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Man survives gator attack crushed by falling tree

In Kayak Trips, Kayaking, Spring Run on August 29, 2010 at 11:37 am

A couple of weeks ago I went out with a local outfitter (Darry Jackson of Bill Jacksons) to scope out  a little known spring along the Chaz River.  I fell in love with this paddle!!!   There is a house on this spring that I can only describe as a $20 million dollar fishing shack.

Well a week or so later… a friend who is new to paddling wanted to go check it out.  So we took off work on a thursday and a friend of Scotts came along.  When I asked if he ever paddled, I was told he did a lot of canoeing.  Knowing I can get anyone back in thier yaks if something happens, I felt okay about this trip.  After all, weekday paddle means little to no boat traffic  and the Chaz is a slow moving river. 

 My only concern is that it is a 10 mile plus paddle  and can these guys make it, so I took a tow rope just in case.

We arrived at the launch at 8am, and I put Scott in my Atlantis Titan which he has paddled before, his friend Josh in my Manitou 14, and I took my recently finished Spring Run. 

Once the yaks were loaded with water, snacks, and assorted stuff one may want, we hit the water.  I suggested that we hit the new spring first, and then if everyone had energy, we would go play in the more well known springs.  So off we went.  I tried showing Josh how to use his paddle and get him to quit using canoe strokes,

 but old habits are hard to break as I am sure we all know.

Along the way to Crawford Creek (the turn off for the spring) we managed to see lots of wildlife.  A Bald Eagle flew over us and landed in a tree close by

A gator was swimming across the river when we came along beside him ( a good 35-40 yards away, and it turned and swam with us.  When the guys got nervous I explained he was just currious and would leave soon which he turn again and headed off to the other side of the river

And of course the usual water fowl.  Egrets, Comorrants, Herons

Once you leave the park, you see a few houses on the water.  Some are fixer uppers

And some showing off some Southern Pride

And even some that floated

After about going 3 miles downstream, we turned on to “Crawford Creek” which is a river unto itself.  Very wide with houses for about the first mile.

It does not take long till you are secluded with the Wildlife again

The creek narrows quite a bit and has a lot of Old Growth foliage which is always unusual

and pretty flowers….

Now both times in this area someone has said that thier butt was getting cold, and when you look down you see crystal clear water about 6 feet deep.  It is wild that you can feel the water temp of 88 degrees turn so quickly from the springs to 72 degrees.

and before long (about 2 miles from where you turned on to the creek) you arrive

BEETEE JAY SPRINGS!!!!!!  And a fishing shack to rival ALL fishing shacks

The actual spring is right below the walkway which leads to a round house

At that point is where you turn around and head back

On the way back, the boys decided they wanted to stop and swim in the cold water.  And as they screamed from the cold water and the fact that I really dont like being in the water, I decided to sit in my yak and watch a really cool looking spider make a web right over my yak.  This spider was small and his body and tips of his legs were black, but the rest of his legs were bright red.  So once the guys lips turned blue, they decided to climb back in and paddle home.  I knew Josh was getting tired because he was not as talkative as he had been all morning.

So once we got past the houses we past coming in, the shore line was tall reed grass.  I was staying back with Josh as Scott was up ahead.  So I paddled up next to Scott while we waited on Josh to catch up.  Now here I am with my paddle resting at the front of my combing as I am slouching back resting and BSing with Scott when I see his yak go straight up with a long 8-9 inch high wave striking out from under him both sides.  As the wave is hitting my boat I scream GAAA… when I feel a very strong thump strike the bottom of my kayak, and find myself upside down in the water. Knowing that we just spooked a VERY LARGE gator.  I was lucky to of had time to grab my paddle, but no time to sit upright for a brace, so I figured I would just roll back up… hahahaha the water was only about 2 1/2 foot deep and I find my head, shoulders and upper back laying on a hard bottom.  After trying 3 times to hip snap my yak back in place and realising one cannot do this while their upper body is laying on the ground, I just popped my skirt and came up for air.  What the hell, if he didn’t bite me by then I felt somewhat safe.  So as I am standing in the water laughing and rolling my yak back over the guys asked how I was going to get back into my kayak.  HAhahahaha, that is when I realised I was the only one that knew how to do an assisted rescue.  So I got Josh to hold my yak while I stepped back into it and started pumping the water out.  As we are laughing and screaming about how scarey that really was, Scott asked me why I didn’t empty the water out of my boat while I was still out of it instead of pumping it?  I quickly informed him that even though I was not worried about the gator we spooked being there, that didn’t mean he wouldn’t come back pissed, and the fact that we were only a couple of feet from the reed line where gators are known to hang out plus where there are big ones there are little ones… I wanted the HELL OUTA THAT WATER!!!!  So needless to say on our way back up the Chaz, we pretty much stayed in the middle of the river.  But I can now say I have been swimming with a gator. LOL

