We had discovered from the Space Coast Launches website that a rocket was going to be launched from Cape Canaveral on Thursday evening, so Ian identified a suitable place to anchor from where we would be able to get a good view. A few other boats had the same idea, and after dinner we sat up at the front of the boat in almost total darkness, except for a few lights and a faint orange glow from the direction of the launch pad.
The appointed hour came and went, and we began to wonder if we’d missed it, or were looking in the wrong direction. We checked the website again, and found it had been postponed by 15 minutes, to 8.59pm. As we watched, a globe of fire suddenly rose slowly and silently towards the sky. It was some time before we heard any sound, and even then it was surprisingly muted. We saw a couple of small balls of fire fall away, and then, suddenly, it was gone.
Even though we were 4 miles away, the immediacy made it compelling.
This image is from floridatoday.com
On Friday, the weather forecast was for thunderstorms later in the day, so we made an early start for Titusville, about 10 miles north of Cape Canaveral, and moored on one of the buoys at the City Marina. In the afternoon we took the dinghy for the half-mile trip to the marina.
Titusville had a rather depressed air about it and has apparently suffered economically since the termination of the Space Shuttle in 2012. It has a downtown, but as someone in the marina said to us, if we blinked we would miss it. However, we ventured to the Save-a-lot Grocery Store a few blocks from the marina, which, as might be expected, didn’t afford quite the same shopping experience as a visit to Publix or Wholefoods.
But the afternoon was brightened by the Sunrise Bakery, on the next block. From the outside it didn’t even look open, and inside was an unprepossessing collection of tables and chairs that reminded me of various student flats in the 1960s. But on sale was an array of artisan breads – I chose wild rice and sweet onion bread, and a bread and butter pudding to take back to the boat. The cakes and cookies looked appetising and free from any sinister ingredients, so we had hot tea and a cranberry scone before going back to the marina.
We were just in time. No sooner had we got back to Carina than the rain started, and all through the evening there were spectacular flashes of lightning, fortunately some distance away.
The next day we woke up to thick fog, and more thunderstorms forecast. There was no question of going anywhere, except possibly a quick trip to the marina if the fog cleared sufficiently.
Eventually at 10.30 we ventured out. Marinas vary in what they offer, and Titusville had very friendly staff and a free minibus service to the out-of-town stores a few miles away. So with another couple, John and Sue, who are also doing the Great Loop this year, we had yet another shopping trip, this time to a hardware store, always a source of fascination, and a Publix.
By the time we got back to the marina, the thunderstorms were well underway. We sat under the veranda by the dockside, sharing a bottle of Sam Adams and a packet of crisps, watching a manatee enjoying the downpour. After about an hour the rain stopped, Ian bailed about four inches of water out of the dinghy and we returned to Carina. The wind had got up though, and the water was so choppy that the waves crashed against the side and we got soaked anyway.
This morning the weather had cleared, though areas to the south of us were still fog-bound. and we set off for New Smyrna Beach, 30 miles to the north.
It’s odd how, after a few days on the boat, especially if we’ve been anchored or moored at a buoy, I can’t wait to walk about on dry land. But after a couple of days stuck in the same place, it’s a great feeling to be off, on the waterway again.
For the first ten miles we were still in the wide reach of Indian River, before passing through the short Haulover Canal, which leads to Mosquito Lagoon.
Our arrival at New Smyrna Beach wasn’t without drama. As Ian turned the boat to get into the dock, apparently without warning the wind caught Carina’s stern, and she swung alarmingly towards the other boats that were already tied up. There followed several minutes of frantic manoeuvreing, with the dockmaster pulling on various lines, and me fending off the adjacent boats, assisted by the owners of the next door boat, who turned out to be John and Sue whom we had met at Titusville and who had passed us along the way. Eventually all was safely sorted, with the only dent being to the Captain’s dignity.
‘Nice to run into you guys again,’ said John, with only the slightest hint of irony.