Sunday: We will complete some chores today and complete our upcoming week’s cruise plan with Wild Goose today, then tomorrow, we’ll cruise again. It’s a hot day and I’m really not looking forward to working on the dinghy battery because it’ll be in the sun all day, but I’ve got all the parts I need and there’s no good reason not to complete the repairs, so today’s the day. But first, before I work on the battery cables, Tracy wants to have an hour giving the dinghy a good cleaning, so I give way and she has the boat sparkling and almost all of the rust type stains are gone. She also cleans out the forward storage compartment where I will install the new battery later on. It’s really clean and I hate to go to work on it after she’s got it so clean (no I don’t get away with that excuse!).
So I disassemble the old battery cables and install the new. I start at the motor so the wires are not live while I’m working on them. I connect the new positive and the new negative then, before securing the new battery in the forward storage compartment, I hook up the two cables to the battery and see if the motor will start. Well as lady luck must take Sunday’s off, nothing happens when I try to start the motor with the electric start, rats. So I test the power readings at the battery and at the motor and I have 12.6 volts at the battery, 12.6 volts at the solenoid and 12.6 volts at the starter. So the power is not the issue. Next I check the solenoid and by crossing the posts with a screwdriver, the motor cranks up and starts. So I think (not sure yet) the solenoid is good. Then I call Nick, put him on FaceTime and show him the issue. He walks me thru jumping the starter switch and when I pull the wire connections and bypass the starter switch, the motor fires right up. So since I’m not jumping the solenoid and the starter switch at the same time, the issue is definitely the switch and not the solenoid. Nick searches for the switch and finds an E-Bay vendor right in CT who has 4 in stock. So he orders 1 for delivery to his house and when Dede flies down next Thursday, she’ll have the new starter switch with her and Nick & I will install, then the electric start components should start the motor as designed, with just a push of the starter button. That will certainly help Tracy’s shoulder heal better if she’s not using it to pull start this motor.
In the marina office later in the day, I meet a couple checking in that are from Westbrook, CT and they know our friends Bob and Linda Lee who took us out to lunch back in 2017 so they could counsel us on all the beauties and potential pitfalls of the loop. Again, this is a very small world.
Our plan is finalized for the cruising this week. We will take a short cruise tomorrow to Titusville Municipal Marina and moor in their mooring field for at least 1 night and possibly 2. We heard that there is a NASA Rocket launch scheduled for Wednesday morning at 3:59am. So if we can confirm that, we’ll stay in the mooring field for 2 nights and get up early to watch the rocket launch right outside our windows. Then we’ll cruise Wednesday to New Smyrna Beach for an anchorage, then Daytona Beach Thursday evening at anchor, then Friday we’ll cruise into Hammock Beach Resort Marina in Palm Coast for Friday and stay the weekend. Bill and Bobbie aboard First Forty are there and we will spend some time with them and also entertain Nick, Dede and the girls once again on Saturday as they will drive from Orlando ti spend the day with us. All in all this is a good plan, so we raise the dinghy up to the roof and tie her down before it gets dark. Then turn in for the evening ready to move tomorrow.
Monday: We have a short 18 nautical mile cruise today, so Wild Goose and Kailani have agreed to shoot for a 10am departure. That gives us time to eat breakfast, walk Frankie, get a pump out and return the rental car and still have plenty of time for filling the fresh water holding tank so we don’t run out of water while anchoring out all week.
At 8am I see a dock hand out on the dock with the pump out hose, so I go out to help him and I can’t help but notice how happy and friendly he is for early Monday morning where he has to pump pooh out of people’s boats. It’s really quite amazing. The pompous is supposed to cost $5, so I hand him 2-$5 bills and tell him that 1 is for the pump out and the other is a tip for him. He tries to refuse the second $5 but I insist and he says that he will take the tip and put it into the tip jar where the rest of the dock hands can split it up. Now I’m totally amazed about this guy as he won’t even take the tip for himself. Later after returning the rental car I’m walking back to Kailani and stop in the office to buy a bag of ice and realize that the happy/smily pump out guy is none other than Ken the marina manager! Are you kidding me? Not only is he the friendliest guy while working with other people’s pooh, but he’s the manager besides! Now I see why there are so many positive review on Active Captain for this marina.