As we are headed back up stream and discussing how tired everyone was and if we wanted to go back the the launch and grab a bite to eat or go play at one of the more popular spring known as “Maggies” or the “Crack”.  We are about 70 yards from the shore line on a flat water river that has no boat traffic, and no one is around when we hear a loud bang that sounded like a gun shot and then lots of cracking and right beside us a 60 foot tree just fell over.  We all just looked at one another and decided that it was time to head home.  I am not sure if we were the luckest people on the face of the earth, or if we just used all of our luck up…

Poker Run 2010

In Kayak Trips on May 17, 2010 at 2:47 am

Let me tell you that I had a WONDERFUL time once again this year.  The “Marion County Aquaholics” put on a GREAT Poker Run once again.  The river was running very high which made for an easy no blockage river.  I had no rescues this year, and ran into no rude or stupid people.  Wellll, except the two on jet skis that choked us all with thier 2 stroke fumes.  I was very impressed with how organized and how well it was run.  They even had help from the FWC (Florida Fish & Wildlife Comm.) shutteling people from the take out to the put in.  And as in the past, they helped everyone out of the boats and quickly loaded the boats on trailers to the parking lot.

The bad news is even though I was camping at Silver River State Park for 5 days, and had 3 cameras with me, I took NO pictures.  I was having way to much fun.  It was great seeing old friends and making new ones.  And 2 new camping trips came out of this trip.  We will be joining Dave & Phyllis up on the Suwannee in Sept. and Keith & Anita over at Hillsborough River at the end of July.

All I can say is I can’t wait till next year!!!!

ECCKF 2010

In Kayak Trips, Kayaking on April 21, 2010 at 4:36 pm

ECCKF stands for “East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival” which is held every April in Charleston SC.  And once again I happened to be there enjoying the great camping and venue.  I am sure that Kayakpeg and Pepperbutt will both have postings on their blogs, I just thought I would share some of my experiences.

First let me show you the art work that Sean got the name of Pepperbutt from when we were returning from this event 3 years ago.  He was so entralled with it the name just stuck. LOL 

I was happy it was still hanging on the wall.

When we arrived, we proceeded to unload the trailer we took and then ran a bunch of stuff over to Russell Farrow for his Sweetwater Kayaks booth.

While we were there we got to spend some time with Jake Stachovak   and discuss his travels and blog  plus sign his yak.

We also met with Tom Nichols, and our friend and instructor of past Wayne Horodowich  plus being able to tease Nigel Foster and got to meet the most Graceful person on the water Karen Knight  plus our old friends at the Osprey Bay tent the Doleman family.  Don and Donna Thompson (no relation) came by to share our campfire and strawberries and ice cream.  It was a nice evening getting to know them on a personal level instead of just in the kayak industry.

The Vendors were numerous and the customers growing in number over the last couple of years.  We saw lots of dogs and talked with a lot of nice people

Even the dogs had fun

We got to try some boats out that are new on the market

The camp ground on James Island is GREAT!!!  We even tried out our new car camping tent/condo

We saw lots of birds and even had Peggy’s favorite … a pair of Cardnials that hung out at our camp site

the ducks and Wood Storks were always close by

And one camp site even had Pink Flamingos

I’m Sorry, but I have been busy

In kayak, Kayak Trips, Kayaking, Uncategorized on March 25, 2010 at 1:31 am

A friend just sent me pics of a yak he wants to sell, so if you are looking for a yak to add to your fleet check out my “Classifieds” page.  I have a couple of nice yaks there.  Besides I may even have these guys as future customers, and I could always use that.

Well since the last time I worked on my yak or this blog we had a long cold (for Florida) spell.  And not having a heated garage, well I don’t want to build while being miserable.  Also work as picked up a little for me and before the time change, it was hard to go out in the cold and dark.

