Wednesday, June 25, 2014


N28°31.964’, W080°45.154’

We're just knocking' 'em down now...  After several days (weeks?) of daily thunder boomers in the afternoons, we've decided that "taking it slow" is not working for us so well anymore.  We're ready to get outta Florida in hopes of avoiding any further such developments...

We left Melbourne earlier than originally planned so that we could knock a day off of our route and get to our NEXT-next destination early enough in the afternoon to be settled before the storming hour.  The hope of actually SAILING our boat fell flat on a river of glass.

Cocoa Beach, although boasting of a packed anchorage even this late in the Cruising season, will have to wait.  We'll be back through in the fall.

These guys were cleaning the meter board!
All eyes were turned to the shore as we passed beneath the bridge and saw that this little 'burg' looked more interesting than we thought.

I love a good old -fashioned water tower!
We were almost regretting our hasty decision as we slid by the City of Cocoa with their carpets rolled out nicely just beckoning us in...

But we were strong!  We were thinking that we would stop over at Titusville and find a way to get to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

Bruce being a retired History Teacher, I thought this would be right up his alley, and we've neither been to KSC before, so it seemed like the living-on-vacation kind of thing to do.

I consulted the Launch Schedule for the facility as we drew near.  I had heard that the Falcon 9 was due to launch and had been delayed by the weather, among other things.  The next planned attempt was TOMORROW afternoon!!!

We could actually SEE a rocket on what we thought must be a lunch pad just right THERE!!!  Hastily, I consulted Active Captain to see where that anchorage touting "front row seats" for launches was exactly...

Our Own Private Island
We were approaching the NASA Causeway Bridge and the anchorage was just on the other side.  Our plans shifted once again as we headed for the anchorage and hopefully the opportunity to see a lunch.

This, our first glimpse of the anchorage settled any lingering misgivings about ditching our "plan" again as we realized that we would be spending two nights alone at our Own Private Island.

Once we got anchored as near to the island as I dared in about 7-8 ft. depths, we could almost see the bottom.  Bruce "suggested" we delay dashing over to explore OPI for a bit so that he could do some maintenance on the boat.  It's been a while since he checked the zincs and the visibility here would make the job an easy one.  In the end it was a good thing because although they hadn't yet fallen off, they would have soon.

So with the chores freshly done and sweat pouring from my skin, I turned my sights to the Island.  Time would be short now as those afternoon thunderstorms we were hoping would hold off... were NOT holding off!

Cooling our heels while this towering cloud had it's way with us was not on my agenda!  I was excited to get a look at our Island, even if it was only a brief one.  Bruce indulged my wishes and we splashed the dinghy.  It would probably be better to have it off the davits during the storm anyway...

Our island was surrounded by clear shallowing waters.  We have found that the waters near the inlets tend to be less murky than those further away, but with the Cape Canaveral Inlet being accessible only by way of a narrow canal, we hadn't expected the water to be nice here.  It has a brownish-green tint but is still very clear considering...

I jumped out of the dinghy as soon as we were near enough, and headed for the island leaving Bruce to toss the anchor.

Those clouds weren't cooperating with our wishes for them to hold off at ALL as I glanced back to make sure Bruce had followed me ashore.  I was suddenly a little creeped out as I heard unseen "things" thrashing about everywhere...

Lizard Ruckus
I was relieved to discover that the "things" were just lizards having little turf wars, seemingly unconcerned about our presence.  Although this was comforting, I continued to be nervous and made sure Bruce was near as we hastily explored our island.

Our visit was short as reason returned, necessitating our return to the boat to prepare for this new entertainment.  We arrived back at the boat just as the cloud was advancing to blot out the sun.

Most of our now familiar storm prep duties were already done.  We battened down the hatches and ports, and took our seats to watch the dramatic clouds advance.

What would it be like this time?  Big winds?  Just a gentle rain?  We would soon enough find out...

The freakishly cool winds hit suddenly.  We rolled down the remaining enclosure panels as the cats disappeared below.

I had some concerns about our position near the island.  We are situated in depths just about as shallow as I'm comfortable with as it is... When we suddenly reversed position to face the approaching storm, our depth dipped more towards the 7 ft mark than the 8 ft... Although we are gaining confidence in our anchor, you just never know when it might fail and doing so with the shallow waters of the island, now directly behind us... Well, lets just say that we're glad we have that Towboat US plan handy!

Our personal record.  Forty SIX knots!
Everything happened so fast.  One moment we were feeling the cool puff, and the next moment we were wrestling the winds and waves trying to keep our boat safe.  There were to be no daring pictures of this one as my position was at the helm.

The engine was running as usual, only this time I actually used it.  The winds went from zero to the high 30s in what seemed like seconds.

The waves appeared out of nowhere, whipped to a frenzy by the sudden winds.  Here we are again in a wide open anchorage in what looked like four foot fetch, oh, with the exception of OPI looming up on our stern.

I'm 98% sure that we didn't drag.  But our chain was straightened out making the vague shadow of the island seem uncomfortably close...  When the winds increased to the 40s, my mind rebelled and rejected this entire event.

