Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Titusville - Last day - That's all folks, until January

Our neighbor has green lights!

 I had to walk for 1/2 hour this morning to the Enterprise place to pick up our car, they don't pick you up during the pandemic. The waiting area is outside, you never go inside the building. I handed my credit card to the person standing by the front door and he went inside to process my reservation and I had my car a few minutes later. 

I partially loaded the car but the final packing will be Wednesday morning. I pulled all the lines over to one side so Fleetwing is not even touching the pilings. We ought to be safe for the next month or so. We then visited the nearest Publix which was practically empty and everyone was wearing a mask, not the usual situation here in Florida. 

We hope to get off by 9:00 am on Wednesday and then it's a beeline for New York. I'm not sure when I'll restart the blog, we may stay longer than usual in New York, or not. We'll see how the virus develops over the next few months - what a different year this has been! 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Titusville - I really need one of these...


I want one of these!

In Taking Hoolie out for his afternoon walk, I saw a USACE survey vessel docked. It looked very rugged all decked out in marine aluminum. Whenever they needed some attachment, they just welded a piece of aluminum on and there it was. I didn't get a chance to talk with the crew, they left in a hurry for shore. I'd love to see what equipment they have on board to do their surveys. 

Double Trimble GPSs, of course (the yellow antennas)

Now, if only I could get a sponsor so I could take one of these babies down the ICW in the fall and again in the spring. It would be great for forming the tracks every season. Oh well, I do what I can but it would be so much better if I have a real survey boat! 

Well, it gets some people excited...

Tuesday is the big day to pick up the rental car for going to Deltaville. We use Enterprise since we have points to use and they've been very reliable in the past. However, with the virus raging, they no longer will pick you up, you have to rent a car from their office. For me, that means a mile or so walk downtown in Titusville. It's an easy hike since everything is flat down here anyway. We will fill the car up with luggage Tuesday night and start out first thing Wednesday morning for Deltaville, avoiding the virus as best we can. 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Titusville - We see SpaceX Launch of four astronauts at night - it lit up the sky!


Tonight was the second launch of astronauts by SpaceX to the Space Station. This time there were four astronauts aboard instead of two on the first launch. People came from miles around to watch the launch. The area by the dog park was packed with cars and I'm sure the watching areas by the bridge was crowded too. 

Onward to the Space Station

A nighttime launch is spectacular! The first thing you see is the glow of the night sky near the ground, towards the Kennedy Space Center. Then a slowly rising dazzling light followed by a roar of the engines a little later. SpaceX is one of the few companies that reuse their rockets and we were hoping that the main stage would descend to the Kennedy Space Center but this time is was retrieved downrange in the Atlantic. 

I don't know if the launch was 100% successful or not since they haven't reached the Space Station by the time of this blog, but I would lay good odds that it was a success given SpaceX's track record. 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Titusville - Space Station Launch Delayed one day


Red Sky at night, sailor take warning....

We were supposed to have a nighttime launch of a SpaceX rocket but it was delayed one day until Sunday night. Night launches are spectacular in the dark sky and we look forward to it. The WiFi here is crappy. The provider may be good at providing WiFi to home residences but he knows nothing about WiFi to a marina. It's a whole different environment with a set of variables not encountered when wiring a house. 

The dinghy has a nice parking spot right next to Fleetwing

So, I had to find an alternative. A local company does provide a wired connection to your boat for $50/month with a $50 installation fee. That was rather expensive so I looked into changing my Verizon plan. I shopped on their site and found a plan with increased by monthly GB from 22 GB to 50GB and the hotspot increased from 15 GB to 30 GB. They also threw in free subscriptions to Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ along with Apple music at no extra charge. I currently paid $76.91 for one line but with the new plan, my monthly bill went down by 57 cents! That was a bargain I could not resist. I also get a discount on adding an iPad for data if I need it, $10/month vs the usual $20/month. 

So I'll be using the Verizon enhances service instead of paying out more money to a company that delivers lousy service to the marina. One wonders if the lousy service is just a come-on for paying more money for something that should be free (provided by the marina). 

We are counting the days for going north, Wednesday it is. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Titusville - Rocket launches viewed from the cockpit


The view off the back of Fleetwing, you can just barely see the ascending rocket

We are on "A" dock which places the cockpit towards the south. With Cape Canaveral being to the south, that puts us in a good position to watch launches with a glass of wine in hand. So armed, we retreated to the upper level to watch the latest launch, conveniently times during our wine hour. 

Here's a better view as it passed overhead - with a roar

This weekend will be the second launch of Space X with astronauts for the Space Station, this time with four astronauts. There's a big crowd expected for the night launch. Such launches really light up the sky. We will have a first row seat from our cockpit. I'll take pictures. 

