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  • Captain Jane Reports: Titusville, It’s a bird, it’s a rocket, it’s Titusville! Visiting the Kennedy Space Center (St. M. 879)

    451 Marina Rd., Titusville, FL 32796, Phone: 321-383-5600, Fax: 321-383-5602, Contact: Joe Stone General Manager, Hours: 8:00 am - 1:00 am, Groceries within walking distance  , Restaurants nearby  , 5 minutes from Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge  , 10 minutes from Canaveral National Seashore  , 20 minutes from Kennedy Space Center  , 1 hour from Orlando Attractions , A GREAT account by Captain Jane of one of the really NEAT things to do while berthed at SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR, Titusville Municipal Marina!!!!!

    Titusville is a great place to stay for several days and with an assist from the Titusville Municipal Marina’s three-for-two discount through March 31, 2011, there’s no excuse not to do so this 2010/2011 cruising season. Let’s put it this way, we will long remember, and with big smiles, our visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, the space center’s compare-and-contrast sibling attraction on the island. In this post, I’ll focus on the Space Center and tell you what I would have liked to know before we went.
    The Kennedy Space Center is definitely one of the pricier Intracoastal Waterway side-trip attractions with ticket prices starting at about $33 for children and $37 for Seniors, the only good price news being that Seniors are 55 years old and up. If you’re not a pre-sold Space or astronomy nerd, one could quibble about the Space Center’s space race propaganda rhetoric and the privatization of the space center tours and its attendant corporate rhetoric. One could also quibble about the theme park aspect, complete with theme park standard food offerings and gaudy souvenir shops and theme park prices.
    But don’t. Take off that purist cap and enjoy the wonder that we ever thought of putting a person on the moon and that astronomical knowledge is coming in faster than scientists can analyze through the Hubble Telescope that is bravely going where literally no human has dared to go. While some of the presentations are a little touristic-lite and the omnipresent in-your-face souvenir shops can be a turn-off, there’s plenty of substance (and NASA logo moon boot slipper socks!) left to make this worth the hefty $33 + ticket prices.
    First, how the heck do you get there? We did not find any suitable public transportation, so our suggestion is to rent a car from one of three car rentals. Marina staff told us a taxi would cost about $60 round trip; we found car rentals on a week day ranged from $32 to $42 for a small no frills car. Rental car pricing has become as irrational as airline pricing, so if you are price sensitive, we suggest you call each of three car rentals and compare. All the agencies we called offered free pick up and return. We found the U-Save folks to be friendly and — big advantage over Enterprise — available on a Sunday. Internet deals abound with Enterprise, especially on weekends this winter, but beware the rental agent there who pushed us for insurance and misled us about internet pricing, so much so that we canceled our reservation on the spot and walked across the street and paid more at U-Save where we were treated right.

    Visiting the Kennedy Space Center

    We found that the basic Space Center entry ticket offered more than we wanted to absorb. The ticket is good for two days within a one-week period and includes the Astronaut Hall of Fame that you pass en route to the Space Center. In fact, it took us two visits to feel we had made a dent in all that is offered and we didn’t even set foot in the Astronauts Hall of Fame.
    When you arrive, we recommend you check the schedule for the IMAX movies and the “Astronaut Briefing” where there is a live Q & A with a working astronaut who has participated in at least one space mission. Those are the items that require a little planning to fit in.
    The two-hour introductory bus ride with stops at three main exhibit areas of the Space Center is core to the visit. It sets the stage. Your visit would also work well in reverse — see the IMAX movies and get fired up with the human drama, and then see the real physical objects whose stories you’ve just experienced.

    3D IMAX and Space — Perfect Combination

    Words cannot describe the experience of a 3D IMAX space documentary, which makes sense, or why bother making these movies. The Hubble telescope 3D IMAX is a real treat. What a gift to learn about the Hubble telescope in this way, its construction, repair and the sheer wonder of what it has been bringing us. This is great use of IMAX and 3D. Just a joy! The International Space Station 3D IMAX is also good and fun, but it would my second choice if I had time for only one. The movies are only 45 minutes and are on a rotation schedule, so check the schedule when you arrive so you can plan your visit.

