Thursday, February 25, 2021

Titusville - Time for a Black Point fix and then a local park


Black Point drive is always entertaining

We have an American the Beautiful pass that once bought, lets us in for free at national parks including the national seashore on Merritt Island (Playalinda). The cost is only $80 for a lifetime pass. We've used it all over the east coast and specifically at Black Point and Playalinda. Otherwise, it can be $20 per vehicle that's good for seven days.

An everpresent alligator waiting in the grass

The Black Point drive didn't have many birds today. Have they started north already? Still, the sun was full out all day with temps in the 70s. It was a pleasant drive out in the country. We did see several alligators sunning themselves along the banks. 

Kennedy Park just south of Rt 50 in Titusville. 

Ann had a mild reaction to her shot yesterday in the form of being tired and with a sore arm but both went away today. She's back to 100% now. We're just marking time for the two-week waiting period for the full effect of the vaccine to take effect.  

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Titusville - construction


There's a guy down there...

Things are always happening at Titusville. The latest was the installation of a new lift station to get raise water for drainage, not very exciting but very necessary. The old one was always clogging up and had to be manually cleaned out a dirty task. It's one of those things that just has to be done.

He must be below the level of the water in the marina harbor!

We're still waiting on the new WiFi. The money was approved by the city council on 1/12/2021 but no sign of progress here. I'm surviving okay on the old setup but many in the marina who are farther away from the nearest transmitted have poor service (our station is 10 feet off the bow of Fleetwing). In the Caribbean, we would have said "It's island time" but we're in Florida! 

We will be counting the 14 days until we have full protection, starting last night. Hope to enjoy the trip north!

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Titusville - Flags, playgrounds, birds


Half mast

On my morning run, I noticed that the flags were all at half staff. I wondered why so I Googled it and found out that the governor ordered it after Rush Limbaugh passed away. Not everyone in Florida was pleased and some of the offices gave directives not to follow the order. However, all the flags I saw today were are half-mast. 

All plastic, no wood in sight, any more

Remember when the playgrounds were all made of pressure-treated wood? They were supposed to last forever. They only lasted a few years, until people realized what the wood was preserved with, mostly arsenic. All the play areas I know have all been replaced with plastic like the one in the photo, it looks quite elaborate. Do the kids have as much fun as we used to on the old-fashioned steel swings and climbing towers?

We just got back from Ann's appointment at Publix to get her second shot of the COVID vaccine. Now both of us have received both shots and we should be fully immunized after two more weeks (to give the body time to manufacture more antibodies).  I had no side effects at all to the second shot, we'll see whether Ann has the same experience. Just two more weeks of isolation, not that we're going to change what we're doing a lot but it would be nice to shop around a bit, with full masks and at uncrowded times, of course. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Titusville - Spring Flowers are out and a power outage


The living fence was covered with blossoms

We notice on our walk this afternoon that spring flowers were starting to come out. There a wall of shrubbery on the way to Westland Marina that has flowers that show off in the spring. With the warm weather, the buds are blooming. It's nothing like Key West but it's a little color nevertheless. 

Taking a step back - lots of buds yet to bloom

We had a storm roll through which was nothing special but shortly thereafter, we lost power. Strangely, we still had 95 volts but not enough to power anything on. I took Hoolie out for his nightly walk and looked around. There was one pole that appeared to have a mangled transformer. The repair crews were all focused on that so I guess that was the problem. We'll just switch over to battery power for the evening and if it's not fixed by tomorrow, we'll run the genset. Being on a boat has certain advantages as far as power outages go. 

I don't know exactly what it's supposed to look like but probably not like this

Tuesday evening, Ann is due for her second vaccine shot and then it's a two week wait for full effectiveness to kick in. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Titusville - Visit to Playalinda Beach and an armadillo


Contemplating the ocean at Playalinda

Ann wanted some photos of the surf at Playalinda Beach, the long beach on Merritt Island. We waited for high winds out of the east so the surf would build up so when the winds started piping 20 to 25 kts in Titusville, we knew it was time to see the surf. The beach is a national seashore so it's not free but with our senior citizen pass, we breezed right through. 

A view to the south, a couple on the beach - relaxing

There are 13 beaches at Playalina with the 13th one being reserved for au naturale sunbathing. We stopped at beach 12 thinking it would not be crowded, and it wasn't. Ann's painting class has them doing surf scenes so she wanted some material to paint. 

