Wednesday, April 17, 2019

St Augustine - Dinghy scraping, Outboard repair, We eat at OC Whites

Not fun! I've never seen it so thick!
The first order of business today was scraping the dinghy bottom to get rid of encrusted barnacles from sitting in the warm waters of Titusville for four months! We usually leave out dinghy in the water while we're away with no ill effects but not this time! We use Petit dinghy paint which is water based for compatibility with Hypalon and fiberglass bottoms. For the past eight years, it's been fine but this year it gave way to barnacles about an inch tall! That put one heck of a drag when towing it behind Fleetwing.

A close up of the technique for barnacle removal
St Augustine Marina has a very wide dock facing the bridge so we took advantage of the space to upend the dinghy for bottom access. I had visited an Ace hardware store in the morning and bought heavy duty which could be used with a hammer if needed. Well, I need that hammer, the barnacles are tenacious! They gave way but only after a couple of heavy licks with the hammer on the end of the scraper! It was slow going but I finished by noon.

The next order of business was to get the dinghy motor back which arrived at 5:15 from the repair shop. They picked it up at the marina and returned it too so all I had to do was get it to and from the boat. The problem was a gummed up carburetor. He had to clean it out twice to get it working.

But we topped it all off with a nice dinner at O.C. Seafood
With all that out of the way, it was time for a little R&R. On the advice of our friend Terri, we tried O.C. White's Seafood and Spirits which is right next door to the marina. We both ordered the shrimp which was fresh and cooked just right, recommended.

On Thursday, we're headed for the Jacksonville free docks right off Sister's Creek, hopefully, there will be room for us. Friday will most likely be a layover day since the chance of rain is 100% along with high winds. We'll start out again on Saturday when a spell of good weather is predicted.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

St Augustine - at a dock, Ft Matanzas no drama

Yep, we're in St Augustine, pirates abound
Aqua Map Master with the USACE survey chars makes it ridiculously easy to pass through the shallow spots of the ICW. I already had a gpx route for Ft Matanzas but it was nothing more than plotting the exact deepest water per the USACE survey. It's a help in keeping focus on the best path but the real hero is the USACE survey.  I went through Ft Matanzas with a -0.3 ft drain tide but I had no worries since I knew the survey showed a way through. In fact, I didn't see anything less than 10.5 ft even with the -0.3 drain tide! Of course, you had to carefully follow the gpx route but if you did that, you had no worries. 

Laura and Gail paid a visit this afternoon. They spent the winter in the Bahamas.
They also have a Beneteau 423
I found a shop that would come to the marina to take your outboard back to their shop for repair. They came by at 5:15 and picked up the outboard and will look at it Wednesday. Hopefully, it's only a cleaning out of the fuel lines and nothing more major than that. I'll find out tomorrow. 

We're tucked into the northwest corner of the marina, easy to get in, exciting to get out
I will also tackle the dinghy bottom too, I found some heavy duty tools I had for scraping which I'll use for the scraping. Most of the barnacles are on fiberglass so it's not too bad, I will have to be very careful on the Hypalon.  

The St Augustine marina has fully recovered. All slips are in place and everything works. It was always the best marina for nearness to downtown and we intend to enjoy that on Wednesday. Whether we leave as planned on Thursday will depend on whether the outboard has been repaired or not. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Bethune Park - at anchor, windlass jams, dinghy motor won't start

The iPad Pro 12.9 makes a great chartplotter! Here it shows both Navionics SonarChart and Aqua Map,
try doing that with any chartplottrer. 
We got off in good season from Titusville just by backing out all the way to the entrance. There was no future in trying to turn with a strong north wind but backing out was fine. Our dinghy with all the barnacles slowed us down. The dinghy was new this year and I used the usual bottom paint formulated for dinghies which I used before. What I think happened was the new fiberglass bottom still had mold release on it and so my bottom paint did not adhere. Without any protection, the barnacles grew wild!

Rockhouse Creek is open for business
Next came anchoring which resulted in a jammed windlass. It seems that the manufacturer lined the opening where the rope and chain descend into the locker with a plastic lining - to aid in a free fall of the rode. After 15 years, the plastic lining deteriorated and partially blocked the opening, causing the rode to jam. After a couple of hours of sawing at the tough plastic lining, I finally got it out. The opening is larger without the lining and the rode drops more easily.