Adding to that the famous Sweetwater Kayak Symposium which was supposed to be 3 days of instructional kayaking and fun.  I ended up working on friday instead of playing on the water.  Saturday was a nasty day, but I went out just to paddle with Nigel Foster, but I went way under dressed for the conditions, not because I don’t have the gear, but because I was stubborn and stupid.  I had to leave at lunch time when my lips turned blue and after many cups of hot coffee, a scolding hot shower and 5 hours of being wrapped up in Down blankets, I finally found warmth in my body again.  Sunday was the last day and I was much more prepared for it.  My classes that day were with Tom Nichols.  Let me tell you, if you ever get the chance to paddle with Tom… TAKE IT!!!  I found him to take the time to show you exactly what or how to do something and will work with you till you learn it.  He also wants to know what you think of it after you learn it and shows you options if you don’t like it.  All during the classes, he treats you as a friend, not a student.  Thanks Tom.

Then I had a couple of weeks of nasty weather and work… where does all the time go?

I also am working with “The St. Petersburg Woodcrafters Guild” in trying to set up a workshop on making kayaks.  I am to be the guest speaker again in April showing off one of my yaks and how I build it.  Then for people who are interested in making their own kayak, we will meet after to discuss the workshop.

Then what do you know… the “Bad Weather Trio” strikes out again to go camping in North Florida to a piece of property that Sean Owns.  This is a yearly trip that we take when the weather allows primitive camping. 

 This year the Suwannee river is flooded and running very fast.  So we went over to the Ichetucknee River/Springs.  It is State run and I copped an attitude.  To tube the river or swim it has a cost of $6 a car load, but to launch a kayak, it is $5 per kayak.  Something wrong there.  I am sure that Sean and Peggy will have more about this trip on thier blogs.

I still have work, but with Daylight Savings Time now in affect I hope to start on the yak again.  it is April almost and the local triathalons are starting up again, and then we leave in 3 weeks for Charleston SC to the 20th ECCKF.  If you are there you will find us on site #8

In May we will be going to a kayak Poker Run put on by the Marion County Aquaholics.

Gee, we dont have anything posted for June yet… maybe I will get the Spring Run done by July.

Liquid Rhythm is up and running!

In Kayak Trips on June 21, 2009 at 10:56 pm
Written by KayakPeg

After a long time waiting our friends Sean and Jeff decided to it was time to get back in the game and start offering kayak trips. On June 20th, 2009, at the Chassahowitzka River at 10:10am, the guys along with 9 ½ paddlers, were in the water and the inaugural Liquid Rhythm paddle was underway. 

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It was our pleasure to support the guys on their first trip out and it was great to see a nice turn out and familiar faces; Bruce and Gloria, Red, Kathy, Dean, Kev and myself. And new faces, Sharon, who is a friend of Kathy’s and lives in Hudson, Lorrin and her 4yr old son Nickolas (this was our ½ paddler), they live in Valrico and when looking to buy some kayak gear landed on Kevin’s site, where he informed her of the paddle. 

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The Chassahowitzka River is a nice river to paddle, pristine and spring feed, which means it is great for cooling off on a hot day, and it was a hot day. Luckily we did have a little breeze and some cloud cover. We paddled back to the “Crack” a spring that is a great place to swim and cool off. You can paddle back so far, and then you have to walk about 100 feet in the narrow stream, but well worth it. Red, Kathy, Sharon, Bruce and Gloria decided not to paddle back with the rest of us and paddled about until we cooled off in the water and caught up with them.

 There were lots of canoes and kayakers out on the river and lots of boat traffic to keep an eye out for. I would say half were courtesy and slowed down when they approached paddlers and the other half flew by creating a strong wake. This is a little unsettling to the novice paddlers, but the rest of us take it in stride and will play with the waves they create.

 The wildlife was out and about, all but the Otters, which we heard had been playing in the river the day before, but I did not see any. I saw a beautiful big blue heron, egret, a blue crab, lots of big fish, then when we came back in up by the boat ramp was a small alligator. The small ones do not bother me, but I know momma has to be around somewhere.

 

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The guys gave us a nice tour of the Chas, and with the tour you get two very experience tour guides. Both have a great wealth of knowledge of nature, water and paddling. They give their customer personalize attention, and will keep the paddle going as long as the customers like. They also provide lunch, which this time was fried chicken, potato salad and cole slaw, all delicious and home made by Sean and his wonderful wife Shelly. Oh, and did I mention they are very entertaining?  Yes, you will laugh a lot with these two guys around.

 All in all I would say it was a successful first trip for Liquid Rhythm, with more to come. Check out their website to find information on future trips. Come out and join us in play.   http://liquidrhythmkayaking.com/Trips.html

Here are a few more pictures from the day:

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The Seahorse...so pretty!

The Seahorse...so pretty!

