Sunday, January 31, 2021

Titusville - We meet friends and a lazy dog


How nice it was to chat in the cockpit, hadn't done that for a while

The big event of the day was guests on Fleetwing for the first time in 11months! It was a warm day so the cockpit was completely open with a good breeze and we know everyone had been careful to avoid any and all crowds. I broke out a bottle of our best wine from northern Italy volunteered by Aqua Map and we sat and chatted for several hours, catching up on old times with Gail and Laura. 

It's a dog's life

They have the same model Beneteau we do and regularly sail to the Bahamas for the winter but not this year. For a change, they bought an RV and are exploring Florida by the roads. Neither of us enjoy the cold weather any longer looking out at the snow. They also got their first vaccination shot and will get their second one in two weeks. 

So while we chatted away, Hoolie decided to take a snooze like he usually does, totally relaxed - secure in the knowledge that he's among his pack. In the marina, he's relieved of his duties to prevent incursions by dolphins or manatees but he's still on the lookout for the occasional bird landing nearby. Such is a dog's life aboard Fleetwing. 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Titusville - Mystery fuel spill


No socially distancing for this group!

We woke up to the smell of a fuel spill on "A" dock. We never could pin down the source and it gradually dissipated during the day but not before we had to escape for a drive away from the marina. In the 10 years we've been coming to Titusville Marina, it's the first time anything like this has happened. 

Just beautiful creatures

Our escape route for the afternoon was to Black Point drive once again. It never disappoints. There are always birds, alligators, and ducks to see. However, it was a Saturday afternoon with excellent weather and the drive was more crowded than anytime we've ever seen. It was bumper to bumper in places. I think in the future we will avoid the drive on weekends. Still, there was lots to see and take pictures of. 

Mr Alligator was out, sunning himself

We will socialize with friends on Sunday, one of the few times we've met with other travelers. We will socially distance of course but it will be nice to see familiar faces!

Friday, January 29, 2021

Titusville - New projects at Titusville Marina

It's a new workshop for boaters

 It's been a busy fall for projects at the Titusville Marina. First off, it was the new lift station to move water from the office area up the hill. It doesn't sound very exciting but it's something necessary for the smooth running of a marina. 

Not very glamorous but it is necessary, a Lift Station

Next on the list of improvements is a work area for residents of the marina. It's a concrete block structure (Florida hurricane code) for a building where boaters can work on various projects for their bost. I'm not sure of all the particulars of what's going to be inside but it's a great addition for long term slip holders. 

Last, but not least, it the improvement to the WiFi system in going from a 20 Mbps system to a 200 Mbps line. The WiFi transmitters will be elevated on poles so a large powerboat won't block access for nearby boats. It will be password protected, not so much to prevent unauthorized access but to ensure security for users of the system since all boat to WiFi communications will then be encrypted. I could really use the increased WiFi speed as well as a more dependable connection. 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Titusville - The wind she blows...


Whitecaps in the mooring field

Yesterday, it was the low 80s as we had our wine in the cockpit, today it was in the low 60s. Of course, we get very little sympathy from our friends up north but to those of us with thin blood from being down south, it's cold! The sun was out today and the cockpit warmed right up. The best upgrade we ever did was to get a full enclosure. It about doubled the size of living quarters and provides great warmth on sunny days. Don't leave home without one!

A big step up!

Another aspect of a north wind is the lowering of the water. A north wind pushes water out of the upper Banana River where Titusville is located. When we first arrived at Titusville in the fall, there was a foot or more of a step down from the boat to the dock. Now, with the strong north wind, there's a one foot step up to the dock, a two foot difference. A two foot difference can make a big difference in navigation in shallow waters! This area is not affected by celestial tides but it certainly is affected by wind tides 

In the fall when we first arrived, we had a big step down! Wind tides!

We'll have our electric heater going tonight, nice to be warm at a dock with electricity. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Titusville - Hot weather - before a cool front tomorrow



We are surely enjoying the warm weather with temperatures in the 80s today. It's reflected in the free waterpark in the nearby city park. They have a variety of water sprinklers to play in and in the warm weather, all the kids come out. I took Hoolie over for an afternoon walk to enjoy the weather. 

Some palm trees have their own idea of how to grow

It's day 2 after the vaccine shot and Ann is tired and I think that's one of the side effects. The first day I had the shot, I was asleep by 8:30, very unusual for me. Ann is feely drowsy too. I was fine the next day and I suspect Ann will be too. Otherwise, there have been no other effects. 

Nearby is Westland Marina, in the same harbor as Titusville but towards the south

I'm fascinated by the palm trees where one seems to strike out on its own, above and beyond all the others. I wonder what singles out that particular tree to do that? I see the same effect down in Key West, one palm tree just goes it's own way. 

Tomorrow would have been our first day in Key West but not this year. We are not giving up and we're looking forward to next year for a return during hopefully more normal times. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Titusville - Ann gets her first vaccine shot, Bob423 burgees arrive


The Bob423 burgee!