Meanwhile, the weather has finally turned warm and sunny without any rain! It's more like the Florida we know and love during the winter months. Hopefully, that will continue when we return to Fleetwing in January

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Titusville - Eta passes by, the clouds clear, the sun comes out - wow


Our first sunset after Eta, looking east, away from the setting sun

The remnants of Eta finally cleared out this morning but not before dumping more rain and wind on us. The wind at the moment is all of 1.6 kts! We even went out for a walk and took Hoolie over to the dog park for exercise. It was the first afternoon we've had off the boat since last Friday when all this stuff started. 

The look west is partially blocked by the boats in the marina, still, it's nice to see

The water level is finally starting to drop, it was a challenge for both Ann and Hoolie in getting on and off Fleetwing with the high step up from the dock. Hoolie developed a leap to make the distance, he's pretty athletic that way even though he's 12 years old. 

We still plan on leaving Wednesday morning, early - on our way north. We've learned from past experience not to leave anything in the freezer and to turn it off and open the lid. All it takes is a power outage to make everything in the freezer something you do not want to contend with when returning to the boat. That happened to us one time and we do not want to repeat that experience!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Titusville - the storm that wouldn't die!

X marks the spot where we are at, why are we so special? You can see Eta coming in by Tampa.
With all the rain and wind, hard to take photos.

 Eta hit us with 25 to 30 kts winds and gusts to 46 Kts (53 mph) but then wandered away towards the Gulf. Good riddance, we thought but Eta had other ideas. It decided to come back and pay another visit with a U-turn to the north and then it was attracted once again towards us. It couldn't quite manage a sharp enough turn to run over Titusville but it managed to turn enough to give us high winds (once again!) with plenty of heavy rain. It's dark outside here and the wind is howling (again). 

In all the years since we've been coming to Titusville (10 years), we've never had extended weather as bad as this. It's a little wearing and we're looking forward to getting our rental car on Tuesday and heading north on Wednesday. Hopefully, things will return to normal over the holidays and we'll have the usual nice weather in January through March - we hope - when we return south for the winter.

We are somewhat concerned about the trip north but we will require a motel room on the first floor and we'll take care in washing everything down before use - and wear our masks! None of the car transport companies came through for us. They all promised quick service but none delivered. We believe the main problem was the remoteness of Deltaville which won't be a problem for delivery from Titusville to New York in May when we go north again. We'll worry about that in the spring.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Titusville - Sun, is that the sun?


This is what a wind tide can do. When we arrived, there was no difference between
the height of the toe rail and the dock. Now it's a two-foot drop! Hoolie can still
make the leap, both ways but it's a challenge for us. 

After a week of clouds, we finally saw the sun today! On top of that, it was actually warm and it didn't rain all day long (well, we got a few showers still). Best of all, the wind is down to 7 kts now, what a difference! Titusville can be nice in anything less than 15 kts. 

It's our first sunset in Florida! Nice to see the sun once in a while.

What the winds did so if push water north which resulted in a gain of one to two feet in water depth, just due to the wind tide. There's no tide otherwise here, just what's caused by the winds. You can see the difference in the photos of before and after the high winds. Ann now has trouble getting off the boat, that's a big step for her. Hoolie, on the other hand, makes a giant leap both ways and seems fine. 

We got another call from a car transport company which claimed to "have a truck in the area" of Deltaville and wanted to pick up our car. However, we never heard back from him after he said he was going to contact the driver to see if he could arrange something. I'm beginning to think they are all flim-flam artists. Once they say they have a carrier, they want their cut upfront and you're asked to pay the truck driver his share in cash - hopefully to the amount agreed upon - when he delivers your car. 

We've settled on just renting a car to Deltaville and driving our own car back, it's turning out to be easier and a more reliable arrangement. We plan on leaving Titusville on Wednesday, 11/18 and reaching New York by Friday. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Titusville - the winds abate - some


The present forecast for Eta - looks simple, it's headed north

This is has been a different kind of year for going south. We had great weather while on the ICW for which I'm grateful. However, after that bit of good luck, we ran out of luck with the weather. The winds started on Friday, continued Saturday, continued Sunday, and continued Monday. Each day it blew 20 to 25 kts with higher gusts. During the peak of the winds (associated with tropical storm Eta) it topped out at a gust of 47 kts (54 mph) sometime during the early hours of Monday morning. 

Here's a "spaghetti" forecast for Eta's future track
It's not so simple. One forecast has Eta going west, one north and another group
has Eta headed over northern Florida. NOAA just split the difference in their projection.