Suwannee River

In Kayak Trips, Kayaking on June 11, 2009 at 9:27 am

Okay Phyllis, your story is so good, it looks like 4 of us at the moment and anyone else that would like to join us will be doing this trip next March.  Thanks for the insight.

KK

 

Someone I know just returned from an 8 day paddle trip and sent me an email all about it complete with a link to her  pics.  I just wanted to share it with others.

Just got back from 8 days on the Suwannee River. Five of us started off with a visit to Big Shoals which was kickin! A definite Class III. Took a bizillion pictures of it. Then stopped by The Telford Hotel for lunch. Great food & even better great price $6.50 for lunch buffet, soup, salad,& dessert bar included. We camped the first night at Stephen Foster SP. We didn’t have to eat dinner, we were still full from  lunch so we spent the afternoon checking out the park. The Springhouse was really cool. The river was still pretty high so it was running into the Springhouse. (63.69 on the USGS gage at White Springs) Very nice campground also. The next morning we were up early repacking everything. I had all my gear packed & then realized my glasses were missing. I did remember where I put them, in  the pocket inside my tent which I had just rolled up & squished into a dry bag. I unrolled the tent enough to get my hand inside and into the pocket. WA-LA there are my glasses not broke not even bent. American Canoe Adventure in White Springs shuttled us from the SFSP to the 41 bridge to put in. (16.00 for all of us & our gear) The current was  running at 3.5mph. by my GPS. We were going to Woods Ferry River Camp for the night which was 12.7 miles down river. Mostly all we had to do was  keep the yaks pointed down stream & the river did the rest. There were a lot of places where the water  was a series of boils or Whirlpools. My friend Carol called these areas “Whirlleybobs”. At Woods Ferry RC the water was completely over the  dock & the kayak storage racks, so we paddled right  into the ramp going up. We started the unloading process. There is a cart to pull your gear up the ramp. We made about 4 trips up the ramp with gear, after the first trip up I was wondering why I brought so much food.(I ate good all week, but the food was the heaviest part of my stuff) Then we pushed, pulled, carried & cussed five kayaks up that ramp to our screened sleep platform. We were totally wiped out by  this time. The camp keeper “Wild Gator Bill” who has been there for quite some time says “You could have left your kayaks on the ramp. You guys are the only ones here tonight.” We were so tired we had to make ourselves stay up to at least 9:00pm. Of course the next morning was a repeat just reversed. I think it was aroud 9:30am when we got on the river

