After St Augustine, we headed to Daytona beach, and dropped anchor in a spot just off the ICW. Unfortunately, we were spending only one night here, on a week day, and the weather was starting to get a little cold, so the odds were stacked against us actually visiting the beach. However, after a busy work day, while google-mapping what was near us, we discovered we were a short hop from a distillery: Copper Bottom Spirits. So we put down the dingy and headed to shore. We discovered that the restaurant attached to a nearby marina offered free temporary moorage to guests of the restaurant, so we put our name down in the queue for their outdoor deck (a 1 hour wait!) and headed off to the distillery.
When we arrived at the distillery, we were the only people there, so the owner let us into the back room/warehouse and gave us a tour. We’d never actually toured a distillery before, just lots of wineries/breweries, so this was a neat treat.
Their specialty is rum, offering several different varieties aged in different types of barrels: Sherry, Port, Whiskey, and even several beers. They also started doing a from-scratch Vodka recently, which is apparently a very rare thing, as almost everyone buys high-proof source Vodka from one of a few giant producers, and then just adds their own flavors/water/filtering and bottle it.
He talked about their entire process, most of which they do manually, from sugar cane through to bottling/labeling, including the long distillation process in the middle. It was fun to chat with him about everything, because the business was obviously a labor of love, not just a job. Anyone passing through here with an appreciation for liquor should stop in and get a tour/tasting!
After the tour, we went out to the tasting room and actually got to try everything. Their “base” aged rum was at least as interesting as our current “drinking rum” choice, the Plantation 20th anniversary, and the various barrel-finished rums were fascinating. We ended up picking up a variety of their rums. The vodka actually had a drinkable flavor, unlike virtually all other vodkas we’ve tried, but we’re not really vodka folks, so with limited space on the boat we passed. At the end, they, like everyone else in these coastal towns, turned out to be boaters, so we talked about our trip as well, as the nightly Christmas boat parade bobbed by outside their tasting room window.
Back at the restaurant (1.5hrs later), our name still hadn’t been called, but after a few more minutes of waiting, our table was finally ready. This was a pretty gimmicky restaurant and it turned out our table was a rocking contraption, which moved when you climbed in or set it to motion! We also ordered a tiki drink that was served in a take-home coconut carved with a pirate face.
Since it was still mid-week we did another short hop to a somewhat random spot 15ish miles south, just off the ICW, where we dropped anchor.
David had discovered that there was a nearby German restaurant that was very highly reviewed, with its own dock. After another busy work day, we dropped the dingy and headed again to shore. The temperature was getting much colder at this point, and the restaurant staff were pretty surprised by our desire to sit outside, but we insisted, so we were led out to their deserted porch. It was a delicious meal!
Next up, we headed to Fort Pierce and decided to stay there for a couple of days to be there on the weekend. We spent the first evening at a brewery (Sail Fish) very close to the marina where David tasted a couple of the beers.
The next day we dropped the bikes down and rode to a nearby botanical garden, which turned out to house one of the largest collections of bonsai trees in the country! The gardens were all set up for their holiday season light event, so you can see those in the photos.
After the bike ride, we ended up at a cider brewer (Pierced Cider Works), where we were able to sample all of their 10 different ciders! They had a great band playing in their garden seating area, so we spent a couple of hours going through the samples, playing cards and listening to music. It was really a rather perfect afternoon, and much more like what we were hoping to spend the year on the loop doing. Maybe late next year after we’re all vaccinated we’ll have more opportunities like this…
As we were walking back to the boat, the sun was setting and the sky was beautiful.
After Fort Pierce, we headed south to Stuart. We’d been planning this stop for a while as there was a boat in the marina here that we wanted to take a look around. We’d gotten to Stuart a few days early, so instead of going into the expensive marina for a few weeknights, we anchored a few miles downriver instead, in a huge open cove with good holding and minimal wakes from passing sport fisher boats. We enjoyed a few perfect evenings of still water and perfect weather here before heading into the marina Wednesday morning.
At the end of the work day, we took a tour of the boat (very nice! we have some thinking to do…) and then dropped the bikes down and headed in to town for some errands. At the end of the line, we ended up at another brewery (Ocean Republic Brewing) for a tasting. We are finding that when we only have an evening in a place, the sun sets at 5pm, and we are still avoiding inside activities, that breweries seem to be our main option of off-boat entertainment, so it’s possible we’re just alcoholics at this point. Thanks COVID.