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!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Titusville - Wayward boat secured, dinner with Gordon and Eta

Secured at last
The boat that was hung up by the entrance to the marina was finally pulled over to the boat ramp today. Nobody has claimed it yet - there's not much to claim but they are still hoping someone will take it away. At least it's secure for now and no longer a threat to the marina boats.

With had an evening with Gordon, Eta, and friends on their boat. It's another perk of being on the water, there's a community of boaters with shared interests and we like to get together over a meal. Gordon grilled steaks, Eta prepared the side dishes, and we all had a great time.

And a good time was had by all
They will be heading north Saturday morning so they will be ahead of us through all the trouble spots. I feel like I'm dragging up the rear this year. Usually, I'm out in front but not so this time. Aqua Map Master has new surveys for many southern shallows like Hell Gate and Mud River so I used the maps today to form routes to find the deepest water and uploaded the new routes to GPX Routes. Hopefully, it will make the run north a little less stressful this year.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Titusville - Poseiden and boat aground

Still there!
The boat at the entrance to the marina was still hanging in there. The anchor chain was still tangled in the rocks and he was partially aground anyway. The boat could have wreaked havoc had it broken loose but somehow, it stayed aground. I took a photo from the other side of the channel into the marina and found several people milling around trying to figure out the best way to secure the boat.

Poseidon with the marina in the background
The spit of land on the other side of the channel has a park with a statue of Poseidon, the God of the Sea. I thought the statue had a rather creative fig leaf formed by the tail of a fish, kind of dates the status. The wind is still blowing but only 20 to 25 kts, nothing like the 43 kts of yesterday. We periodically listen and think the wind has stopped, almost, until we look at the wind gauge and see it's still 20 kts. It just seems a lot calmer than 43 kts which carries four times the force of the wind at 20 kts.

On Friday, it's supposed to be 10 to 15, a mere zephyr. We'll also pick up a car for the weekend and no doubt return to Black Point Drive for another look at the birds, always interesting.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Titusville - Wind storm - 43 kts!

Doesn't look too good but at least he's not moving at the moment
The wind never let up all day long. It averaged around 30 kts all day and gusted to 43 kts, that's 50 mph! It was relentless. It seems calm at the moment but then I looked at the wind speed and it reads 21 kts, all is relative! (it just gusted to 30 kts again...)

The anchorage area is a sea of whitecaps. One boat broke free and was driven ashore and we all thought it might make it through the opening to the marina but it finally hung up on the north bank of the entrance. It could have wreaked havoc, bouncing around between the boats at dock. There was a lot of interest on boat owners in the marina on just how well that boat was hung up. The guy on the facedock which was first in line walked out just to check it out

Here's the movie version, you get a better idea of the wind and waves
It doesn't appear to be in good shape and looked abandoned. We always wonder about those boats, nobody ever claims them and if they cause damage, the owner can't be found. The wind is due to continue to blow until Thursday evening when it's due to drop below 20 kts for the first time in two days. We are secure and will just wait out the winds, it's another day in the barn.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Titusville - Leak detection

Many trips, the young were being fed!
Our Beneteau 423 has teak rails. It's too long for the teak to be all one piece so they are butted together in four pieces with a caulking compound joining the sections. After some time, the caulking compound shrinks and allows water to seep into the joint. This is not good. The water runs along underneath the teak until is finds a weak spot at one of the screws holding the teak to the boat. Then you get a drip, drip from the tip of that weak screw.

So today was spent finding the weak screw, which we did. All the joints need to be redone but there's nothing at hand for the job nearby. For the moment, I used some rubber flex tape just as a temporary fix until I can find a good shop for the correct repair. The flex tape (that's the name brand) appears to be very sticky and ought to stem the tide, for a while at least.

/We have a nice view, every night now
That chore took up most of the day and now we're buttoned down for the high winds and rain expected on Wednesday. And, we've settled into our new slip and we're liking it better and better. It has a great view of the setting sun. We never tire of sunsets, especially when it's warm.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Titusville - Gordon and Eta Visit

Note where Hoolie is, in the middle of the action!
One of the great pleasures of cruising the ICW is the people you meet along the way. Gordon used to own a Beneteau 423, the same model boat that I have - which led to my nickname, Bob423. We met through the website I started dedicated to 423 owners which now boasts over 1000 members worldwide.

