It’s day two of our trip south and it is another perfect-weather day. We are up early eating our breakfast before untying the lines and getting underway. Today will take us past Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Merritt Island, Melbourne and Sebastian on our way to Vero Beach. As we leave Titusville, the VAB and other Kennedy Space Center structures are visible on the eastern shoreline.
This stretch of the Indian River/Intracoastal Waterway is quite wide and unless you are passing under a bridge, there are few, if any, minimum wake zones. Keeping at about 9-10 knots, we create some pretty healthy waves off our port and starboard sides. The dolphins seem to love the waves and our wake. This morning we run across several pods at different times.
Typically they will be feeding up ahead of us and then all of a sudden they are playing in the wake. Some jump completely out of the water; others surface occasionally. It is so fun to watch them. Even the babies get in on the fun. After seeing so many dolphin in the wild, it is impossible for me to support any of the businesses who keep them in captivity in order to entertain people. Jim and I try to take as many people as possible on our boat to see the real Florida. We can’t guarantee you’ll see dolphin and we can’t guarantee what they will do, but the experience leaves a lasting impression that they are happy to be free to jump and play and feed on their own schedule.
This one was with us for a couple minutes this morning. It felt like she was smiling at me.
As we passed by Patrick Air Force Base, we saw several helicopters overhead. Patrick is the headquarters of the Air Force Space Command’s 45th Space Wing, which operates the space launch facilities at Cape Canaveral. The Air Force Base is closed to the public for security purposes; however, if you are someone who is interested in space exploration, you should definitely visit Kennedy Space Center.
Further south is the town of Merritt Island. At the southern most tip of the island is the entrance to the Banana River from the Indian River/Intracoastal Waterway. That end of the island is referred to as Dragon Point. In 1971 the owner of the large estate located there hired an artist and constructed a 65-foot-long concrete and steel dragon that greeted boats as they passed by. Over years the mansion and the dragon fell into disrepair and a storm did major damage in 2002. Sometime around 2012 an organization was formed to ‘Save Dragon Point’ and they were successful in getting a new property owner to agree to build a new dragon. If Wikipedia is correct, the new dragon should be completed sometime next year. I always enjoyed seeing the dragon so I am hopeful that a new work of art will be constructed.
Further south through the communities of Melbourne and Sebastian, the intracoastal narrows and beautiful homes are abundant. We also passed by Sebastian Inlet today which provides access to the Atlantic Ocean for some of the best fishing in Florida. But if you’re not a local, it is a BAD IDEA to use the inlet. The Orlando Sentinel did a story in 1996 about Sebastian Inlet.
“…For many, it will become a horror beyond their worst nightmare – a belching monstrosity that tosses 2,000-pound boats about like matchsticks. In a good year, only 15 or 20 boats will sink or be bashed against the inlet’s giant boulders. In bad years, the total might reach 200. Veteran boaters call Sebastian ”a bad, dangerous inlet – the worst in the state.” Some think it might be the worst on the Atlantic Seaboard. To the unsuspecting, Sebastian Inlet is a sneaky, deceptive adversary. Its waters can seem as placid as an inland lake, punctuated by only gentle, rolling swells. Yet twice each day, its character undergoes a Jekyll-Hyde transformation. The change is almost imperceptible at first but magnifies as each outgoing tide rushes through the inlet’s narrow throat to collide with an immovable ocean. Tons of water accelerate to speeds of 5 to 10 miles per hour, then slam into the ocean waves and rebound.
Once gentle swells become 4- and 5-foot waves crashing first one way then another, as if in a giant washing machine. At certain times, when wind conditions are right, waves can build to 7 or 8 feet. The inlet veterans talk of meticulous boat-handling to ”surf” a wave to safety, maintaining precise speed to keep the boat on top of the wave’s crest. It requires a delicate touch and steely nerves. Many try, but fail. For those who misjudge, it is the roller-coaster ride from hell.” Jim and I started out the inlet several years ago on our 28-foot walk-a-round. We got about three-quarters of the way out before Jim came to his senses and turned around.
We arrived in Vero Beach at the Municipal Marina in good time. We took a walk to stretch our legs and then enjoyed hamburgers and beer back on board. There was a beautiful sunset as we wound down the day.
We spent some time in the evening looking at charts to prepare for the next day’s trip. Tomorrow it is on to Palm Beach Gardens.