The Manatee Menace, and paddling Mosquito Lagoon

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. :crazy_face: :rofl:


Wow, what a great trip! I’d have to say this puts you clearly in the category of “being the right kind of people, puts you in contact with more of the right kind of people.” Keep an eye out for those manatee depth charges…


SHHH! We stayed at IFC for four days and the manatees would come right to our dock every day… It’s a great place.

1 Like


(I have to laugh…Your reaction to renting a kayak whilst away from home, is much like my own in such circumstances. That is, it’s not the actual cost of a rental that’s appalling to a regularly practicing paddler’s core principles–But the underlying insult of paying to succumb to a livery fleet, when for a bit more you can add another vessel to your personal quiver! :sweat_smile: Sans any time constraints or compromising explorative independence! ) Better to beg, borrow, or buy a whole 'nother boat before succumbing to any potential rental indignity! Then synchronicity goes and leads you to the right bloke who "gets it.":+1:

Beautiful family, btw.


The look on Carol’s face spoke volumes when I told her I called a guy about buying another boat. I bet many here know the look. I don’t think anyone believed me when I said he was letting me borrow one! He sold the boat I called about right after I called. Sort of wanted it truth be told…But then to paraphrase the cowboy philosopher, Will Rogers, I never met a boat I didn’t like.

Howard said his favorite boat for the rough stuff is his Anas Acuta, but he thinks the Skerrey is easily its equal. In the high winds on the first day, I never dropped the skeg. The kayak was so responsive to paddle input and edging that I didn’t feel the need. I was impressed with the way it handled. I am thinking I might need another kayak…Don’t tell Carol!


A great post. Nothing like finding people with same passions you have for kayaks.

1 Like

Kayaks are hard to hide unless you have a friend with one empty rack space.

Hi Friend!

Make sure it’s one I can get in.

It ain’t! :slightly_frowning_face:

When does it join your fleet?

In my dreams.

Like the old song says “if you can’t love the one you want, love the one you’re with.”
Or something like that.

1 Like


No argument from me!

1 Like

I won’t tell Carol that I’m shipping that kayak to you tomorrow…
Nice post!

1 Like

LOL, :rofl:

Carol has been married to Doug forever. Nothing gets past her. Apparently, she can be talked into anything that floats and gets him out of the house.
That seems to be a common characteristic among paddler’s SO.