He was very busy getting dinner

On the way back, we saw an armadillo by the roadside. We stopped to take photos but he paid us no attention, he was busy getting at insects (I guess) as he walked along. The Merritt Island Nature Refuge is a great place to see birds and animals. However, Black Point Drive is closed for now due to the heavy rains we received a couple of days ago. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Titusville - COVID day


A pump-out boat: maybe not picturesque but very necessary for a marina

Titusville Marina has a good system for pump-outs. They do it twice a week: Wednesdays and Saturdays. There's no charge for the service other than the usual tip you give to the operator. 

Publix's greeter for those receiving the vaccine

Today was the day I received my second COVID-19 vaccination. I've been told that I need to wait two weeks before I'm fully protected at the 95% level. The procedure was simple: you showed the card given to you at the first vaccination with the date of the first shot and you waited for your time slot, went in, and were inoculated. There was no waiting in line, no delay. You did have to wait 15 minutes after the shot in case there was any reaction, I had none so I was out of there on time. 

So far today, I've had no reaction to the shot I received at 11:48 am, I feel fine. Hopefully, that prognosis will continue overnight. Ann gets her second shot Tuesay. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Titusville - Friday night tradition, Shilos takeout


Takeout again!

After last week's Friday night takeout from Shilos, we were hooked. So as part of "cook's night off", we have takeout for dinner. We are working our way through the sandwich menu with an emphasis on fish. Last week it was fried fish for me and blacked mahi-mahi for Ann. This week I tried the ahi-tuna and Ann had the fish tacos. All was good but the simple fried fish sandwich is hard to beat, it's also the least expensive. 

They do seem to be abiding with the every other table rule

Judging from the parking lot, you would think the place would be packed - but it's not. The restaurant is huge and they seem to be honoring the "every other table" rule for patrons. I called my order in and then left to pick it up. When I arrived, it wasn't quite ready so I stood outside looking to see when it arrived at the desk. I had intended going back inside to pick up the order but the clerk brought it out to the car. 

From the cars in the parking lot - you wouldn't think there would be any empty tables!

So with every second table empty and with takeout thriving, the restaurants are finding their way in the pandemic, at least in Florida. Saturday is the big day for me, I get my second shot Saturday morning, Ann goes Tuesday. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Titusville - Cool, then hot?

The lander reaches Mars! We watched in real time

Yesterday it was around 70, today it was in the high 80s, such a change. On Saturday, it's not predicted to even reach 70. Well, it is the middle of winter after all. I look at our cameras up north around the house, we have eight distributed all over, inlcuding one focused on the oil tank gauge. Nice to see the snow up there and not down here!

We don't have a good view of the setting sun, but we still enjoy the color

We watched the Mars lander successful reach Mars, what a technical achievement! The sky elevator looked extremely complicated - but it worked. This will be the first lander with the capability of detecting life. They were talking about sending a robotic mission to Mars to pick up the sample cores from this lander and return it to Earth but not unitl sometime the next decade! Wouldn't it be great if Elon Musk sent his ship to Mars with 100 colonists and picked up the sample directly for the return trip to Earth. NASA is so slow. 


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Titusville - We meet the crew at Titusville Marina


Tom Larson is on the right (surprised, right?!)

Titusville Marina is managed by F3 Marina, a company specializing in marina operations. They have a crew of professional managers that they assign to marinas they are contracted to run. Titusville turned to them several years ago and it's been a great match. 

The crew here is headed by Tom Lawson, the person on the right in the photo. He recruited the rest of the team. The other two pictured run the main office. There are others not shown that welcome new boaters on the docks and ensure the marina runs smoothly. Under Tom's leadership, the marina has installed new commercial-grade washers and dryers, renovated the showers, added an inside captains' room, and a work building is being built for boat projects. 

A new WiFi system was approved 1/12/2021 and should be installed in a couple of weeks. It will upgrade the main trunk from 20 Mbps to 200 Mbps with elevated towers for WiFi distribution and will do away with the buggy sign-in page that we can never seem to activate when trying to access WiFi. lIt will be a huge improvement for those depending on WiFi for work or streaming at night. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Titusville - Side roads through the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge


The back road follow the canals, great for fishing

Is 70 degrees cold? We've been in Florida since the first week of January and mostly it's been in the 70s with occasional forays into the upper 60s. This morning we had a north wind of 5 to 10 knots with a temperature of about 70 or so and it definitely felt a little chilly when we went out for our morning walks and run. I am sure that if I was back up north and we had a day where the temperature reached 70, we would be outside in tee shirts and feeling very warm, maybe even hot. This is what Florida does to your temperature sense. As I recall, we had the same problem in Key West.

