Visiting the area, Space Center or Not, be aware that if you’re coming from the north and/or your boat requires more than 36 feet of clearance, you can use the Canaveral Barge Canal, which joins the ICW at Mile 893.6 and runs eastward into the Banana River at the south end of the Space Center’s security zone.
If you’re coming from the south and your boat needs less than five feet of depth and 36 feet of clearance, you can enter the Banana River at Dragon Point — roughly Mile 91. (The chart shows 9 feet for about the first two miles.) The old landmark — a 30-foot green concrete dragon — is no longer there but the name remains. The channel from there to the Bennett Causeway is shallow and not well marked, but can be negotiated with care. You’ll find several facilities on the east as you round Dragon Point on the Merritt Island side. Still farther north in Port Canaveral, the area around the inlet is lined with facilities that include Cape Marina (with its own boatyard),Sunrise Marina (with its own restaurant), Port Canaveral Marina and Ocean Club. Farther west on the Barge Canal is HarborTown-Canaveral Marina and Boatyard. Port Canaveral also has three public parks, bike paths, boat launch ramps and a fishing pier. For dining and night life, the Port Canaveral scene boasts a number of good restaurants (seafood is featured, of course) and casual taverns.
Port Canaveral Inlet is used by major cruise ships and can generally be considered “all weather.” It's one of the better passages for pleasure boats north of Fort Pierce.
In Port Canaveral (as in all ports) remember there are 100-yard security (no entry) zones around all ships. And, if you head out the inlet, be advised that the charted security zone in Canaveral Bight will be enforced at all times.
Last year's response from the Kennedy Space Center for inclusion in last issue regarding the offshore perimeter of Cape Canaveral peninsula's beaches remains:
NOTE: The charted security zone in Canaveral Bight remains as it was last year. There is no longer an exclusion zone if there is no vehicle on the Launch Pad. During this time a boater can come in toward shore to the water line, but cannot anchor to the shore nor can anyone get out of the boat. When a Shuttle or rocket is on the Launch Pad the exclusion zone is reestablished at the three mile limit until after the launch. The Coast Guard will amend/publish notices to seamen at the appropriate times."
(If you cruise offshore in the area you also should have NOAA charts 11476 and 11477.)(Continue...)
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