I got an email this morning from Italy that the burgees designed by Aqua Map were delivered so I hurried to the office to get them. They have the Aqua Map logo but also a logo they designed for me, Bob423. I quickly hoisted one so now I'm an official Aqua Map Bob423 boat. I plan on giving some away to members of the ICW Cruising Guide forum for service above and beyond the call of duty. I think they look kind of neat. 

Hoist time

Tonight, Ann kept an appointment for the last vaccine given out in the latest cycle, at 7:48 pm over on Merritt Island. Since it was by appointment only, there were no lines. You just appeared, filled out a form declaring no allergies and then went to the pharmacy for your shot. You were asked to wait for 15 minutes after the shot to see if any allergic reaction took place, Ann had none. The second shot will be four weeks later but that's automatically scheduled due to getting the first shot. 

A better view

So now it's just keeping safe in the meantime so the second shot can be given with no complications. It's a great relief to start down the road of normalcy again. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Titusville - Windsurfers!

The causeway out to Merritt Island provides an ideal area for windsurfing. No matter which way the wind is blowing, one side or the other will be protected from wave action, providing the windsurfers smooth water but with lots of wind. We went south today to scout out the location of where Ann has to go for her COVID vaccine shot on Tuesday and on the way back we stopped to see the action. 

Pulling into the parking lot, it was plain that there must have been a convention called for windsurfers. There were at least a dozen zipping about. They can be quite acrobatic as evidenced by the videos you see here. Their body control as they flipped and zoomed was amazing. 

Tuesday is the big day for Ann. She's due for her first vaccine shot at 7:48 pm at a Publix on Merritt Island, about 35 minutes south of here. I already had mine on Saturday so we will be close for the second shot four weeks later. We are so looking forward to enjoying the trip north in the spring without worrying about the virus. 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Titusville - Another launch


Another launch! Right into the sun this time.

It's getting so the rocket launches are becoming routine. SpaceX has taken all the drama out of the launches with the success rate approaching 100%. The rockets are being reused, up to 6 times so far. And, they are landing just like in the science fiction novels we used to read - tail first on a flame of fire. Actually, it's great news - Musk has singlehandedly kept the US in the forefront of space access. It's still exciting to see the launches though. 

Just a nice day

We had our donuts again from Donuts 4 U, the best donuts in Titusville! I have a routine now of parking outside the front door, ordering over the phone, and the clerk brings out the order to my window - no contact with anyone inside. We are going to be very diligent until we get the last of our two doses of the vaccine in about a month from now. We plan on being completely protected by the time we head north in April. 

We sure are enjoying the warm weather, in the 70s now!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Titusville - vaccine success!


Good camouflage!

I appeared on time at Publix for my vaccine shot at 11:48 am today and per the governor's latest guidance, I was asked to show proof of Florida residence. The rules allowed snowbirds to be included in the Florida residence list and with the contract, I showed with Titusville Marina and the list of monthly payments with electric bills included, that was enough to qualify me for the vaccine. It's the same criteria that DeSantis advertised in the list of requirements sent to each vaccination station. 

Summer is coming - the beach umbrellas are out on this warm day

With that, I received my first shot of the two-dose regime today and Ann is due for her first dose on Tuesday. After that, there's a four week delay until the second shot and even then you have to wait about three to four weeks to be fully protected. However, we should be good to go for the trip north in April. We would truly like to enjoy Charleston downtown, St Augustine, Windmill Harbour, Coinjock, and other places on the way north not to mention visiting friends along the way. 

We ordered our second installment of Walmart groceries delivered right into our trunk. That's a hard service to beat, especially considering you can order anything in the store, not just groceries - and there's no charge for the service. The prices you pay are the same prices as if you shopped in the store yourself. After trying to tip today, we were informed that tipping was not allowed for that service per Walmart policy. It's like tipping the cashier at the checkout counter, it's not done. 

It was a good day!

Friday, January 22, 2021

Titusville - Frustration but success in the end - vaccine wars


With a warm, sunny day - the turtles were out in force

The sign-up period started at 6:00 am Friday morning over the Publix website. I had three devices going at the same time, none of them were offered an appointment as the minutes ticked by. There was no button to click on, the site would give you a sign-up page once an appointment was available. So, I waited, waited, and waited some more as I saw the status of appointments slowly change over to "Fully Booked" in county after county. 

The same ramp - do you figure it was before or after the turtles
and what happened to them? (is that a bulge in the tummy?)

After about 15 minutes, my iPad came to life with a button to request an appointment. My laptop and iPad Pro remained lifeless. I immediately jumped on that and got my appointment without incident but I could only make one appointment at a time. I had to reenter the system to get one for Ann. Luckily, once into the appointment system, you can make another appointment without waiting for the magic button to reappear. 

I love the walks through the woods. It had to be raised due to the wet ground.

I got to the last page for Ann's appointment and then the webpage refused to submit the appointment! After some very frustrating minutes of trying everything I could think of, I found a way to bring the webpage back to life and got one of the last appointment for the vaccine. It's a different day and place than mine but it's in the system. If all goes according to plan, we will both have our second shot by February 23. 