I engaged the engine to try to keep our nose to the wind as we were straining wildly against our anchor.  This was a learning process as I realized we were actually making way incrementally, causing us to slack the chain.  When I disengaged the engine, we would fall back allowing the gusts to hit us broadside and heel the boat ominously.  I decided that this was not doing us any good and discontinued using the engine to keep us from swinging.  It seemed better to just keep an eye on the island and do nothing at this point as I watched the wind indicator and hoped for a speedy end to this madness.

Finally after what seemed like an hour, we began to see the winds drop to back to the 20s and then the teens... and then to single digits.  We were magically pointed back towards the island again, having somehow done a 180° swing when we weren't looking...  It's over.

Yes that's JETSAM sitting on my lap.  She does NOT lap sit!
Everything returned to normal with the having of a shower and a cat in the lap...

The rain became a gentle apology for the earlier frenzy.  We had our dinner and relaxed in the cockpit and talked over our latest storm experience...

We were decidedly too close to the island, and so just before sunset, we pulled the anchor and moved to deeper water.  Newly settled in 9-10 ft depths, we noticed that our only neighbor had not fared as well.  We saw that their jib had unrolled and hoped that it wasn't too bad.  They were on deck working on it and we were relieved to see that they were able to get it rolled up nicely before night fell.

Our meager sunset.
It was a strange hazy evening with the air full of moisture.  The sprinkles finally ended leaving a heavy sky that almost squelched the sunset.

Looking East toward Cape Canaveral
We were still too excited to head to bed at our usual hour, so we sat up until the no-see-ums chased us down below.  We retired hoping that there would be no repeat in the night but with minds at peace having repositioned our boat in deeper water.

We found ourselves still happily alive in the morning with big plans to enjoy OPI.  We could hardly wait for the sun to climb high enough to light the waters around the island.

We packed our beach chairs and our snorkel gear into the dinghy and set off!  We've spent so much time in anchorages surrounded by other boats which restricts our dinghy speed, I suggested that we zip around for a while to blow out the cobwebs from our little 8hp motor.

Bruce stood to get a better angle to see the shallows and the FISH!
Bruce obliged and we circled the island and headed towards the causeway.  We found the area behind the island to be much more shallow as we motored along looking for possible fishing spots.

We were disappointed to see very few fish or anything live, other than two or three small rays and some baitfish.  We turned towards our island and settled in to enjoy the afternoon...

We tried fishing.  There was a lot of activity on the Eastern side of the island.  We could see baitfish jumping out of the water but, as usual, nothing seemed attracted by our tired old lures...  I became distracted.

There was a fire ring, but I'm thinking all the wood is wet...

Brave lizards darted everywhere!
Luckily we wasted money on only one fishing license... I never fish long enough to make it seem worthwhile.  I returned to exploration of OPI while Bruce fished on...

Loving my new neoprene booties found at the Goodwill store!
I unpacked our gear and found myself a nice place to set up for an afternoon of lounging in the shade with my Kindle.

Amorous lizards provided all the entertainment I needed, causing the Kindle to lie unused in my lap...

It was just me and the reptiles until Bruce realized that I was having more fun than he was...

He joined me on the beach in the shade.  But wait...  There weren't only lizards inhabiting OPI.  There were armies of no-see-ums that have found us!  I KNEW I should have brought along that insect repellant.

So... what we've learned is that having one's own private island isn't always what it's cracked up to be... as we were driven into the water!

We donned our snorkel gear and floated ourselves on the surface in the very shallow waters near the island.  We were disappointed yet again to find that almost everything out there was dead.  It is disconcerting to find oneself emerged in waters where everything is DEAD, and wonder WHY???

But we were having fun on our grand adventure and, even with it's minor disappointments,  this STILL beats working!

And it's STILL a beautiful day!  We packed up our stuff and returned to the boat thinking... should we stay? Or should we go?  It's early yet and we could make it the short distance to Titusville.

Upon our return to the boat, we had some lunch and relaxed in the cockpit while I did some investigation into the offerings of the Kennedy Space Center.

So I'm looking over the website and reading it off to Bruce when he tells me that he isn't really all that excited about visiting the Space Center.... and would be just as happy skipping it.  So, we settled in for the afternoon with the intention of heading out in the morning towards Cocoa Beach.

Other than the last little bit of excitement of finding something mysterious floating in the water near the boat... With thoughts of rescuing some missing piece of Space paraphernalia... we clambored into the dinghy and raced over to pick up... this.  A weather balloon.  It was marked as being "not dangerous" and there was no need to call in the find...  AND, we were asked to dispose of it responsibly...  So not only did we NOT find something unique and exciting, but we now have to find a place to dispose of it PROPERLY!  Thanks!

Oh well... it was still exciting!  We ended our evening with fingers crossed that there would be no repeat of last evenings anchor drill...

Oh, and the promised rocket launch?  What happened to that.  Evidently it has been postponed yet again, and our front row seat was for naught.

But we were rewarded with sweet soft skies as we slipped between storms to our north and south.

Having our Own Private Island for a day was fun.  But it was also a learning experience.  Once again we confirmed that like Cruising... it isn't always fruity drinks in the shade.  There are rewards and there are trials.  But for us, the rewards continue to far outweigh the difficult times, and we will continue our search for that perfect private island.

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