Of Shuttles and Bugs and Pilings
16 May 2011 | Titusville Municipal Marina, Titusville, FL
We did stay at Port Canaveral to watch the shuttle launch. We realized that even if we didn't want to watch it, we were really too tired to press on before they closed the port and lift bridges in the area. Besides, we thought it was an opportunity we shouldn't miss. There was a small group of boaters gathered at the end of our dock to watch the launch. We weren't sure the launch would be a go as it was quite cloudy where we were, and if there is cloud cover they don't send them up. Just before the launch we heard a jet, but that wasn't the shuttle. One of the boaters has watched a lot of launches. He said they seem to always have a ten-minute hold. We heard another louder jet, but people said that wouldn't be the launch either. I just happened to be looking to the northeast (the launch site was north and just a pinch west of us) when I saw a pink glowing object with a huge condensation trail in an opening in the clouds. "There it is!" "Where?" I had to point out the con trail because you couldn't see the shuttle for the clouds anymore. Then it reached another opening and we all got a 2 or 3 second view of it before it disappeared for good. And that was the launch. Still, it made the idea of people riding up in something going so fast that it was glowing red-hot more real to me than it has ever been before. I'm glad we saw it.
After that we finished getting the boat ready to leave. There was no wind, so we decided to wind the jib up on the furler by hand and just lock the furler in place with a shackle. We were thinking of putting the furling line back on using the loose end in the furler. Only 16 feet of it had been cut off, it chafed through right where the line left the unit when the sail was reefed. However, after we lifted the sail off the foredeck Bud found a piece of hardware on the dick that looked like it came from the furler, but we couldn't see where it fit, so we decided not to try using it. Once we were ready to leave, we still had to go over and top off the fuel tanks and pump out the holding tanks, so we didn't actually leave the marina until about noon.
This seems to be the mating season of some half-inch, black and red bugs the locals call love bugs. They fly around with two joined at the rear ends, one sex seems to be larger than the other, because there's always a bigger one and a smaller one joined. There were hundreds at the marina and they were very annoying. When we left we went immediately under a lift bridge and then into the Canaveral Barge Canal lock. The lock only lifts about two feet, but you are required to tie off during the lift. We were tied on the starboard side, and it probably took nearly a half hour to move us, a barge and tug and two smaller powerboats through. While we were sitting still there literally thousands of love bugs swarmed over the boat. Everything we touched, everywhere we walked was covered with bugs. We were covered with bugs. Once we left the lock I got out our flying insect spray and went at them. I swept as many of them up as I could with a little whiskbroom. There were still hundreds of bugs, dead and alive, in all the cracks and crannies. Once we got underway, the wind came up and kept them off us.
We flew the staysail most of the way. Bud is only running the engine at 2200RPM because of the overheating (we ran at 2600RPM last winter when the water was colder) so our top speed without sails is about 5.5 knots. The jib gave us half a knot or more. Even so, we didn't get to the marina at Titusville until almost 5 PM and it wasn't even 20nm.
Unfortunately, the wind was still blowing pretty strong when we came into the marina. And this was another marina with short finger docks and pilings. You have to get your stern lines around freestanding pilings as you enter the slip; the docks between slips only extend about halfway down the length of the boat. With the wind the way it was, we needed to get the port stern tied off right away. I tossed the bow line to the marina guy who came to help us dock and raced back to try to lasso the stern piling. I didn't get back there before the wind had pushed us 8 feet or so to the right and I couldn't get the piling lassoed. Meanwhile, the toe rail on the starboard side was rubbing against the nice square cement piling they had at the end of the finger dock. Bud was not happy with me. He ended up coming back and I pushed the stern off the starboard piling so he could lasso the one on the port side. Then I got the line on the one on the starboard side and then went and took the port line from Bud and pulled the stern over against the wind while Bud and the marina guy got the rest of the lines secured. No great harm done (additional rubbing on a spot that had always needed to be refinished, we'll get to that cap rail soon, I hope). Bud says I need to figure a better strategy for looping pilings if I can't lasso them. I may look for a better tool than a standard boathook, as those are pretty awkward to use in this situation. The photo is Earendil tied at their dock with the rear pilings properly lassoed.
One of the reasons we came to this marina is there was supposed to be a grocery store close by. Turns out the regular grocery store was two and a half miles away, so we ended up walking to a little store nearby. Bud said it was the worst store he's ever been in. He ended up getting a minimum amount of stuff and we stopped at KFC for some chicken to have for supper. It was after seven before we ate. I waited outside with Fuzzy and watched the cars go by on US 1 while Bud shopped. I think I saw as many cars as I'd seen in the four months in the Bahamas! It's a lot harder to be without a car in the US. Tomorrow it's on down the ICW towards St. Augustine. We're still at least two days away at our slower pace.