Gadding about in Florida – Part One
We’ve been spending a few days down in Fort Pierce, Florida, at Laura’s sister’s place. Amy had to go away on business, so we cam down to keep her mom company. I brought toys. The Subaru was loaded with more camera and kayak gear than luggage.
Every morning I’ve been getting up and down a short paddling trip before the heat and afternoon thunderstorms hit. I’ve also managed to get in an evening paddle.
I brought the Tsunami because it handles rougher water with ease and is quick enough that I can go some distance. First trip out I headed out to the spoil islands. The morning was clear with a light breeze. The water was relatively flat.
The spoil islands are on the other side of the main channel for the Intracoastal Waterway, and the trickiest bit is crossing that channel. Even if a boat appears to be very distant, it could be on top of my before I know it. When I reach the channel markers I paddle as quickly as I can to get across, kind of like crossing a busy street. Then I can relax…a bit.
The channel is a bit narrower at the island south of Amy’s place, so I headed in that direction. I crossed without incident, then paddled to the back side of the channel. There I pulled up and relaxed on the lovely beach.
I paddled along the other side of the islands from the main channel, where it was quieter and separated from most boat traffic. Heading north, I passed the island directly across from Amy’s, then the one north of that. At that point I crossed back to the mainland side, heading to the flats near the D. J. Wilcox Wilderness Area.
I’d found another flotation attachment for my GoPro. This allows the camera to bob along under the water, capturing whatever was there. I decided to use this in the grassy areas of the flats. Unfortunately, I didn’t capture anything. For one thing, I had the Floaty back on the camera, and that forced the rest of the camera out of the water.
It was getting hot, and I’d only had one cup of coffee. I headed on back for breakfast and more caffeine. In between cups of coffee I managed to paddle about four miles.
In the afternoon we took Laura’s mom for a drive up the coast along North Hutchinson Island. We stopped at Avalon Park for a bit, then headed up to Vero Beach. Lots of folks were out enjoying the sunshine.
We had dinner, then I took the boat out again to catch the sunset. I just paddled out past the piers, then north along the flats. To the southwest there was an approaching storm with lightening. It was a race – would the sun set first, or the storm get here? I managed to watch most of the sunset, then paddled like crazy to beat the storm.
Another morning, another paddling trip. This time I was interested in exploring the mangroves on the other side of the river, possibly exploring the old inlet. I repeated the previous morning’s paddle out. This time I found a group of fishermen out at my favorite island beach. They were happy that I avoided their troll lines and waved at me.
One of the neighbors had told me I might find manatees out here. I rigged up the GoPro for underwater floating, this time using the standard case rather than the floaty back so that it rode lower in the water.
While I didn’t catch any manatees, a family of dolphins surfaced 30 feet off of my bow. There was a baby with them, and they appeared to be feeding in the shallows. There was no way my GoPro was going to catch them at that distance underwater, so I pulled it out to get a bit of video.
After the dolphins left I paddled on into the flats behind the spoil islands. I tossed the camera out into these shallow grassy areas hoping to catch something. I floated a long time, but didn’t spot anything.
I paddled into the old inlet area. At one time this connected to the Atlantic Ocean, but a hurricane shifted the channel. I was curious whether or not I could make it to the barrier island. This area had lots of birds and other wildlife, though. I was content to hang out and watch things here.
I found a passageway between some of the mangroves and decided to explore some of the narrower channels. At one point I looked down and saw a ray of some kind in the water. Immediately I tossed the camera overboard and was able to capture these images:
I continued on into the channel, spotting a very narrow passageway to the south. There was current coming through, so I knew it must open up on the other side. I was able to squeeze through.
When I emerged on the other side I noticed that a massive storm cloud had popped up to the southeast. I decided it was time to head home and started paddling quickly.
Matrixing is the tendency to try to make sense out of random patterns. Watching the waves roll by I keep catching movement out of the corner of my eye, and I’d think it was a dolphin or manatee. I can see how early mariners imagined seeing mermaids out amongst the waves.
I kept at it, and managed to make it back to Amy’s house before the rain hit. I’ve paddling in heavy rain plenty of times, and it can be a pleasant experience. I also always carry materials for emergency shelter, so I could have hauled up on one of the spoil islands if things got back. I figured it was best to get on back home, though. In all, I’d paddled another four miles or so. Here’s the track from that trip:
It was still only 11:00 am, and we had lots more to do. I think I’ve written enough for now, and another post will be forthcoming.