Up goes 60 more satellites into the Starlink constellation

For our afternoon adventure, we took one of the side roads through the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. In addition to the Black Point road, there are numerous other back roads that wind their way through the refuge, offering many places to stop and fish or just look at the wildlife. I printed a map off their website and Ann was the navigator for the exploration. It's quite interesting with alligators and birds all around. The back roads are actually well maintained although the Black Point road was closed today due to damage from the storms of last night, the rest were fine. We will be exploring more of the area over the next few weeks. 

Last night was another launch of 60 satellites for the Starlink internet service to be offered by Elon Musk. We stayed up just to see it. It has become so routine around here that most of the long-term residents no longer bother to stay up unless it is at a more convenient time. Last night's launch was at 10:59 pm. There was another launch scheduled for tonight but it was scrubbed. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Titusville - Pacing Hoolie and storms rolling through


So what are you waiting for??

Hoolie is going on 13 years old but he still retains the spunk we've always known. We do watch thate he doesn't overdo it, a real problem for Springers. They are a naturally enthusiastic breed and seem to do everything at full speed. So we wait for the tongue to start hanging out and dial back his running, which he would never do by himself. 

A cloudy sunset, lightning in the distance

He sees other dogs there but he's only interested in running. He usually a very quiet dog which I think comes from their breeding as a bird dog - they don't want to spook birds out of the bush until it's time, they are trained to point at the bird, not cause it to fly away. However, all that goes by the wayside when heading to the dog park. He's full of whimpers, squeaks, whines, while lunging at the leash, eager to reach the dog park where he bursts forward at a full run when released. 

Lots of clouds today and a passing storm at sunset. We're due for a SpaceX launch tonight at 9:58 if the weather holds. Nighttime launches are always more spectacular than daytime launches. I'll go up on deck to get a photo. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Titusville - Water leak and a trip to the local hardware store

The source of all hardware in Titusville - a really great place!

Ann noticed the house water pump was not turning off. Upon investigating at 10:00 pm yesterday night, I found a leak in one of the connections. Tightening the connection produced nothing more than more of a leak. This was a job for the super leak repairer! 

Some may think Florida is not as strict as New York for 
wearing masks - but you can't prove it here. No mask = stay out!

The faulty connection was an old water hose screw-on knob. It seemed like a good idea at the time to use a garden hose connection in the house water - it was never a good idea. A garden hose connector is designed to seal in only one direction, the direction of water flow - the water pressure provides the force to seal the joint. If you try to use the same connector in the reverse direction, it is prone to leaking, that's what I was trying to do. 

So I thought I would swap out the old garden hose joint with a new brass fitting, problem solved, I thought. Well, it seems that what the hose connected to was not exactly a hose type thread which required two trips to the hardware store to discover. All attempts resulted in a leaking joint. 

In frustration, I search through my collection of spare hose connections and discovered an unused plastic female screw-on connector. I had wanted to use brass for strength but I tried out the plastic just to see if the leaks could be stopped. Behold, it worked! There has to be a better way to fix a leak than spending four hours back and forth between the boat and the local hardware store for parts. I would make a terrible repairman. Who would pay me the going rate for four hours of work just to fix one small leak? At least it does appear to be fixed, for now. 

We had our Sunday donuts, very nice and the weather remains in the low 80s, not bad. Maybe I'll learn how to repair leaks better in the future. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Titusville - Cormorants


He's peeking out from under the bow of the boat across the fairway

Most birds shed water given their natural oils in the feathers. The cormorants are different. They survive by hunting fish underwater. If they had the natural water repellency of most birds, they would not be able to dive for their food - they would have too much buoyancy. The downside to this adaption is that they periodically have to dry their feathers by standing in the wind and spreading their wings. It looks a little funny but that's their survival technique. 

A close up, ready to pounce!