By 10:15am Wild Goose and Kailani are squared up north in the Atlantic IntraCoastal Waterway and headed towards Titusville. Wild Goose takes the lead and with the only exception being a big wake overtaking by Sea Dog, the day’s cruise is very uneventful and pleasant. By 12:15pm Wild Goose is grabbing a mooring ball line and Kailani is entering the marina channel to go in and fuel up before coming back out into the mooring field for the two nights. We take on 165 gallons and both tanks are full. We go into the office, pay for the fuel and the mooring balls, then take Kailani out to the mooring field for a hookup at a ball. Since we have never done a mooring ball hookup procedure, I call Barry and he talks me through the procedure. He cautions that even though this ir ordinarily a simple procedure, in this mooring field, it’s a bit problematic because the tag lines are shorter than he’s used to and you really have to get your vessel close to the mooring ball before you have enough room to run you own line through the eyelet.
So our first attempt is with me at the helm and Tracy on the bow, but soon the line is getting pulled out of her hands without the connection getting completed. Luckily she is not injured, but we switch it up and Tracy takes the helm and I work the bow. Our first pass with this configuration yields the same result as the line is yanked out of my hands, but on the third attempt, we get Kailani secured to Mooring ball A2 and all’s well.
Tracy gets her fishing gear out and works the waters looking for some good catches while I relax in the salon. Soon Barry and Carol are calling asking if we want to dinghy into the marina dinghy dock and walk/Uber to a restaurant for dinner. We all agree on 4pm, then delay that until 5pm to let the seas calm down a bit. Once on shore, we call an Uber and go to the highly recommended (by the marina staff) restaurant called Dixie Crossroads. We have a spectacular meal at this location topped off with ice cream desserts and we head back to our respective vessels for the evening. We all agree that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring or what we will do, but whatever we do, we’ll certainly enjoy ourselves.
Tuesday: Our plan to stay here for 2 days is decided in part on the fact that there is a rocket launch scheduled for Wednesday morning at 3:59am. So we have positioned ourselves in the best viewing spot for the takeoff by choosing this mooring field. We are actually speculating that this mooring field will fill up rather quickly today as people jockey their vessels for the best viewing of the rocket launch. This is an unmanned rocket launch in the SpaceX Program which is Tesla’s space company but they are funded in part by the government and use all the NASA facilities for launches. So we’re situated in basically the front row for Wednesday’s early morning launch, then we will depart for New Smyrna Beach.
So today is a day for chores and taking the dinghy into the dinghy dock then walking into town for some local exploration. We know there’s a NASA Space Museum nearby and that will be our target. So we lower the dinghy and run into the city marina docks for tying up the dinghy. Then we start walking towards downtown Titusville. As we’re walking past Sand Point Park, we spot a white Ibis standing next to a sign warning people not to swim in the ponds due to alligators.
Shortly after the Sand Point Park the sun was beating down as usual and we spotted a Burger King one block ahead, so we agreed to go into the Burger King and get lunch and a nice cold beverage. As soon as we walked in we spotted a little lounge area right in the front of the dining area with 4 lounge chairs and a small coffee table. So we sat down and relaxed in the air conditioning before walking up to the counter to place our order. As we were sitting there cooling off, we could hear a customer yelling at the manager and claiming that they were giving her food that was different than she had ordered. Her voice got very loud and very vulgar (luckily there were not any children in the place at the time). We were afraid something violent would start happening when 2 of Titusville’s finest arrived in 2 squad cars and pulled the lady from the store and separated her from her boyfriend to wee if they could sort out what had happened. The store manager was quick witted (and most likely trained for this occurrence) and had set her cell phone to record the entire conversation so when the police asked for who said what, she simply pulled out her cell phone and pressed play. Soon the inside of the Burger King was quiet again and we were ready to place our order.