    A simulation almost as good as square waves on the Gulf Stream in a Northern blow!

    Don’t miss the shake-rattle-roll Launch Experience. It runs every 9 minutes, so you don’t have to plan this one. It’s behind the cafeteria on the main campus where you first enter, a short walk from the IMAX. I once reluctantly escorted some young people to Epcot and please trust me, this is far better than any of those shake-you-up theme park simulations. This is really compelling and rattling. They aren’t kidding when they say empty your personal goods into a locker. The guy in front of me lost his base ball cap during lift off. It’s persuasive, fun, the narration is sometimes hilarious — and it gives perspective on what those fiery take-offs feel like from inside, minus the sensation of the G Force 800 pound gorilla on your chest. It also serves a boating purpose, which you may need as you approach the land of endless opening bridges — it helps put in perspective the frustration of waiting for a bridge to open on a breezy day during peak Intracoastal Waterway migration.
    Captain Jane
    S/V Lady Jane

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Marina Directory Listing For Titusville Municipal Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Titusville Municipal Marina

  • My Heart’s At Sea Forever

    Thanks to Captain Bill for sending us these moving words. I hope many of us may be able to stay at sea in body rather than just in spirit!

    I know not who penned these lines, but I think they are true for a great many people, including me, although we might not have sailed the Orient or other exotic places. Whether you travel on water by virtue of the wind propelling you or by power boat makes little difference. The true romance is in the travel, not the means of propulsion. Sooner or later we all must face the fact that the journey is nearing the end for one reason or another. Until that time comes, enjoy your time on the water to its fullest.
    Bill

    My Heart’s at Sea Forever

    Long ago I was a Sailor.
    I sailed the Ocean blue.
    I knew the bars in Singapore…
    The coastline of Peru.

    I knew well the sting of salt spray,
    The taste of Spanish wine,
    The beauty of the Orient…
    Yes, all these things were mine.

    But I wear a different hat now,
    A tie and jacket too.
    My sailing days were long ago…
    with that life I am through.

    But somewhere deep inside of me…
    The sailor lives there still.
    He longs to go to sea again,
    But knows he never will.

    My love, my life, is here at home,
    and I will leave here never.
    Though mind and body stay ashore…
    My heart’s at sea forever.

  • AICW Shoaling Reported North of Charleston (Near Statute Mile 459)

    This report centers on a section of the AICW north of the Ben Sawyer Bridge and is similar to earlier reports of shoaling between Statute Miles 455 and 465.

    BAD SHOAL SOUTH OF MARKER 117AON THE GREEN SIDE APPROX. 1000′ SOUTH OF 117A
    BEHIND SULLIVANS ISLAND, THERE IS LESS THEN 4′ AT LOW TIDE.

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Shoaling N of Ben Sawyer Bridge

    Click Here To View An Earlier Report on this Area

  • Anchoring in Boot Key Harbor (Florida Keys – Marathon, FL) – Captain Charmaine Reports

    The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net is proud and honored to welcome back Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, as our regular Florida Keys SSECN Correspondent. Some two years ago, Charmaine did some sterling work for us, but then health and other factors caused us to part company for awhile. Now. SHE’S BACK, and we could not be happier.
    Few know more about Florida Keys waters and ports of call than Captain Charmaine. Look for her reports here on the Cruisers’ Net several times a month.
    On a personal note, Captain Charmaine is just one of the “neatest” members of the cruising community I’ve ever come across. She is witty, lovable, and, on the other hand, her life has been tempered by more than its share of tragedy. Take a look at her web site, http://www.SeptemberSea.com.
    WELCOME BACK ABOARD CAPTAIN CHARMAINE!

