Double the launches, double the fun!

When we were in St. Marys we discovered that there was a SpaceX launch scheduled for Tuesday. While we’ve seen parts of a launch from St. Augustine, New Smyrna, and Vero Beach, it has been a bucket list item of mine to watch the whole thing while anchored in Titusville.

A quick check of the calendar showed us we could make it if we skipped stopping in St. Augustine. The decision caused a bit of hesitation since we had several people we wanted to see while we were there, but this looked like the perfect opportunity between the weather forecast and the launch schedule, so we decided to do it.

We’ve read that Fernandina Beach has a cute downtown despite the proximity of the paper mill. Maybe we’ll check it out sometime.

After being set free from St. Marys, we stopped at the Sister’s Creek free docks near Jacksonville for the night. The current between Jacksonville and St. Augustine is strong, and it was going to be firmly against us on the ICW. But a check of the tables showed we could ride the current out the St. Johns inlet, then ride it back in at the St. Augustine inlet. We’ve heard horror stories about St. Augustine’s inlet and had always shied away from it, but the forecast was going to result in perfect conditions. It was time to rip off the bandaid and see how it really was.

We should have left the free dock a bit sooner, because by the time we untied the dock lines the current was ripping which resulted in a bit of a clusterfuck getting away from the dock. But with the help of two fellow cruisers, we were soon off with no damage to anything but our pride, and we shot out the St. John’s inlet at over 8 knots.

It was a beautiful day to briefly hop outside.

Unfortunately there wasn’t enough wind to sail, but we were traveling at over 5 knots while using our AIS to keep track of the boats going down the ICW. There was a similar-sized sailboat that was slogging away at between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 knots for over 10 miles, and we were SO glad we had decided to go outside. Speeds like that are incredibly frustrating.

Our timing to enter the St. Augustine inlet was perfect, and like most things, it proved not to be nearly as intimidating as the stories we had heard. Sure, you absolutely wouldn’t want to do it in a wind against current situation, but if the conditions are right we won’t hesitate to use it again. As it was, we arrived five minutes before the Bridge of Lions opening and continued to ride the current all of the way to our anchorage at Fort Matanzas. It couldn’t have been a more perfectly-timed day.

Pay no attention to the breaking surf and the sunken sailboat near the St. Augustine inlet!

The next day we were heading to our regular anchorage in New Smyrna (riding the current again), when we saw the launch had been cancelled. Damn! We skipped St. Augustine for nothing! But the following day it was on again with a one-day delay. Okay. We’ll hang around in the Titusville anchorage for an extra day.

When we anchored in Titusville we saw that it had been delayed another day. Doh! Now we were going to be boat-bound for two days. This was starting to test Jeff’s patience, so we came to an agreement. Any more delays, and we were going to move along and try again another time.

A beautiful full moon with the launch pad lit up in the background.

Keep in mind, the weather we were experiencing is nearly unheard of for December. Typically, cold fronts drop down every few days bringing higher winds, and while our anchorage was great for watching a launch, it wasn’t great for hanging out unless the conditions were calm. We were in the middle of a huge lagoon without any wind protection, but clearly the stars were aligning because we were looking at several days of 5 knots of wind in the forecast, so it was completely fine.

The lagoon is WIDE open.

It was finally launch day, and even if I had been able to convince Jeff to wait another day in the event of a further delay, the weather wasn’t going to let us. The winds were going to pick up to 15 knots the next day, so it was tonight or nothing. And it ended up being well worth the wait. We watched the rocket launch, watched the booster return to the launch pad, and had a double sonic boom which startled literally hundreds of birds that had been hanging out on the lagoon. It was SO MUCH FUN!

A friend said we were like two kids on Christmas morning!

We were up early the next day to head to yet another new destination for us – Cocoa Village. I have no idea why it took us so long to stop here to begin with, but we will definitely be returning.

Cocoa has an amazing hardware store called S.F. Travis. It was established in 1885, and I’d say it’s the size of a city block with aisles filled from top to bottom. If they don’t have it, you don’t need it.

Jeff could have spent hours poking around in here.

Cocoa Village has countless independent shops, restaurants, and breweries, and we had a great time walking around and checking it out:

The Village Idiot Pub.
We saw this in the Bugnutty Brewery and thought it was hilarious!
During our stops in Florida, we don’t often run across architecture like this community theater building.

There was an an abundance of VERY cool classic cars:


While we were there, the Christmas boat parade and land parade were on the events calendar, and those were both fun to see. The boat parade had over 40 entries (it went right by Pegu Club), and while the land parade was smaller, it had a classic small-town charm.

Town officials rode on a classic fire truck.
It’s always fun to see the Shriners.

Of course being on the Space Coast, there were several space-themed floats:

And every Christmas parade ends with Santa, this time on a bulldozer:

To top it all off, there was another launch while we were there. I set my alarm for the middle of the night and watched it light up the sky (getting up at 3:00 a.m. wasn’t Jeff’s idea of a good time, so he kept sleeping).

It was interesting to compare the difference between the two locations. We weren’t that much farther away, but the noise was much quieter. Perhaps it also had to do with the wind direction.

There was no mistaking it when ignition occurred.

All in all, we had experienced several days of fun and adventure. But now it was time to point Pegu Club towards Vero Beach, our Florida home away from home.