Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Space coast

We are docked at the municipal marina in the city of Titusville, Florida (map).  Notwithstanding my last post, wherein I speculated that we would be here just one night, we are pinned down by weather and tonight will mark our second here.  Fortunately, it is relatively inexpensive at $1.44/foot for BoatUS members, plus $9 for power.

Sunday night found us anchored in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, just east of the yacht club (map).  The weather was so beautiful Sunday that we made it an extra-long day, going well past our targets of Daytona Beach or Ponce Inlet.  At one point it got so warm in the pilothouse that we went upstairs to the flybridge and ran the boat from there, taking in the stately homes lining the Intracoastal Waterway surrounding Daytona.

We have a reciprocal yacht club in Daytona that charges just $0.75 per foot, and had we been ready to stop that would have been a great option.  But the town itself holds no calling for us, and with such perfect weather it made more sense to press on and anchor for the night.  Nevertheless we enjoyed passing through this area on the water, and the waterway was quite busy on a pleasant weekend afternoon.

The anchorage in New Smyrna Beach had less than eight feet of water at low tide, and we waited until after 9am to weigh anchor yesterday so that we'd have at least 8.5' of water and a rising tide, which also gave us a little push up the Mosquito Lagoon for the first couple of hours.  The lagoon itself is quite tedious, with a very narrow and shallow channel in the middle of lots of un-navigable water.

Still, we had a nice run yesterday until we reached the Haulover Canal north of the space center.  The skies turned threatening just as we made the turn, and after we cleared the canal into the Indian River lagoon, the heavens opened and the winds picked up to 20+ knots.  I had been running at 1500 rpm all day for fuel economy, and I had to increase to 1600, 1700, and at times 1800 to maintain good steerage and stabilizer performance in the blow.  Even then, we were listing perhaps five degrees port with the fins at full lock.

We managed to make it all the way to Titusville and through the Nasa railroad bridge without getting pushed out of the channel, and the final leg into the marina, due west through a small entrance channel, I had to crank it back up to 1800 again.  We docked in crosswinds of 15 knots or so, in a narrow slip off a fairway not much wider than the boat is long, but we made it in without incident and, according to Louise, we again impressed the dockhands.  Weird, because I gave myself only middling marks for it, having to skid along one of the pilings with the rub rail.

Conditions deteriorated throughout the remainder of the afternoon, and by nightfall we were quite happy to be well secured alongside and have 50 amp power to run every heater on the boat.  From a high in the 60s mid-afternoon temperatures had dropped into the 40s late in the evening, and it was just this side of freezing at 33 when we awoke this morning.

The layout of the docks here precluded launching a scooter, so we walked over to Crackerjacks on the pier last night for a casual dinner.  I also hoofed it into town mid-afternoon to reprovision critical items at the lone mediocre grocery within walking distance, supplemented by a few items at CVS.  We could have skipped that process had we known we'd extend by a day.

Today the temperature barely rose above 40 (I know -- cry me a river, but, hey, this is *Florida*) and the winds were so high we did not even want to try backing out of the slip, and so we stumbled to the office at the 11am checkout time and extended a day.  That allowed us to take the marina's free shuttle over to Walmart this afternoon, where we fully loaded a shopping cart with staples.

Adding to the decision to stay an extra night was the nagging concern that, with our six foot draft, we might have trouble getting into our next planned stop, at Cocoa Village Marina.  The person I spoke to there yesterday expressed concerns about it with these winds (there is no tide here, but wind can raise or lower the water level by several inches).  The water is skinny enough there that we would normally not consider it, but we have a certificate for a free night that we won at the MTOA Rendezvous.  In any event, we did not want to find out at the end of a difficult, cold day today that we could not enter the marina and would need to press on and then anchor out in freezing cold weather.

I got back from my grocery excursion yesterday just in time to head up to the flybridge to watch the launch of the SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket from Launch Complex 40.  SpaceX has a launch envelope that extends to ground winds of 30 knots, and they were just under that.  We could not see the pad, as it was on the other side of a tall bridge from us, but we could see the rocket ascend into the clouds and then emerge above them before disappearing downrange.  Not anything nearly as impressive as a shuttle launch, but exciting nonetheless.  This is now the second launch we've been able to catch from the boat.

This evening we had a nice dinner downtown at Chops, which was closed last night.  Tomorrow conditions are forecast to be much calmer, and we will shove off at checkout time and head to Cocoa.  The person I spoke to there today allowed that our draft should be no trouble at all, and the last boat that had a problem drew more than seven feet.  It should be a short day, with only about three hours or so under way.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoy the blog. Full-time RV'ing is as daring as life is going to get for us. I would NEVER dream of living on a boat....what an experience you're having.

    I've enjoyed watching you learn the trade of "boat captain." (Is that the right phrase?). It's amazing what you've been able to do in such a short time. I'm glad to see you put safety first. Must be scary at times!

    Good luck and calm seas in your future. Please keep blogging your awesome adventure. I look forward to sailing with you but only through your blog! :-)



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