After lunch and some cold beverages, we continued walking up the main street of Titusville and turned right on Pine Street to get to the NASA Museum. Once inside we had a retired employee of a NASA Contractor that walked us through the exhibit rooms and gave us personal information on some of the systems exhibited. The museum had true artifacts from all the space programs to date from the earliest unmanned rockets thru the shuttle program to today’s SpaceX Program supplying the International Space Station.
After we were done in the museum, we decided we’d had enough excitement for one day and called for an Uber ride back to the marina. Oh and by the way, at some point during the day we found out and confirmed, that the rocket launch scheduled for tomorrow morning has been delayed until Saturday at 3:11am, so I guess we’ll have to wait for the launch from Palm Coast on Saturday. I just don’t know if we’ll be too far away to see anything. This is a disappointment since we were sitting on front row seats now.
Back aboard Kailani, we planned for tomorrow’s cruise to New Smyrna Beach Where we’ve also decided that we will be staying in the city marina rather than anchoring out because it will be a very warm night tomorrow and if we have shore power, we can run the air conditioning. So a marina it will be. It’s a 29 NM trip so we agree with Wild Goose to shoot for a 9am departure and say our good nights.
Wednesday: First thing we must do this morning prior to departure is to raise the dinghy, so with Tracy in the cockpit and me on the roof, we lift the dinghy up to the roof where I settle her into her cradle and tie her down. Then we can complete the remainder of our normal pre-cruise preparations prior to 9am. At 8:45am Tracy is releasing the lines from the mooring ball and we’re off for the day.
We cruise out of the mooring field and into the ICW where we can see motor yachts and sailing vessels in both directions as far as we can see. We’re not really sure why there’s so much ICW traffic for a Wednesday, but for sure, they’re out here. Most of the motor yachts are being driven by blind captains today also! We can see the numerous vessels, but we don’t really interact with any of them until we’re just before entering Haulover Channel. Again we are faced with motor yachts in both directions that have no idea of the force of the wakes caused by their vessels. So obviously, we look forward to the overtaking and passing situations with sailing vessels rather than motor yachts, however, that turns out to be wishful thinking also as most of the sailboats don’t seem to know how to work, or turn on, a VHF radio. We call them for slow passes and get dead air space in return, amazing!
Soon we are entering a tight area of the ICW and there is a no wake zone for 5 miles, so we will be cruising at 5 miles per hour for an hour! But due to the narrowness of the ICW the winds are nullified and the waves are neutralized and the ICW is very calm to cruise. This stays that way until about 2 miles before New Smyrna Beach. Our instructions are to call the marina on VHF #16 when we are passing under the bridge, so we do just that and Darrell talks us into our slip where he’s waiting to grab the lines from Tracy as I back Kailani into Slip 32. Soon afterwards, Barry is backing Wild Goose into the adjacent slip and after 3 hours and 50 minutes we’ve knocked another 29 nautical miles off on our way towards our wake crossing in Savannah.
There’s a few loopers here in the marina and a few more come in after us so by the end of the day we’ve met 3 more looper boats of people. I take my bike off the boat and go for a bike ride into town to check out some of the sights. We had talked about going into town tonight for some pizza and Darrell told me about a great place for pizza, so I thought I’d check it out and see if I could pick up a menu for everyone else to review before walking there. I also rode through the nearby waterside park with veterans memorial statues, picnic areas, playgrounds, etc. I also find the Panhead’s Pizzaria and get a takeout menu for reference.
After returning to the marina I spend the rest of the afternoon chatting with Barry and Carol aboard Wild Goose where we decide to delay the short 20 mile cruise tomorrow into Daytona Beach and rather, make one longer cruise on Friday straight to Palm Coast. Barry calls Darrell and confirms that we can stay an additional day with no problem, so our decision is made and we’ll get to see more of New Smyrna Beach tomorrow.
At 6pm we walk up to Panhead’s Pizzeria and have a great pizza dinner with each of us getting a personal pizza of our own choosing, then it’s a leisurely walk back thru the Canal Street Historic District to the marina for the evening.
