Wow! It did feel good to be out on the water again after two months in a marina. There’s something about the mystery of adventure and wondering what’s around the next corner that fills a yearning deep in my soul. Although I’ve always had a bit of wanderlust, this sailbatical has certainly magnified it beyond my dreams.
Our first stop in this part of Florida’s “Space Coast” was Titusville, just a short 36 statute miles from NSB, which is equivalent to 31 nautical miles. Remember though, when motoring, we estimate about 6 knots/hour, which is roughly 6.9 miles per hour. I like to compare that speed to half of what a casual non-racing bicyclist might average. Yep, we move that slowly. But on Day 121, we made slightly better time and arrived Titusville in the early afternoon. We glanced at the mooring field near the Titusville Municipal Marina, and saw that there were plenty of empty mooring balls. But then we considered the beautiful weather forecasts and bypassed the mooring field, deciding instead to anchor out, just pass the Max Brewer Bridge. We have missed the peacefulness of being “on the hook” away from crowds. Plus, it’s free!
After securing the boat, we took our dinghy to the docks at Space Park and explored the town. It’s tough to be in the design field and walk towns that are in need of vision and urban planning. So much potential in Titusville, but their heyday was years ago, and renewal appears to be a distant dream, if anyone is dreaming at all. Still, we were able to grab a few basic groceries to accompany our burgers we would later grill from Belle Bateau’s cockpit.
When we left NSB, we had not completed the varnishing of the brightwork. And the sticky blue masking tape was overdue for removal. So with no rain in the forecast, we sanded, then varnished on Day 122. The following day found us removing all of the blue tape, which required a light scoring with an exacto blade, followed by a very slow peeling of the tape so as not to remove the varnish. This took hours. And hours. And the wind kicked up, making some chop in the water which is not exactly the best conditions when using sharp blades!
But the weather was beautiful, and runners on the bridge occasionally entertained us with chanted military cadences, quite reminiscent of sounds from the Annapolis harbor. We celebrated our hard day with a homemade quiche, which was excellent, if I do say so myself.
As we checked weather, winds, and distances, and availability of Enterprise rental car locations, we decided that another couple of days in Titusville would be worth it if we could check something off the bucket list. So we moved to a mooring ball to secure Belle Bateau while we ventured to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Day 125. Wanting to get a full day in, and somewhat limited by the rental car office hours, we took our dinghy to the marina and walked 2.5 miles to pick up our car exactly at 9 am.
We arrived the KSC shortly after it opened, and had a fun-filled, eye-opening, inspirational, and long day on Cape Canaveral. We walked over 4 miles there (according to my FitBit) and enjoyed the bus ride that took us past launch pads and the Vehicle Assembly Building.
We had been eyeing that huge building on the horizon from the ICW, so it was very cool to see it up close. Without anything nearby to put the scale in perspective, it’s hard to comprehend that the American flag is 21 stories tall.
We both really enjoyed the Atlantis exhibits, including the “Shuttle Launch Experience” that simulated the shuttle’s launch into orbit. We were surprised at how much we had forgotten, or overlooked, about the successes of this portion of our nation’s space program.
The Atlantis shuttle alone had 33 successful missions out of 135 total shuttle missions. It is truly amazing how blasé we can become about phenomenal human achievements once they pass their initial creations. There is a lesson to be learned there.
There were so many more revelations at the KSC, like sitting inside space modules where astronauts would live in very cramped quarters for days or weeks. Belle Bateau certainly became more spacious as we began to understand outer space accommodations.
Dudley excelled at the Orbital Docking Simulator, achieving the best score of the day (and it was close to closing time when he did this). For those who know Dudley well, his high score comes as no surprise.
It was quite interesting to learn more about the International Space Station, and the plans being made to send people to Mars. My youngest son Jean-Luc has expressed a desire to go to Mars, so I just had to buy him an Occupy Mars shirt. NASA is recruiting for Mars: http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/be-an-astronaut-nasa-seeks-explorers-for-future-space-missions. No joke. If you are shaking your head, remember that people never thought we’d walk on the moon.
By the end of Day 125, we were truly spaced out on space. As we left the Space Center, we couldn’t help but enjoy the site of the risen moon just above the Atlantis exhibit. How beautiful and more meaningful after a day spent exploring space.
Since we had access to wheels, we bought a few necessities on our drive back. The feet and legs were tired, so we called an Uber to return us to our dinghy to avoid adding another 2.5 miles to our day. Best $5.50 we’ve spent in awhile. Leftover quiche provided an easy dinner, and as I ate it, I wondered how the freeze-dried version would taste. Hmmm. Life on a boat seems a bit easier and certainly more spacious today. But still, it’s an adventure.