We headed to FL for a family get together this last week. It was good to spend time with my 99-year-old Dad, and our 5-month-old granddaughter. A house was rented on a canal off the ICW which allowed me access to Mosquito Lagoon.
99 years difference in age.
I didn’t bring my kayak thinking I could probably rent one for a day or two. However, I was surprised that all I could find were 3-hour guided trips for $50 or 6 hours for $100. My solution to this dilemma was to check Craigslist for kayaks for sale. To my surprise I found a fiberglass Besty Bay listed for $200 just 15 minutes down the road. I called and talked with Howard the owner. In the course of conversation, I told him my situation. He promptly offered to loan me one of his many sea kayaks to use while I was there. Of course, I gladly accepted his kind offer.
Among his fleet he had a Valley Anas Acuta, a P&H Aries, an Epic V8 and V10 sport. He also had a skin on frame he built for rolling. This isn’t a complete list, but I went with a rotomolded Valley Skerrey with an ocean cockpit padded for excellent contact with the boat. he supplied the added safety gear, skirt, and paddle. He spends much of his paddling time long boat surfing the local inlet and the ocean. He and his wife are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
I launched from the dock on the cannel, which is a bit tricky with an ocean cockpit, but I have a method that works well to keep the boat stable while I slide into the cockpit feet first while sitting on the back deck. I tie a rope from the dock or ladder to the outside edge of the kayak. This allows me to keep my weight to the water side without causing the kayak to tip. It stabilizes the boat.
There were numerous Manatees that would enter the cannel sometimes as many as a dozen. In the still water they leave evidence of their presence on the surface with a trail of round circle disturbances on the surface.
These circular disturbances are more pronounced the faster they swim. This one was leaving as a boat was coming up behind it.
Then they also let you know they are there when they exhale to take another breath with only their nostrils above the water.
Mosquito Lagoon is salt water at the north end of the North Indian River. It is a Mangrove maze of shallow bays and channels where you need to pay close attention as much of it looks the same.
Here is a screen shot of the area I paddled.
The cannel entrance to the ICW.
I left the ICW on the small channel across from Indian Mound Fish Camp.
This area looked like it could be part of a shell mound.
There was some ground high enough to grow Sabel Palms, but not much.
The Mangrove have aerial roots that stick up out of the water and buttresses of roots going down to hold them in place during storms.
There were mangrove islands, dead end channels, and bays.
A tight squeeze through some mangroves.
Unlike the ICW and cannels the lagoon had a water clarity of 3 to 4 feet. Here is an underwater shot of the bow, and one of the paddle’s shadow on the bottom.
There were numerous congregations of water striders near the edges of the mangroves.
Hermit Crabs where common in the shallows. I saw several stingrays, which I failed to get a photo as they would blast away as soon as I saw them.
Now I suppose you are wondering about the “Manatee Menace”. So here is the rest of the story. As I entered the ICW from a narrow mangrove channel I inadvertently passed my bow over an unseen full-grown Manatee. It took offense at this, and the bow raised out of the water as if a depth charge had gone off under it. I managed to stay upright as I watched the water churn going away from the kayak. I managed to get a shot of the creature’s nose as it came up for a breath.
After sitting there for a minute, I put the tip of the paddle back in the water only to have another depth charge go off at the end of my paddle. After all this I kept a wary eye out for the ever present “Manatee Menace”
My Dad and JD both love too fish. JD caught a couple of Mangrove Snappers, but mostly the catch was Bullhead Catfish which were thrown back into the cannel.
The Hot Tub at one end of the pool was a hit.
One last menace is the possibly of being attacked by the invasive Brown Anole.
Actually, JD caught it and handed it to me. It also made a great lizard earring when it latched onto an ear lobe.