Ft Lauderdale - Cape Canaveral

Fri 30 Apr 2010 17:43
So, with the sun shining we set off back to Cape Canaveral (a little slower this time), but aided by the gulf stream adding at least a couple of knots to our speed.  Sea life continues to impress us here - despite all of the sport fishing boats plucking everything that moves out of the sea, we saw at least four huge turtles (all diligently on the correct side of the channel), and countless dolphins / porpoises (does anyone really know how to tell the difference?) on the way in to the port.
After a quick sleep, we met up with Tom, who had kindly invited us to stay at his holiday house.  Now - this offered new company, a VERY big TV, a comfy sofa, hot shower, comfy bed, big fridge, and is right on the beach.  Well......it was a tough choice, but it just would have been rude to say no.  So, we packed a bag, waved a tearful goodbye to Trippy (promising to come back one day), and set off to what quickly became our new home (for a little while at least!).  Little did Tom know when he offered quite how hard it would be to get rid of us (even long after he had gone back home)! - it's the weather you know, it's just not quite right for setting off we said, its not the TV with millions of channels, or the sofa, or the big fridge.....
Well, whilst there, we were looked after tremendously - thank you so so much Tom, we are immensely grateful.  It was great to catch up, and we really enjoyed spending a little time with you.
Linn, a friend of Tom's through the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was also amazing - she kindly invited us to a dinner with countless astronauts prior to the Apollo 13 40th Anniversary dinner.  As we all introduced ourselves in turn, we felt rather humbled by the company that we were in.  This included people that had been in to space, people that had walked on the moon, people that had been to Top Gun (yes, TOP GUN!), and the singer from the Byrds - remember them (you know, "hey My Tambourine Man, sing a little song for me...").  It is very strange to have Jim Lovell and Charlie Duke coming up to you and introducing themselves, saying that they had heard that we had sailed across the Atlantic, and were impressed, and wanted to hear about it.  It's hardly walking on the moon!!  It really was an amazingly evening, which was only surpassed by the spectacular event that Linn had organised for the following night.
This was the 40th Anniversary dinner for the Apollo 13 mission (you know, "Houston, we have a problem") which Tom had invited us to.  This was quite something.  Once again, we were given VIP tickets - thank you once again both to Tom and to Linn - this is an event that will stick with us for a very long time.  We were treated to a tour to the launch pad (made even more amazing by Jim Lovell talking us through his views on pre-launch events); meeting the Apollo 13 crew; seeing a nasa produced docu-film which helped to set the events in to context - particularly given that it was held in the flight control room!; a fantastic dinner in the Saturn V building:
...if you weren't paying attention in the last bog - it's this place:
and most amazing of all, we were treated to a panel discussion with amongst others, the remaining Apollo 13 crew members Jim Lovell and Fred Haise, NASA flight director Gene Kranz, Kennedy Space centre director Bob Cabana, and Charlie Duke (the chap who got the measles and later helped to talk Apollo 13 back down to earth).  This really brought the whole thing alive, and I have to say after this, and chatting to all of the astronauts and their wives, I think I might feel a bit differently when I watch the film Apollo 13 next time!!
Anyway we found ourselves getting all rather excited, and slightly unexpectedly walked back to the buses (a little late, as we got a little lost) proud owners of an Apollo 13 mission orbit map of the earth signed by the Apollo 13 crew. 
Thank you so much to both Tom and to Linn once again for such an exceptional few days.  It really has been the highlight of the trip.
The next few days were spent back in the real world (well, still clinging on to the comforts of the big TV, sofa and big fridge - come on, you would too!), catching up with all of those jobs on the boat that we never quite got around to doing before we left - varnishing is much nicer when you don't have to sleep in the fumes that evening!  The only interuptions being the distractions of the near perfect beach outside Tom's house, and one of Linn's infamous Karaoke parties.  Didn't exactly get much done the next day!
Alas, the day came when we couldn't stall any longer.  We moved our things out of Tom's house (which felt rather like we were leaving home!), headed back to the boat, and sailed off across the bay for our next 430 nm leg to Beaufort:
Sailing past Tom's house
Sunset on the first night out of Cape Canaveral