    March 7, 2011
    Boot Key Harbor Anchorage, Marathon FL Keys (N24 42.228 W81 06.172)
    by Charmaine Smith Ladd

    A lot has changed in Boot Key Harbor (BKH) since last season. The bridge is now permanently open, as the drawbridge was removed, allowing cruisers to come and go as they please. This is a wonderful thing as it expands the very freedom we cruisers love to enjoy. However, it also means some cruisers attempt to enter after dark, which is not a wise decision if needing to anchor. Many boats in the anchorage have two or more anchors set in various directions and one cannot clearly see the many anchor rodes. It is therefore highly recommended to anchor outside BKH and come inside to anchor only during good light. Nuzzling up to the west side of Boot Key (South of the main channel entrance markers) offers great protection from East or NE weather.

    Winter to early Spring it is season in Boot Key Harbor (BKH). Which means lots of cruisers arriving to enjoy what has proven to be “the friendliest Harbor in the Keys.” Though there are 224 moorings, during
    season you will often find they are all taken. Hail Marathon City Marina (all spiffied up with a new bathhouse and improved commons area) on channel 16 once you are East of the bridge span to inquire about moorings. If there are none available, you can anchor outside the yellow buoys marking the perimeter of the mooring field. Then get on the waiting list by visiting the City Marina office (very friendly and helpful staff!) by dinghy. Unfortunately, BKH no longer has a water taxi service.

    Most find it prudent to anchor on the South side (off the main channel located immediately starboard as you pass through the bridge opening). The anchorage area stretches from there Eastward {to red marker 18}). Be wary of the far south side as that is the backside of Boot Key. Some boats are on their own moorings and do not swing much, so they can be much closer to Boot Key than someone with 40 ft. or more of anchor rode! There are also a few pockets of deeper water with shallows around them. Just because you see other boats in an area near Boot Key doesn’t mean you can anchor there. “Brown, brown, run aground” is the saying in the Keys. Steer clear of brown water. Near the grass beds off Boot Key the deep water drops off and the bottom comes up remarkably. From 9 ft. to inches in a flash! Many a catamaran owner has insisted he’s safe there after being warned. A change in wind direction puts him aground and he has Crow Pie for dinner! Local knowledge being offered by someone should always be heeded; not taken as a challenge to one’s anchoring skills.

    If you do anchor, please take note that when winds are light and variable in BKH…so can become the positions of the boats: quite variable! Make sure to leave room for neighboring boats to swing in all directions. This doesn’t happen too often during season when the winds are usually plentiful; but it can and does happen. When it does, boats can turn completely contrary to each other and the circus of fenders and fending off occurs. Staying apprised of wind conditions will keep you out of trouble. You may be just fine anchored where you are as long as the wind stays out of the East or West, but be too close to a neighbor if the wind shifts to the South or North. You get the idea. If you are waiting for a mooring, this information can open more options for anchoring. Listen to the weather and what may appear to be a full anchorage will have room for you if the winds remain in your favor for the duration of the time you need to anchor.

    The holding here is excellent but you still have to set your hook. Many a cruiser has merely dropped the anchor and expected it to hold. This writer suggests setting an anchor with no more than 30 ft. of rode out. This way you can feel when it bites. After it bites, rev up your engine and back down to allow your anchor to truly set. When your bow swings you know you’re dug in. Then pay out the remainder of your rode. If possible, ask others around you how much rode they have out. Noticing whether boats near you are on a single or multiple anchors is also very helpful in knowing how much room you have to swing.

    Boot Key Harbor is a wonderful place with friendly locals and cruisers. The changes mostly have been good ones and the City Marina is looking much improved. Hopefully, the information offered here will help to quell any apprehension one may have about anchoring during season. We’re ready for you! So come on down and see us!
    Charmaine Smith Ladd, s/v September Sea
    SSECN Correspondent
    “Bringing you the low down from down low!”

    With the price increases this is a place to avoid by a retired minimalist cruiser as myself..the city is much too greedy..let the “yachties” have the place..refuse paying to anchor..will get the word out to other cruisers as well!!
    JD

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Anchorage Directory Listing For Boot Key Harbor

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Boot Key Harbor

  • Sarosota, FL Mooring Field Discussion (Statute Mile 73)

    Those of you who have been following the recent news concerning the selection of the first three Mooring Field Pilot Program sites in Florida, know that Sarasota has been chosen as one of the participants. This headline has prompted a very interesting discussion among a pro-cruiser group which has been wrestling with the Sarasota mooring field – anchoring issue for some time. I’ve copied some of their messages below. They make for interesting reading, no matter on which side of this issue one stands.

