The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Friday, March 16, 2012

Epcot, Canaveral and Manatees

We ended up spending three nights at Melbourne, because in addition to the wind howling through, we got a day of hard rain our second day there.  The extra night allowed us to spend a little time exploring the town (by foot) and Crane Creek where we were docked (by dinghy).  Carrie and I found a little Cuban restaurant that we dropped into for lunch.  We really enjoy sampling foods of all types.  We had a Yuca plant appetizer, and our lunch choices (pork for me, chicken for her) were marinated to perfection and served with black beans, rice and fried sweet plantains.  It was different…and excellent!
OK, so it was a two beer lunch!
Later in the afternoon, Fred and Julaine from Boreas joined us for a dinghy cruise.  We all thought the creek would probably only go a half mile or so above the marina, but we were surprised to find it went several miles.  It was like a jungle cruise at times, and other times lawns and homes lined the shoreline.  We saw a lot of bird life, but no manatees, which we thought we would find there.  For those of you who do not know what a manatee is, they are also known as “sea cows”.  They are huge and docile creatures that feed off the sea beds and unfortunately are so slow moving that boats often run over them.  Everyone but me had seen one at one time or another.  It seems I would have to wait a bit longer.
Up the creek, so to speak...

...doesn't this guy have a nice secluded spot?

Two happy (dinghy?) boaters!

Billy from Godspeed...this one's for you.
Tuesday we moved up the Indian River to the town of Cocoa, Florida.  I did finally see my first manatee there in Cocoa Village Harbor, where we were docked.  We rented a mini-van on Wednesday and along with the crew from Boreas went to Epcot Center in Orlando.  We spent the afternoon and evening there and had a great time, finishing off with a meal in the German section and watching the fireworks show afterwards.  Funny though, the only picture we got there was this one:
Question:  Which is the real Dory, the one on the left or the one in the middle?
While we were at Epcot, our old Loopmates from Moonstruck, Doug and Judy (aka Cupcake) showed up.  They finished their loop in Port Charlotte back in November, took a few months off and couldn’t wait to get back on the water.  They had timed this trip to catch up and cruise up to St. Augustine with us.  It is great to have my old wingman Moonstruck to cruise with again. 
On Thursday, the six of us went to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.  This was a fantastic afternoon visiting and learning about the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle missions we have all watched on TV since we were kids.  We also saw an absolutely amazing IMAX documentary about the Hubble Telescope.  We left there feeling very, very, very small, after viewing the Hubble photos of distant galaxies.
left to right:  Doug and Judy (Moonstruck); Fred and Julaine (Boreas) and the Admiral and me (Once Around)

OK, we didn't actually see the Shuttles on the launch pads, this is a NASA photo... is this one.

But we did take this one of a Saturn Rocket...unreal...

and we took this one of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB in NASA speak)

OK, I have to put this VAB building into perspective for you.  The flag painted on it is two football fields long and took over 700 gallons of paint to create.  Each of the stars in the flag is six foot tall and the stripes are wide enough to drive a bus on and not touch another stripe!  In other words, it is humongous!  Today (Friday) we made a 45 nautical mile run from Cocoa to New Smyrna Beach, with Boreas in the lead, followed by Once Around and Moonstruck.  We saw a number of manatees on the cruise up here today.  No wonder the poor things get run over, we had to dodge several right in the ICW.  I guess they can’t read the signs.  We did manage to get a picture, which illustrates how tough it is to see these guys when you are cruising.
Two manatees at play in the ICW 

Look closely and Moonstruck's gold looper flag can be seen at the bow

My First Mate multi-tasking...defrosting the fly bridge freezer while we cruise north!
We are staying only one night in the New Smyrna Beach City Marina.  Our plan is to travel another 44 miles or so tomorrow up to Palm Coast, and then on to St. Augustine on Sunday where we plan on having a bit of work done on the boats and spending a few days exploring the oldest city in Florida.

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