Our second dock at Titusville
He arrived today and so we invited Gordon and Eta over for dinner. I think we made it through four bottles of wine but at an enjoyable pace with lots of discussion of "how the world ought to be run". It all seemed very logical at the time, who could possibly disagree...  We had a dinner of pork tenderloin with a wonderful sauce by Ann and Hoolie settled down under the table, a peaceful kingdom.

Time for a sunset
We moved today to the north side of the docks today which gave us a much better view of the sunset and now we can see what's happening in the dog park. We'll be here another two weeks before moving north. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Titusville - Sailing lessons and sunset

On to the races, one paddle at a time
The marina hosts a sailing club for youngsters. We saw them row the boat out for some sailing around buoys in the river. They had a chase boat but the sailboats had to be manually paddled out to the course. The boats were about the same size as the one I learned to sail in at Annapolis. We also had no motors, like the ones here. After all, it's a sailboat. When we had to dock, we chose the side of the dock where we could make a landing without having to paddle.

On the way back, there was no wind in the marina so one decided to take a dip
After a while, the sailboats returned, and sure enough, they were paddling to reach their slip deep in the marina. They were paddling so furiously, that one of the crew fell in the water! They all had lifevests on so he bobbed back up and was unceremoniously hauled aboard.

Day's end
Next came the sunset and it wasn't too bad. No color but still a nice way to end the day. At least it's warm now with light winds.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Titusville - Going North Presentation

About 1/2 of the room before the presentation when more crowded in. People were standing in the doorways.
There was no further room inside.
I was amazed at the turnout. There were about 30 people that packed into a room with seats for about 10. Chairs were moved in from the outside room and some people sat on the floor. The room was filled by 6:15. Luckily, the pizzas arrived on time and I brought wine for spirits. I could have started by 6:15 but I waited until 7:00 since it was the time I announced for live streaming over Facebook too. I have no idea how the live streaming worked, I'll find out later. I think I had about a dozen watching, maybe more.

The other half but still missing a few people who couldn't fit in the room
I had 62 slides to go through in one hour. In fact, I started at 7:00 and finished within a minute of 8:00. The slides went fast which was good since I covered from Titusville to Norfolk in the allocated time. Everyone seemed to enjoy the talk.

Lot's of fun
It's been a long day, time for bed.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Titusville - Manatee and Osprey with a catch

Just enjoying the warm weather in the marina
There are usually about a dozen manatees in the marina but this year we've only seen a few. On the way to walk Hoolie, we saw one just taking it easy between two boats. He was relatively unmarked. Most manatees have multiple propeller marks across their backs but not so much this one. Since he's distinct from the earlier ones we saw, there must be at least three manatees in the marina.

His feathers were a little ruffled from getting wet in catching his dinner
Along with the manatees, there are lots of ospreys. On the way back to the boat, we saw one osprey catch his dinner and retire to the top of a lightpole for his evening meal of fish. His feathers were still ruffled from getting wet from capturing his dinner. He didn't seem to mind, he had his dinner.

Saturday is the big day of the Going North seminar I'm giving at 7:00 pm. Today I was preparing a post so people not in attendance could follow along as I show the slides. There's still work to do on that but it will be out before the presentation. Remember, pizza at 6:00.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Titusville - remote interactions and no room at the inn

No room at the inn
I have an nine-year-old grandson in Pennsylvania that has my phone number plugged in his phone so when something excites him, I'll get an imessage. Tonight, Rowan built a crane out of Lego and he wanted to show his grandpa his accomplishment. I don't think Lego will ever go out of style. My son played with them and now it's on to Rowan. Given the internet and the way we're all connected nowadays, we traded photos and videos back and forth (he wanted to show me it rotating). It's a great age.

We actually saw the sun today for an extended period of time - and it actually warmed up to the '70s. Well it's about time! I think that spring has been rebooted. The old version was not living up to snuff so a new one was ordered. Meanwhile, the inn is full. There can't be more than a handful of slips available, most are taken up by long-termers. If you don't have a reservation, you're not like to get in.

