Our first month in Titusville..........

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Sun 13 Jul 2014 22:39
Unbelievably, it is nearly a month since we stopped moving. Time has just flown by. It was in fact Skip's birthday on the day we left the mooring field and took up residence on B dock in the marina.  Safely tied up we decided to go for a celebratory meal.   All our pilot books recommended a well established seafood place called 'Dixie Crossroads' famous for 'rock shrimp'.  A quick look on the internet confirmed its reputation so off we went having ascertained that it was a fair but 'do-able' walk.  Not before waiting an hour for a rocket launch that never happened - delayed due to weather and technical hitches several times - now due later this month.
'Skip' doing his on line Birthday present jigsaw puzzle - one of many 'prawn' statues at 'Dixie Crossroads' and that shirt  (shocking pic Admiral!!!)
In a world wide search for the best fish & chips - Skip had ...... red shrimp & fries? There was some debate as to whether the 'Admirals' rock shrimp was in fact another type of langoustine as it tasted very lobstery but further research revealed they are both quite different.  For what ever reason they ply you with free 'hush puppies' before the meal - sort of deep fried doughy things.  Theirs come covered in icing sugar and then they try to make you eat more if you empty the plate. We did turn the second lot away but looking at the size of some of the professional eaters squeezed into the booths its not common. The restaurant has been there a long time, people do travel miles to eat there, it was very busy but sadly it didn't rock our boat.
On the walk back we came across a warden locking a bar gate to a public park next to the boat yard. On passing the time of day (night) he was surprised to hear we had just walked back from 'Dixie Crossroads'.  People round here just don't do that!  Walk in a park, on a beach, round a mall but down a main road.  Well, it had a pavement and we used it!
However, our stakes in the transport department were about to change. When we went to the boat yard next door to book our lift out later next month we paid a friend of ours a visit on his boat to say hi, catch-up and see how his work was progressing.  No visit to a boat yard is complete with out a wander round to look at what or who is there (see the catamaran in the previous blog).  We spotted a number of boats we knew laid up for the summer.  Just as we were passing under a large monohull a voice said words to the effect of  'What are you doing here?' we more or less replied the same.  We'd last seen 'Gone Bambu' in Bocas del Toro in Panama! Well, they were about to go off to deliver her cousins boat further north, they had a car, if we took them to the airport would we like to use it for a few weeks? After checking with their insurers we were clear to use 'Ruby' the Subaru. What a wonderfully kind offer and we certainly didn't mind getting up at 03:00!
Before they left they even took us on a guided tour of the area.  We went over on to Merritt Island and drove through the Wildlife Refuge to the Canaveral beaches.  We were ambushed by sand flies the moment we stepped onto the board walk which curtailed our stroll somewhat. It is a wildlife refuge after all. We were shown where all the major supermarkets, hardware stores and malls were (they are certainly not walking distance).  Finally, we were introduced to a neat southern 'soul food' restaurant called 'Loyd have Mercy' which we'd never have found. The colourful waitress even told Skip to stop talking and taste his food before it got cold - Loyd himself popped out to have a chat! It was great value and tasty but there's some really strange offerings on the menu which need careful consideration before ordering!
The Canaveral Beaches - the longest undeveloped stretch of sand on the East Coast accessed through the Wildlife Refuge (and sandflies!)
So, Ruby has taken us to all the hardware stores to get stuff for our various projects, to the supermarkets to get stocked up, to AT&T to get our communications sorted out and a multitude of other places.  The novelty will not wear off - one needs a car here.  We gave our pal we'd originally gone to see in the boat yard a lift to the airport for his flight to Scotland on July 4th. We know the route well now in time to pick up Ruby's owners when they get back. Oops, skipped over July 4th - the firework display for Titusville was in the park next door so we had (yet again) a grand stand view of the proceedings from our dock.  Prior to that some other very good friends of ours came to check on their boat in the yard before going camping in the Smokeys (bears & snakes). Along with another couple whose boat had just been hauled we sampled a nearby Vietnamese restaurant. Then some British cruisers we'd last seen in Guanja, Bay Islands, Honduras two Christmases ago turned up in the mooring field on their way North. And we thought it was going to be quiet here!
