Navigating Florida’s Space Coast Area
Date Posted: April 25, 2023
Source: Waterway Guide Southern Edition

Indian River

In what has come to be known as the Space Coast Area the coastal topography changes from a slender barrier strip to a broad stretch of land forming Cape Canaveral. Inside the Cape area, the waters divide around Merritt Island separating Indian River on the mainland side from Banana River to the east.

The Indian River starts at the Haulover Canal as a wide and shallow basin and the ICW follows a narrow dredged channel. Boaters in this basin are vulnerable to chop in any strong wind conditions. Note also that the nearest ocean inlets are some distance in either direction and rainfall or wind conditions can affect water levels by as much as 2 feet here.

Boaters headed south should take note as elevated water levels will reduce bridge clearances from their charted minimums. While most of the bridges that cross the Indian River are fixed, high-rise bridges with a charted 65-foot clearance elevated water levels can still be an important factor if your air-draft is near the limit.

South of Titusville the shorelines close in and the river deepens creating a wider navigable channel. This section of the Indian River is a pleasure to navigate, although strong winds can still kick up an uncomfortable chop in either north or south winds. Sailors often unfurl their sails along here if winds allow.

Currents are typically modest in the upper stretches of the river and strengthen as you head south but consider that elevated water levels can affect currents as well. Wider channels also provide extra maneuvering space should you have to wait for a bridge opening. Extra space also allows you to drop anchor either to wait for an opening or overnight in the deeper waters outside the marked channel. Anchoring is preferable to navigating into a strange harbor at night.

Goin' Ashore in Titusville

Titusville lives up to its slogan "Gateway to Nature and Space." Kennedy Space Center is within 20 minutes of the waterfront with exhibits, tours and interactive experiences related to NASA's space program including historic spacecraft and artifacts.

The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore are also close by and provide many opportunities to enjoy natural Florida including horseback riding, kayaking, nature trails and pristine beaches. This offers a great chance to see a variety of wildlife such as manatees and alligators. Another option for hiking and bird watching is Enchanted Forest Sanctuary. Transportation required. And, for those who love to fish, Titusville is also known as the "Redfish Capitol of the World."

For more information on navigating the Space Coast Area of Florida, as well as dockage and anchorage see Chapter 4 of the Waterway Guide Southern 2023 Edition. Purchase a Print Guide or a Print + Digital Subscription.

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