Our neighbor Jesse Bolton came over the other day and reconfigured some of the changes he made to the kayak trailer, lowering the front bar so that the kayaks sit fairly flat and are easier to load back in from the water. So Friday, Miss Terry and I decided we should give it a try and get those kayaks wet.
Though I took an 18 wheeler driving course when I was in the Army, and learned to back up a big rig and trailer pretty easily, backing up a short trailer like the kayak or pontoon boat trailer is a lot different. I tend to oversteer, getting jackknifed more often than I go straight. But I took my time and managed to get the trailer backed down the boat ramp and into the water on the first attempt. I was pretty proud of myself for that, but then I always savor my small victories.
It sure was nice to feel the water under us once more. We paddled across the Intracoastal Waterway, a.k.a. the Indian River, and into the mouth of Jone’s Creek, under huge old trees dripping with Spanish moss.
The creek winds its way through some mangrove hammocks and opens out into Mosquito Lagoon. If you are unfamiliar with Mosquito Lagoon, it is one of the prime redfish fishing spots in the world. People come here from all over hoping to do battle with a trophy bull red. The Lagoon is also home to lots of other types of fish and an amazing amount of aquatic and bird life. Even if you’re not a fisherman it’s a magical place.
This area, both the Intracoastal and the Lagoon, are known as skinny water. There is a 15 to 20 foot deep channel that runs the length of the Intracoastal that will handle deepwater boats, but the rest of it is shallow. At high tide, maybe 3 to 4 feet in most areas, and at low tide there are many areas with just inches of water.
Our Old Town Predator kayaks will float in about 6 inches of water. I know, because Terry was in about 6 inches of water and doing just fine. I was maybe 30 feet away from her and found myself stuck on a sandbar in about 3 inches of water. I tried and tried to use my paddle to push myself off, splashing lots of water and mud onto the top of the kayak in the process, but it just wasn’t budging.
Terry seemed to enjoy the show quite a bit as she sat there watching me, and I know she was thinking to herself that her mother was right, she could have done a lot better than me.
Eventually, I realized I wasn’t going anywhere, so my choices were to sit and wait until high tide several hours later, or else get out and push the kayak over to deeper water. So that’s what I did.
It seemed like a good plan until I sunk ankle-deep into the muck. Have you ever tried to get your feet out of something that deep while trying to remain upright and hold onto a kayak? If you have, you know that you can get your foot out eventually, but your shoe is most likely going to stay where it was. Somehow, I did eventually managed to push the kayak into a little more water, but it was a long, laborious process. But wait, there’s more!
Have you ever tried to get back in a kayak when your feet are stuck ankle-deep in muck that doesn’t want to let go of you? I’m sure there are guys that could do that with a minimal amount of effort, and who might even make it look graceful. I’m not one of those guys. Have you ever seen a big harbor seal flopping around on a dock someplace? I’m not as graceful as one of those guys, either.
I’m not sure how many times I fell on my butt, but it was more than once. By then I’m pretty sure Terry was thinking she might just paddle on home and let nature take its course. And really, who could blame her?
Somehow or other I finally managed to get back into the kayak, with Terry holding down the other side so didn’t tip it over on top of me, and we decided to head back down Jones Creek and across the Intracoastal. I’m not sure all that extra dirt and mud on top of my kayak really slowed it down or if I was just really tired by then.
When we emerged on the far side of the creek we ran into another kayaker who was getting ready to do some fishing and chatted with him for a while. He lives up north and does a lot of fishing in Lake Erie, but said it’s a whole different ballgame down here. We let him go back to his fishing and we headed across the water.
Back on our side of the Intracoastal, we paddled down to a little canal that runs through our subdivision and on into it. During the winter the canal is home to a lot of manatee, sometimes as many of 30 of the gentle giants will gather there at one time. It’s starting to warm up though, and I think most of them have gone out into the ocean into deeper water. However, we did see a small manatee, and then a larger one not far past it. I don’t know if that was mama or not, but we did not want to hang around and disturb them too much, so we headed back to the dock.
I lucked out again backing the trailer down the ramp with no problems, we loaded the boats with minimal effort, and went home, where for the third time in a row, I managed to back into our driveway on the first attempt. Hey, am I getting better at this?
All told, we were on the water for about three hours, and loved every minute of it. Well, except for the time I spent being stuck on a sand bar. And stuck in the muck. And falling on my butt. Again and again. But it was still more fun than a lot of things I’ve done. We are already looking forward to getting back out again.
Today is your last chance to enter Free Drawing for an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for campground reviews, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.
Thought For The Day – A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.