Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Titusville - Last post in 2023

Taco Grouper - very  good 

We did the last of the packing this afternoon and we’ll be leaving early Thursday for Lagrangeville, NY. I spent most of the afternoon installing an automatic dewatering pump in the dinghy (since we leave it in the water - it tends to fill up from rains). 

We said goodby to Titusville with a dinner at Pier 220 Seafood and Grill. It’s a nice place with a view of the ICW although tonight it was very stormy, no boats were passing by. It’s popular with the locals and it has live music on Thursday through Sunday night. 

This is the last post of 2023 as we leave Fleetwing to tend to itself while we’re away. We will return the first or second week of January but I may not restart the blog until we head north again on April 15th, we’ll see. Until then, stay safe!  We miss Hoolie…

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Titusville - ICW Cruising Guide Facebook work


This is a typical update. The blue dotted line is the new track, the red is the old track.

I review all new USACE surveys on a regular basis to see if there’s new shoaling that’s endangering the Bob423 track. In looking at the area between Beaufort, NC and Southport, I found several areas of concern so I spent the afternoon revising the Bob423 track for that part of the ICW. 

Another example, this one of Browns Inlet. A shoal is working its way out from G61A. Best to think ahead and avoid.

After revision, then I post it to the download site and upload to my Bob423 Aqua Map account which triggers automatic updates to those subscribed to Bob423 syncing in Aqua Map. It’s an efficient way to keep up to date once you set syncing up the first time. Everything after that is fully automatic. 

I’ve got the car half loaded for our trip north and we’ll pay a visit to a local restaurant for dinner to celebrate our departure and the start of the holidays. Then, it’s hit the road time Thursday morning. I figure I don’t need any of my summer wear for my northern visit so we’re packing light for the trip. We, sadly, have a lot more room now without Hoolie. 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Titusville - Workshop at Titusville


It’s handy having access to a workshop. A radial saw is available too. 

Titusville Marina has a workshop available for use by transients. You can bring your own tools but there’s more available. If you schedule in advance so a dockhand is present, you have the use of a radial saw and other major equipment. It’s handy for work projects on your boat. There’s no charge for the use of the tool room. 

Just like any house, boats are decorated too for the holidays, in this case for two at the same time. 

The marina is home to many liveaboards and they decorate their boats as they would their house (if they had one). When Halloween rolls around, the decorations come out. Thanksgiving is honored too and although it’s early, Christmas will be well represented when that time comes. For many of the boaters here, they’ve sold their house and their boat is their residence - a moveable residence, which is the nice part. 

Our car is now ready to travel. It received a multi-point inspection and an oil change so it’s all ready to go. We’ll start packing tomorrow and load the car Wednesday. Our time here is getting short.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Titusville - A park nearby

I probably won’t be taking up this sport - at least not yet…

 The marina benefits from having a nearby dog park, skateboard park, play area for kids, and paths for running in the morning for us. We get out around 7:30 to 8:00 for our exercise during the week and perhaps in the afternoon, get out for another walk. It’s something that’s easy to do in the warm, Florida weather. 

For the kids. You don’t see wooden playgrounds anymore

However, when we go north, we find that our tolerance for cold weather has been comprised. If it’s less than 70, it feels a little chilly (where’s that sweatshirt?) We used to laugh at our southern friends when they came north in the winter or fall. We would out in tee shirts in any weather above 50 and they would be wearing heavy jackets. Now we’re in the same bucket - or rather will be when we get back to Lagrangeville, oh well. 

Next week will be a short week, just three days before leaving for home. We have friends on the dock that’s will look out for Fleetwing while we’re gone, good to have such friends!

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Titusville - Weekends are for lazing around

We have roaming flocks of ibis harvesting the grass

 There are boat projects to do but as we approach our departure date for returning north to New York, I find a lack of enthusiasm for starting any new ones. Since we’re spending the winter in Titusville, there’s no trip south to Key West - I have all the time in the world to get things done for the trip up the ICW in the spring to Beaufort, NC. That knowledge alone contributes to massive procrastination. 

Titusville Marina has a convenient dinghy dock by the office with showers and laundry nearby

Although we often tour through Black Point drive, there’s a goodly amount of bird watching to be done right in the marina and next door in the nature park. We have both manatees and dolphins swimming around as well as a large collection of birds that have no problem finding sustenance.

As if that was not enough, we have Space X launches too, usually one a week but sometimes twice a week. We walk down to the end of the dock and watch the rocket rise above the bridge in the distance. It’s a pretty sight at night. For last night’s launch, the rocket returned to the Kennedy Space Center and made a safe landing. It is turning into a very routine procedure now, who would have thought? 

Friday, November 10, 2023

Titusville - All electric boat


I don’t think it can run continuously on solar power but if it charges during the week, perhaps on weekends.

