There are three places we think of as home waters: The Indian River, Choctawhatchee Bay, and the Chesapeake. The Indian River is where our sailing started. We learned some hard lessons fast sailing here.
As we motored through Mosquito Lagoon north of Kennedy Space Center we felt ourselves being pulled back by our shared history — as much as pushed forward by a fair wind and tidal current. The VAB, hazy in the distance, was a building I toured government VIPs through when I was a Second Lieutenant (as well as the rest of KSC and Cape Canaveral).
Much has changed here but not in the essentials. The terrain and scrub and fauna are just as unfriendly as they were when the first Spaniards named this burl on the trunk of Florida the “Cape of Canes.” The air is just as salt and moisture laden as it was when it digested my aircraft sitting on the ramp at Patrick AFB.
The Booms aren’t as boomy, and the Busts seem bustier. When we were here, as bad as the coincident ending of Apollo and Minuteman were, we knew Shuttle and Peacekeeper (MX) were coming. Today, the US Manned Space Program has no believably defined future. Perhaps the Russian equivalent of a C-5 taking off over us just after we cleared Haulover Canal and entered the River was an appropriate exclamation point to this sad fact.
Even so, the strip malls are just as strippy.
We ate lunch at El Leoncito today. The cab ride each way was very close to the cost of lunch. But it was worth it. These people love their cooking and it tastes that way. As we ate, three boats comparable to ours made their way south past the window. Behind them the VAB and an empty shuttle transporter reminded us no longer will El Leoncito be a congregation point for watching Shuttle launches. At a table across from us, a group that bracketed my age by +/- 20 years told stories. “When I came here in 1983…” drifted our way. The remark quieted the group because they all knew most of them would pass on without seeing America project its power into Space again in their lifetimes. Are there other National priorities? You betcha! But to end our Space leadership like a teenager who’s run out of quarters for the pinball machine is just sad.
Back aboard, I transferred 50 gallons of diesel from the aft tank to the forward one. I supervised the slow rise in level using a webcam placed on the tank viewing port and illuminated by an LED flashlight. I watched the picture on our second laptop. Only the fuel pump and diesel existed when I was a 2nd Lieutenant.
Now I’m watching the expected rain sail our way from the Gulf Of Mexico even as it dissipates. Florida is nearly three inches behind this meteorological winter. La Nina strikes again. Just as I typed that a pelican plunged into the water less than two feet off our stern to seize a fish that thought our hull hid it.