Thursday: We decide to use the day in port cleaning Kailani in preparation for Nick & Dede visiting on Saturday. So I work on waxing the cockpit while Tracy works on deep cleaning/vacuuming of the salon. The sun is very hot today so we work in short shifts so as not to get overheated doing these chores. Later in the day I take a walk into town for a long awaited opportunity to check out Dana’s Canal St. Creamery. I opt for their Strawberry Cheesecake flavor and after enjoying two full scoops, I end up not being able to resist their display of cakes and desserts. I end up buying two squares of coconut-pineapple cake to bring back to the boat.
Everyone around us is talking about tomorrow’s launch, so we make plans with three other looper boat crews to get up at 2:30am and walk to the park where we should have a clear view of the launch scheduled for 3:11am. Consequently, everyone turns in early for the evening and I use the quiet time to complete our cruise plan for tomorrow.
Friday: At 2:30am Tracy and I are walking off Kailani with cups of hot coffee to meet the other three crews, but two of them have not woken up, so Gary & Terri of LunaSea and us walk over to the park and get ready for the experience. At this our there are three people fishing on the town docks right next to us and wile we wait for the launch, we watch them haul in a few catches. Tracy has the NASA launch info on her cell phone and at T minus 12 minutes the launch is aborted for a hydrogen leak issue. Oh well, neither of us has ever witnessed a live launch and this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but maybe as we travel down here more often another opportunity will present itself.
Back to Kailani and we try to get a few more hours of sleep before shoving off for Palm Coast. There will be a window of good weather leading up to noontime, but there’s still a chance (but smaller than previously forecasted) of thunderstorms from 11am thru the afternoon.
At 8:15am we’re pulling away from the dock with Barry helping on the dock lines. We say our goodbyes but only for a day as they will join us at Hammock Beach tomorrow. The skies are beautiful and we hope they stay that way for our entire 38 nautical mile trip. The winds are also cooperating as there is a light breeze out of the west. Our trip today will involve only one bridge to open and it opens on request, so there’s no need to try and plan a specific time to arrive at the bridge. We have the waterway mostly to ourselves today with very few other boats and thankfully, the only boat that overtakes us politely asks for a slow pass and we comply. We keep a sharp lookout on the skies above and they remain mostly clear for the entire cruise. So overall, today’s trip is definitely another of our pleasant days on the water.
At 1:15pm, exactly 5 hours after departing, we are nestling up to the dock at Hammock Beach Resort and Neil is there waiting to take the lines from Tracy as she hands them to him. We go thru the post cruise procedures and soon we are both napping after the early morning safari. After I wake up, I walk over to the parking lot to check it out for Nick’s arrival tomorrow and I bump into Bill and Bobbie aboard First Forty. We are all glad to see each other and soon, we are making plans to go out to dinner together tonight. We all get into their car and we drive over to the main resort for one of their restaurants, the Atlantic Grille. We have a nice meal while catching up on each others adventures, then we return to the marina for the evening. It’s easy getting to sleep tonight as we are still a bit groggy from this morning. Tomorrow, we’ll spend a nice day with Nick, Dede, Natalie and Brianna.
Nick & Dede along with the kids show up and we have a great time together for the day. Remember how Nick had ordered a new ignition switch for our dinghy and he was going to bring it with him today so I could install it? Well it got left in their room at the Doubletree Inn back in Orlando, so we won’t be installing our new switch anytime soon.
But we make our plan to go to the Hammock Beach Resort for the day because they have 10 pools along with a beautiful beach and restaurants where we can get cold beverages and food when everyone is hungry. Our first stop will be at the outdoor pool with water slides and a river ride on tubes. It’s a great facility and we are there in perfect time to enjoy the water for a while, then order lunches to be delivered to our pool-side table. Our waitress provides great service and we are well taken care of until after the meals are eaten and digested, the rains start and the trip to the ocean beach area is on hold for now. So we change our plans and go into the indoor pool with hot tubs and enjoy that amenity for a while until Nick & Dede are decided that the kids have had enough fun for one day and they want to get back to their hotel in Orlando so they can be ready for tomorrow’s flight.
So we say our goodbyes to them and turn in for an early evening. We’ve learned that 9pm is referred to as ‘Looper’s Midnight’!