Not the sunsets on the ICW anchorages, but a sunset nevertheless
We had our weekly car rental today and provisioned at Walmart which is the only place around where you can get decent grapefruit. They always had the best prices but in Titusville, at least, they have the best produce too. Nothing hangs around for long in their produce departments. I'm getting some last minute calls to attend the 3/23 Going North presentation. It looks like over a dozen at the moment. Remember, pizza at 6:001

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Titusville - More wind, rain too

Looks like a few whitecaps out there in the mooring field
This is not supposed to be Florida weather, it's the Sunshine State. The wind came back to a steady 20 kts all day, it's down to 17 kts at the moment. There are boaters out on the moorings but they have no protection. They are secure, given the robust moorings, but they bounce around a lot.

There has to be an entrance - and here's the one for Titusville Marina, open to the northeast
Inside the marina, there's some movement but it's fine. There's an opening to the marina from the northeast and steady winds from that direction will roll mini waves into the harbor. However, the docks are fixed and overbuilt. They have the largest diameter pilings I've ever seen - they are very sturdy. If you tie your boat off well, then you are protected from everything except a hurricane.

On Thursday we get a rental car again since the weekend $12.99/day rate is still canceled due to spring break in March. The weekend rate starts up again in April. It's time for another trip to Walmart for fresh grapefruit, the ones from Publix were stale.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Titusville - Aqua Map Master announced

Last year I was selected to be a beta tester for a new iPad navigation app, Aqua Map Marine. The company was formed from former employees of Navionics and I got to work with them on the ground floor, so to speak. I had many years of experience in working with navigation programs and had firm ideas on what should be included.

Today, the culmination of that collaboration was announced in the form of an upgrade to the base application called Aqua Map Master for $10/year. The added capabilities include USACE survey maps as overlays on the NOAA base charts. Now you can navigate a shallow area and have the latest USACE depth survey displayed with color-coded depths right on your iPad screen. It would make short work of getting across the St Johns River into the Pable Creek by Jacksonville. In the fall, it was a major source of groundings when a new shoal formed right in the middle of the passage. The USACE survey clearly showed where it was at and when displayed in Aqua Map, you knew exactly where to go to avoid it.

How much easier it is to have a USACE depth survey displayed when crossing St Johns River into Pablo Creek
You can have that in Aqua Map Master
The Master upgrade also supports AIS from either the Vesper XB-8000 unit or through Signal K. Now you can see the AIS targets right on your navigation display. The same Vesper unit also transmits all NMEA data such as depths, wind speed, and other instrument data for display within Aqua Map;.

As if that wasn't enough, Aqua Map also added Route Explorer for an entered route that shows the cheapest fuel on the route as well as marinas and all lift bridges. Tap on any of the previous items in the list and details will be provided. As you progress on your route, the ETA is displayed for each item so you can easily see when you're due to arrive at a critical bridge that needs to be opened for your passage.

The development team is not done yet, they are very active but I would highly recommend everyone to get this state of the art programs, you won't regret it.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Titusville - The wind she Blows and reason

Here's the initial display of one tide and two current locations. Right away, you can see the level of the tide and the strength of the currents and whether they are increasing or decreasing
I like to entertain the fantasy that I am driven by pure reason and facts. If I see a better program or device, I like to evaluate it and adopt it if it's better than what I have. This technique has led me to switch from less capable programs and tools to what I had evaluated as better ones. I went from LORAN to GPS to chartplotters to PC navigation programs to iPad apps.

Click on the Tide icon and then the "i" (for info) and you will get this graphic with a slider that can be moved with your finger to any time you want. It even displays the rise and set times of the sun and moon. What more do you need?
The downside of having this approach is that I don't appreciate why everyone else doesn't see what I think are the obvious advantages of such improved ways of doing things. An example came up today, with the risk of boring you, concerning tides. There are numerous stand-alone tide apps for the iPad and programs for the PC. And yet, once again in my view, the tides and currents in Aqua Map are far superior to their offerings.

Likewise for currents. You again have a slider that you can move to any time you desire. What more to want?
Accessing the tide in Aqua Map, you get a graphic of the tide levels over 24 hours with a slider that you can move with your finger to any particular time you want which results in the display changing to show the tide at that instant. How can a paper tide table compete with that? In the lower area of the graphic is even the text of the exact times of high and low tides along with rising and setting times of the sun and moon. What more is there to know? And, it's free since it's part of the Aqua Map app.