Bethune Park dinghy dock is still not repaired after two years! I used a nearby sandy beach.
Then it came time to take Hoolie ashore. Pull, pull, no motor start. Pull some more, same thing. The spark plug looked dry when I removed it for inspection so there was no gas reaching the cylinder. Plenty of gas was coming in from the tank but it wasn't reaching the cylinder. Fuel filter? Carburetor?  It's my next project, fun, fun. I had lots of practice rowing the dinghy tonight.

A peaceful evening, St Augustine Tuesday
Ponce de Leon had been dredged so there were no problems there, at least 11 ft MLLW. Aqua Map Master with the USACE maps is a joy to use, super clear on the depths. If you have a route in, it will display the next lift bridge distance and ETA. It was handy today in not getting to the George Munson Bridge in New Smyrna Beach, Florida too soon. With a 2 kt current, you wanted to arrive just in time and not have to do donuts waiting for the opening.

Tuesday is St Augustine for two days to explore the town and, now, to get the dinghy back into shape and perhaps shave a few barnacles off the bottom too.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Titusville - The front arrives, barnacles on dinghy

Florida storms can get windy with lots and lots of rain
Today was the hottest day of the week and it signaled that a cool front as coming through with the associated storms. It arrived with wind and rain but it only lasted an hour or so and now it's 11 degrees cooler at 80, still pretty warm.

The dinghy has been sitting in the warm waters of the marina now for almost five months. I could see some growth on the side so I thought I ought to take it ashore and scrape the bottom. There is a convenient boat ramp nearby and I rowed over. When I finally got the dinghy upturned, I was amazed (and dismayed) at the amount of growth. It looked like a derelict boat that had been in the water for several years. There were not just barnacles but also marine growth resembling coral fans. It was terrible! I had a scraper with me that I broke in the first minute, no dice.  I removed the soft growth and called it a day. I'll try again later with a stronger scraper. I never had such a problem before with the same dinghy paint?!

When leaving, we have to back towards the shore with lots of rocks. I think it's
 pretty deep right up to the edge but I've never tested that - I don't intend to try Monday
We plan on setting out on Monday before 8:00 am and hope to reach Bethune Park in Daytona. We've used the anchorage before and it has the prerequisite shore access for Hoolie. The fall shallow spots have all been dredged so it should be an easy trip. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Titusville - Falcon Heavy redo, Disney World

It was a spectacular launch of the Falcon Heavy. This was the view from our dock in Titusville Marina
When you put things away after a visit, it is always best to put it all away fresh. With that in mind, we had three loads of laundry today and we'll have two more loads on Sunday. We will start out clean heading north on Monday. It continues to warm up with a high in the 80s and a prediction of 91 for Sunday. Summer has definitely arrived, time to move on. 

The kids spent Friday at Disney World - staring out at 5:30 am and leaving the park at 10:00 pm
It's wonderful to be so young...
My son took a better picture of the Falcon Heavy launch than I did so I'm featuring that photo tonight. It was successful in every way and now the US has a proven rocket that's twice the power of anything else in the world. 

Meanwhile, we're reclaiming the aft cabin to make our living quarters more spacious (and the aft cabin less spacious). We will continue the process on Sunday in preparation for our Monday morning departure for Bethune Park in Daytona. It's getting close to the time to return to the cooler temperatures. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Titusville - All alone, Rendezvous, provisioning

We saw a circle of parachutes coming down this afternoon, here's one of them
I don't think I would want to do that...
The gang got off this morning at 6:15 am which must be a record of some sort. They wanted to get to Disney World as the gates opened at 9:00 after picking up another girl they knew along the way. We are now getting hourly updates on their progress through the Magic Kingdom via photos in Messenger. We went there years ago, it's a place for young ones. I think they are even staying for fireworks at 9:00 pm and then they'll shut the doors to the park on their way out. You've got to have stamina! 

Doug says hi, he's a former professional fisherman
We met the captain of the boat at the end of our dock, Doug on Rendezvous. It's a huge powerboat with all the conveniences of a home that includes a refrigerator just like you would have in a house, likewise for the stove and dishwasher (!) along with the washer and dryer. I think he said they carried 600 gallons of water. Our Fleetwing certainly looks rather modest compared to Rendezvous, but we'll keep what we have.

