Monday, January 18, 2021

Titusville - A walk at Oak Hammock on Merritt Island


A jungle walk, but civilized on a boardwalk

Maybe winter is over? At least we can hope. With full sun today, it was time to get out and enjoy the freedom of walking around. It makes a big difference staying at Titusville when you have a car to see the sights so we all piled into the car and headed to Merritt Island. 

I love the translucent look, it glows 

The visitor center was closed and they had a sign that said they were only open on weekends, contrary to their website that states they are closed all the time. We continued north to Oak Hammock which is still open and I think most of the hiking areas remain open too. With the cool weather of the last few weeks, there were no mosquitos out. The area is a riot of shades of green with an occasional wild orange tree with red berries scattered about. 

Color added for interest, but don't eat (to Hoolie)

We just enjoy getting off the boat and the fresh air. I think Hoolie had sensory overload. He was to the right, to the left, sniffing - there was no straight path for him. So he's tugging away while I'm trying to take photos, a losing cause. Having a car changes everything when staying at Titusville Marina. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Titusville - How do you tie down boats in a hurricane area?


One for each side

Titusville Marina has no storage area for boats out of the water. However, there are two marinas in the harbor and the one south of here, Westland Marina, does have land storage. It's tucked into the southern corner so no wave action can get at the boats still in the water nor get to the boats stored on land. That's fine,  but how do you protect from high winds when a boat is on land? 

The cement blocks look pretty heavy - could they move under hurricane-force winds?

We don't expect CAT5 hurricanes but 100 mph winds are still pretty damaging. The approach that Westland takes is to anchor no-stretch lines to the fore and aft cleats. Nylon line will not work due to its stretchiness. That brings up a web approach which they use. The second piece of the puzzle is how to anchor the lines? Westland uses two types of anchors: cement blocks and large screws turned into the ground. I guess both have their pros and cons but the type that's screwed into the ground appears to be more secure than a cement block lying on top of the ground which I can picture scooting along under a
pounding stress. 

A more traditional approach is to use earth screws - better or not as good as cement blocks?

On the other hand, Westland has been through many hurricanes passing through the area and has survived so I would go with their recommendations. They also have an excellent mechanic on site which I've used many times but it's a DYI yard for those that prefer their own labor. 

We're in a cool period but that's going to change in the next few days for a week when temperatures are due to reach into the 70s every day. 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Titusville - Blue Origin and the dinner that was too big

Nothing second rate about the Blue Origin complex at Kennedy Space Center

 With the full sunshine and warm temperatures, we chose to take a drive down to Cocoa Beach. As you might suspect, not much was happening in the winter and COVID didn't help matters any. Nonetheless, it was a nice outing. On the way back, we passed by the Kennedy Space Center and saw the Blue Origin assembly plant by the complex. It's not just one or two buildings but rather a large grouping of multiple areas. Jeff Bezos is investing $1 billion of his own money every year in Blue Origin, some good coin. Along with Elon Musk, they are keeping the US ahead of the rest of the world in space - and at a much less expensive investment than if NASA did it themselves. 

"How do I eat this??"

Coming back to Fleetwing, I saw a bird with dinner in its beak but with no way to swallow his catch. You can see in the photo that the fish is rather large and appears to be too big for the bird to swallow. The bird swam around for several minutes and I never did see what became of the fish. The bird was certainly having great difficulty consuming dinner. 

Time for donuts Sunday and a lazy weekend. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Titusville - Pastel Paintings


A scene from the summertime up north

With the advent of the pandemic, Youtube has blossomed with painters offering free lessons with the hope of gathering a following for a monthly fee, another way for a good painter to earn a living. Ann has been painting for 60 years, first in watercolors and then in pastels. With the lockdown, she has been painting every day and following several of the artists on Youtube for lessons. 

Contrasts - from the Hudson River in New York

I've watched her progress over the years and realized that there's a lot more to painting than it appears at first sight. How do you get a round object to appear round? How do you get water to appear flat? How do you get objects to appear to recede into the distance. There are techniques to use that are not obvious, at least to me. Ann knows them. 

A scene from Merritt Island in Florida

For example, in the painting at top, the water appears perfectly flat in the right side of the picture in the foreground. Maybe it looks different to you, it's hard to do. Notice how the water receded in the left part of the painting towards the far away hillls, with the water still appearing flat. 