    We can make this work for us.
    It is my impression that we all (boaters, city, and FWC) want to encourage responsible boaters with seaworthy vessels while discouraging drunken, dumping, derelicts. To this end, I propose that, in addition to the common sense regulations I proposed in my alternative ordinance to the 500′ rule (see attachment), the city institute a free permit requirement for any anchoring beyond 72 hours contingent upon a Coast Guard Auxiliary safety inspection and regular trips to the pump out dock (to show that their boat is navigable and that their MSD is functional).
    This permitting system, with no limit on renewals, would ensure that only those responsible boaters with safe and functional boats could remain anchored in city waters for more than 3 days. It would allow for transients to pass through without hassle and a reasonable means for those who wish to stay anchored longer to do so.
    Jeff Bole

    This is the common sense approach which would have eliminated the proposed mooring field years ago, but the City has never been presented with authority to pass such requirements in the past. The Pilot Program now grants this as long as the FWC approves it. But take note only municipalities WITH a mooring field can participate in the Pilot Program. I wonder if the SSS’s mooring field would still allow Sarasota to participate if the Bayfront mooring field never came to fruition…
    Anyways it’s best to be prepared and I think we should draft a document with Jeff’s and others common sense suggestions, gather some signatures along with endorsements from the other local boating clubs, and sell the proposal to the City and FWC.
    This will be a topic at the next Harbor Assoc. meeting later this month.
    Thanks,
    Kens

    Sounds like a much preferred solution, previous discussions along this line were discounted because there was no authority to enforce the requirements.
    Kenneth

    Jeff’s proposal makes a whole lot of sense to me. If a boat can qualify for a CG Safety sticker, demonstrate it is navigable under its own propulsion and that it has a funtional holding tank and utilizes pump out, it should be permitted to anchor in our Bay. I think the boat should also be required to carry current registration.
    Harmon

    > and regular trips to the pump out dock (to show that their boat is navigable and that their MSD is functional).
    This is not a “common sense” suggestion. My boat uses a composting system which does not require pump outs.
    Also, routinely requiring people to dislodge their anchor, move the boat and then re-anchor can cause safety issues. You’re taking boats that have their anchors “settled in” and then forcing them to pull it up and plop it back down. Boats will drag due to this policy that otherwise wouldn’t have.
    Mark M.

    To me this is not a “common sense proposal.” Three days is way too short in many cases, plus I also use a composting system and therefore don’t need a pumpout, and third I do not think submitting to a safety inspection should be required if one is legally registered/documented/etc. If these rules were in place I would simply bypass Sarasota if I was passing through or possibly I would just anchor overnight. As a transient boater I prefer to spend my money in harbors that welcome me, not ones that appear to not want me to be there. Things like a nice dinghy dock, or at least a place to tie up, trash receptacles, and a cruiser friendly attitude go a long way to making me want to spend my money there.
    John Kettlewell

  • Another Grounding in Cumberland Dividings/Brickhill River Intersection, AICW Statute Mile 704)

    Cumberland Dividings has long been an “AICW Problem Stretch.” This portion of the Waterway lies between Brickhill River and Crooked River.

    Another southbound cruiser has gone aground at the infamous AICW/Brickhill River Intersection (M.704). And, Fl R 4s 12FT 3M “60” is missing again.
    Use caution at this mark. Southbound: after G”59″ stay on the green side and swing wide towards “60A” to avoid the shoal where “60” should be. DO NOT FOLLOW the magenta line and ignore the charts that show you on dry land. When all the day marks are in place it really isn’t hard to navigate.
    Pete Peterson

    It is important here to not look at your charts or chartplotter for clear guidance. Look to the marks themselves for a clear path and favor the green side if your draft 5 foot or more deep.
    My friend grounded just north of this spot where the Brickhill bends back to the south and the chart shows a depth in the bend of 33 feet. The bar extends northward into the inside of this bend further than the chart shows. Stay to the north side of this bend especially at low tide.
    David Burnham

