Throughout the blog we love to go into greater depth in filling you in on a few places we’ve really enjoyed along the way. One of those places was the Manatee Pocket.
We pulled into Stuart, leaving the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway for the first time since entering Florida on our journey south from upstate New York. Stuart is the first major boating hub you encounter when traveling south on Florida’s east coast with a host of marinas and service yards that can handle virtually anything boat/yacht related that you could imagine. We had been in search of a yard to install our new davit which we had been carrying aboard since Beaufort, South Carolina, as our original plan was to have it installed there. The weather and other circumstances eliminated that possibility. So upon reaching the Stuart area we turned west into the St. Lucie River and almost immediately turned to the south to enter the Manatee Pocket, home to a handful of boatyards including Hinckley Yacht Services which was going to be our home for the next six days while our davit was being installed. Manatee Pocket (The Pocket) is a sheltered bay that is about a mile long and about 1/5 of a mile wide.
Partly because the weather was warmer than we had generally been experiencing and partly because of the heavy concentration of boating activity that was now upon us we started to really feel like we had found a big part of the vibe we had been seeking on this adventure. While we weren’t going to have the experience of staying at a true marina with all of the requisite amenities, Hinckley is a decidedly comfortable boatyard and they do make staying aboard while you’re having work done as pleasant as possible. There are clean restrooms, great wifi, and everyone is super-friendly and helpful and always happy to see Jasper who had plenty of grass on-site and lots of places to walk just outside the gates.
The shoreline just across from Hinckley is dotted with waterfront restaurants and other facilities with relatively easy dinghy-dockage, allowing us to explore and dine out despite the fact that we don’t have a car. One of the things we enjoy the most is dining waterside so when we find a spot that offers that possibility we get excited. There’s something about jumping in your dinghy and heading out to lunch or dinner at a place you will tie-up to rather than park. In The Pocket there are three of those places just a short ride across the small bay. From where we sit, all three looked like festive island hangouts. The area is considered the Historic Port Salerno Waterfront District at Manatee Pocket.
Bright lights and music trickled across the water as we sat that first night on our top deck. It was, at long last, warm enough to sit up top. We had deployed our dinghy and were eager to explore so we made a plan for a late dinner. The small harbor is filled with boats on moorings but even in the dark, with a little care, our crossing was uneventful! There are a few areas to tie up your tender but they aren’t immediately obvious so we puttered in and out of the rows of docked boats wasting more of the evening eyeballing them. We decided on the Twisted Tuna once we tied up. There was quite a crowd, the live music was happening and it was a fun night with good food. You must try the conch!
We also hit two other restaurants. One was Shrimpers Grill and Raw Bar where we had the pleasure of listening to some steel drums by the very talented steel drum musician, Mr. Hot Pepper!
We also had a great lunch at the waterfront Manatee Island Bar and Grill where we sat under a thatched roof and watched for manatees.
If you’re looking for a place to kick back and relax, a place with plenty to see, a great vibe and a vibrant taste of the island life you can find it in the Manatee Pocket in Stuart, Florida. We had a great stay there and along with the excellent hospitality from Hinckley while our boat was being worked on it was a perfect spot for us. We’ll be back again.
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