 Monday morning for a 19 mile paddle to Holton Creek  River Camp. This area is where we started seeing the  limestone bluffs. The’re not as impressive when the water 10-12 ft. above what it normally is. The sand bars were few and far between, but the sturgeon put on there usual show of jumping high out of the water. You just never knew where they would jump next so we never got a photo of any but a few of us did get splashed by them. When we arrived at Holton Creek RC the dock of course was flooded. We couldn’t get into the stairs because of the hand rails. There was a small sand beach just before the dock we paddled back to & unloaded there. We pulled the yaks up to a post that was futher up on the beach & locked them to it. And started hauling stuff up the hill to the platforms. I have  to say these sleep platforms are really nice. I could recharge my camera batteries and with it being so warm I especially liked the ceiling fan and the AC in the bathrooms.
We were up early again Tuesday morning & on ourway by 8:30. We paddled up every spring run but the springs were flooded also, so we didn’t see anything but that coffee colored water in them. We saw some amazing tree roots though all along the river. Just before lunch we passed by the confluence of the Alapaha River & Suwannee River. We paddled up it a short distance. It was pretty muddy & the current was strong. Right at the confluence we had major “Whirlleybobs” to paddle through. We arrived at Suwannee River SP about 3:30pm and decided to trade our campsite for a cabin which was much closer to the boat ramp. We spent most of the evening on the screened porch in the swing & rocking chairs, sipping drinks with ice in them. I definitly want  to see more of this SP. The next morning we were craming ice into water jugs, hydration packs, and anything else that would hold it so we would have cold water for a little while. We were back on the river  Wed. morning by 8:00am.
The confluence of the Withlacoochee River North is just below the ramp at SRSP. We paddled up it just enough to say we were in it. The “Whirlleybobs” weren’t as bad this time. We just goofed around paddling from one side to the other. Saw a couple of deer & a red fox. We were getting pretty close to Dowling Park and it was just lunch time, so we started  looking for a place to stop. I just happen to look back over my right shoulder as we were coming around a bend in the river and saw a small opening. I paddled back and it was a very small spring. I yelled for everyone else to turn around. The short run into the spring was less than a foot deep, so it wasn’t flooded with that brown water. We stayed there for about 2 hours playing in the cold water after having lunch.
Our stop over for Wednesday was supposed to be Dowling Park RC which had just opened in late March.  The river flooded about 2 weeks after it opened and caused major damage. We ended up staying at Advent Christian Village right across the river from the River Camp. Doug Maby, camp manager went above & beyond for us. He met us at the landing, helped us carry all of our gear up the 35ft bluff, load it in the back of his truck & took us to bunk house where we were staying for the night. The next morning he came & got us, helped load our gear back in the truck, and carry it back down the bluff to our kayaks. He also has  primitive camp sites with a place to get water & take a shower if you want or you can stay in a bunk house.  Camping is 3.00 per person or 5.00 with a shower included. The bunkhouse is 18.00 per night per person  There is a small grocery store if you need supplies, a deli & a cafe if you’re tired of camp food or your own cooking.
We left ACV at 9.00am Thursday morning and by 11.00 am it was thundering, lightning, and pouring rain. In the worst of the lightning we pulled to the side of the river and waited for an hour for the worst of the storm to pass. We paddled most of the way to Peacock  Slough RC in the pouring rain. Once we got the yaks unloaded we all got a hot shower to warm up. We had an early dinner that night.(no lunch stop) Woke up Friday morning to more rain. After breakfast there was a break in the rain so we loaded up keeping the rain gear & spray skirts within easy reach and stared out. Within an hour we were getting pounded with rain again. I was thankful it was only rain (no lightning this time) We found a couple of small springs that were not flooded and got a few photos. The rain had stopped for a while so we stopped at Royal Springs for lunch. We had enough time to eat & the rain started again. We hung out there in the rain  for a about 1.5hrs then headed out for Adams Tract RC.
The Adams Tract RC dock & most of the stairs were under water. Ron, the camp host there had taken the hand rail off of the stairs on the down river side so you could paddle up beside the steps one at a time and get out & unload. After unloading each yak we would tie it off on a long rope & float it down river so  the next one could get in to the steps to unload. After we got them all unloaded we pulled them up river from the steps tied the bows together and tied it off to a big root on the bank & then around a tree, then locked the sterns together to the upriver hand rail. They would have to float there for the night. I have to say Ron keeps this camp just as spotless as Gator Bill keeps his Woods Ferry Camp. This was our last night on the river. I think we were all sad for it to end but dam glad we were going to be out of the rain sometime the next day.
Sat. morning I got up, put on dry clothes, went out and took a good look at the sky, come back and put my wet clothes from the day before back on. Saving my clean dry clothes for when I get to the take out so my hubby will let me ride inside the truck on the way home. It of course was a reverse process getting our kayaks loaded up Sat. morning. Taking over an hour to get the five loaded. We stopped at four more springs on the way but they too were flooded. It seemed like a very short 9.5 miles to Ivey Park in Branford where we were taking out. There was a light rain off & on. We made it to the ramp at 11:45am, got all gear unloaded & packed into large duffel bags for the ride home.
This was the first kayak camp trip I’ve ever planned or done. It’s not my last though. There are some things I’ll do different & some things will be the same.  One thing I wouldn’t change is my friends who came along. There was Carol who kept us laughing, Ed who tested our bandaging skills, provided much muscle, and helped keep my mind off the severe lightning, last but not least Mark & Janie, who also provided muscle for shoving & pulling yaks up some steeps banks, their amusing bicker and banter, and funny stories. I’m glad they all had enough courage to come along with me on my first week long kayak trip. With the high water it was easy getting from one camp  to the next. But I really missed the high limestone bluffs and numerous shoals that are here when the water is about 10-12ft lower.

 KK  aka Kayakrazee

http://community.webshots.com/user/kayakrazee

Upcoming Paddles… it is the time of year

In Kayak Trips, Kayaking, Links on May 19, 2009 at 2:23 pm

First I would like to tell everyone that the boys (Sean & Jeff) are going to start up trips again.  So if you have missed the boys as I have, then pencil in June 20th for the Chaz river paddle.  You can get more info on thier web site http://liquidrhythmkayaking.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/chassahowitzka-river/ 

Also I have noticed that Darry and the gang have posted a new kayak schedual.  You can see it at http://www.billjacksons.com/Kayaking_trips/Kayaking_trips.htm  What he doesn’t have posted is the BIG kayak/dive sale on the last weekend of the month of May.

