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Monday, May 16, 2011

God Speed Endeavour (from Haulover Canal)

After going 0 for 2 in launch days, or 2 for 2 if you think about scrubbed launches, we drove to Haulover Canal with some optimistic caution. The day was not looking promising. Cloudy and windy, with the wind coming from the West and pushing all the clouds to the East, where the launch was supposed to happen. We tuned our favorite station, Z83.3, and Tyler said that there was a 70% chance that the launch will happen today at 8:56AM. 70%???? I thought that about three weeks ago there was an 85% chance and it was scrubbed. But I already told my boss about taking the morning to see the launch and she asked me to take good pics. I was not going to go down without a fight.

Kayakers arrived to see the launch
Put In/ Take Out: As usual, the put in was the take out but this time we did not put in at the end of the dirt road at the North side of Haulover Canal. We did not gamble and parked in the first available spot. That was just across Bair' Cove. For more details about where is this please check this link from a previous trip: Haulover Canal - April 15th

Launch pads
It was 7:40 when we put in. A whole fleet of kayaks was ahead of us going to the East end of Haulover Canal, which is the Mosquito Lagoon. The West end is the Indian River. At that time I thought that we were not going to find a decent spot to see the launch but as we paddled east on the south side of the canal started to pass kayaker after kayaker. Most of them stopped to see manatees at the Manatee Observation Area near the draw bridge. My wife wanted to stop and shoot some manatee pics but she understood that we did not come here today to see manatees or birds, well...technically we came to see BIG BIRD. We arrived to the same spot we beached the yak almost three weeks ago at the east end of the canal. This time it was easier since the tide was high and at 8:00AM we were ready for the launch. I was just hoping NASA was ready too this time.

Kayakers get ready for the launch
While we wait for the launch spent some time taking pics of a lonely ibis. My wife also decided to practice with different settings in her camera. Kayakers arrived to the same area by the dozen. The Coast Guard had to come more than once to move kayakers back close to shore. Haulover Canal is a south as you can go to see a launch. The area south of the canal is a security zone and no one is allowed to be there. In a matter of minutes it got crowded. But everybody was excited and in a good mood. The cloudy skies somehow cleared a bit and the Sun came out. It lasted for maybe 15 or 20 minutes. My wife called my attention about a cluster of gray clouds coming from the west.

Coast Guard was busy asking people out of the security zone
The sky was gray again and while it did not look like it was going to rain, it certainly was taking some away from an otherwise beautiful day. I was thinking about it when someone yelled "Guys...One minute left". The excitement in the area was unbelievable. You could sense it. It was almost like New Years Eve in Puerto Rico where people come together and start smiling at each other. I asked my wife if she was ready and she did not answer. She was already with the camera on her hands and pointing the lens to the launching pad. This is what happened next...

Lift off!!!!!!

God Speed Endeavour!!!!!

And just like that, with the Ohs and Awes of the crowd the space shuttle Endeavour went behind the low cloud ceiling. The whole thing, at least the visual part, lasted less than 30 seconds. Then the most exciting thing happened. The sound wave came!!!!! It was like a freight train was a few feet from you. Made me think about the incredible power those rockets have. The sound was there for longer than the shuttle was before us. People clapping and looking to the sky trying to spot the ship, that if my math is correct, at this time was way more than 31,000 feet high, leaving only a cloud of smoke behind it.

Did You Know That?
The space shuttle length is 122ft, that is a little more than 3 school buses lined one after the other. Endeavour was built from spare parts from other space shuttles. It was built from left over of the construction of the Atlantis and the Discovery. It "only" cost 1.7 billions to built. According to the experts, a cheap tag for a NASA shuttle.

After the launch, and when all the excitement started to recede, we headed back to the put in. I wanted to be back to my office before noon. It was then when we realized how many people were in the area. No less than 50 kayaks, in two groups, many motor boats in all sizes and styles, and even people walking in the south bank of the canal. Here are some pics of what we saw on our way out...
Brown Pelicans

Coast Guard Patrol Boat

Snowy Egret

Great Egret

A kayak fleet invades Bair's Cove
Most of the members of the fleet of kayaks stopped at Bair's Cove, where the poor outnumbered manatees left in a hurry. I counted a group of six, including a calf, leaving towards the Indian River. We did not enter the cove and waited for our take out area to clear since there were three kayaks in the beach at that point. Many kayaks were inside the cove while others were waiting at the entrance. At least two manatees had to go down with a splash nearby a kayak. It was kind of fun to see the reaction of the people on the yaks when that happened.

Here is the link to see all the pics of this trip: Haulover Canal - Endeavour

If you ask our opinion about how this trip was, will tell you that we had a blast, literally...A BLAST!!!!!

Thanks for reading and hope you come back next week for another Views From Our Kayak

After the launch


  1. "My wife also decided to practice with different settings in her camera."

    Practice made perfect. Fantastic photos !

  2. Thanks. I will be sure she reads this. I am thinking about getting her a photography course.