Sunday, February 28, 2021

Titusville - Settling into springtime

We are well lit at night

 I think we're finally over winter down here. We'll wait until the middle of April before heading north but at least until then, we won't need a heater anymore. Donuts from Donuts 4 U was the order of the day this morning. We have our little routine where I order while in the car and the clerk brings it out to me. It's another no-contact delivery of food. All of the local restaurants have this as a regular offering. 

The voltages on the docks are better than most marinas I've been in

We're looking for another SpaceX launch tonight that's due at 8:37 pm with no room for error. It's either launch at exactly 8:37 or wait until tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll get some photos tonight. We are still on our two-night-a-week schedule for Zoom meetings. The Connecticut and Pennsylvania contingents join in for a round robbin of the week's happenings in the Sherer family. Zoom has changed our family communications.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Titusville - Groceries and a rising moon


Nice to have such a view off the back of the boat.

It's Saturday so it was grocery day. In figuring in the time saved by ordering groceries with the Walmart app and then having them loaded into the trunk at no extra charge, we think we save about 1/2 hour at least. We don't stand in line at the check-out register and in some experiences in the past, we spent more time standing in line than actually shopping. Plus, we don't spend time trying to find products on our list. We hope Walmart continues this service for a long time. 

The US used to be on the moon, maybe later too

We treated ourselves to another round of take-out dinners from Shilos. This time I had the crabcake sandwich and Ann had the fried fish sandwich, both were pretty good - not up to Key West standards but good nevertheless. 

We have been entertained by a rising moon at night. It's like the middle of summer here and the moon is spectacular. We are due for a SpaceX launch Sunday night so we'll try to get a photo of that. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Titusville - Pastel Day


A scene from Black Point Drive on Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge

Ann paints in pastels every day. I'm usually down below working on Waterway Guide stuff and Ann's upstairs in the cockpit painting. I think she's advanced a lot in her painting over the last few months. It's much harder than it looks and the technical aspects of the painting require a greater understanding of how to shape colors and shadings than you might imagine. I look at a painting and might say, "That's nice, I like it" and then she'll explain how some of the effects were achieved. Oh yes, I say, now I see it - where it was oblivious to me before. 

A local sunset scene

So I work on the technical aspects of boating while Ann addresses the artistic side, a good match. The paintings have all taken a local aspect now, scenes from our travels through Black Point Drive or nearby parks. The area is a neverending source of inspiration to Ann. 

End of the day

We'll pick up our weekly groceries from Walmart, having selected our purchases while in bed this morning. With choosing our selections Friday morning, we have all day Friday to add things we forgot before the list is finalized with Walmart for the 11:00 am pick up on Saturday. That's easy shopping. I wonder how much longer Walmart will continue the practice after the pandemic recedes. 

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.