Just south of Melbourne on Turkey Creek (to the west of US 1) Palm Bay Marina has fuel, service, storage, bait and more.
South of there,the Indian River continues wide and deep and dotted with more inviting spoil islands, many of which offer good anchorages. There are also facilities spaced comfortably along the waterway — including Sebastian Inlet, Fins Marina and Capt'n Butcher's — with docks and efficiencies to rent — and a restaurant. Also, on the mainland side south of the inlet is Captain Hiram’s Resort with marina. Some of these facilities, because of their shallow approach depths, are better suited to outboards and sterndrives than cruising craft. But near high tide, they should be accessible with care.
Sebastian Inlet has strong currents and tricky shifting shoals that make it potentially nasty, especially when easterly winds oppose an outgoing tide. It IS passable, but unless you have local knowledge, you might want to leave this one alone. Sebastian Inlet is man-made and was first cut through the barrier island in the 1880s soon after the area was first settled. The arrival of Flagler's railroad and the development of ice houses for packing the product enabled commercial fishing to flourish in Sebastian. Descendants of those original fishing families are still in the business today, and the area is still good for sportfishing too.
The inlet had to be recut in the 1920s after hurricane damage only to be closed by a hurricane once again. The present cut was made around 1947 and, thanks to frequent dredging, has been open ever since. As previously noted, it is more often favored by fishermen (both commercial and sport) than by cruising folk. One good reason: surfers consider Sebastian Inlet to be one of the best surfing areas on the entire east coast. Not exactly the best conditions for smooth sailing! A new channel has been dredged from the inlet to the ICW. Note also that inlet currents can affect you even when you stay on the ICW. Keep your eyes open for leeway and correct your steering accordingly.
From Sebastian Inlet south, the ICW route down the Indian River continues to run quite straight — and straightforward — for about ten miles. It's a dredged channel, and some spot shoaling occurs, especially at the edges, but center channel generally holds good depth all the way. The straightness of the channel is the primary evidence of man's intrusion on nature here as the surrounding land is still essentially undeveloped (though this is, unfortunately, changing). The immediate shoreline will never be developed completely, however, as the stretch of ICW from below Sebastian Inlet to just above Wabasso Bridge passes by the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. This was the nation’s first, established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. Currently, the refuge is home to ibises, egrets, double-crested cormorants, blue herons and the endangered brown pelican.
A wonderful scenic area called Indian River Narrows starts at the Wabasso bridge as the waterway ceases to be straight and winds through a series of islands and spoil banks for about four miles.
This marks the end of the Space Coast and the beginning of the Treasure Coast, the generally uncrowded and truly beautiful gateway to South Florida.
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