We left Cocoa Beach early on Day 142 and were quite pleased to motorsail (running the engine with sails out) with our genoa flying for seven hours on a southeast breeze. Having the genny out allowed us to throttle back since we gained more than one knot of speed from wind, plus the current was pushing us.
Before we knew it, we were back in our sailbatical happy place: New Smyrna Beach (NSB). We were fortunate to secure a two-week+ reservation for slip #32 in the city marina, right next to the slip we occupied for two months. Everything was familiar: the dock hands, the showers, the laundry room, and our neighbors. After getting settled, we walked the town at dusk, enjoyed a glass of wine at the outdoor bar at the Cork Screw, and felt right at home.
Early the next morning, I hightailed it to Donna’s and received the warmest welcome of all. Karie had placed a reserved sign on “my table,” complete with a silver tray, flowers, large coffee mug, and a note that said “Cheryl and Dudley, Welcome Home.” How special!
The reunion with friends continued at Donna’s throughout the morning, and Dudley was warmly greeted when he joined me at noon. After he and I enjoyed lunch at The Little Drugstore (yes, that’s the real name of the cutest five and dime we’ve ever visited), I returned to my reserved table to prepare 2015 tax information. It’s actually not so burdensome to do that annual chore when friends stop by every few minutes to greet and chat.
The days that followed found us doing a bit of consulting work, a couple of minor boat projects, a few more hours of tax prep, and some inquiries into condo rental options in NSB for next winter. Yes, we are considering becoming snowbirds next winter. But mostly, we looked forward to chillin’ in our favorite ICW town. There’s always something to do here, whether on Canal Street west of the ICW, or on Flagler Avenue on the ocean side.
The Saturday Farmer’s Market is one of my favorite chillin’ places. I’ve even established a bit of a routine: arrive early, enjoy a freshly baked pastry or pretzel, peruse all the produce and bakery vendors, selectively buy what we need, tap my foot to the live music, tip the music jar, and occasionally walk to Donna’s for coffee and chat before returning to the boat. Quite often, Canal Street is beginning to hum by 10 am, with art festivals, sidewalk sales, or the once-a-month Car Show that literally rolls in late afternoon. While we aren’t big antique car people (though I did own a 1970 Austin America), it’s been fun to observe both the cars and the people that vroom in and out of town for this favorite event.
Historically, our favorite way to chill is to listen to live music, and NSB has endless opportunities on both the beach side, and the Canal Street side. We’ve become regulars at Bakka’s Bistro & Bookshop, just a few blocks south of Canal Street, and love to sit outdoors in their courtyard or at the firepit. It’s there that we became acquainted with several local musicians, like the Cuchetti family. We’ve met Tony, Gina, Mary, and Gino, each of whom have soloed at Bakka’s. We’ve become friends with the wait staff, a few of whom are also Cuchetti Family fans. When we heard that Tony and Gina were pairing up on the beach side at Flagler Tavern on Day 147, we met waitress Sarah and her friend Lucia there, and listened to Tony and Gina for four hours.
They even played “Me and Bobby McGee” for me, without being asked—and I must say that Gina does justice to the Janis Joplin version of Kris Kristofferson’s song. You know you’re a regular when the local musicians recognize you and know your favorites!
On St. Patrick’s Day, we donned as much green as we could find and hopped a few pubs on the beach side, from the Om Bar to Barracuda’s. At the latter, we were joined by Karie and John, and enjoyed music by the Thompson-Browne trio.
Karie brought miniature shot glasses for the annual remembrance of her dad, and we were honored to be part of her tradition, with shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey.
But there’s nothing quite as good a chillin’ with friends at “home,” and with our departure date looming, we decided to host a cocktail party on our boat and invite our landlubber friends. I’ve decided to call this eclectic group “Donna’s Gang” since we all met at Donna’s. Unfortunately, Donna was unable to join us but called in to chuckle and chat while we all shared laughs and lighthearted stories.
With the weather turning warmer, walks on the beach and riding bikes around town have provided the icing on the NSB cake. And now that Daylight Savings Time is here, the sun rises later, so it’s a bit easier to bike to the beach to catch the early rays peeking over the watery horizon. Sometimes we bike on the beach, especially if the tide is low and the beaches are wide. Some days we walk on the beach. Other days we bike and walk in town. It’s amazing how often we bump into someone we know, which really makes it feel like NSB is home.
We’ve been back in NSB for almost two weeks now, savoring the last few moments of relaxation before heading north. Soon, it will be time to say farewell. But for now, we just want to chill.