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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Jetty Camping at Cape Canaveral

We woke to a chilly 44 degrees in Hobe Sound so nixed the Scrub Jay walk and headed out. Time wasn't an issue, so we drove the coastal route north. Stopping at Fort Pierce marina to stretch, we found another Lexor in the parking lot. No sign of the owners though, they might be out sailing. Marinas tend to be good places to park.
A little further north we saw a sign for "Manatee Viewing." Following the directions we ended up at a power plant with a little canal next to the road. No manatees, but with the temperatures falling they are probably headed this way. Did see a few leaping mullet.
At Vero Beach we crossed over to the barrier islands and enjoyed the views of the Atlantic on the right and the Banana River to the left. Water views eventually gave way to runways as the road passed through Patrick Air Force Base before reaching Port Canaveral. I'd drive over here any time we are in the area just to see what interesting planes are viewable from the road.

Going until the road runs out, we arrived at Jetty Park Campground. This would be a great place to camp and view a rocket launch. Unfortunately we were a little early to see the next Falcon 9 head into space. That didn't mean there wouldn't be interesting things to see.
Jetty Park has spots right on the shore of Canaveral Inlet. We chose to be in the field ($42/night) where we could see all the ships come and go. Full service sites are further inland in a more protected area. We're fortunate not to need services.
Driver side looks out on the Atlantic...
...while the passenger side has a view of the port.
Here's a chart of the area. We are the blue triangle. The bay across from us is a Navy port where submarines are provisioned. This inlet is where we made landfall when we sailed back to the US in our little boat twelve years ago.
The bay behind us has a floating fence to protect Navy vessels.
Concrete piers stretch out into the ocean offering fisherman access. Walking out to the end gave us a view of the lighthouse and a couple of launch pads over on Cape Canaveral.
Gulls congregated on the beach side of the pier looking for dinner in the sand.
Pelicans glide by making flight look effortless.
This little guy was looking for scraps on one of the fish cutting tables.
Not just people, but terns and gulls were actively fishing around the pier.
A bundled up Beth remembered the binoculars. Not only did we spot birds, but a sea turtle, three dolphins, and a manatee swam by while we were camped here.
This vulture was tidying up the area after the fishermen headed home.
This osprey headed inland with a fish in its talons.
One last peak into the ocean as the sun sets over our shoulders.
Walking back to the van we were careful to maintain a slow speed.
0600 and we wake to the thrum of big diesel engines. Peeking out the window from bed we see Carnival cruise ship slipping behind us.
Since we were awake, I threw on some warm clothes and headed to the beach to catch the sunrise.
Boat traffic gets started early in the day. This fishing charter was headed out into the Atlantic.
Inbound traffic included a couple of sailboats that had been waiting offshore for daylight before coming through the inlet. The metal hulled cutter was from Germany.
And this pretty blue ketch was flying the French tricolor.
Beth was watching the action from the warmth of the van. I was thankful that she had hot coffee waiting for me.
After breakfast it was time to head out again and see who else was using the inlet. This heron was not sure he should trust me and my camera.
A casino ship docks next door to the campground. Gamblers are taken just offshore two or three times a day so they can be clear of state gambling prohibitions.
Hull maintenance doesn't seem to be the top priority for the floating casino.
Far better maintained, we watched the motor vessel Go Searcher practice retrieving a SpaceX Dragon capsule. They probably did ten retrievals over the course of the morning. What a treat to be able to see something that normally will be done way offshore!

NASA's huge vehicle assembly building is visible just over the trees.
When manned flights to the ISS start from the US again, SpaceX plans to be one of the companies providing rides. This vessel, and a sister ship on the west coast, will retrieve the manned space capsules.

The back of the ship has a specially designed crane. The white railing is around a circular helipad, and a full medical suite is below decks in case of an emergency.
Belching smoke and spraying water, this combination fire and tug boat came in the inlet practicing with their giant water gun.
Approaching a concerned catamaran crew, the tug turned off their spray just before the cat would have received a thorough dousing. We think someone was having fun.
By lunch time we secured everything and took one last look out the inlet. We hope to come back here again.

BonusPhone video through the back window at 0600:

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