We had one cormorant in the marina that was fishing in the fairway. He used the boats as places to launch his hunting attacks. He was quite busy gathering his daily bread. This morning I even caught him hopping along on the dock, trying to dry off - but I didn't have my camera so I got no photo. 

Their hunting technique is a surface dive which is not like the ospreys which dive like a dive bomber to spear their meal. Both techniques seem to be effective. I guess there's room for everybody.  

Friday, February 12, 2021

Titusville - We try takeout at Shilos


Right through the front door, then about 15 feet to the lobby desk

We are still one week away from our second vaccine shot so we're still staying out of crowds and restaurants. Shilos is a popular local restaurant and even in the pandemic, the parking lot is full. We love their fish sandwiches so we thought to try their takeout menu. You order over the phone and pick it up about 15 minutes later. 

Everyone was masked

I parked on the side by the front door and entered the lobby. Other than the clerks, I was the only one in the lobby. All the staff wore masks. I handed her my credit card, she ran it, I signed it and picked up the takeout and headed back to the car. I was in and out in less than 2 minutes. 

Every second table was set aside

We had calamari for an appetizer, Ann had blackened Mahi-mahi and I had a fried fish sandwich, both came with french fries. We thought they were great! We are now stuffed but ready for the weekend! One more week to go. 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Titusville - A trip to Cocoa Village Marina


Large condos are nearby

We wanted to scout out alternatives to Titusville Marina and Cocoa Village Marina came to mind. It's farther south than Titusville and is located with many shops and restaurants around. For a long term stay, we look for a protected slip, a place to run for exercise, a dog park would be a plus for Hoolie, and good WiFi. 

Doesn't seem like much protection

The first thing we noticed was that the marina appears to be quite exposed to north winds and waves. Titusville can get rocky with a northeast wind but it's protected from all other directions. Cocoa Village looks to be open to winds out of a much larger range: from the north to the east and there's no small opening for waves to come in, the entire marina is open in those directions. 

The "seawall" for the main marina does not go down to the bottom, waves can get under

It's by several large condo towers and a busy street nearby. It's not obvious where we would do our morning runs and I saw nothing nearby for Hoolie. Perhaps people like it for the easy access to a city area but our first two requirements outweigh any others. 

I never before saw a lift for a sailboat with such a large keel

We'll take a look at Ft Piece City Marina next, we've heard a lot of good stuff about the new docks they build in the last couple of years. We're just hoping to scout out alternatives to Titusville but we haven't found it yet - except for Key West, of course. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Titusville - Ann's sunsets


Art in the cockpit

Ann continues to paint during the day while I work on Waterway Guide projects down below along with running the ICW Cruising Guide Facebook group and a forum on Beneteau 423 sailboats. She took a full complement of pastels with her for the trip south and with today's mild weather, the cockpit is the perfect place for painting - and it has good light. 

I love the sunset but the original pastel is much better

I spent the morning recording a webinar with Ed Tillet, the General Manager of Waterway Guide Media. Recording a video is harder than it looks. A smooth delivery, looking at the camera (not the image on the iPad), recording audio with a separate mic, and then editing the results. Ed will be publishing the video in the next few weeks. I'll let you know when it goes live. I won't know how I did until then anyway. 

Much is lost in the photo process but still nice

We saw the Goodyear blimp pass overhead. I guess it was coming from the Superbowl and was headed home. 

Welcome home!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Titusville - A crash and exploring backroads


Such scary-looking predators 

The boat shook and I popped up out of the hatch to see what happened. It turns out that a boat two slips down from us tried to back into a slip, stopped when it became apparent he wasn't going to make it, restarted going bow in with some speed since the wind was picking up - but when he tried to get out of forward gear, he found it was stuck. Onward he went, crashing into the dock and pulling up a piling that's now leading sideways in the water. 

An yet a nearby turtle seemed unconcerned - but maybe he should be concerned?!

They had to cut two dock lines in order to free her up enough to get her parallel to the slip since she was at an angle due to pulling up a piling. I wonder about liability here since the marina's dock was damaged as well as a piling being pulled up. The boat in the adjacent slip was also damaged from being rammed by the errant boat. There's no current in the marina but there is wind on occasion as it was this afternoon - nothing serious, 15 kts perhaps. The real problem was the transmission being stuck in first gear, the captain could not stop the boat going forward. 

This guy kept an eye out on me!

