On to Stuart to stage for Trawlerfest

Most of our travel decisions since leaving Key West were generally targeted at getting us to Stuart for TrawlerFest, where Esmeralde was scheduled to be on stage. Today we headed to Stuart for final prep. And we completed our loop of south Florida at St. Lucie Inlet.

Days 142 – 143, March 4 – 5, 2019

So many milestones. First, we were leaving the Gold Coast and entering the Treasure Coast. Second, we were closing our first loop of Florida. Third, this was the final step before our first TrawlerFest. Lots to be thinking about.

We closed our south Florida Peninsula loop at St. Lucie Inlet, where we had come through on December 14 as we cruised from Vero Beach to Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart. Our Florida Peninsula loop had been 635 miles, and included the crossing of Lake Okeechobee, a few weeks in the Fort Myers/Sarasota/Punta Gorda area, then a trip down to the Everglades before crossing to the Keys, Key West, back up the Keys, and up the east coast through Miami, Lauderdale and Palm Beach.

But I digress.

We had yet another gorgeous day to leave Palm Beach and enjoy some more spectacular ICW scenery. Our 36-nautical mile route took us past the port of Palm Beach, where we saw the jaw-dropping collection of superyachts at Rybovitch Marine.

Esmeralde heads up the ICW north of Palm Beach, past Lake Worth Inlet. Thanks Charlie D for the pic!

From there, it was up through Riviera Beach, North Palm Beach, Jupiter, Hobe Sound, and finally to St. Lucie Inlet, where we took a left turn and retraced our December steps up the St. Lucie River to Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart. The route offered plenty of upscale real estate, but also a nice amount of open space, state and local parks, nature preserves and marine sanctuaries. It was a pleasant, easy ride.

We pulled in to Sunset Bay Marina and tied up for two nights. The plan was to spend most of our time scrubbing up, so Esmeralde would be spiffy for TrawlerFest. Mother Nature did part of the job for us, as the heavens opened and we were clobbered by a heavy squall, torrential rain, thunder and lightning, all right at cocktail hour. We huddled with some other American Tug friends on the deck at the marina while it blew through. A nice rinse-off for the boat. What a difference a few minutes can make.

Sunset Bay Marina is a pleasant stop. It is also a mecca of sorts for American Tugs. There were five of us there on our last visit, and four this time. In addition to passing our time with boat prep, wandering the village and going for a few runs, we spent time chatting with our fellow American Tug pals who make Sunset Bay their winter home. Time passed quickly, and before we knew it, the time came to toss off our lines and head over to Trawler Fest on Hutchinson Island.

West Palm Beach (Palm Harbor Marina) to Stuart (Sunset Bay Marina)
36 nautical miles, 7.1 average speed, 5h 7m
2088 total trip miles

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