Well, we eventually left Fort Lauderdale, we had a great time there and got some amazing jobs done that will hopefully last us well for the future. So we waved goodbye to new friends Linda and John, not forgetting Buddy the Dog and we headed straight out for Port Everglades and out into the Atlantic ocean. We had a great sail up to Palm Beach, helped immeasurably by a quite forceful Gulf stream of 2-3 knots! We overnighted in the Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW) anchored near the very sheltered Peanut Island until the next morning.
We like to get a reasonable cruise of at least 8-10 hours per day, which at 6-7 knots and the Gulf stream can get you a good 80-100 miles per day, so getting up the coast can be reasonably quick. The downside to this stretch of Florida is the number of places you can pull in for an overnight stay – most stop-overs are either too far apart or often with sand bars and shallow entrances. Add to this the fact that the weather this time of year is quite predictable, often with regular lunchtime or early afternoon Thunder & lightning storms sometimes lasting a few hours – in fact this part of Florida is the lightning capital of America. The rain isn’t the issue, it’s the fact that we have a 58ft aluminium lightning conductor sticking up in the air! All of this makes trying to plan a decent sail quite tricky, to say the least.
So taking all of this into consideration, we decided to stay on the inside and travel up to Cape Canaveral on the ICW. This has its own fair share of hazards including bridges (19.8m/65ft) and very shallow water (2.5m/8ft), but when it gets too crappy or you’ve had enough all you have to do is find a nice deep patch (3.0m/9ft) and pull over and anchor for the night, which is exactly what we did. (You can still get struck by lightning in the ICW, but for some reason, the chance is significantly reduced nearer land)
We made Cocoa Village Marina Saturday lunchtime, got tied up and went ashore for lunch and a beer, in a great little bar called the snug, we had our first crusty pies since leaving home, on my part washed down with a pint or two of Guinness. Splendid.
Our main reason for booking into a marina at Cocoa Village was that it stands on the stretch of river closest to the Kennedy Space Centre (KSC) and would give us a free ringside seat for the launch scheduled for Sunday evening at 6:30. This was a Space X launch destined for the International Space Station (ISS) as a restocking mission, however, due to technical issues it was bumped to the Wednesday evening at the same time.
The last time we went to the KSC was over 15 years ago, so after being convinced to give it another go, as according to the locals “so much has changed”. We decided that we should stop a little longer and pay it another visit, whilst at the same time secure us ringside seats to the launch, so Wednesday morning we popped up the road, hired a car and drove to the KSC.
We toured the site, which, in all fairness, has changed quite considerably and is well worth the trip, we hopped on the tour bus and were given a commented tour of the sight including the Space X launch site (well not that close), where that evening’s launch would take place, or so we thought, those bloody stormclouds wouldn’t leave us alone, it did break from time to time, lifting everybody’s hopes of a launch and allowing several hundred people (including us) to camp out on the viewing bleachers for 2-3hrs until 29 seconds before the launch a big black dodgy-looking lump of cumulus descended over the launchpad and stopped the take-off.
“Why don’t they just wait for it to pass over, then take off,” you ask? Ah, we thought the same! But the timing has to be just right. The reason they can’t is that it has to co-incide with when the ISS is directly overhead, so that they can reach it easily and why Cape Canaveral was chosen in the first place. It was selected for two reasons: the fact that it is relatively near to the equator compared to other U.S. locations, and the fact that it is on the East Coast. An East Coast location was desirable because any rockets leaving Earth’s surface and travelling eastward get a boost from the Earth’s spin (when a rocket takes off, it uses the rotation of the earth to sling-shot it out into space, meaning less fuel and smaller rockets?)
So with two failed launch attempts, we debated as to whether we should traipse back over today to the KSC for the 6:01 pm launch on Thursday? We looked at the weather and it was pretty much the same, so we thought better of it, instead, we kept a close eye on the weather all day and the Space X website (who from time to time gave it a 60/40 or a 50/50 chance of a launch), then as it got closer to the launch time the weather miraculously improved and they went for a launch, so we grabbed the camera with the big lens and set it up by the boat in front of the marina office and filmed it from here instead, to be truthful we weren’t really that much further away then we would have been, with the exception of seeing the base of the launchpad (ours was blocked by trees) and being $150 worse off!
Heres a short little video of what we saw. Try and watch it on Youtube on a bigger screen size!