Don & Donna of Big D’s always has something going on, you need to sign up to his newsletters to see the schedual  Check them out at http://www.bigdskayaking.com/

And of course there is the outfitters I started with that always try to accommodate the paddler, check out what Tom, Kim, and Bryan are doing at http://www.ospreybay.com/

The nice thing about all of these guides, is that they will help you with your skills and they offer classes to improve or learn.  Plus you get to meet a lot of nice people that have the same interests.  I know I have made many friends paddling with all these guys.

Poker Run

In Kayak Trips on May 19, 2009 at 12:54 pm

5/17/09  Well, now it is over till next year.  It was the biggest turn out yet for the MC Aquaholics, and a bit disorganized.  I am sure that having over 200 paddlers desending on you could be very over whelming.  And of course every paddler had better ideas as to what should of been done, but gee, how many of those will offer to help next year???  It was a GREAT time had by all.  Even though the water level was down due to the drought we are having, it did rain a couple of days before and made the river clearer than I have ever seen it.  The Aquaholics worked hard on clearing the river from fallen trees so there would be a full pass down.  Kudoz to the club and all of the members to help put this on!!!! 

 Now not having any control over what entries do on the river, I have to tell you that there was a lot of STUPID paddlers on the river.  It was a very swift river, and 2 women stopped breach in front of a pass to talk, blocking the way for others to get by safely.   People, if you want to chat with friends, pull over to the bank, dont sit in the middle of the river.   Another instance I was performing a rescue for 2 ladies in which other paddlers gave no thought of our safety getting out and rammed through.  But if anyone reading this knows the young lady who rescued the canoers, I have a friend that wants her number.  We will just call her SHEENA the AMAZON WOMAN!!!  She was amazing!!! 

This was my 4th Poker Run, and the clubs 10th.  I will continue to go as long as they continue to put them on.  To learn more or to volunteer to help contact the club at  http://www.mcaquaholics.com/ 

 

Well it is no longer early, it is coming up this weekend.

This posting is a little early, for it won’t even start until May.  But I want everyone to have time to join us.  It is soooo much fun!!!!

Marion County Aquaholics hold a “Poker Run” every May.  This will be our 4th year with many more to come.  It is well organised and the club members are so very nice and helpful.  The paddle is down the  Ocklawaha River.  This is one of Florida’s last natural rivers with lots of wildlife in and out of the water.  You can get a registration form here http://www.mcaquaholics.com/2009pokerrun.html  and what is really nice is that half of the money raised goes to some organaztion to support kids, and the other half is prize money.  Plus they have a raffle for a yak, and many, many other awards for winning hands.

There are also many places to camp if you wish to stay, maybe paddle Silver River while you are there.  We will be staying at Silver River State Park  ( http://www.floridastateparks.org/silverriver/default.cfm ) on site #52.  We are coming in on friday afternoon, and leaving Sunday morning

Anclote Key Paddle

In Kayak Trips, Kayaking on April 16, 2009 at 8:00 pm

5/4/09  Okay, Everything is put away and we are now showered and rested… Let me tell you about our adventure…  the Good and the Bad.

The paddle it self is a wonderful paddle.  That is if you like a small open water paddle, for once you commit you are at the mercy of the water.  It is 3 miles between points of land and it is deep water.  It doesn’t take much wind to kick the waves up, but it is one of my favorites.  And when you have a friend with property 3 miles up river (thanks Darry), it makes this a minimum 12 mile paddle round trip.  The first day we paddled 9 miles before setting up camp by going around to the Gulf side.  Weather and water could not have been any better.  Coming home was not bad, but not great.  We had an east wind stirring the water up and had to tack in with 2-3 foot swells.  This would of been great if the boats were empty and you could of played, but with over 80 pounds of gear in each yak, we found ourselves working hard to paddle against wind and water.

We set up our camp on the beach with my tent, Seans hammock, and we even put up a kitchen shade using Seans wonderful tarp.  The sand is very pretty white sand till you camp on it, then you discover it is soooo fine, your tent better be free standing because you wont get a stake in it, and it clings to EVERYTHING!  I’ll take a brown sand beach any day.

The Island is beautiful with White Sand beaches, Many, many birds of all kinds, pretty lagoons, High Surf Gulf water, a Light House, moderate bay waters, Lots of Sea Shells on the gulf side.  And the water was pretty no matter where you were with colors ranging from an Aqua Blue, to Emerald Green depending on depth and location.

