Plans B and C

Cabot Lyman, the owner of Lyman-Morse, had some advice for us way back in August. If friends want to visit, he said, tell them they can pick a time or a place, but not both.

In other words, don’t count on us being anywhere at a particular time. We simply don’t know when weather or illness or boat problems will monkey with our itinerary.

Latest example of this phenomenon is happening right now. We’re in Fernandina Beach, Florida, where we were towed (again!) to the Amelia Island Yacht Basin after our engine conked out on us (again!).


It was a lovely passage until the part where the engine started smoking. The seas were calm, the stars were out, and dolphins leaped by our stern in the moonlight. Elsa slept the whole night in the cockpit, and after she woke the dolphins swam by us again. But by the time the sun was midway up in the sky, there came the smoking bit.

As Drew described in earlier post, a mechanic at the marina where we were towed discovered that the shaft of our raw-water pump had sheared off, so water was no longer flowing to the engine to cool it. (For those of you keeping score at home, this is the third time an engine part has worn out. First it was the oil feed line from the turbocharger in Oyster Bay, NY, then the valve connected to the fuel filter in Cape May, NJ, and now this. It’s tempting to wonder what’s next, but I’m going to put my hopes instead in the adage that bad things come in threes.)

Anyway, with a few replacement parts we’d be good to go. The only hitch: No one in the US stocked those parts, so we had to order them from Perkins in the UK.

Oh well. Thus was born Plan B: Kennedy Space Center! All along we were hoping to get to/near Cape Canaveral by December 3rd, when an Atlas V rocket was scheduled to launch. (After reading and seeing the film adaptation of “The Martian,” we’re all a little space-crazy here on EXIT.) So we rented a car and drove to Cape Canaveral instead. It was a terrific day, despite a downpour in the afternoon. Seeing the Space Shuttle Atlantis and a Saturn V rocket (the one that sent astronauts to the moon) was awe-inspiring. The Journey to Mars pavilion also had a presentation that day on the Orion project from Lockheed Martin representatives. Their enthusiasm for their recent test flight was infectious. (“Some of the kids in this room could be astronauts on Mars!” one of them said.)

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At the “rocket garden” at the front of Kennedy Space Center, pre-rainstorm.

Soren in a Mercury capsule. Tiny!

Soren in a Mercury capsule. Tiny!

Elsa greets an astronaut in the Journey to Mars pavilion.

Elsa greets an astronaut in the Journey to Mars pavilion.

The Saturn V rocket.

The Saturn V rocket.

The astronaut bus – Drew's favorite vehicle in the whole complex.

The astronaut bus – Drew’s favorite vehicle in the whole complex.

We were even able to go to the viewing stands for the Atlas V launch. This rocket was sending supplies to the International Space Station so folks connected with the operation were all there, looking across the water at the rocket lit up on its launch pad, hoping for a “go.”

Sadly, the launch was scrubbed — heavy cloud cover and “disturbed weather,” as the launch director described it on the broadcast. By this point we were all huddling in ponchos and rain jackets on the bleachers, so it wasn’t a huge surprise, but still disappointing. Plus the poor astronauts in the ISS were going to run out of food if supplies weren’t delivered by April. (They tried for three more days and finally succeeded on Sunday night.)

Cape Canaveral is only an hour from Orlando, so the next day we hatched Plan C: a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. The kids LOVED it — and to be honest, Drew and I did too. The level of detail they put into the two locations, Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, is astounding. If you walk up close to nearly any wall or statue you can see that things are entirely hand-painted. The upper floor of Ollivander’s wand shop is bowed with dusty wand boxes stacked pell-mell over 20 feet high. The train cars in the Hogwarts Express, which take you from one location to another, are so realistically “aged” that Drew was convinced they’d purchased an antique train from England and repurposed it. The special effects on that train ride, and throughout the rides and attractions, are incredibly clever. And the food is even good. (Bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, etc.) So all in all, a great time.

Dragon Alley, where a dragon is escaping from Gringott's bank. (Be sure to note the other shop signs too.)

Diagon Alley, where a dragon is escaping from Gringott’s bank. (Note the other shop signs too.)

Near the entrance to Knockturn Alley.

Near the entrance to Knockturn Alley.

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The lobby of Gringott’s bank.

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These bankers were animatronic, busy keeping their books.

Elsa at Ollivander's Wand Shop.

Elsa at Ollivander’s Wand Shop.

The train to Hogsmeade.

The train to Hogsmeade.

We returned to EXIT on Monday, and learned from the Perkins distributor that our parts would be delivered by Thursday or Friday. So we settled into a routine for the week: school in the morning, beach in the afternoon. It’s actually been nice to stop moving for a while.

But move we will. On Sunday we head for a long-planned trip to Disney World, so we’ll leave EXIT here and jump back in a rental car for Orlando. We’re hoping to rendezvous with our cousin Wendell and her family while there. And on the 18th my mom flies in from California to join us for several days. So we won’t be back to the boat until the 23rd, regardless.

We’re looking forward to those two mini-trips, but it’s frustrating to have to drive all the way back to the top of Florida when we’re done and not be ready to make the jump to the Bahamas. I’m starting to lobby for an outside passage straight to Fort Lauderdale when we’re finally underway, rather than continue down the ICW, but we’ll see. It’s just a difference of a week or two but we’re so close to the Bahamas, we can almost smell them.

These are all happy problems to have though. 🙂

7 Comments

  1. I love Plans B and C! You guys are making the best of your glitches and hitches. Have a wonderful holiday! We’re thinking of you guys. I am very envious of your adventure. When the launch time comes, we wish you a fast and safe trip to the Bahamas!

  2. What a fabulous “syfy wonderland” you’ve been inhabiting – Harry Potter, Cape Canaveral and coming up – Orlando’s Disneyland! Just have to say, if you are having engine trouble in the Winter on the East Coast, what could be better than school in the morning and beach in the afternoon! The Bahamas sound enticing…how many days will it take out there sailing on the sea to get there??? xox Mindy

  3. You all really know how to make the most of your time. Thanks so much for the up date. Mimi

  4. Happy holidays, Williamses! Clark and I are off to see the Higgins for the annual nog and cookies. I’m sure your adventure will be a hot topic of discussion.

  5. It’s so fun to hear about your adventures! Your plan B and C sounded pretty awesome. Hopefully your boat will be good to go for the Bahamas! We are in St. Lucia celebrating our 20th anniversary and have thought about your family’s adventures while we have been enjoying this beautiful place! We are flying back through Florida tomorrow with a stop over in Miami and had to look to see if Fernandina Beach was anywhere close to Miami – too bad it’s way further north than we realized. We wish your family all the best on your adventures and in the short term a very Merry Christmas!

  6. Just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas! Love reading about your adventures!

  7. Elsa, Soren, Linda and Drew.
    From Denmark I wil Wighorst you all a merry Christmas and a hapy ney year.

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