    Click Here To View A Recent Article on the Cumberland Dividings Stretch of the AICW

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s “AICW Problem Stretches” Listing For the Cumberland Dividings

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To The AICW/Cumberland Dividings Problem Stretch

  • Important – Florida Anchoring Rights Struggle Enters Next Phase

    Florida Anchoring Rights Struggle Enters Next Phase
    An Editorial
    By
    Claiborne S. Young

    Last Friday, February 25, 2011, stories began to appear in the Florida press heralding the next, evolutionary step in the Florida Anchoring Rights struggle. This development was not at all unexpected, but it does presage a call to arms for the cruising community. We MUST ALL heed this call if the Floridian anchoring rights which have been earned after so much blood, sweat and tears over the last decade are to be maintained.

    PLEASE Click Here To Continue Reading Claiborne’s Florida Anchoring Rights Next Phase Editorial

    As of today, March 2, 2011, there has already been a firestorm of responses from the cruising community concerning our editorial linked above. If you have ALREADY read the editorial, click the link below to check out the many messages we have received from fellow cruisers on this subject. If you have NOT read our editorial, please do that FIRST, and then follow the link at the end of that article to check out the response:

    PLEASE Click Here To Read the Voluminous Reaction to Our Anchoring Rights Editorial Of 3/1/11

  • Captain Jane Finds a GREAT Breakfast – Lunch Spot, With Memorable Cuban Coffee (Key West)

    Damn…” Got to get back to Key West SOON, and check out some of Captain Jane’s many finds!

    “Drink more Cuban coffee. Do stupid things faster!” is the slogan of this specialty food shack.
    I have no idea what the slogan means, but I can tell you that the Cuban Coffee Queen makes wicked good black beans and rice with unctuous garlicky pork Mojo ($6) in a serving enough for two small women or one hungry man whose wife isn’t looking. My first mate says the Cuban tuna sandwich ($6) was good — a burger made from fresh not canned tuna. We both vouch for the Pina ($6) fruit smoothie drink of pineapple, banana, liquid from a young coconut and probably something else. You can also get a young coconut and a straw and drink the coconut liquid straight — that’s $6 despite a typo or old price on the paper menu stating $3.
    Our favorite dock hand at the Conch House Marina recommended this signature Key West shack dining establishment, telling us it is known for its breakfasts and Cuban coffee and for offering one of the best lunches under $10 in town. We observed lots of folks looking very happy as they drank their coffee but have not personally tried it.
    Free wifi, cute benches with Key West’s signature roosters painted on them and a good lunch for $6? Our vote? Excellent low-budget choice. We’ll be back for more black beans and rice and those smoothies. An especially nice touch is a window on the other side of the shack that says “Locals Only.” During the peak-lunch hour, service can be slow, but it does give you plenty of time to people and rooster watch.
    No walls, no ceilings, no tables, entertaining signage, and great cheap food. It doesn’t get more Key West than this.
    The Cuban Coffee Queen is between Caroline Street and the big sponge and conch store on the harbor walk.
    Captain Jane
    S/V Lady Jane

  • Markel American Insurance Company Announces “Huge Reductions”

    International  Marine  Insurance  Services is the source of choice for insurance coverage for your watercraft. After nineteen years of incomparable service to our clientele, we'd like to welcome you aAl Golden, author of the note below, is the owner of International Marine Insurance Services. These good people are a much valued SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!
    Wow, sounds like we are all finally going to get a break in the Marine Insurance game. It’s about time!!! Give Al a call, or click on his sponsorship banner below to learn more!

    I’ve tried over the years to keep my posts entirely generic, but yesterday’s announcement from Markel American Insurance Company is too important . . . to ignore!
    They have announced huge reductions in their rates for both hull and P&I and that, coupled with equally large reductions in their Atlantic coast, inland, and Pacific NW rates, means that there may be great opportunities for you.
    Obviously, we’re not the only Markel agent, but you really should get a quote from one of us….
    Al Golden
    International Marine Insurance Services
    1-800-541-4647

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