The second painting is a study in values, contrasts between reds and blues. A different sort of painting but I think it hangs together well. 

The bottom painting is different still. The color values are all earth tones and notice the water, it appears flat and belongs where it's at. Unless you've ever tried such a scene, it's hard to appreciate the technical difficulty in achieving that depiction. Ann enjoys just painting, it's part of her character. She will be up in the cockpit painting in pastels while I'm down below doing my Waterway Guide work or posting in my ICW Cruising Guide Facebook page. The hours pass by quickly with both of us doing what we enjoy, after all, we're retired and in a warm climate!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Titusville - Cabin and Cattle


A propane tank fill-up - typical shop in Titusville. If your tank date has expired,
they will retest the tank for $20 and add on another 5 years. Cheaper than buying a new tank!

With the full sun today, it was time to take a ride to Christmas, Florida. There's a fort there along with preserved cabins and other examples of early buildings in Florida. I understand the early settlers had some time with the mosquitoes! Here in Titusville on our dock, we haven't seen any insects at all, perhaps it's the time of the year. 

Not so bad for an early house in Florida - at Christmas, FL

On the way back, we stopped at the Route 50 crossing over the St Johns River. This far south, it's quite shallow but it harbors a bunch of alligators. We didn't see any today but there are cattle that coexist with the alligators and seem to get along with them just fine. You would think the cattle were prey for the alligators but they don't seem to be attacked from what we hear. 

What alligators? I'm good...

We are settling in for the winter. Friday is grocery day and once again we will use Walmart's service of gathering the items and putting them in the trunk, nice. Florida has a policy of offering covid-19 vaccine shots to anybody that makes a reservation, Florida resident or not. There was an announcement for vaccines offered at 8:30 yesterday morning for sign-up and the entire allotment was gone out by 8:40. Florida is one of the few states that offers the vaccine first to those 65 and over. There have been reports of people getting a ticket for shots over the internet sign up site and flying in from other states for one day to get the shots. There are residents that are pissed over that! We are on an instant message alert for when more vaccine shots are offered but the window to sign up is very limited - and the webpage is hard to get to come up. We'll keep trying. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Into warm weather, a little cool must come


Hoolie's coquina rock

We are in Florida and it's certainly warmer than up north, especially New York - but it can still feel cool with a high today of only 60F. We are a boat so the bottom half of our "home" is submerged in much warmer water and with an electric 1500 watt heater, we're doing just fine. 

I wonder where this guy goes on such a cool day?

One of the reasons we went south was to be able to get out in the morning in more than 20-degree weather. I used to run with temps down to -10F but that was many years ago, no more. Even on cold mornings here, it's much warmer than 20 F, our lower limit up north. So it's out in the morning for a run and then a walk in the afternoon. We occasionally will take Hoolie over to the dog park but we like warmer weather for that. Today we took him to see the coquina rock near the park. You find these all over Florida for yard decorations. The hole was left after a palm tree died thousands of years ago. 

Time for a warm up over the next few days!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Titusville Marina News

The Titusville Marina dinghy dock, $2/day for a max of 3 days

The marina is getting a new WiFi system. The present one is outdated in the extreme. The total feed for the entire marina is only 20 Mbps but the new system will have a feed of 200 Mbps. Improvements will also be made by deleting the sign-in page which was a constant source of complaints when users could not get the page to appear on their device.  There will also be a password which will enable encrypting of data between their router and your device, always a good thing - now, everything is transmitted out in the open. The system is due to be approved 1/12/2021 and installed within a few weeks. We all have high hopes for the new service. 

You can use this dock free of charge but it's a walk to the office and on to town

Meanwhile, if you anchor out at Titusville, you can still use the dinghy dock by the office for $2/day and if you want to use facilities (showers, laundry, etc.) it's $6/day. However, there's a limit of three days for an anchored boat. If you want to have shore access beyond that, there's a free dinghy dock over by the dog park next to the public boat ramps. 

I always thought these were odd-looking
birds. They remind me of the villains
in Time Bandits.

Everything is up and running here and in town. You must wear masks in stores but at least they are open and most stores will deliver what you order over the phone or webpage right to your trunk. The vaccine is on the way but it's going to take a year to get everyone vaccinated that wants it. I don't think things will change much until the end of 2021 at best. I would hope for vaccination for us by springtime but it's going to take much longer for the rest of the US, not to mention the rest of the world. I sure won't be traveling overseas in the near future, if ever.