The boat was rocked with wave action kicked up by the high winds. It got so bad that we retreated to the main cabin in the middle of the boat where the rocking action was less. We were bouncing up and down about 1 to 2 feet before we gave up and set up bunks in the salon. We didn't get a lot of sleep.

We gave up on trying to get our car shipped from Deltaville to here. We executed plan B and reserved a rental car for the trip to Deltaville where we will pick up our Nissan for the trip home. We're keeping an eye on another developing system in the Caribbean that could produce yet another storm headed our way. We want to get out of Titusville before that storm comes north in case it's headed our way. 

We will return to Titusville sometime in January after the holidays and stay for the winter. Hopefully, the weather will be calmer than, like it has been in the past. 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Titusville - waiting for Eta


We're located at the top of that blue shading on the west coast. It's the tropical Storm warning area.

The big news is tropical storm Eta, soon to be a hurricane. It came across Cuba and is now taking a turn to the west. We are under a tropical storm warning with winds of 30 kts or so with higher gusts. it looks like Eta will pass to the south of us by the Keys but then double back for another shot at us from the west. 

It's been hard doing anything on the boat. It's constantly rocking and the wind in the rigging is always there, even now. I adjusted the lines again, everything is doubled up and with the changes I made today, we are not touching anything, just floating between the pilings. Of course, that's at the present wind speeds, if it really gets to tropical storm levels, all bets are off. 

If will be a long night and the worst of the winds won't come until Monday when it's expected to peak with a pouring rain as added excitement. Going south this year was great until the last two weeks when the howling winds piped up. The winds are supposed to calm down on Tuesday, we can only hope. 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Titusville - The Eta Effect


Cleaning up Titusville - it's their job

There's a storm brewing in the Caribbean, heading north and getting closer. I put double lines on all cleats and tied off as best as I could. Now we just have to be ready to ride it out. Eta is still below Cuba and I just hope the forecasts of the storm turning west hold up. As I write this, the wind is howling and has been all day long. We retreated down to the cabin below which has less motion than the cockpit. 

I'm not sure what his job is

It's also tough to get anything done other than watching a movie or surfing the web. It's hard to type on a keyboard when your finger hits the wrong key due to the laptop not being where it was a moment ago. So we're just enduring until the winds abate which is due to happen Tuesday. Until then, it's wind city! 

Our car goes up on the national board on Monday to find a carrier from Deltaville to Titusville. We have our fingers crossed but we realize that Deltaville is out in the boonies and an 18 wheel carrier may not want to make that trip out on the peninsular just to pick up one car. Our plan B is just to rent a car and drive to Deltaville to pick up our car. Hopefully, it won't come to that. 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Titusville - Osprey Nests

You see these structures all over Florida, note the spikes under the next 
to help the ospreys avoid electrocution 

 On top of many power line poles, you will see an osprey nest. There are structures added to the top of many of the power poles in the area to support the building of an osprey nest. As a result, ospreys have made a great comeback along the ICW, you see them everywhere. Another favorite location is the top of daymarks. 

There are several nests around the marina and the ospreys are in always in evidence. Adding to the wildlife are the manatees, we've counted at least two in the marina but some years there are as many as a dozen. Then you can throw in the assorted birds such as the ibis and such so there's always room for bird watching. 

Meanwhile, we are still trying to get our car down from Deltaville to Titusville. We fired our first company, they were getting no hits at all on the contract. I'm sure that part of the problem was that Deltaville was out on a peninsula, not close to anything. It would be a couple hour trip out and back just for one pickup. The price was right at $600 for the first car transport scheduler but it's worth nothing if he doesn't get any takers. The second company we went with was highly rated but the price was much more than expected at $940. However, we're in a hurry and hopefully, the higher price will attract a carrier. 

New York requires us to get a COVID-19 test before we leave Florida and another one when we arrive. We can get the test down here at a local CVS, which we plan to do. Up north, everyone has started isolation sod we get the two weeks on record before Thanksgiving. Dutchess county is still looking pretty good for the virus but it's spiking everywhere, we have to be careful. There's no problem on the boat out on a dock with lots of free flowing air. We'll continue getting groceries delivered and otherwise, not going anywhere. The weather is nice with temps in the 70s so we're fine in place but we would like to get north for the holidays. 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Titusville - Ibis abounds

bug thinning - like a lawn mower

There are flocks of ibis that walk along and are constantly pecking away on something in the grass. It seems that they would have to catch an awfully lot of bugs to provide any sustenance given the difference in body size between what they are eating and themselves. It would seem to be a great solution for the Lime ticks up north if they could survive the winter there. 