The way things are going with inflation, we all may be headed to either sailing a lot more than we’ve done in the past or switching our motive power to solar. I’ve seen several boats along the way going south outfitted with solar arrays and an electric motor but they are usually not very big. 

There’s one in our marina that, I guess, sits in a slip during the week gathering in the sun’s rays for use on the weekends. I’ve haven’t seen it out yet, perhaps it’s a summer use boat. For a place like Florida, it makes a lot of sense. 

Always the sunset,,, 

Meanwhile, we did our last provisioning, this time a Winn Dixie again. He find it to be a better store for fresh produce than Publix which surprised us. The prices are better too. The phenomenal weather continues, we’re spoiled not only for waters to come in New York but also for just the usual Florida weather. We haven’t had rain for weeks but I won’t complain.  

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Titusville - Beaudtiful days


Right next door is the dog park - where Hoolie loved to run. This is along the way. 

Now that we’re getting close to our departure date, it’s hard to stay focused on getting boat chores done. We did manage to get some essentials at Winn Dixie (love that name!) but that was about it. After working 38 years for IBM, I still have the mentality of “What did you accomplish today?” The answer today was, “Nothing” which strangely is bothersome. I wonder if everyone has that problem? (Or, anyone else?)

I’m a sucker for a sunset

The weather has been out of a travel brochure for Florida - winds less than 10 kts, highs around 80, full sunshine, no rain since we arrived 11/20 - just perfect days. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but we’ll see a different weather report up north for sure. 

We sit on the back of the boat with our wine, watching the sunset so I keep taking photos of the event. Tonight, we’re scheduled to see a Space X launch, around 8:30 pm. The nighttime launches are the best, spectacular. I’ll see if can capture some worthwhile pictures. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Titusville - New batteries installed


The evere changing light… 

The downside of 4D batteries is the weight, over 120 lbs. Yesterday it took two strong types to get them off the boat, very awkward. Today, putting two back on the boat was easier - gravity being what it is - al downhill. 

I used No-Ox on all the connections to prevent corrosion. It coats the terminals to keep out corrosive fumes. You can’t seem to buy it in small batches. The tube I have will last years. I’ll do a final test tomorrow morning and then throw the switch and stand back (only kidding). 

We are doing the last of the boat chores before leaving next Thursday for New York for the holidays. It seems strange making the trip without Hoolie. It’s been dead still here for the past four days with winds less than 10 kts. We’ve enjoyed the view off the back of the boat and the perfect weather with temps in the high 70s and low 80s. It’s going to be a shock going north.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Titusville - 4D battery weigh a lot!


Wood Stork - there’s a flock of them that hang around the marina.

I have three 4D batteries and when it comes time to replace them, it’s a big deal. They have to be hoisted up the companionway, across the cockpit, and down the side of the boat to the fixed dock. It’s a task for two people with strong backs. Each battery weighs about 130 lbs. 

Well, today I had help and the three of us horsed the batteries ashore. Now I have to travel about an hour to the nearest Interstate store that has them in stock. They are back ordered at most places. The 4D’s cost $340 each. If you wanted absorbed glass matt (AGM), then the price rose to $995 each, ouch. Interestingly, Walmart sells AGMs made in China but I wasn’t ready to try them out yet, even through the price was only $345 each for AGMs in the 4D size. 

We’ll drive to the Interstate store to pick them up on Wednesday and then it’s another trial in getting them loaded on the boat, into the cockpit, down the stairs, and into the engine compartment. I’ll be asking for help again tomorrow. Hopefully, they will last at least three years, the same as the last ones. 

Monday, November 6, 2023

Titusville - Battery problems


After the time change, sunsets come during wine time

I have three 4D Interstate deep cycle batteries on Fleetwing. They tend to last about three years before they start to fail. It seems a little short but they’re used eight months of the year, every day. I know when one goes because it starts to vent a lot and never reduces in the charge current, reaching 40 amp even though they were fully charged. 

Now I have to decide between flooded lead acid or AGM. The Lithium batteries look attractive but they are out of sight in price. The Interstate 4D lead acid were on back order, over a month wait time if then. Of course, everything is getting much more expensive - don’t we all know that!

I get the estimates on battery prices Tuesday for both the lead acid and AGM. I’ll relay what I find out here. One thing about being on a boat, there’s never a lack of things that need doing - and spending money on. One of these days, I’ll do the last boat chore and then I’ll rest…..

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Titusville - Being a Sunday Driver to Black Point

There’s always room for an alligator photo (Merritt Island)

 We had to get “out of the house” today so we headed for Black Point drive in Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. I wanted to get a more detailed map than I had but found the Visitor Center was closed! It’s not open on Sundays. It would seem that Sundays would be prime time for visitors but the park thinks otherwise I guess. 

