Three months have passed since our roadtrip petered out in southern Florida. Since then a lot has happened. I realized this yesterday when a friend visited from California and of course one of her first questions was, “How did you find yourself here?”
“Here” is a little area outside Stuart, Florida, called Port Salerno. If you go for a 2.5-mile run in one direction toward a nearby park, as I did this morning, you can look out at Jupiter Island across the Intracoastal Waterway. To the left you’ll see the St. Lucie River and off in the distance the inlet where the river dumps into the ocean between Jupiter and Hutchinson islands.
We took our boat out there yesterday, just my friend and I, and while I posted on Facebook that I felt like a rockstar, what I didn’t mention is that we ran aground and that I had to turn around and try again after a failed attempt to enter our slip. Boating around here is a lot different from anywhere else I’ve been. The bottom is mostly sand, sometimes mud and there are vast areas without warning signs where the depth drops to 2 feet or less. But that doesn’t seem to stop anyone: there are tons of boats. And unlike in Marina del Rey, many of them get used. You could say that it’s an ideal place for someone who wants to work with boats…
Greg and I kinda ended up here after Christmas in New Jersey. When we landed at Miami Airport we didn’t even know where we were staying that night. We did know one thing: we were going to pursue Snowbird. So we drove north, and managed to get a campsite for one night at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Literally sick (we both had the flu), tired of living out of a car and securing a new lodging every night, we were at each other’s throats. While we began the process of getting a loan and setting up a time to do a sea trial with a surveyor, we moved again, to an awful roach-infested hotel in Stuart, Florida. Stuart just happens to be where the Intracoastal Waterway joins up with the Okeechobee Waterway, so this was the closest we could get to Indiantown but still be near the ocean.
We explored Stuart and agreed that it had a nice vibe. It had a few odd gems, like a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, a gourmet donut shop, an Asian grocery store, good Thai food and an urban farm. (There’s also a waterpark, gun range, and roller skating rink.) We liked the tiered bars that faced the water downtown and the riverwalk and we found an outdoor tiki bar with great live music. There were several marinas close to downtown so we explored them and got quotes for keeping Snowbird there.
But then things started not working out with the boat. We were having trouble getting a loan on a 1974 boat, but we couldn’t afford to pay cash. We also couldn’t afford to put a ton of cash down or we wouldn’t have money to make improvements. What’s more, as I mentioned before, we were looking at spending one to two-thousand dollars just to test and survey her.
I considered paying for her with a zero-interest credit card but I think that’s when I had a minor panic attack. I went on Craigslist and found an apartment with a dock out back.
“What if we got a place like this?” I asked Greg. “We could save some money and take our time finding a boat we can afford…”
Initially, he was not keen. Like me, he was set on Snowbird. But we couldn’t keep living out of our truck. I needed a steady place to work. We’d gotten a call that our furniture had reached Miami. All signs seemed to say we’d reached the end of our roadtrip.
We moved in three days later. It was a huge relief. No more holding pattern, no more limbo, no more detours – we had found a home. But with that empty slip out back calling his name all night, the need to have a boat proved too much for Greg to resist. There would be no waiting and saving. The very next day he walked over to the Chapman School and made an offer on old donated Endeavor ’32.