Florida white ibis

We're still watching Eta and the projected path. Titusville is not a well protected marina for riding out a hurricane. Eta is supposed to cross over Cuba and then do a right angle turn to the west, avoiding Florida entirely - which would be great for us! 

Meanwhile, we are still waiting for a carrier contract for our car transportation from Deltaville to Titusville. It seems to be a bidding process where the more you pay, the higher up on the bidding board you go for carriers. It makes sense but who wants to pay over $1000 to transport a car?  We will wait it out over the weekend and then see what our next step is if no carrier takes the contract. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Titusville - A Dog Day


He starts out full of energy and ready to run

One of the big attractions of the Titusville Marina is the nearby dog park, at least for Hoolie. He doesn't care all that much about carousing with other dogs but he lives to run! Throw him a ball and he's in heaven. Unfortunately, he's never learned to bring the ball back, only to chase it and then drop it after picking it up for a few steps. 

After about 15 minutes of running, he likes to rest and pant

Today we had the dog park all to ourselves and so Hoolie had no other distractions. I threw, he chased, he caught the ball, then dropped it, I walked over to pick it up and the cycle started again. One of these days I've got to teach him to bring the ball back to me! If you have a treat in your hand, then he brings the ball back every time - else he doesn't bother. 

We're concerned about Eta, the storm by the Yutacan peninsula. It's projected to head north towards Florida and its path is very uncertain after that. Up the eastern coast would be a worst-case scenario for us. We're not supposed to get hurricanes this time of the year! Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Titusville - Construction


A lot of foreign machinery - why not American?

What a difference a day makes! It was nice and calm with little wind. As we say, the wind finally got to where it was headed and then it rested. Meanwhile, construction is going apace here. They are constructing a new lift station and so the parking lot is unusable. Normally we wouldn't care but we are due to get our car shipped down from Deltaville for the winter and we need somewhere to park it. It was due to be picked up Wednesday but so far there's no carrier that committed. We get daily calls from our agent that's arranging the shipment but so far there's no contract. The cost is supposed to be $600 for a one-way shipment from Deltaville to Titusville and if it's the same going back, that's cheaper than renting a car for the holidays and driving north and back. Plus, we would have a car for exploring the area.

While we're waiting for the car, we still have to get groceries and such which brings in Instacart again. They are more expensive than picking out the groceries yourself but then if you don't have a car, it's cheaper than renting a car and getting groceries. Besides, it's somewhat decadent shopping for groceries while in bed and getting them delivered two hours later

We took Hoolie over to his favorite place this afternoon, the dog park. We figured it was all outdoors and had little chance of spreading a virus, especially with a stiff breeze. Hoolie did his usual thing of running like mad for the tennis ball. He never brings them back so I have to do the retrieving myself, he trained me well. 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Titusville - High winds to 34 kts!


When the winds are out of the northeast, the waves come right into the marina. It's protected from all other directions but not from a northeast wind. Unfortunately, that's the storm direction on the Florida coast. We had warm weather for the last week and now it was the north wind's turn to blow. 

We are in "A" dock which is relatively protected but we still bounce around a lot, more than I like but still okay. There was a boat on the face dock at "B" dock that had waves broadside from the harbor opening causing the boat to pound against the concrete bulkhead. He didn't have enough fenders and went out to the nearest store to buy more. I had two spare 17 inch round fenders I loaned him for the week. You can never have too many fenders in weather like this! 

I knew the high winds were coming from the weather report of yesterday so I had double lines out and plenty of fenders against the fixed dock. We were okay but bouncing around some. We reached a maximum gust of 34 kts with a steady 25 kts most of the day. It's down to 15 kts now and it feels like no wind at all. Hopefully, the winds will subside overnight and we're back to normal Tuesday. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Titusville - The first manatee of our visit


Not much to see but our first one of the season

We're due to get high winds (in the 20s) over the next few days out of the north so I added extra lines to secure the boat. I always double up on the lines just for an added safety factor. I think we're okay here on anything short of a hurricane which is not likely during the winter season. 

The modern playground has Astroturf applied over a rubber base
(so the kiddies don't hurt themself if they fall - we never had that consideration)

On the way to do laundry this morning, we saw our first manatee this season. The water in the marina is green which we're told is from the recent heavy rains. The manatee seemed to enjoy the water nevertheless. 

On the other hand, the skateboard park is all concern surfaced

We still intend going north for the holidays but heard this morning that a COVID-19 test will be required before entering New York and another test two days later once in New York per the governor's order today. I have no idea how they intend to enforce this mandate for cars entering on expressways. If they checked every car for "papers" it would cause a massive traffic jam. We intend following the order anyway and hopefully, it won't result in days of delays at the entry points.