Ruby gave us the opportunity of visiting some friends we'd first met in the ICW several years ago.  They now live in a place called Astor about an hour and half drive from Titusville. It was great to catch-up with them and look at how their business manufacturing composting toilets for boats/RVs/cabins has taken off in a big way.  From working in the shed and home office they now have a facility manufacturing them with orders coming in from as far a field as Australia. The boat has sold, they have created a lovely home, an impressively successful business and even find time to grow their own fruit and veg - what an inspiration. Many cruisers are now fitting composting toilets - for any of you reading this who are interested it is well worth looking at their web site - http://www.c-head.com/
Ruby in Astor - our friends house & the dock out back where their cruising cat sat before it sold
This brings things neatly on to weather.  Whilst at Astor, having toured the facility and returned to the house, we experienced one of the ugliest thunder storms ever. A continuous barrage of cloud to ground lightening accompanied by ear shattering explosions rocked the foundations whilst it just poured down.  It didn't stop raining for hours making the drive back to the marina a little challenging.  This wasn't the first and certainly won't be the last.  We naively thought that nothing but nothing could possibly be as bad as the thunder storms experienced in Panama. Even though this part of Florida is called 'the thunder storm capitol of America' we still didn't think they'd be as bad.  They are.  Apparently, the weather hasn't been as bad as this for years - now where have we heard that before?
Surprisingly enough some work has been done between the daily pyrotechnics and accompanying deluges. If we are lucky the storms don't start until the end of the working day.  The stainless steel arch has been stripped of the wind generator and all the solar panels. The new solar panels have been ordered.  As the arch had been designed for the old panels some modification has to be done plus relocation of various navigation aerials and lights.  That project is on hold until the panels arrive.  We decided to go with the re-galvanising of the anchors and chains. Having been washed and cleaned of any paint they are about to be shipped to the only place on the East coast that does re-galvanising.  Luckily this is in Jacksonville, a few hours north by road, so not too far away.  The anchor chain has developed an irritating trait of piling up onto one side of the anchor locker on retrieval then when under way falling back into the main locker.  This stops the chain from flowing freely when deployed again.  More than once the foredeck crew has had to dangle precariously inside the locker sorting the tangle out with the aid of a deck broom whilst the helmsman has had to keep the boat on station (not always easy).  So - another project - a hawser pipe! Out with the glass fibre, buy some drain piping and away we go.  Not so fast - as with all boat projects one thing leads to another.  Now the windlass has had to be disconnected and removed, holes drilled and, well, it's on going! Meanwhile, plans are a foot, or on paper at least, for a hard top bimini to be fitted before the end of next month................................? It's already 35 degrees Celsius and the storm clouds are gathering!
Arch c/w wind genny & solar panels before removal by a tightrope walker - off with the windlass (spot the accident waiting to happen with 'Skip's' orange drill box!)
This being the 'Space Coast' there always seems to be a lot going on in the air. Out in the mooring field we watched as NASA security were training their staff by dropping them out of a helicopter, picking them up in speed boats, dropping them on an island, picking them up in the helicopter, dropping them in the water again and so on. This seemed to go on for hours.  Nearby there is another small airfield where all sorts of air bourne craft take to the skies from micro lights to blimps.  One micro light 'downed' in the ICW recently and turned turtle in the water. Then a light air craft crashed into an automotive parts workshop in town and dented their roof somewhat.  No fatalities in either case.  We've seen light air craft formation flying training and even a micro light helicopter contraption.  It just looked like a seat suspended below some rotor blades. Talk about those magnificent men in their flying machines.
                            The security guys getting another dunking and the GoodYear airship flying over the marina!
Being near the Wildlife Refuge we do get to see some interesting birds too. There are some resident Ospreys in and around the marina and lots of sea crows that sound like demented laughter when they all get going.   We've seen all manner of storks, cranes and egrets, but our favourite critter is in the water. The Manatee.  They come and bump the hull as they search for any vegetation.  They love fresh water and when it rains hang out near the drain pipes.  There are signs everywhere asking you not to pet them, feed them or give them water.  Sadly, these huge, lumbering but endearing creatures (whose closest land relative is the elephant of all things) just don't move fast enough for some of the local speed boats. Many of them bear the scars of propeller blades.
                       Just cruising by the bow - the nearest one sporting propeller scars
                       Rolling over under the dock to drink water dripping from the tap - curious little one
Always worth stopping work to watch for a few minutes!