Our Yaks on the Beach

Our Yaks on the Beach

Our Lagoon

Our Lagoon

Our camp

Our camp

Now The Bad

For those of you that have not been on the florida coast line we have a tiny little bug that bites known as “NoSeeUms”.  Normally you can just stay in the sun, or use a bug spray to keep them away.  They are at their worst at sunrise and sunset, and hang out at the tree line.  Now let me tell you about the mutant version that lives on Anclote Key.  We are going to call these ravenous creatures “USeeUms” cause you can.  I wore a white long sleeve shirt that turned black.  As the sun was going down the first night they started coming out, so we dug out the first can of bug spray with 21% deet, you could see the little suckers laughing!  So then Sean dug out his can of 29% deet, and they snickered as they all swarmed toward him.  I had enough of these little f**kers and dug out the stuff I brought back from Alaska that was 98.7% deet, and they started partying!!! They drank deet like collage kids drink beer.   Laying inside the tent Sunday morning I decided to wait till the sun came up to chase them off, as I was creeping out on how many were all over the tent trying to break in.  With the sun up, I had to get up and move about, they are hard core “USeeUms”, the sun did not effect them at all.  As Sean is moving his hand along the inside of his bug screen on his hammock, there is a swarm of the blood suckers following it on the outside.

Sean Smiling before the USeeUms attack

Sean Smiling before the USeeUms attack

 

5/1/09  The truck is packed and the yaks are loaded.  We will be taking off in the morning for what looks to be the best weather we have had on a trip in a year.  Hopefully when we get back, I will have lots of photos of fun times instead of nasty fronts and wild water.  It is nice to see my truck with our yaks ready to go…

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I just wish we didn’t have water restrictions in the area.  My truck is dirty!  And no fires allowed on the beach.

May 2nd & 3rd, the near famous Bad Weather Paddling Trio will go for another Kayak camping trip.  It is coming upon the time of year down here to be to hot to tent camp, so this will be our last one till fall.  All the trips we do this summer will be in the comfort of our air conditioned trailer.  You can call us wimps if you want, I prefer to think of us as getting smarter with age.

 This time we are going to try Anclote Key.  Although we have paddled to the Key many times, it is always to the light house.  I have never been to the North end where the camping is.  Again it is primitive camping.  If anyone out there has done this, please let me know what to expect.  I know Sean wants to paddle over to 3 Rooker Island( I have no idea where it is or what is there) while we are out.  I have already filed our plans withthe island Ranger, andwill update this post as more info is decided.  Anyone with comments can write me at kev_th@yahoo.com

After the paddle I will post how the trip was and any pics one of us might take.  And I am sure Sean will post his version on http://liquidrhythmkayaking.wordpress.com/ .

Marco Island

In Kayak Trips on April 9, 2009 at 1:24 am

We just got back from a wonderful week of paddling even in lousy weather.  Peggy, Cheryl, & I loaded up our yaks on monday, hooked up the trailer, and we headed South.  The original intentions were to meet up with Mike & Trish on tuesday morning and venture out of Marco Island to Kice Island for an evening of beach camping and paddling, while having our trailer back at Collier/Seminole State Park as a base camp (someplace to shower).  Well once again the weather was not on our side.  A front moved in bringing wind gusts up to 40mph.  So having a base camp set up, we did a couple of day paddles instead.  Cheryl stayed in the Princess Suite of the trailer, and has become the newest of our surrogate children.

As we set up camp Monday evening, I spotted a yak on a car down the loop.  It turned out to be a “Impex Cat 5”.  We introduced ourselves to the owner, a Robert Keeler of Toronto.  He was meeting a group of friends in Everglades City on friday, and was staying here till then.  Talking with him, we discovered we knew some other mutual paddlers.

Tuesday morning  Mike and Trish showed up while the winds were still howling.  We decided it would be better to do some day paddles instead of an overnight paddle.  Safety being our concern.  We decided to go paddle the “Black River” which starts there at the park.  We invited our new friend Robert to join us and off we went.  Because of the late start,  the fact we wanted a long paddle tomorrow, and we were going out with the tide (yes it is a tidal brackish water river), we went about 3 1/2 miles before I turned everyone around to head back up stream.  I thought a 7 mile paddle was a nice warm up for tomorrow.  We noticed that there was no wildlife to speak of out, it kinda surprised us.  I had made Beef Stew for the trip and so we took turns taking showers (there was only one at our part of the park) and then sat around the camp fire eating stew and talking.  Mike & Trish set up their tent in lieu of kicking Cheryl out of the Princess Suite and onto the couch.  Robert said his good nights and went back to to his tent.