The bookend is always a sunset
Saturday will be a "putting the boat back in order" day in preparation for leaving on Monday to go north. It is time to move, the weather has turned hot. We're due for a high of 91 on Sunday! 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Titusville - Airboat ride, Falcon Heavy launch, Webinar

Our airboat ride
It was a busy day today. We started off with an airboat ride just out of town on route 50 at Midway. At the store, they have parrots, snakes, and a pet pig. The real attraction is airboat which requires almost no water and they just fly. In one spot there were dozens of alligators, too many to count. After the ride was over, we were taken to the alligator farm where we could hold a small alligator in our arms! They are heavy! But they are surprisingly soft.

These Florida alligators are huge!
Then it was time to watch for the Falcon Heavy launch at 6:35 and today it left right on time! They successfully landed all three rocket cores this time: two on land and one on the ocean ship. It was a clear day and we watch the launch from Titusville Marina at the end of our dock. There was a sonic boom as the returning two rockets to land at Kennedy broke the sound barrier on their way down.

That small alligator is heavier than it looks! But the skin is soft.
Lastly, I hosted a Webinar with Ed Tillett attended by over 500 people on the ICW. It appeared to be a success and the recording of the Webinar will be posted to the web with a link at a later date. All in all, a very busy day, I'm beat.
Falcon Heavy, up, up and away!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Titusville - Alligators

He was watching us!
We drove through Black Point Drive today and saw more alligators today than at any time in the past. I think the warm weather really got them moving. They were all in the water and seemed to like the warm weather, it was in the 80s again today. Other than the alligators, there wasn't a lot of wildlife. The spoonbill is long gone and the remaining birds were either all white or all black, not a lot of color.

Another one of about a dozen
The big news today was the scheduled launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket. It was scheduled for 6:38 pm and then it was delayed to 8:00 pm due to high-level winds. We just got the news a few moments ago that it was scrubbed for the day. It's due to no fault of the rocket, they just didn't want to chance the high-speed winds aloft. So now it's been delayed from Sunday to Monday to Tuesday to Wednesday and now to Thursday. If I were a betting man, I would bet much on Thursday either. The heavy lifter seems ready to go, they just need a weather window.

Tomorrow we're due to take an airboat ride which ought to be interesting and later that day at 7:00, I will host a Webinar with Ed Tillett of Waterway Guide in conjunction with Navionics. We'll talk about things to know before setting out on the ICW. Tune in if you can. Register here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Titusville - Manatee Watching and Shiloh

Gentle giants - but a local diver in the area related that one purposely got between him and an alligator
one time when he was in the water scraping a hull. He's now very fond of manatees!
The weather is warming up and that brings the manatees out in force in the marina. We saw a manatee with a young calf this afternoon. They were just lazing in the sun soaking up the rays. Sarah loves to sit and watch them.

Sarah gives all the manatees she sees a name
About this time of the year, the winds shift from predominately out of the north to out of the south. We are in the middle of that shift now and with the south winds, we are getting warmer weather. We are typically getting highs of 85 now but it still cools down to the 60s at night. We're not in the middle of summer yet.

The big event on Wednesday is the Falcon Heavy launch which is still holding at 6:38. It slipped twice but the Wednesday date looks good so far. We would like to drive south about 5 miles to get a better angle on the launch but the roads are expected to be packed so we'll play it by ear. NASA even hinted that the Falcom Heavy could send man to the moon - if NASA's own rocket was delayed too much or canceled. We'll watch it on Wednesday.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Titusville - We visit the Kennedy Space Center

The real Atlantic space shuttle
One absolutely must visit area when you're here is the Kennedy Space Center. I've been there twice and I went again today with the kids. It's an all-day affair so we arrived shortly after 9:00 am, a good time to see some of the exhibits that are usually very crowded, like the shuttle simulation ride.

What tires on the shuttle, why Michelin
The site funded privately, no taxpayer dollars go into the design and maintenance of the exhibits. The first thing that strikes you is how fresh everything looks. The area is spotless, well organized, the attendants are courteous, and everything works - no out of order exhibits.

Mind boggling big, the Saturn V rocket used to go to the moon
The star attraction in my book is the Atlantis shuttle. It's the real shuttle, not a replica. They do a dynamite lead-in to the display, complete with an intro, music, and a rising curtain in sync with the music. Stunning. The first thing that struck me was how big it is. I was expecting something smaller - it's huge!

A rock sample from the moon!
They have a bunch of interactive displays (landing a shuttle, operating the robotic arm, etc.) Then you move on the simulation of riding the shuttle itself which is hard to describe except to say it's impressive.

