Today we arrived in Cape Canaveral, which marks the end of our trip. It was our shortest day and was again uneventful as we backtracked a couple of miles up the ICW, turned right (east), went through the Canaveral Barge Canal and across the Banana River, lifted about 2 feet in the barge lock and arrived in Port Canaveral, which is in the city of Cape Canaveral. I’ve been communicating with Cape Marina, our home base for the next 6 months, by email for about 3 months, including executing a 14 page package of forms and agreements documenting our insurance and other items. So it was funny to arrive and not be able to raise anyone on the radio, on channel 16 or their working channel. Carol ended up calling them on the phone as I hovered off the fuel dock, and finally a gal came down, took our lines and helped me fuel up, then directed us to our slip.
After we got the boat settled in the slip I went up to the office to complete the check-in process, and was surprised to learn that there was more paperwork to take care of: an evacuation plan. It turns out that Port Canaveral is a military port, with a sizable US Coast Guard base as well as at least 2 cruise-ship berths and 2 container berths, and in the event of the threat of a hurricane and a port closure by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port every recreational vessel has to vacate the port. They don’t care where you go or who takes your boat there, but with 72 hours notice you must leave or face a $1,000 per hour fine from the Coast Guard (!). I hadn’t considered this at all and we were about to head back to Massachusetts for the month of December (as well as February and April), but I realized that since they will give me 72 hours I could fly or drive down and be on the boat in plenty of time. I discussed various scenarios with the marina staff and finally decided that if I have to evacuate I’ll go back through the lock and across the Banana River and anchor fore & aft in the barge canal and ride out any storm. This way I’ll be protected from storm surge by the lock and I should be OK. But I also had to give them a Plan B which turned out be my brother Court, who lives in Southwest Florida and can be in Port Canaveral with 4 hours notice. Court used to be a professional delivery Captain and is more than competent to move the boat 3 miles. Actually, he’s part of Plan A, as well, as he will be my crew if I have to move the boat myself.
When we arrived in Port Canaveral there were 2 giant cruise ships in port, one of which was the Disney Dream. We see pictures of huge cruise ships all the time, but until you get alongside one you really can’t appreciate the enormous size of these things. The Dream has a dark blue hull and a big, more-or-less traditional clipper bow, on top of which they’ve essentially built a gigantic 10 deck high white hotel. The ship was in port all day and sailed around 18:00 with much whistle blowing and other fanfare, including “It’s a Small World” playing loudly and kids zinging around on a roller-coaster on the upper deck. Quite a sight. In the 2+ days we were there these 2 ships sailed and 2 others arrived, and each time your eyes are drawn to them as they dock and even as they’re just sitting there. They looked even cooler at night, when the entire exterior of the ship is bathed in bright white light. This industry is absolutely amazing.
Anyway, this has been a fabulous trip for both Carol and me, and I’m kind of sad that it’s over. On the other hand I’m also looking forward to getting home for a few weeks. And all is not negative because the plan for the next several months is to be home for December, come back down to the boat for the month of January and circumnavigate southern Florida (across the Okeechobee canal and Waterway, down the west coast of Florida to the Keys for some time, then slowly back up the east coast to Port Canaveral. Then we’ll come home for February and come back down in March for more cruising – hopefully to the Bahamas for a couple of weeks or so, back home for April, and bring the boat home in May. It sounds good, so let’s see how reality turns out.
I’ve been planning this trip down the ICW for several years, and I’ve frankly been unsure how enthusiastic Carol really was about the idea. But even with all the weather issues and delays we faced – especially in the first 2 weeks – she never once talked about aborting the trip and/or bailing out on me, and she never asked for a night’s break in a hotel, which I had offered from time to time before we even left. She was a good sport the entire time, she was an essential part of the navigation team, she was integrally involved in every major decision we made, and in the end I realized that this was my idea and was something she never would have proposed on her own, but that she really did have a good time and I don’t think she regrets having done it at all. The trip south down the ICW is over, but we have plenty of new (to us) cruising grounds to explore, and of course there’s still the trip home which will take about a month and will involve segments offshore in the ocean, bypassing parts of the ICW and speeding up our northerly progress, while at the same time freeing up time for seeing some ports we missed on our way south or that we want to revisit, particularly in Chesapeake Bay. Not to make too big a deal out of it, but I am deeply grateful to Carol for her support and for making this trip possible. It’s an experience we planned and executed together and it will always be a part of our relationship, which I find very cool indeed.
I hope I didn’t drone on too much in my blog posts and put anyone to sleep. This blog turned out to be a great way for me to document our trip and record details we probably would have forgotten if we’d waited and summarized the trip after the fact, and I plan to integrate each daily entry into my ship’s log. Thanks to everyone who kept up with our progress, and especially to those who posted comments of support, all of which were very much appreciated.
Today: 8.9 nautical miles
Final total: 1,431.3 nautical miles