Wed morning we invited Robert over for breakfast, and he showed some intrest in joining us for todays paddle.  We drove over to the south end of Marco Island to the marina, our lunches packed and putting Trish in charge of the maps, we headed out for Kice Island.  We managed to paddle for about 15 minutes when 5 of the 6 of us decided we had over dressed and headed for the first beach we could find to shed some clothes!  What can I say?  It was much colder under that tree at the marina than out in the full sun on the water.  The water on the Gulf was still in great turmoil from the front that blew through, so we decided to paddle on the inside of the island chain.  With Trish having the maps, Robert and I having our trusty GPS’s, we found the channel that seperates Kice from Romano Islands and headed out to the Gulf.  Again we were paddling with an outgoing tide and it was a very leisurly paddle.  The channel was about a mile long and what we saw when we reached the end was a surf that would make surfers drool.  Actually, the mouth of the channel had a lot of different types of water conditions.  There was a major washing machine, an eddy, a standing wave, and a major surf break.  We all went through the washing machine, but the others headed out to play in the surf, Peggy & I headed for the beach.  It is not that we cant handle the water for we have been in much worse, but it is not what we enjoy paddling.  Way to much work and you know you are going to get wet.  The water was rough enough that the wave carried us both about 8 feet up onto the beach, and then tried to pull our yaks out from under us while we were getting out.  The others quickly tired of playing and joined us on the beach for lunch. 

Robert & Cheryl eating lunch

Robert & Cheryl eating lunch

 Across the channel was the first wildlife we had seen.  We had a Mama Osprey with a not quite flying baby in the nest that we watched for a while.

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Others went for a walk down the beach where Trish found a piece of driftwood she tried to fit in everones hatches, but it was just 2 inches to long.  So she tied it on the back of her yak where it looked like an octopus sitting there. 

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Michael pulled out his kite sail and played with the wind

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and Trish dug out her fishing pole.  The picture of her record Snook and Redfish  didn’t come out (yes this is a fish story).

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Cheryl & Robert went collecting seashells for a craft project that she does for her friends.

We packed up to head back because Mike, Trish, and Cheryl had to head back for work on thursday.  We rode the current into this mess, but Peggy & I had no idea how strong the tide was running out.  When we launched it grabbed us so hard that it took everything we had to get our yaks turned and into the channel.  By the time we were heading the right direction it had carried us back 100 feet.  Then to add insult to misery, the channel was not only flowing the wrong direction, but it was flat!  Neither Peggy’s or my boat likes flat water.  We had to pull our yaks the whole way up that channel and found ourselves behind everyone.  Anyone that knows Peggy & I knows that is not normal for us. 

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 Once we rounded the tip of the island into the bay we had 2 foot waves and we took off.  Our prime contitions.  It didn’t take long before we had our relaxed stroke going and was 50 yards ahead in the lead.  While we paddled along a big Sea Turtle came up right in front of Peggy, and that made this whole trip worth everything for her!  We even had a pod of dolphins welcome us back to the marina, where the Osprey escort we picked up in the begining of the bay left us.

Coming back into the marina, the 2 of us decided to make a dock landing rather than trying to get out on the ramp without scraping our yaks on the concrete.  It may not be pretty, but it was effective.  Loading the yaks and gear, we drove the scenic way back to base camp.  Again while everyone showered and loaded gear, Peggy put together a pork chop dinner, cause that is what Peggy does.  She would never let anyone leave on an empty belly.  We said our good byes to Mike, Trish, and Cheryl (our newest children), and kicked back around our final fire talking of the fun we had.

Thursday morning we broke camp, loaded up the trailer and said our good byes to Robert (our newest paddle friend) who was breaking camp as well to continue on his journey.  He told us what a wonderful family we have, and would love to paddle with us again.  I hope he takes it up the next time he is in the Tampa area.  As always, it is sad to come home.

Even though no one replied to my inquiry, we had a great time and would recomend this trip to everyone.

 

Okay Florida Paddlers

Can anyone help me here?  Some friends and I are looking to go kayak camping down to Marco Island and was wondering if anyone knew of any islands down there that we can paddle to pitch our tents, fix our meals, (have a fire maybe) and perfer it to be all legal.  I know, I take all the fun out of it.

Otherwise we will be going to Collier/ Seminole State Park and driving to Marco to paddle.  If you have any suggestions, just contact me at kev_th@yahoo.com 

Thanks, and stay tuned to see how our trip goes in a couple of weeks….