Daytona Beach to Cocoa

We are up at 6 AM, still dark. The wind is whistling. 20 knots pushing us dead against the dock. It’s been blowing hard all night and the forecast predicts 20 knots plus for days. How to get off the dock? I decide to use a spring line running from the bow aft to pivot the stern of the boat away from the dock then back away. Sounds good in theory but it didn’t work as planned. The stern came away from the dock alright but the bow thruster wasn’t much help in moving the bow away. I ended up touching the dock with the starboard side but the rub rail did its job; no harm done. We head out the narrow channel and turn south, rev up to speed and settle in for a long day on the waterway. Miles pass, beautiful homes, communities, marshland….repeat. The wind gets worse as we go; 28 knots steady with gusts to 35 knots. All open bodies of water are churned up with whitecaps and generally beam seas. The ride remains comfortable and the noise inside Tivoli is minimal. It still amazes us how isolated from the outside one can be in this boat. 15 knot winds are barely heard inside the boat. We take spray over the side, spray over the bow. The miles pass. We inch our way south. We have shed the polartec and are back in shorts; temps are in the mid-70s. We pass New Smyrna Beach, wait about 10 minutes for a bridge to open, and proceed into the long and open Mosquito Lagoon north of Cape Canaveral. Wind continues to howl. We spend our time tweaking the autopilot 1 or 2 degrees left then 1 or 2 degrees right to follow the slight variation in the channel heading down the west side of the lagoon. We have a comfortable 6 feet under the keel even at low tide, but stray out of the channel and depths drop to 1-2 feet in a hurry. The autopilot does a much better job of steering a straight line in these seas and winds; so we tweak the autopilot. This constant attention to one’s track and the effect of wind and current is remarkably tiring. Seven or eight hours and I’m ready to call it a day. We pass Titusville and run down the Indian River to our planned anchorage at Cocoa Village. We are approaching the NASA Causeway bridge. This bridge handles 4 lanes of traffic and has four spans that raise allowing boat traffic to pass. It is 22 feet off the water when closed and Tivoli is 27 feet high. I radio the bridge on channel 9 and am told only the west spans will raise, one of the east spans seems to be stuck in the closed position. I’m told the span is 45 feet long and decide to go ahead and pass through. Tivoli is 16 feet wide so that leaves roughly 15 feet on each side; should be plenty. Of course the 3-4 foot beam seas have us bouncing in spite of the stabilizers and the wind continues to shriek. We enter the bridge channel; 3 spans open and the single east span on the south lane remains closed. The width of the passage appears to be about 20 feet at this point and getting smaller the closer I get. We are in the middle of it; I fight the wheel to keep the boat centered on the west opening as we gyrate through. In my peripheral vision I can see the sea wall close by to starboard and the closed bridge span looms overhead. i expected to hear a sickening sound of fiberglass scrapping somewhere or our VHF antennas breaking off as we pass. Thankfully, we made it through unscathed but that was a heart stopper. In hindsight I suppose we could have anchored and waited for bridge repair but how long would that take? There was no protected anchorage. We could have returned to Titusville and taken a mooring ball there and waited. Sometimes you just have to throttle up and go for it. We arrive at Cocoa, the seas are calmer in this spot as it offers some shelter from the NNE wind, so we drop anchor. By nightfall the winds had abated to 15-20 knots, a full moon rose and we settled in for dinner and a movie. Another day in life aboard Tivoli.

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