As if that wasn't enough, you also have the choice of displaying a slider at the bottom of the screen that will change the times for all the tides and currents stations in view in the screen all at once. It's great of seeing how tides and current vary where opposing currents meet like Snows Cut. Not many programs can do this.
Likewise for currents. Again, you get a graphic with the speed of the current displayed and a cursor that you can move with your finger to any time you want. But as they say in TV commercials, "Wait, there's more." You can also tap on an icon and get a cursor at the bottom of the screen in Aqua Map that when moved, shows the tide and current changes of every station on the screen along with the time represented by the cursor. Try doing that with a text table. Or, try doing that with almost any other tide and current app.

With such obvious advantages, why doesn't everyone immediately can their tide and/or current programs and adopt Aqua Map? I've found that there is tremendous inertia in the way people do things. About the only way to get people to change from old habits is to have their previous app or program stop working - so strong is the hold of inertia. For me, if I see something better, I toss out the old right away, no regrets. Out with the old, in with the new. I'm finding that such is not the case with 99% of the people. Old habits die hard.

However, I'll keep promoting what I believe to be a better use of a person's limited time and perhaps some people will see it as an advantage to be taken. But then again, maybe I don't have the "one true vision" of what's best? Nevertheless, I'll proceed and maybe someone else will offer a better path and I may take that, Who knows, nobody is infallible.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Little rollers come into the harbor with a northeast wind.
For the most part, I like Titusville. It has a dog park, it's convenient to car rental agencies, there's always Merritt Island to explore as well as the Kennedy Space Center. It's far enough south to enjoy mostly warm weather in the winter months, a good place to leave your boat for the holidays. For us, it's an interim stopover until we continue on in January to Key West.

This year was not such a year. I needed a pacemaker implanted which delayed our trip south for a couple of months and canceled our trip entirely to Key West.  The only downside to Titusville is that it's open to northeast winds. Winds from that direction will produce waves that roll right into the marina. They are not big waves in the restricted area of the harbor but they are enough to rock the boats a bit. Take a look at what happens with a northeast wind.

Other than that, it's a great place to spend the winter months if you can't get to Key West. The people are good and the dock hands are great. We enjoy it here.

Titusville Marina in a northeast wind.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Titusville - Launch, Hoolie admirer and Manatee

The rocket launch glow
The launch last night was delayed for about 1.5 hours. Various problems cropped up but it finally went off with the plus that it was dark at the time. For us, all the launches start with a glow on the horizon followed by the ascent of the rocket. It's always interesting to watch, you never know for sure what's going to happen.

Hoolie has a long list of admirers
Hoolie is fully recovered and after his afternoon romp in the dog park, he was greeted by admirers on the way back. He's always ready to accept adulations. We're happy to have the old Hoolie back again. Now, if we could only stop him from being a dog vacuum cleaner on every little piece of scrap that he sees.

Just show me a drop of water dripping, and here I am...
On the way back to the boat, we saw a manatee sipping water from the exhaust of a powerboat. There are still a few manatees in the marina and they surface whenever there's running water around. Our weather here is due to turn colder for the next three to four days, oh well, it's much colder in New York so I guess that's something.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Titusville - Sand Point Park

We like to stroll through the park
There's a nearby Sand Point Park that Ann and I use every morning for our walks and runs. It was a pond with a big sign saying, "No Swimming, Alligators". One time when I was walking through, I saw one such alligator just sitting on the bank, taking in the sun. It was the only time I've ever seen one there.

Birds, there are always birds
It was much more pleasant there today with the warm winds and birds about. We are still here tonight waiting for the launch from Kennedy but it's been delayed now for over an hour and as I write this, it's still on hold with 4 minutes to go. The delay has something to do with the communication satellites required in order to relay telemetry back to Kennedy, not the fault of the launch vehicle. Nevertheless, it's a delay.

I continue to put the finishing touches on my 3/23 presentation on "Going North". I think it's over 12 attendees now, you can never tell for sure until the day of the event. At least we won't go hungry with the pizzas I've ordered.n

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Titusville - Provisioning and Black Point Drive again

Not all birds are pink like the Spoonbills
We try to get a car once per week while we're in Titusville. With the absence of weekend rates due to spring break time, we now just rent a car for a day. We usually go to Walmart since they do have the lowest prices (by far, compared to Publix) but also because they have rapid turnover in their produce department. For example, the grapefruit at Walmart were clearly superior to what Publix had to offer in freshness and sweetness and they cost less too.

