Titusville and St Augustine to be exact - but more of that later. In the meantime....back to the travelogue.
After Melbourne we travelled about 20 miles and anchored just behind a mooring field in the ICW at a place called Rockledge, just south of Cocoa Village and surrounded by condos. One of the locals was on his sailboat and on his way back to shore he swung by and awarded us the trophy for the "furthest away boat registration ever from Rockledge". The next day we moved on to Titusville, where we planned to stay several days and explore the Space Coast attractions as, although I had seen them before (some time ago), Charlie and Pauline had not. We decided to stop at the Municipal Marina after the recommendation in Active Captain's newsletter and, other than there being no courtesy van as described in the newsletter - which was no real issue as we intended to rent a car anyway - the marina facilities were as described. The marina was alive with wildlife, particularly Manatees, and over the next three days we saw many of them "up close and personal".
I first visited Kennedy Space Centre in 1999 and it was fabulous! It was free to get into the Visitor Centre, and the bus was $19 to take a tour of the Vehicle Assembly Bulding (VAB), the Shuttle launch viewing platform, and the Saturn V centre. The whole place was a museum, full of space and rocket memorabilia. Carolyn and I also visited the Astronaut Hall of fame which was similar, but had a few groovey attractions, like a (very violent) ride that simulated a dogfight in a jet and a ride in a centrifuge that provided a simulation of a jet doing aerobatics over the Mojave Desert and even gave the experience of a 4 gravities climb. Great stuff!!!
18 months later, we returned and boy...how things had changed. The Visitors Centre charged $20 for admission and, although the bus tour was still $19, you had to get into the Centre first. I did go in and found that many of the "museum pieces" had been replaced by interactive attractions that targeted children.
Regrettably (but not unexpectedly) it is now even worse. Most of the good stuff has gone and it is now more of an amusement park than a museum. Even the full scale model of the Shuttle had gone from the rocket garden, along with its fuel tank and solid booster rockets...although we did find the shuttle model later at the Astronaut Hall of Fame. I am sooo glad I went to the facility at Huntsville, which is far more like Kennedy used to be. Having never visited such a place before, Charlie and Pauline enjoyed the experience but I left the Space Coast with a great deal of sadness and disappointment.
Our next stop was an anchorage in a river near the Ponce inlet, named after Ponce de Leon, a Spanish explorer. The inlet is very tidal and has many exposed white sand bars, which were covered in partygoers travelling in dozens of fizz boats. The little river we were in was called Rockhouse Creek and had a small sandy beach, again covered with party people who (fortunately) all went home at dusk. There were also about 8 other boats anchored up for the night - more than we have ever seen in any one anchorage over here. We had a bit of an issue with a guy who anchored too close and then took off to a restaurant with friends leaving his boat and dinghy to swing into ours when the tide turned, but we managed to avoid collision with judicious adjustment of our own anchor rode.
Dayton was the next port of call but, being Easter Sunday, it was closed and nobody was about. Since it was also going to be closed on Easter Monday, we decided to move on to St Augustine that day and..... what a difference!!!! Some of the shops were shut but everything else was open, and the place was just buzzing. St Augustine is the oldest city in the USA and is very picturesque. We took a walk around the historic downtown area where all the restaurants and bars were humming, many with live music, and the streets were packed with people.
On return to the boat, the weather took a downturn and it began to rain for the first time since we were in Melbourne. Also Charlie, who has had a cold for the past week or so, finally managed to pass it on to Pauline and me so we had a quiet night and expected we may have to stay another day while a thunderstorm front passed over. As it turned out, the weather lifted a little today and we decided to run further north towards Jacksonville. After 36 miles we are on the outskirts, at a place called Palm Cove....right here
Till next time.