The entry fee includes a bus ride to the Saturn V rocket which is hung overhead in the arena. Again, it's much bigger than I had ever imagined. There a chance that Rowan, our youngest grandson, will do south with us next year from Titusville to Key West (or perhaps the year after that) and the Kennedy Space Center will certainly be a stop for that trip!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Titusville - Recovery day

Six hours of watching robotics competitions
Today was recovery day after a long day of traveling. The girls and Philip were deeply involved in the robotics competition from their school in Hartford, CT. It's a fabulous series of events where the students design, make and compete in robots that they design to meet the requirements of upcoming competition. Each year they design new robots from scratch and compete against several hundred other robots designed by other students. The competitions are held at the school, local, and state level and even go on to the national level. It's an amazing process and details can be found at NE First Robots. 

Philip, who's on the team from Hartford where his daughters attend, watched the event live over a broadcast from the competition area, about six hours of TV time. We were able to stream it over WiFi with your unlimited Verizon plan. I never knew such competitions existed until Philip got involved.

Excuse me but we always watch the sunset
I think Monday is a day at the Kennedy Space Center. The Falcon Heavy launch is still due for Tuesday and that's not a day for travel anywhere near here. The last Falcon Heavy launch attracted 100,000 people and the roads were jammed, nobody moved for hours. So we will explore the space center before the crowds on Tuesday.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Titusville - Invaded!

Our teenager Sarah, where did the little girl go?
They left 35 degree weather and arrived in 85 degree weather! Such a pleasant surprise and respite from the winter doldrums. Today was the hottest it's been since we've returned to Titusville. They will have a week stay with us and are looking forward to adventures to come that include a Falcon Heavey launch sometime this week.

I think they also plan visits to the Kennedy Space Center and to Disney World. It's enough to keep everybody occupied which is not hard to do given the warm weather. Fleetwing tends to fill up during visits such as this, two adults and two teenagers, Sarah and Natalie.

After three glasses of fine wine, it looks pretty good.
We plan to just go with the flow and see what they want to do. I think they are just glad to escape the cold weather. Enjoying the beach or the sights around here are just a bonus.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Titusville - D Day minus 1

I like the reflections off the water
The aft cabin has never looked better. We are ready for the invasion due Saturday afternoon. The weather has warmed up to Florida natural for this time of the year - about time! So where did all the stuff go? Why, into the starboard locker, it's packed solid. I wouldn't run the boat that way but for sitting on a dock for a week, it's fine.

There's even a Telse S in the parking lot here, an $80,000 car. It's been plugged in for the last week. 
The Falcon Heavy launch has slipped to Tuesday, April 9 at 6:36 pm. They did a successful test firing today and plan on a full launch four days later, which is pretty fast in itself. I wouldn't be surprised if that date slipped a day or two. It will be a sight to behold with the return of the twin boosters landing in sync at Kennedy.

I never tire of sunsets
We now have a new horn, 123 Db of power. A boat our size is supposed to have one with 120 Db output so now we're legal. There's nothing left to do except wait for the arrival of our crew from the frozen north country. I can still remember the sensation of stepping out of the plane that started out with temperatures in the '30s and landing when it's in the '80s. The feeling is surreal.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Titusville - Labor of Hercules

One of the attractions of the Titusville Marina is the nearby park complete with a dog park.
In order to get ready for our kids visit on Saturday, I had to clean out the aft cabin. As anyone who has ever had a boar with two cabins and only two crew knows - that aft cabin is so handy in putting stuff away and yet still have it near. We started out with good intentions with a relatively bare aft cabin but as the days went by, the aft cabin beckoned with all the unused space. Whereupon, we succumbed and gave in to the temptation of endless storage. Now the rubber has hit the road, so to speak and we have to clear it out. That resulted in today's activity. What you do not want to ask is where it all went...

We get a better view of the sunset after we moved to the other side of "A" dock.
We heard today that they are expecting an extra 100,000 visitors for the Falcon Heavy launch on Sunday. We never expected that! We are close enough to just walk to a good viewing area. The latest news is that the launch will be delayed since the rocket did not make the required test firing today. Hopefully, it will be sometime this week.

The kids are due to arrive Saturday so we'll spend another day getting ready.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Titusville - Moorings too

Titusville also has a mooring field - but it's wide open to the wind and waves
We keep getting these northern fronts coming down. This is the time of the year when all this is supposed to stop! I want warm weather, I want calm days, I want a south wind if there's any wind at all. What is going on? Well, I'll show the weather gods, I'll just sit here until I get what I want...

