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Cocoa Village Marina still welcomes transients. It is just steps from historic Cocoa Village, a nostalgic riverside community where you can stroll along old brick sidewalks and shady lanes amid splashing fountains, nostalgic replica gas lamps and an interesting mix of shops, galleries and cafes.  There's a picnic area and gazebo that really bring back the feeling of gentler, slower paced times. Or, you can visit Porcher House (that's pronounced por SHAY), the former estate of wealthy citrus growers that's open to the public for tours. Call 321-633-0806, Cocoa Main Street, for times, information and appointments.

Back up the Banana River on the ocean side, Cocoa Beach is the beginning of a stretch of beautiful and uncrowded beaches never very far from plentiful dockage on the waterway. On both sides and in the middle, fishing remains excellent all the way south. The Banana River State Aquatic Preserve is constantly replenished with redfish, seatrout and other game species from the nursery waters of the restricted area up-river. Dockside bait and tackle shops offer everything from guide service to free advice for the cruising angler.

South of the Cape, and for 40 or so miles (nearly to Vero Beach), the Indian River Lagoon is wide and deep and very popular with area sailors and anglers. The lagoon is home to 700 species of fish and 310 species of birds. If you're interested in wildlife, this is an excellent place to observe and take pictures. The area is also home to a number of good marinas.

Eau Gallie, across from Dragon Point at Mile 915, has been politically combined with Melbourne, so it no longer exists as a separate municipality and is not mentioned on the latest edition of charts. But it still stands as one of the prettiest harbors on the coast. For this and other reasons (such as habit and long tradition), we'll continue to consider Eau Gallie as a distinct locale and disregard the minor technicality of discontinued municipal boundaries.

Eau Gallie Yacht Basin and Waterline Marina are at the river mouth just south of the Causeway. The full service Anchorage Yacht Basin is across the Waterway at the northeast end of the causeway. Telemar Bay Marina is just a short way up the Banana River inside Dragon Point (which isstill shown as such on the charts).

Melbourne, principally at Mile 918, is the commercial heartland of the Space Coast and particularly convenient for boatmen. Melbourne Harbor Marina is just below the causeway at the mouth of Crane Creek. There's a Chart House Restaurant adjacent (open for dinner only) plus a dockside bar & grille for less formal meals, lunch and snacks. Other restaurants and shopping are nearby, as is Melbourne's airport.

Melbourne began here at Crane Creek (which was also the settlement's original name), where Englishman John Hector settled after the Civil War and opened a general store, later, a post office, “Melbourne” was chosen as the community name. In 1888, it was endorsed by the 23 voters who met to officially form the town. Hector was not the first to live here, nor were the local Indians before him. Evidence suggests that the mouth of the creek, now known as Melbourne Harbor, has actually drawn the attention of humans since prehistoric times. While the past century has seen wilderness give way to advancing urbanization, Crane Creek continues to provide a natural habitat for animals and plants as well as providing a recreational area for humans. (Continue...)

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Cruising the Space Coast

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