Thanksgiving in Beaufort SC and then onwards to Florida

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Sat 7 Dec 2013 19:49
We stayed for Thanksgiving in Beaufort SC as it's such a friendly affair amongst the cruising fraternity. They welcome us 'foreigners' with open arms wherever we may be in their vast country. Prior to the festivities it was a treat to welcome Tom & Chris onboard for a night from Polar Pacer (or ex Polar Pacer we should say).  They have just sold their Prout Snowgoose and are now 'between boats' that euphoric state of mind where one is removed from the need to worry about your boat sinking from under you whilst able to look at a healthier bank balance. Next comes the exciting stage of searching the internet for a replacement and then the sheer terror of handing over the majority of that healthy bank balance to a complete stranger in exchange for another boat.  Whilst with us they kindly drove us round Beaufort, took a walk through the memorial park in the bitterest of cold days we can remember at that latitude, then a trip to 'Publix' supermarket for some top-up shopping before they headed off to Canada to 'rob a bank'. Happy boat hunting guys!
Paying respects and catching up on gossip......God it was cold!!   and in a warmer spot, back onboard where the heaters have been running for days!
We enjoyed the feast of Thanksgiving with the many other cruisers taking a break for the 'holidays' in the Marina. The following day we witnessed an exodus of well fed boats all heading south for the warmer weather!
            What a feast.......    the 'Admiral' stands guard by her nut loaf.....    .......and no shortage of hungry mouths to feed (32!)
We made the move offshore ourselves to take advantage of some softer north-westerlies.  These were ahead of a weak cold front moving off the coast. Hopefully arriving well south in Florida before a high pressure ridge following the cold front established itself.  This would have given us winds from the southeast or south which would have been on or near the nose and not terribly attractive to remain at sea with. Not dangerous by any means just nuisance value. The first night out it was soo coooold. Out came the thermals,untouched for three years, and the breathable foulies as we sat in the cockpit on our watch with barely anything showing.
Not much wind out there to sail by but a chance to try out the new pole stowage system installed by 'Skip' in Oriental.
As with most weather events produced by computers they never quite seem to get the timing correct, or wind strength come to that.  We found ourselves motoring or motor-sailing along in light airs southwards for two days before the high pressure system moved offshore. We decided to call it a day and enter the ICW at Cape Canaveral. We have not used this inlet before so were curious to see what it was like with the added bonus that a twice cancelled rocket launch was due to take place later in the day. This meant arriving off Canaveral to repeated dire warnings on the VHF from the Coast Guard for all craft to clear an area into which the rocket would cross after launch. The warnings were accompanied by threats of massive fines and confiscation of your vessel for failing to keep clear of the specified zone. We thought the risk of a red hot first stage booster rocket falling on top of your deck would be more than enough incentive to clear the area never mind the fines and confiscation.  We scampered into the inlet in good time in any case.
Once inside the harbour it wasn't quite what we had envisaged although we had seen a Norwegian Cruise Line enter the port earlier. We passed the sail or conning tower as we call it of the USS Nathaniel Greene. The remainder of the submarine was scrapped some years ago having suffered a grounding off the coast of Ireland in its role carrying Polaris missiles. Probably the work of the 'little people'. With the damage suffered and the SALT2 treaty in force it was conveniently decommissioned and scrapped with just the sail being preserved at Cape Canaveral.
Next on the itinerary was to clear two bascule bridges and a lock. The bridges were easy the lock wasn't.
Approaching Port Canaveral. The Launch facility at Kennedy Space Centre is a few miles to the right            The 'sail' of the USS Nathaniel Greene a Polaris Sub from the cold war
     Port Canaveral is the second largest commercial port in Florida and also a cruise ship terminal
We re-named this obstacle the 'lock of sudden death' after one of the most awkward experiences we have ever endured transiting any lock anywhere! Thanks mainly to the lock keeper who decided to open the gates allowing a one foot wall of water to enter the chamber and create a swirl effect throughout the lock. With barely no time gap he then told us to move on out of the lock. We refused to do so as it was simply too dangerous to release our lines. There was a fire-boat behind us and we asked them to clear first. They had more powerful engines and plenty of bodies onboard should they get into difficulties which they almost did as they became caught in a swirl of water as they approached the exit. Even as we left we were taken dramatically sideways at one point before recovering the situation and clearing the lock with thankfully no damage. Think we'll give that one a miss in the future especially at low tide!
Triple bascule (sounds like a gymnastic discipline), 'lock of sudden death' and the single bascule (they were saving electricity with just one span open for us)
After one more bascule bridge we motored down to the ICW for five miles and anchored close to a busy road bridge at Cocoa Beach on the Indian River. Presumably there were a lot of Indians there at one time but none now that we could see. So over 'sundowners' at 1700 we sat down and waited to see if the launch went ahead at 1741 as scheduled. And it did. A truly amazing sight even though this was a smaller satellite launch it still takes an awesome amount of firepower to get these things up into orbit. Silly us, why on earth did we assume the thing would just go up vertically. It didn't as otherwise the various booster bits would fall back on top of Canaveral and the thing would never get into an orbit. So off it shot into the southeast making it the largest firework either of us have ever seen live. A great thrill. What's more, rather than being just a big fireball it became a thing of beauty as the stage separations provided an excellent photographic opportunity for the occasion.
Up she goes!!            into the south-eastern sky...........then the 1st stage booster separated, falling to earth for recovery.
....leaving us with some spectacular views and admiring man's ingenuity to achieve such wonders (well we'd had a few cocktails by then!)
As the light breezes were now in the south or southeast we stayed on the inside and headed down to Vero Beach. Here we could refuel, take a walk ashore in the now warm Florida sunshine and then attend a cocktail party in the afternoon - it's all go you know.
        The 'Salty Paws' entertain the cruisers as we all stand around and tell each other lots of lies
        The mooring field at Vero...... the endless Atlantic beach (looked the same the other way)...... and the dinghy dock where personal agility is a useful skill to have
Our next move is to head southwards to possibly Lake Worth and wait for a window to cross to the Bahamas in time for Christmas.
Oh!... spot the spelling mistake on the notice board? oops. Answer further down - 'Skip' couldn't see it. Doh!
'Picnic' not 'pinic' (or is this another new word to add to our American dictionary)!!