Blue Heron at Black Point - he poised for us, didn’t move a muscle

Apple Maps now shows the off road trails through the park so we just followed that Apple Play display. The dates for the birds to arrive here is advertised to be from November 1st to April 30th so we thought, now’s the time. However, not many have arrived yet. Perhaps it’s due to the unseasonably warm weather up north? (except for this past weekend). We did see a few more than the last time we drove through but nothing like the peak times in years past. 

The winds have died and it’s dead still here tonight. I guess the winds have gotten to wherever they were headed and they’re happy now - for a while.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Titusville - Hoolie crosses the Rainbow bridge


The day we brought Hoolie home

It is a very sad day on Fleetwing. Our Brittany of 14 years passed over the Rainbow bridge this afternoon.  He’s been with us on all our boat adventures, to Maine, to Long Island Sound, to Block Island, and every year down the ICW. He was a dear member of our boat family and he will be missed. 

As we will remember Hoolie forever, “Throw the ball already!”

He was ever enthusiastic and always ready to chase a ball. He would snuggle up to Ann when I left in the morning for a run to keep her warm. He kept us company on Fleetwing and guarded the boat from being boarded by dolphins and manatees. He regarded the dinghy as his personal transportation and you could not be seen preparing it for launch without his eager attention, and getting in the way. 

He was spry and full of pep until about 6 months ago when he started to go downhill with problems in his hips. He could no longer chase a ball or negotiate the stairs in our house or on the boat or do other dog things. He had a good life for 13 years. Hoolie, we will miss you dearly. We’ll call for you when we cross over the Rainbow bridge ourselves. 

Friday, November 3, 2023

Titusville - Books-A-Million and a beautiful bridge


On our way back, we drove alongside the Kennedy Space Center. Blue Origin has
 a huge complex and yet they are far behind Space X in launch capability. 

One thing about the demise of bookstores is that the extensive magazine racks went with them. There are mags at supermarkets and a few other places but nothing beats the selection at Barns and Nobel or Books-A-Million. Ann was in the mood for holiday and art magazines so we headed south to the nearest bookstore, Books-A-Million. The selection was huge. 

I really have no need of a bookstore since I get all my titles loaded to my Kindle from Amazon. It’s harder to get a wide selection though for magazines although I do subscribe to several digital versions. But if you’re not sure what you’re looking for (as Ann was), then an old-fashioned book rack is hard to beat. Ann walked away with about 1/2 dozen mags. 

The Titusville to Merritt Island bridge passes the first prerequisite, it’s 65 feet high! 

The first prerequisite for judging a bridge “beautiful” on our boat is that it must be at least 65 feet high! After passing that requirement, its aesthetics can be contemplated. One such bridge is pictured that has more than just slabs of concrete between pillars. It’s by the restaurant we ate at last night, the bridge from Titusville to Merritt Island. 

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Titusville - A dinner at Pier 220


On this side, it’s shielded from an east wind

We’ve been going to Titusville for 14 years but have never eaten at the restaurant by the bridge - Pier 220.  Today that changed. We met Tony yesterday when we docked at the end and came over to meet us. He’s bought my cruising books and was pleased with the Bob423 tracks. 

I didn’t realize they had docking for the restaurant

This morning, before he took off, he gave us a dinner card for Pier 220 in appreciation for all the work and Ann and I took advantage of the card tonight. The restaurant has been renovated and has both outside and inside seating. There’s a musician holding forth outside. Since the wind was still blowing about 15 to 20 kts, we decided to take an inside table.

Many thanks to Tony for the gift of the excellent meal

We had wine followed by conch fritters as starters. I had the crab sandwich and Ann had fried shrimp. All was good. The place was quite lively on a Thursday night. There was a larger crowd than I expected. We’ll go back at least one more time before heading north in two weeks. It’s a nice place.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Titusville - 34 kt winds visit us from the north (you can’t escape)


You can see the flat water in the marina just past the entrance

Titusville Marina has both slips and moorings, both were almost full. We had one of the calmer docks for which we were grateful. We’re tucked into the northeast corner which provides protection from a NE wind. The boats out on a mooring received the full force of the frontal’s passage. It’s better to be on a dock. It’s a tough ride into shore in these winds. 

A dolphin paid us a visit, see link

They have considered building a breakwater but the EPA was concerned about the fishes. They will probably try again. The marina would be a hurricane hole with a breakwater. Still, we survived the last hurricane that came through in 2022 without a problem. It was bouncy but the boat was safe. 

The peak wind gust was 34 kts with most of the wind in the high 20s all day. The cold front brought cooler weather but the low tonight in only to be 62. A little farther north at Brunswick, our home for the summer, will get down to 45 tonight. It pays to be in Florida rather than Georgia.