection of important metals from galvanic corrosion (if you really want to know more, see http://www.boatus.com/boattech/casey/sacrificial-zincs.asp). Because Belle Bateau is in the water (rather than “on the hard” on land), we needed diver Andy to replace three zincs. One of the biggest projects was sanding and varnishing the brightwork. We couldn’t get this completely finished in NSB, so that job will continue as we head south.
Interspersed among the boat projects were fun times spent with new friends, old friends, or just the two of us out and about in the community. There’s always something going on in NSB on the weekends. From car shows to art festivals, there is never a dull moment.
In January, Dudley discovered Bakka’s Bistro and Bookstore, and we went there about a dozen times for dinner, cocktails, live music (especially loved Tony Cuchetti), good books, and the Super Bowl. We enjoyed the Mardi Gras parade on Day 114, and were showered in beads.
We delighted in exploring the NSB area on our new bikes. We rode to the beach, the dunes preserves, the grocery store, and other errand destinations. On Sundays, I rode my bike 15 minutes to church, Servants’ Quarters Fellowship, even in 39 degree temperatures. I also made friends there who offered rides on poor weather days, and invited me to join a group of women for Monday morning walks on the beach.
When boaters stay at a marina for more than a few days, it’s natural to make friends with other boaters. Some are transients, like us, passing through. Others are liveaboards, while others keep their boat at the marina but still live on land. We enjoyed making new friends at the marina, and relied on a few of them for the loan of tools, free advice, new recipes, shared experiences, and at times, commiseration. Jeff and Cindy on Salty Dog, Fred and Wendy on Brown Eyed Girl, and Hugh and Nancy on Avanyu, were those special friends. As luck would have it, when those boats departed, others popped in and new friendships were kindled. Mark and Cathy on Avalon became dear friends in a matter of minutes. With them, we frequented Bakka’s, attended all three days of Images Art Festival, played Euchre (finally found a couple who played that card game), and just chilled. They were, and continue to be, a highlight of our trip thus far. It was hard to say goodbye to them on Day 111.
In addition to new friends, we hung out with “old friends.” Dudley and I rented a car on Day 91, and drove two hours south to Stuart to have dinner with Bill and Laurie on Lali, and also visited a few towns that might be in our ICW future. Jennifer and her family drove from Orlando for a Sunday afternoon visit. And Mary Ellen and Kurt met up with us several times while they were spending winter months in nearby Daytona.
But my real happy place in NSB was Donna’s Canal Creamery. There I could be assured of a table for my computer work, a steady flow of decaf coffee, good eats, warm hospitality, shelter in a storm (literally), and most importantly, new friendships.
I can’t say enough about Karie and Donna, who welcomed me warmly on my first day in NSB, Day 58. They introduced me to Bob, another local, whom we met up with at the Mardi Gras parade. And patrons Blaine and Susan introduced themselves because they always saw me sitting at the same table, day in, day out, and wondered what my story was. Ha!
As the end of our two-month stay loomed, we hurried to complete projects and say goodbye to friends. On our last weekend in NSB, we invited Blaine and Susan, and Karie and boyfriend John, to join us at Bakka’s for dinner and live music. We had a blast. There was even talk of staying in NSB, but alas, it was indeed time to move on. So on the morning of Day 121, we took our lines and left our slip, to continue our journey southward. More adventures await. But we know we will return to NSB. After all, I have a table waiting for me at Donna’s, and there is music to be heard at Bakka’s, and the beach beckons, and friends will greet us, and……