FSKA Annual Meeting, 2019

As it works out our Florida Sea Kayak Association, club, has a tradition where we go on a three day camp and in the process we have our annual meeting where we assess the progress, quality and activities of the club. Then we eat.

This year we had the meeting at Salt Springs Florida. We camped at the Salt Springs Recreation area, a contractor run US Forest Service camp ground. We had our meeting at the Square Meal restaurant. They did a fine job of taking care of our meeting and eating requirements.

We paddled three days on the Ocklawaha River, 16 miles, the Salt Run to Drayton Island, 13 miles, and the Silver River 10 miles. It was perfect weather. Some pictures from the Silver River are attached.

When the wintery weather gets you down, come on down. It is usually paddle worthy here in Florida.

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No way, no how do I paddle where there are gators!!
I’m OK with what’s in the ocean but those things are to be avoided at all costs!!

Crocodiles are extremely aggressive and it’s best to avoid them at all cost. I’ve only seen them in Costa Rica but witnessed at a crock reserve outside of Jaco how aggressive they are.

Alligators, not so. I’ve lived in Florida all my life and have encountered wild gators tens, if not a hundred times and never have never run across an aggressive one. The wild ones are quick to avoid any contact with humans and are fast to run (and they can run) into deep water. Just make sure you don’t block that exit and you’ll be fine. Always look for the sunny banks where gators like to sun themselves and paddle on the opposite side of the river. And make noise when paddling through dense surface fauna so the gators know your coming. Following these two rules will keep you safe in Gatorland.

Gators that have been fed by humans and have become “domesticated” are a problem - not the wild ones. If you look at the list of fatal gator attacks, few have been in the wild. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fatal_alligator_attacks_in_the_United_States )

There were 33 fatal alligator attacks in the US in the past 50 years. In comparison, there are 300 people killed by crocodiles every year in Africa. Not a fair comparison in population but you get the idea.

Wouldn’t want one as a pet but nothing you have to worry about kayaking in the wild as long as you give them an escape route.

Now if you’re kayaking at Disney, that could be a problem.

Great photos and the Silver River is an excellent paddling venue for taking them. I was born and raised in FL.

Gators are rarely a problem though when they get over 10 feet long it’s best to show them respect and stay out of the water. I had a very big one maybe 100 yards away come swimming for me once while snorkeling. Needless to say I got back in the boat rather quickly.

We camped numerous times at Salt Springs when the kids were small and we lived in Welaka. Many think NA stories about it’s healing power may have been the source that gave rise to the Spanish search for the fountain of youth. Some of the locals would dip gallon jugs in it to take home in the belief that it had healing powers.

I love the low land swamps, and I hunted the Forest along the run, and also along the Ocklawaha.

The main thing to know about gators is that their reverse gear sux. If they are threatened they flip around to get into the water. Most people who think they are attacked just got in the way of the gator trying to get away from you.

This mostly happens when a paddler cut too close to an inside corner and scares a gator on the bank. I have seen that happen.

That doesn’t mean that humans aren’t capable of being incredibly stupid. heard of one attack where a whitewater boater got bored with the slow current and started spinning the boat in circles. That made it look like a bird with a busted wing. Also, take off flashy jewelry before getting into gator inhabited waters and don’t first enter the water by diving in.

Castoff, your mask probably flashed and got that gator interested.

I would rather paddle with gators than stingrays. I was also fishing backwaters one day when a school of black-tips chased a mullet under my boat and caught it there while I was suddenly floating over a shark feeding frenzy.

Two thoughts…Sharps’

  1. The monkeys and Gators on the silver are way more dangerous than the Gators . They are more likely to bite you and carry diseases. The Gators are way used to people and in a cold water/weather stuper.
  2. Whimp…:,-)

I worked as a biologist with the FL Game and Fish Commission many years ago, and later for UF. Dealt with gators numerous times. Had them get caught in a trammel net while running it for fish collection. Worked on fish ponds where I had to trap them out. These were under 7 feet long. Would occasionally stun larger ones while electrofishing in Rodman Reservior. I do not disagree that they are rarely a problem. Have paddled over some large ones in the clear water spring runs. And paddled passed some of the biggest gators I have ever seen in the coastal marshes of Cape Romain,SC. These are truely wild, and have had very little human contact except for fishermen in boats. They showed little fear, only going under when we had to pass close to them. I find them to be the most intimidating gators I have been around.They don’t hit the water running when a sea kayak goes passed, and play a good game of chicken when you have to paddle near them. A 500 pound gator is not something to swim with mask or no mask. As you say stupid behavior is often the problem.

I have swam around stingrays and caught a few. I consider them much more harmless than gators, unless you step on one. I have also been around sharks while snorkeling. Sure makes you uneasy when they are as big as you are. I get out of the water then too. All of the above are much less of a threat when you are in a canoe or kayak.

Castoff…you ever catch ducks on the St John’s at night from an airboat?

No I haven’t, but it sounds fun. Being a game and fish employee it would be frowned upon unless approved for sampling. I would think USFW would have to approve it too as ducks are migratory. I worked in fisheries and got to drive an airboat on one occasion, but ducks were not part of what i did.

Overstreet… I wouldn’t mind the gators as much if it weren’t for the fact that I don’t know if I can shoot a 45-70 out of my yak!
I’ll take bears and cats over those sneaky giant meat eating lizards.

I’ve been stalked twice by the big cats in Colorado while trying to call in elk while bowhunting. One was curious and left me alone, the other took two rounds from a 45 to decide on leaving. No I didn’t shoot it, but the next round would have been fatal if it didn’t run off as the sun had set and the twilight was fading fast.

It is the method a retired biologist I used to kayak with used to sample ducks . Not all ducks fly at night. I thought you might have been him. He and girl friend went to Alaska to tent camp in bear country. Haven’t heard of him since. He may have been US Agriculture Dept.

Great event.
Cloudy day on the Ock,
The ‘better than Wendys’ chili you made (kind of like ‘The Great Escape’ is a better movie than ‘Attack of the Killer Tomatoes’)
Light breezy on the Salt Springs Run,
Then, the final paddle, greeted by the monkeys at the start of a gorgeous day on the Silver
(missed the Fingerling Catfish at Blackwater Inn, how were they)

Till next time,
See you later,

Fingerling catfish…I’m not into tiny food.

I’ve paddled the Silver several times. Once in the spring when every animal, bird, and fowl had little ones.