Finally Warm

The sunshine state delivered.

This week’s gale finally blew itself out. I was glad to leave Fernandina Beach yesterday morning with the ebb tide and get back to sailing south. Fernandina seemed like a nice town but I wasn’t able to explore ashore because of the weather so my impression is based entirely on what could be seen (and smelled) from the harbor.

The industrial scenery is improved with a nice sunset and a full moon.

This leg of the trip was about 170 nm offshore between Fernandina Beach and Port Canaveral. When we were able to sail it was glorious. The wind was sometimes perfect for sailing (12-15 kts on or just behind the beam) and othertimes made sailing impossible (2 kts on the nose). Fortunately Andante is blessed with not only a capable sailing rig but a workhorse engine and substantial fuel tankage. I’m happy to use whatever works to keep us moving.

Nice sailing conditions. The line of low cumulus clouds in the distance are out over the Gulf Stream. On this leg we sailed 3-5 miles offshore and experienced a slight southward current most of the way down the coast.
Moonrise over a glassy sea.

On our way south we passed Jacksonville at lunchtime, St. Augustine at sunset, Daytona Beach at midnight, and Cape Canaveral at dawn. Since more than half of the trip was at night without much to see I don’t have too many photos to share.

When its dark I spend much of my time below watching the radar and AIS targets on the chart plotter. I pop up briefly to scan the horizon every 10 minutes or so. When all sources indicate that nothing will be happening for 20-30 minutes — no traffic, no buoys, we’re not approaching a coastline, etc. — I set a (very loud) kitchen timer and take a (very short) nap.

St. Augustine Light at sunset.
Some of the launch facilities at the Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral. Would be fun to watch a launch from out here. I’m sure the area is monitored and cleared before scheduled launch (and now landing) events.

We pulled into Port Canaveral shortly after noon, got some fuel at a marina inside the heavily industrial port, and then went under a drawbridge and through a lock into the Indian River and a completely different world.

The anchorage I chose for tonight is right next to the western exit of the lock in a shallow area of the Indian River Lagoon / Banana River just teeming with wildlife. Pelicans, herons, all sorts of small birds and more dolphins than I’ve seen the entire trip. I spent the evening sitting in the cockpit enjoying the bright sunshine and watching dolphins jump and pelicans swoop. And it was warm. Yay Florida.

Port Canaveral is a small but busy place.
Just beyond the industrial center of the port the barge canal extends westward into the Indian River Lagoon and then the Indian River. A lock is used to reduce tidal flow between the inland waters and the port. Andante locked through with a small squadron of pelicans. Apparently manatee and dolphins pass through the lock as well. Signs warn boaters to mind their propellers.
Birds everywhere.
Views from the cockpit into the Indian River Lagoon / Banana River. It was very easy to spot dolphins in the glassy water. If you expanded the photo and looked at the tiny building to the left of the small island you’d see it is actually the enormous NASA Vehicle Assembly Building used to stack the Saturn V and the Shuttle. From this anchorage you can see most of the launch facilities — just as we could from the ocean side earlier in the day. Guessing this is a popular watch spot on launch days.

Conditions are supposed to remain nice for another day or two. Sometime tomorrow I think I’ll head back out into the Atlantic and continue south to Fort Pierce or West Palm Beach.

One thought on “Finally Warm”

  1. What a nice sail. Bet it would not have been so nice out in the gulf stream, unless of course you were going WITH it. Thanks for the great pics.

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