I caught one Spoonbill in flight as it was taking off.
As always whenever we have a car, we visited Merritt Island, driving Black Point Drive. There is always a variety of birds to watch and photograph. We never tire of the drive. I forgot to mention that Hoolie had a problem. He must have gulped something down that didn't agree with his digestive system and it came out both ends. A problem like that can be a disaster on a boat. After a call to our daughter and our vet, we started him on a regime of rice and chicken broth in small quantities. Over the course of 48 hours, he recovered and is once again back to his old self. You would think he would learn to "Don't Eat That" but he's a dog and lives by dog logic, "This could be my last meal, I'd better eat everything I can find.... maybe it will stay down"  At any rate, he seems fine now.

We treated ourselves to a fish sandwich dinner at Shiloh's which was fine. It's a huge restaurant and the prices are reasonable. It looks like it would be a good place to see a launch. It has a direct view of the Kennedy Space Center. There's a launch scheduled for Friday but we'll see it from the marina. I'll take pictures.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Titusville - sunset

The sunset starts out from across the fairway;
I am deep into the testing of the next version of Aqua Map. I think I get a new beta almost every day now. The goal is to stamp out all bugs before a general release. The new features are fantastic but I can't mention them yet until the final release is made, probably within the next week, we hope. No other app has such features as you will shortly see. 

Meanwhile, I'm still getting ready for the 3/23 "Going North" seminar. I announced today my offer of pizza at 6:00 pm in advance of the presentation at 7:00 for those that arrive early. I went through all my old photos taken along the ICW and compiled them into a photo log that will play between 6:00 and 7:00 while I'm setting up and we're all having our pizza. 

then it progressed as I walked back to Fleetwing
On Thursday we will get a car and provision for the next few weeks. All the local car rental agencies suspended their $12.99/day weekend rate during spring break so we're just renting a car for one day. Uber isn't worth it at $20 per one way trip and we don't feel like trying to catch the local bus. Besides, I owe my all-time-date a night out on the town.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Titusville - Baseball Field

A once level outfield is now a BMX bike course
When I was a kid, we used to ride our bikes (totally unsupervised) to the high school baseball diamond, about a mile out of town. All we needed were just a few kids, a pitcher, a catcher, a batter, a first baseman, and a shortstop. If we had more kids, there would be a left fielder and perhaps even a center fielder. If the batter hit it to a field where no one was at, it was an automatic out. We'd start around 10:00 am, play all day, rotating around as each batter made an out. We had a terrific time.

Titusville had a wonderful baseball field. It was lighted for night games and each team had its own enclosed bench. There was a fence that served for a demarcation for home runs. When we returned to Titusville, I was dismayed to see the beautiful baseball field ripped up for a BMX bike path. Bulldozers had been used to dig into the level field to create artificial mounds of dirt. The wonderous baseball field was no more.

The team boxes were ahead to the left, nice fencing and lights1  And more mounds of dirt.
Now, I never used the field, of course, and apparently, no one else did either around Titusville. It's just very disturbing to a memory of something that I once treasured in my youth. Times change and what was precious in one age is no longer revered in the present. Still, it a little sad to see a facility so set upon. There's nothing I can do about it but think back to fonder times. Still, I can go sailing, for now.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Titusville - Going North

Sllide 1
I'm putting the final touches on the seminar on "Going North" that I'll be presenting 3/23/2019 at Titusville at 7:00 pm. It is 56 pages long but it's all in the form of a slide on each of the major trouble spots going north with a few anchorages and marinas thrown in too. I plan to step through it from 7:00 to 8:00 and then break for a bit and hang around if anyone wants to see a demonstration of using Aqua Map for downloading routes and tracks. 

One of the interior slides
I've also decided to order pizza at 6:00 for anyone wanting to come a little early when I'll be setting up. I'll have some box wine, otherwise, it's BYOB. I think there will be about a dozen people attending as best I can count. The meeting room at Titusville Marina will hold that many. There's an overflow room next door if that's not enough. 

The presentation will be on the HDTV and I'll try a live broadcast via Facebook but I don't have a lot of hope for that in being any good - but I'll give it a try. In addition to the pizza (four pizzas so far) at 6:00, I'll have the HDTV cycling through the best photos of the past 8 years of being on the ICW. It ought to be a fun evening.