Before that excitement, we explore some of the backroads on Merritt Island. The entire island is a wildlife refuge so even on the backroads, there's plenty of wildlife to see. It was a warm day so the alligators were out in force, sunning and warming up. The birds seemed unconcerned and were in abundance. It's fun getting off the main roads, away from traffic to see the wildlife without cars constantly passing by, temps in the low 80s helped too.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Titusville - Honor those before us


A lone flagpole with meaning to a few

Titusville has many memorials to those who forged ahead at less than 100% certainty but there's one I found that's very modest. It's in Sand Point Park and it's a simple flagpole with names of astronauts arrayed around who lost their lives in exploring space. I visited there yesterday and stood by each plaque for a moment in silence. 

One of several arrayed around the pole, with a dried rose fixed in place with a piece of bark

I noticed that someone had placed a rose on each plaque and tried to weigh it down with a piece of bark or a shell. I wondered who that might be, a relative, a friend - I didn't know. And yet there is no shortage of those applying for the few astronauts openings available. At one time, I wanted to be a pilot but my eyesight was not good enough so I settled for running a radar unit in Alaska as a Space Survellience Officer in Shemya, Alaska between stints at NORAD in Colorado. I thought it was enough of a sacrifice at the time to be away from Ann for a year on my assignment in Shemya but it doesn't compare to the risks and sacrifices of the astronauts. 

Be thankful for what you have, every day. 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Titusville - A lightning storms over night, quiet otherwise


Some progress inside, our daily walk update!

We had lightning all around us but we were snug in the marina. I rushed Hoolie out before the storms hit and then waited out the rain before venturing forth to get our Sunday morning donuts at Donuts 4 U. I think she knows me by now. I pull up in front of the shop, call inside with my order, and she brings it out to the car, and I tip too of course. Many businesses routinely do this procedure now during the pandemic. They don't get exposed and I don't get exposed, a win for both of us - and they continue to get business. 

There are drives through the refuge meant for 4 wheel drive vehicles - we have one!

You can see in the photo yesterday how Walmart is set up, pretty efficient for both them and us. I stopped on the way back to get wine, no problem there, I was the only person in the store besides the two clerks. Unfortunately, I was not as wise when I want a loaf of fresh bread. I went inside with good intentions but about half the people inside were not wearing masks. I should have left but I stay in the line which at least was marked off in 6 ft intervals. 

It will be a pleasure when conversations are no longer dominated by virus concerns.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Titusville - Groceries and progress


They have six slots for grocery pickup at the local Walmart, very efficient

The thing about ordering from Walmart is that we usually cannot get same day delivery. You first reserve a time slot and then put your order in. The early time slots are gone in a hurry. However, we've gotten used to ordering on Friday morning and picking up our groceries on Saturday morning. You're free to add to your Friday order until 1:00 am Saturday morning. You'll get a message before your order is finalized on whether the substitutions were okay since they are occasionally out of some items. 

Not pretty to look at but could be very useful to marina residents.

Their app will track your arrival and all you have to do is tap in the number of the parking space you're in and color of your car, which was already entered from last week. I push the open track button and the groceries are loaded, tipping is refused, we tried. We've had zero issues with what the shopper picked out, in fact, they seem to get a better selection than we do in person. I think they access the fresh fruit and vegetables before they are put out on the floor.  

Meanwhile, I track the progress of the workhouse for the marina, the roof is on now. It will be interesting what's included for equipment, if anything. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Titusville - A trail road and sunset


Florida excels in providing access to wildlife refuges. Viewing areas such as this 
one are very common throughout Florida. 

Florida has done a really good job of providing access to their wildlife areas. We knew all about Black Point Drive in the heart of the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge but besides that attraction, there are scores of other drives you can take to explore the refuge. We took one today that wound around ponds and wetlands that we just found very relaxing - serene, actually. The back road looked better kept than Black Point Drive and you are out in the boonies for sure. 

Some color at least, hopefully some more coming.

I can see the attraction of Florida. Of course, I hear it's hot in the summer but then I'm up north then but in the winter, it's hard to beat. We had a couple days of cool weather but now it's right back up to the 70s. We ordered our groceries while still in bed this morning, using the voice feature of the iPad, just speak what you want and it appears in the list of choices. One click later, and it's in the shopping bag. We may never go back to shopping in person, unless it's discontinued. 

We don't have a good view of the setting sun but we still had good color tonight.