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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!
Pearson 26 One Design #35