November 16, 2008

Forts & Space Shuttles

We left the St. Mary's & Cumberland Island area early this week after our friends on s/v Free@Last caught up with us. The kids (they have a 3 year old boy) have had a great time playing together for the week. We had southerly winds for the week, so we elected to stay in the ICW and ultimately motor south, trying to get to Titusville by Friday so we could see the planned space shuttle launch. This would mean three very hard days of motoring. Fortunately the ICW in Florida is much straighter with much more reliable depths than the Carolinas or Georgia, so other than many many many bridges to negotiate it was relatively easy. We only went aground once trying to get into an anchorage at Daytona Beach, but were going slowly so able to back off quickly and find deeper water in. Along the way we stopped in St. Augustine taking a self guided 4 hour sprint tour of the oldest settlement in the U.S., enjoying the Castillo de San Marcos the most as the kids had the run of the place especially the cannon battery for shooting at the sailboats in the harbor.

We made it to Titusville on Friday, along with several other boats. There were camps set up in the town for the land going types to come out and watch. Very festive, with much anticipation about whether the shuttle would go off or not. The locals assured us that the launch was a go. We spent the evening on Free@Last having a little to much to drink. We worried that we would not know where exactly it would take off from and thus miss the early part of the launch. As we were chatting and drinking, Rae Ann looked at her watch and said "hey guys its 7:53", launch was in two minutes, we hustled to get cameras and turn on the radio just as T-45 seconds was given. Then the sky lit up like a sunrise, I get goose bumps even writing this. The rumble could be felt aboard the boats some 10 miles away. The shuttle was visible for about 10 minutes, you could see the drop of the booster rockets, and then follow it into space as a very bright star. To say we all feel very lucky to get to witness something so spectacular is a huge understatement. Isabelle woke the next morning wanting to see another shuttle "pulease".

We head off down the coast, our last major hop south, on the back of northerlies today/Monday, and then begin looking for the weather window to cross to the Bahamas.

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