All this is rather upsetting to say the least. It also came on the day that DeSantis set out new rules to prevent vaccines for out of state fly-ins. Florida is one of the few states allowing vaccine shots for those over 65 and people were flying in from all over the country and even from South America to get the shots. Now you have to be a Florida resident or a snowbird with a residence in Florida over the winter (even if you have an out of state driver's license). We expect to qualify with our lease on dockage at the marina and paying utility bills but it's not certain. I'll find out for sure Saturday when I'm due to get my first shot. 

Meanwhile, we both went to Merritt Island to settle the nerves. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Titusville - Bird Therapy


He was slowly making his away across the road, no hurry

Yesterday the window for applying for a vaccine appointment opened at 9:00 as I set ready with my finger poised over the reload key. At 9:00 on the dot, I reloaded - site not up yet, then a few seconds later it was up. I saw a list of openings, I selected one, requested 2 of the 192 appointments available for that time slot, and was switched to a screen that said, "Getting your tickets, please stand by".

Slim pickings! Who pulled the plug?

I was encouraged but then the waiting started. 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes - all with the warning not to refresh your screen in order to keep your place in line. At the 17 minutes mark, the screen message changed to "All tickets sold out". A vaccine ticket is the hottest ticket in Florida at the moment and apparently, some individuals have found a way to "game the system". I noticed that Evenbrite, the site that runs the reservation system, allows the entry of "special codes" to obtain a priority. I don't know if that's allowed for vaccine appointments but it's part of the website. 

At any rate, we remain without an appointment and I'll try again at 6:00 am Friday morning to get an appointment through Publix for their vaccination program. I'll be poised once again at the witching hour and we'll see how it goes. 

Meanwhile, we took another tour of Black Point in Merritt Island in an attempt to salvage the day. The area was very low in water but there was still a lot to see, including a turtle this time! Wish me luck for Friday morning!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Titusville - SpaceX Starlink Launch


Starlink rising

We've seen several SpaceX launches since we've been here but this was the first one in the early morning. The night launches are spectacular but the early morning ones show up the vapor trail better. It was another launch of 60 satellites for worldwide internet. They showed an ad before the launch of people in northern Canada who had no internet but with Starlink, they were seeing 120Mbps. They were amazed. 

Up, up and away! 60 more satellites!

The cost for the beta version goes for $99/month and $499 for the satellite dish. Spacelink is targeting the northern latitudes, as you might expect, where internet access is very slow or non-existent. In this age, internet access is a necessity, especially for kids in learning. They are applying for licenses all over the world. Nobody else has launched any satellites yet, Starlink (Elon Musk) has it all to himself so far. 

I'm just hoping the internet service here at Titusville will meet expectations once the new system is installed, it was approved last week. Meanwhile, we are enjoying the warm-up.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Titusville - Hoolie's favorite afternoon, the dog park


"Well, throw the ball already!"

One of the attractions in Titusville is an excellent fenced-in dog park. In fact, they have two, one for under 25 lbs and one for over 25 lbs. On the way over, Hoolie's leash is horizontal, tugging us ahead to hurry up and get there! All Hoolie wants to do is run and perhaps pay some attention to other dogs but not much. I throw, he runs, I throw, he runs, etc. I get as much exercise as he does, almost, since he never returns the ball. 

There is a little time for socializing, but not much - off to chasing balls again...

Eventually, his tongue gets longer and longer, like an indicator of the level of his exhaustion. He would run until he dropped, I think but he's getting on in years so as soon as he drops to rest a bit, we know it's time to move on. He pays some attention to other dogs but only to greet them, he jus likes to run. 

A big warm up is on the way with temps in the 70s for the next 7 days or so. We continue to be on vaccine alert. All appointments seem to disappear within 5 to 10 minutes of posting for reservations. We will try again tomorrow morning. We see no drop off of demand down here!

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. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Today was why went south for the winter


Look at that missing section of the ICW!

With light breezes and a warm sun and highs in the low 70s, it was a perfect winter day in Titusville. We are getting our runs in for the morning with walks in the afternoon, all in full sun. One tends to lose a sense of having to get things done in such an atmosphere. Fleetwing needs a good scrub on the outside, the teak needs to be sanded and sealant applied, and I could go on and on, you get the idea. But the cockpit is so warm, the sun is so comfortable, why not just enjoy the day. 

In the meantime, I spent most of the day answering an email from NOAA on why they should fix a chart error just south of Vero Beach which shows the ICW ending for a several hundred feet stretch with an "island" in the middle of the channel. The "island" does not exist but the chart makers at NOAA do not know that except for my word on it. So I put together my arguments and data to see if the charts in that area can be accurately updated. We'll see what happens. 

Still thinking of Black Point Drive

Being an Ohio State graduate, I'll be watching the OSU vs Alabama football game tonight for the NCAA championship. No matter the outcome, it will be interesting, I hope.