Saturday, November 10, 2007, I paddled the Mosquito Lagoon. I got in the water shortly past 2:00, putting in at the north end of the Canaveral National Seashore. The National Seashore, as the name implies, is on the Ocean, the Atlantic. It also includes Mosquito Lagoon. The Seashore is adjacent to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. Both are just north of the Kennedy Space Center. It is the Space Center that led to the preservation of this area. Can't have rockets falling on condos, resulting in 24 miles of pristine beach.
There is a large concrete boat ramp just past the entrance. I passed that, opting to drive further down the road to a designated canoe launch site.
A small parking lot had three cars. The water is a few feet away. I got in, and decided to head north, into the wind and moderate chop. I paddled to Turtle Mound, a large Indian shell mound. "Towering" 35 feet above sea level it has been an aid to navigation since the days of the conquistadors. It was my turn around point. I saw two pairs of dolphins, got a picture of one-top of the page. The Lagoon is a great place for dolphins. And, usually, manatees. Not this trip. Temps are dropping into the fifties at night. Perhaps the manatees have headed to warmer climes. Birds were out. Pictured are, Great Blue Heron. Great Egret in flight, cormorant and osprey. Also seen, blue herons, tri-colored herons, belted kingfishers, pelicans, and gulls.
My southern terminus was another shell mound, Castle Windy. Not as high as Turtle Mound, but it is a nice place to land and walk a beautiful half mile trail to the ocean. I got out, began to walk around, the quickly went back to the kayak to get my Deepwoods Off! The name of the Lagoon is well earned. The Off ! sounded half full as I shook it, but nothing came out. I got back into the water. This is a picture of part of Castle Windy. The Mounds of Mosquito Lagoon consist mainly of oyster shells, in contrast to the mostly snail shell mounds of the St Johns Rivers and its tributaries. The home is the Eldora State House, a restored turn of the 19th century home. It has been restored and is open visitors. Manatees often hang out near a fishing pier near the home, and a second one just off my launch point. As I notedabove, no manatees, but I think raccoons qualify as aquatic mammals. I landed as the sun was setting over the lagoon, and an young bald eagle watched me put the yak on the carFor the last year, the fee to enter the Canaveral National Seashore has been $3 per person. I t used to be $5 per vehicle. On January 1, 2008, it will be $7 per person. I likely will not enter thorough the gate after the fee hike. My alternate plan is to launch across the Lagoon, from River Breeze Park, and wend my way across the Lagoon, through the maze of islands to the Seashore. I've done it several times before, in the days when the 5 buck fee was to rich for me.
However, I have an even better alternative. JB's Fish Camp. J B's is located less than a mile from the Seashore. I have not stopped for a while, and thinking I may not be this way again, decided to have dinner. Oyster stew and a half pound of rock shrimp. After two spoonfuls of stew, the bartender said, be careful its hot, you can burn your tongue. Thanks to a well poured rum and coke, I did not feel it- until this morning. Still, the stew is great- for the same price of a dozen oysters you get the oysters in a tasty broth with corn. Being a fish camp, JB's has bait, It also rents kayaks. I had it in my head that it charges $5 to launch your own. I asked my bartender what the launch fee is. For your own boat ? Nothing. I'll have to check it out.