February 13, 2015
With the engines warmed up and our shore power cables disconnected, Cindy backs the boat out of our slip at Titusville while I haul in the lines and keep us fended off the pier. We nose out slowly into the main ICW channel and then point our bows south once more, headed to our next stop at the Eau Gallie Yacht Basin in Melbourne, Florida. We have a long trip planned today, 38 miles to our next stop. However the chilly north wind that blew in the rain we had in Titusville helps us along as we motor down the coast.
Just One Dance skirts along the west coast of Merritt Island, passing the NASA launch facilities at Cape Canaveral. We can see the massive Vehicle Assembly Building off in the distance and though I can’t make it out for sure, I believe I can see the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle surrounded by its gantry. The Falcon 9 was supposed to have launched the previous night but high upper level winds scrubbed the attempt. The weather today is beautiful and we are hopeful that if the launch takes place tonight we will have a clear view of it.
NASA Vehicle Assembly Building
As we move down the ICW we come to the NASA Causeway Bridge. Passing through drawbridges has become an everyday affair and we have become quite comfortable with them. We hail the bridgekeeper, requesting an opening at their next convenience. He replies but lets us know that one of his bridge halves will not raise and asks us if this is going to be a problem. Say what?! The 90 foot bridge span we had been expecting just shrunk to 45 feet. Given our 21½ foot beam we figure we can make it but this is threading the needle a whole lot more than we like. Besides, the only alternative is to drop anchor and wait for the bridge to be repaired, which might be a month from next Tuesday.
We give him the go-ahead and he raises the working half. I step out front to put eyes on our mast clearance and to see how close we get to the bridge fenders. Cindy’s steady hand at the helm threads us through without a problem, though my derriere puckers at the three foot clearance between our starboard side and the right bridge fender.
The rest of the day is long but uneventful. I take the helm at times to spell Cindy, taking us under a couple of fixed bridges and power lines but after the half raised drawbridge incident these moments are anti-climactic. The wind and accompanying following sea make relatively quick work of our long trip and by a little after two o’clock in the afternoon we arrive at Eau Gallie, formerly an independent city that became part of Melbourne back in the 60’s. The channel leading into the Eau Gallie River is only marked on one side so we have to guess where to position ourselves to keep from leaving the entrance channel and running aground. Cindy calls out the depth soundings as they appear on the instrument panel and we both tense up as they approach four feet. But Just One Dance stays clear of the bottom and we put the boat on the dock at Eau Gallie Yacht Basin without further drama.
The marina is old, hidden behind hills and trees from downtown Eau Gallie and feels like a New England fishing harbor. We ask the dock hand who helped us moor the boat where we need to go to check in and he tells us that the conversation we had on the dock WAS the check-in. He tells us we can pay whenever, it’s a dollar a foot which is way cheaper than anything we’ve seen on this trip and if we want to stay a few extra days, no problem. One of the live-aboards who is sitting at the gazebo tells us there is a pulled pork dinner at 6 or 6:30 or whenever and to feel free to join in, just bring a side dish to share. We both immediately like this place.
Eau Gallie Yacht Basin
We text Elizabeth, an old friend of ours that we haven’t seen in five years who lives in nearby Satellite Beach and she comes over to the marina to meet us. I fix drinks and we visit while I cook black beans and yellow saffron rice for the pulled pork social and track the Falcon 9 countdown on SpaceFlightNow.com. At 6:05 we step outside onto the deck and watch the rocket rise over the blue horizon. Its exhaust flame is clearly visible and we watch it arc upwards until its first and second stage engines burn out and we lose sight of it.
The next day we put on Missy’s harness and take her for a walk through downtown Eau Gallie. It’s good for her to get off the boat every few days and she thrives at every opportunity to check out new smells and meet new people and their dogs. Main street Eau Gallie has been turned into an artsy enclave and studios and galleries line the sidewalks. The weather is clear but it’s windy and there is a nip in the air, courtesy of the next blast of arctic air that is torturing the rest of the country. We sit down for lunch on a sunny outside patio at a place called Chef Mario’s, a nice Italian eatery right on the main drag. The sandwiches are excellent and Missy loves the attention she gets from fellow diners and passersby.
Chef Mario’s Cafe
That night we meet Elizabeth at a place called Squidlips. I don’t know, I just loved the sound of that name and Elizabeth tells us it’s one of her favorite places. The food is good and the drinks are potent. After we eat we retire to the beach bar where a live band is playing and welcoming any local musicians who care to get up on stage and jam or sing with them. We sing along to “Bobby McGee”, stay up too late and have far too many drinks. It’s a good night.