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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising and Sailing with Children
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Cruising and Sailing with Children All things sailing and kids related, from safety to life aboard.


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Old 11-08-2010
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Watching the Shuttle Launch from the water

Hello sail net community!

New member here with a new (to me) 1978 Pearson 26 OD, likely to post a few questions here for various things, but this time I have a question to anyone who is familiar with sailing near the Kennedy space center in Florida to watch a launch.

February 27, 2011 is schedule to be a historic, albeit sad, milestone for the US Space program as they launch the last Space Shuttle - ever. Being such a historic event, happening on a Sunday around 3PM, and me having a quite capable little sail boat in the region, I have conjured up an idea to take the kids on a 3 day trip to see the shuttle launch from the water on the boat.

Assuming the weather patterns hold up I plan on launching from my 'home base' at the north end of Lake Okeechobee, sailing through the St. Lucie canal to Stuart and stopping overnight at a marina. I have made this journey before and it takes about a day when pushing 6000 lbs (Boat+crew+supplies/gear) with a 9.9 outboard through most of the 30 miles of canal combined with sailing the 20 mile south east slant across the lake.

Then the first question arises, when I head north from Stuart do I stay in the inter-coastal area/Indian river or just go out in the Atlantic? I will have to stop somewhere on the way up overnight and it may be simpler just to stay in the inter-coastal. I am concerned of the depth of the waters and boater traffic in this area as to whether I can sail or have to motor my way. If the wind is favorable I might make it all the way to cocoa/merrit island by day 2, but I doubt it (especially with smaller kids and a girlfriend who is very green with sailing).

I believe my vessel is properly safety and communication equipped (VHF, Flares, lights, life vests, etc.), registered, and marked for coastal cruising in US waters, but if there are any Coast Guard requirements I am not aware of that would also be handy to know, as I sail on a gigantic lake pretty much by myself with no other boats in sight all day except when launching from and returning to my slip.

Are there any suggestions of where would be a good reasonably priced spot to dock/moor overnight in the Sebastian/palm bay area?

Has anyone ever gone to see a launch from their vessel, and if so, where is a good spot on the southern side of the launch site to drop sail and anchor/ drift and watch? Is it better in the Atlantic or inter-coastal area? I know if you tune into VHF 16 NASA will broadcast information for mariners in the region around launch time...

Also, can anyone suggest a marina/dock near Cocoa/Rockledge/Merrit Island where I could meet someone on land to take the kids/girlfriend back home because they have school on Monday, and it will take me upwards of 3 days to return (yes I can sail the boat and go through locks by myself).

This trip would consist of myself and my 11 year old (by then) son, my girlfriend and her 6 year old (by then) daughter, and possibly my brother and his girlfriend would be the ones who meet us and may go out for the day of the launch then return that evening to land, not staying overnight.

I have been 'testing the waters' with the kids staying overnight on the boat already, and they are fine with that. I also have taken them out on Okeechobee in some decent winds (20-25MPH) so they can get their sea legs trained to the boat movement in some pretty big waves (4-6ft), and staying on the boat in cold weather (got down to 47 the other day).

I look forward to this adventure and welcome any comments, feedback, or other information in regards to this. Thanks!
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Old 11-08-2010
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Derek

Best of luck on seeing the shuttle launch...we used to sit at Whitley's Marina in Cocoa Beach and watch them..Whitleys is now something else..but that area is just great. You will be precluded from getting too close, and we found the hassle of being offshore not worth the effort...they stake out a wide exclusion area and are quite serious about you staying out.

Anywhere on the Banana River north of melbourne would be OK. If you can get in to the port itself, would be awesome but again they get kind of picky the closer you get.

Be prepared to slide a day or two from launch date, as the launches often slip, especially if weather is iffy.

Not like anything you have ever seen or will see unless they start using the big boosters again

Last edited by kd3pc; 11-08-2010 at 03:33 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 11-08-2010
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Exciting!!!! I would love to do that with the kids.

Brian
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Old 11-08-2010
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Picture is of the shuttle launch I saw a few years ago from my boat in the Indian River off Titusville. It was a night launch and was an awesome experience. There was a burst of light as the shuttle took off in quiet. The roar off the launch didn't hit until some seconds latter.

I'd recommend coming up the intracoastal in a small Pearson with kids and novice crew. The Indian River north of Melbourne can be a fun sail. It is wide enough to sail, but not for the waves to kick up, so the sea action won't be bad. (Of course, you'll have to motor if the wind is from the north.)

There is a public dock in Cocoa Village where you can pick up and drop off crew. I did not have any trouble with Coast Guard or security anchoring in the Indian River. The exclusion zones are mostly off the coast and in the Banana River.

Have fun!
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Old 11-09-2010
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bout a year and a half ago i went to orlando... the coolest part of the trip wasnt disney/epcot/etc but going to cape canaveral and the kennedy center... really awesome so if you are there i would try to hit it.

Apollo / Saturn V Center - Kennedy Space Center

that rocket is flippin MASSIVE
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Old 11-09-2010
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Quinn, I have to agree with you there. We went when I was a wee lad, maybe 13 or so, before the shuttle even flew. Yes I know, dating myself here but, Cape Canaveral and all that was by far way cooler than Disney, pre-Epcot even. Am I really that old??? Anyway..... That place was awesome.
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Old 11-11-2010
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I was really curious about this myself.

You might want to check out ActiveCaptain's website. There were a couple notes in there about the best spots to watch the launches. There are a ton of Security Zones surrounding the sites, but there seemed to be 2 spots that get you pretty close and away from the crowds.

Such as this note:
Quote:
Great place to watch the nighttime launch of the shuttle. The power lines are as far north as you can get. This is the Security Zone border for the launch. Exposed to all wind - fair weather anchorage only.
ActiveCaptain - The Interactive Cruising Guidebook
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Old 11-11-2010
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I believe Skipper Bob rates, for viewing, the different anchorages around the Cape. If you want a nice anchorage on the way north try the “Hole in the Wall”, Pine Island listed in Skipper Bob just north of Vero. MM 947 I think. Easy access and lots of wild life on the spoil island. Nice anchorage in Titusville and the folks at the marina have been very helpful in the past. I hope to be there also on the 27th as I head down to Lake Worth from NC. Dan S/V Marian Claire

Last edited by marianclaire; 11-11-2010 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 12-03-2010
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Last winter we watched a shuttle launch from Marsh Harbor in the Abacos. The family got up before dawn and a very bleary-eyed 8 and 10 yo got to see their first shuttle launch. It wasn't as spectacular as a closer up view of the launch would be, but it was still pretty cool. We will definitely be looking for the February launch. Thanks for the heads up.
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Old 12-10-2010
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It looks as if the launch schedule has changed. On the NASA site, Discovery is scheduled no earlier than Feb 3rd 2011 and Endeavour no earlier than April 1st. Dan S/V Marian Claire
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