The purpose of the spray is to prevent stratification. I always thought it was to aerate the water
Well, that was refreshing. Unfortunately, we'll have to move by 4/15, it's getting late. We think we have all these things we have to do over the summer and some are probably pretty important so we will eventually go north. First of all, we have the kids next week and the weather is predicted to be in the 80's so that's a relief - if prediction meets reality. We can all hope.

Hoolie continues his enthusiasm in going to the dog park. If he thinks he's headed that way, he whimpers all the way, it's the only time he ever makes a sound. He doesn't do it in the morning or at night when I walk the same path, only when he's actually headed for the dog park. Dogs learn I guess. All he does is run after balls I throw. He doesn't bring them back, he just chases them. That's his exercise. He ignores all other dogs, he just wants to run. I wonder what he thinks of us...

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Titusville - Visits and a wood stork

An odd-looking creature. Notice the one leg stand. He reminds me of a scene from Time Bandits
Since we're not traveling, many of our friends have dropped by to say hello. Today we renewed tied to a friend that Ann had when she attended the University of Maine. Dick and Barb spend the winters in Florida and the summers in Maine. It's a good way to get the best of both worlds and I think there's a lot of other people that do the same thing, us included although we do it on a boat. We used to spend winters in New York, it's not bad, it just doesn't appeal to us anymore. We like the warmer weather now.

It's always good to meet friends along the way
They are headed back north and we'll follow in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, we continue to enjoy the warm weather and I'm finishing up on getting all the routes ready for my Facebook site. I will be creating a gpx file that when downloaded, includes all the gpx files needed for going north. One download, all gpx files for all routes on my GPX Routes page. That one file should make it easier to upload the routes to a chartplotter since there are so many of them if you do it separately.

Time to take Hoolie ashore!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Titusville - Cool Monday

There's a reason for the bars, he can bite!
Well, it was 85 yesterday but only 70 today. Perhaps it's still too early to go north? Usually this time of the year, we're just now leaving Key West headed to Marathon. Being in Titusville, we have a huge head start so we don't have to move until the middle of the month to be in sync with our previous trips home.

Ethanol free gas is routinely available here
That schedule also coincides with our kids arriving next week for their week in the sun, escaping from the frozen north. We will have visitors on Tuesday from Ann's college days in Maine. Dick and Barb will drop by for some catching up during lunch, it ought to be fun.

The weather at least seems to have settled down and should be nice for our kid's visits. We just heard a few minutes ago that it was 25F at home, ugh!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Titusville - Things to Do

How about holding an alligator after a boat ride?
Our kids are due to arrive next Saturday so we thought we would look around the local area for attractions that might be of interest to them. Monday is already taken up with the scheduled launch of a Falcom Heavy. It's actually three Falcon rockets strapped together. Two are used as boosters and they break off and return to Kennedy and land vertically, quite a sight! The remaining first stage will be captured on a platform at sea.

Or, you could pet the store's hog?
I think they want to visit Disney World on Tuesday which leaves the rest of the week. Ann thought that a ride in an airboat might be fun so we scouted out the area and found one on route 50, nearby. Or, they could take a kayak tour which is up by the haulover bridge. Then, there's always the beach.

All that comes after the airboat ride!
It's an active group so we'll see what happened. As it appears now, we won't be heading north until 4/15, a Monday. That will at least give the dredgers a chance to clear things out some and also time for the weather to warm up more!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Titusville - Black Point and Low Country Boil

A tri-colored heron at Merritt Island
We wanted to see how the birds were doing at Merritt Island so we took another drive along Black Point. This time, the birds were almost all gone! There was not a spoonbill in sight and very few other birds. I guess most of them are on their way north. We did see a tri-colored heron but he was all alone.

The marina had about 100 turn out for the dinner
Today was the day for the low country boil hosted by the marina. Each person got a bag of shrimp, sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob. We passed by the table and got a netted bag with the goodies inside. I guess it's a tradition in the area and for $10/bag, it was a bargain. It was more than enough to eat and it came with iced tea and dessert (apple cobbler or banana pudding). It was a good way to get the marina socially together and the food was good.

The chef was in fine form
I have a few more boat projects before the kids arrive from up north and then it's invasion time, we're looking forward to it!