Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tomoka State Park

April 27, 2008.

The old SD 450, despite its flaws, still takes pictures.- See the April 26 report if your reaction is, huh ?

Careful, sniff to close, you may get a bloody nose.
A report and more pictures, is over at the Green Wave Forum

And a few more pictures

I could not help but think of fishing with brothers Pete, Andy, and friend Tom when we were kids when I saw these guys. Equipment has changed since the early '70s. My Zebco 202 never went, pffft, zing with a flick of the wrist.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rainbow River

This picture is the first of 4 I took in the swim area at Rainbow Springs State Park on Saturday, August 24, 2008. The fourth picture was the last of the day. Water entered the case, and the camera is not working. The good news is, I was able to download the pictures using my old camera. The case is fine, I must have failed to seal it properly. I conducted an experiment putting the case in the sink with a tissue inside. The Kleenex is dry. So I can continue with my underwater pictures. The problem with the old camera is the video screen is kaput. So no menus, no screen view. I'l l just point and shoot like the pre-digital era and see what develops, er downloads. Guess I know where part of my economic stimulus check is going.

A report is posted on the Green Wave Forum.

The camera had to take on water when I was at the farthest distance from the entry point. I though of opening the case there, in the water, but then how would I get it back to shore ? Holding it above my head as i swam would be to risky. That is what I did, but still inside the case. When I arrived at the dock and took the camera out, there was not much water, but enough to muck things up. Oh well. Here are a few more of the last pictures from SD600

Not only did the camera break, but I lost my Green Bay Packer World Champions Cap. It came off as I ducked under a log going up the Rainbow Swamp Run. It stuck on an underwater branch. I figured, I'd get it on the way back, as it was on the other side of the log I had just struggle to duck under. Alas, upon my return, it was gone, swept away by the current.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Winter Park Chain of Lakes

Faithful readers of Dave's Yak Tales know that I live in Winter Park, FL. Some of you know that one feature of Winter Park is the Chain of Lakes, and a few of you have joined me on the Scenic Boat Tour, a narrated pontoon trip. One of two public ramps on the Chain is 1.3 miles from my house. So close, that when my car was in the shop, I balanced the yak on a bike and wheeled it to the ramp. But, like a prophet in his own town, I rarely yak the chain. I like wild or semi wild areas. The Chain, with large homes, a college campus, and a museum on its shores, is not wild.

But, anywhere with water wading and diving birds will be found. Large lakes, with tall trees are a haven for osprey. I have not seen any for a while, and never in my 4 to 6 times paddling the Chain, but there are bald eagles, and alligators.

The homes are a bit different then the usual yakdave scenery, but having a home with frontageon one lake, Virginia, and backage on another, Mizell, would be nice.

This home gets the yakdave Earth Day prize for native plants.

Fertilized green lawns to the waters edge are bad for the lakes. Native landscaping brings wildlife, filters runoff, and is much better for water quality. It's a shame more folks don't realize that. That said, I was impressed by the clarity of the water in the lakes.

This was a morning paddle, I did not have to work until 12:30. My choice was a cleaning project or two around the house, or paddling. It was an easy choice. Below is the Fern Canal, linking Lake Virginia and Lake Maitland. The first picture is the Venetian Canal, linking Lake Osceola with lake Maitland. I should leave the house dirty and get out more often on weekday mornings. Afternoons and weekends, no thank you. Water skiers and jet skiers make it no place for a kayak
Another version of the trip, with more photos can be found on the Green Wave link below.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hontoon Island Loop

The day began with a snorkel in Blue Spring Run, where I saw an old friend. Hurricane. You remember him. If not, here's a link to refresh your memory.

He was at the Spring, which at 10:00 am was already busy. 20 or so scuba divers, a few snorklers. All stayed a respectful distance from the manatee. At the time, I thought it may be Hurricane. He has been mainly solitary since his release into the wild. The other two manatees released with him, Annie and Rocket, have been inseperable since their release. Here's the link regarding Annie and Rocket.


Click the Wildtracks link in that post for more information on these manatees.

Hurricane was not the only critter in the Run

This guy was in the Run too.

Well past the swim area, but inside the canoe/kayak launch area. After this picture, I paddled out of Blue Springs Run into the St Johns River. Headed upstream to Hontoon Island State Park.

Late morning on a beautiful day, the River was getting busy. Thanks to manatee zones, the top speed is 25 mph. Noisy boats making wakes weren't going to budge this boy.

As I neared Lake Beresford and the north tip of Hontoon Island, I scanned high trees and the sky for bald eagles. I saw several my last visit.


I thought I saw one, high over head. I paddled along the south shore of the Lake, in the direction it flew. Whatever it was, no longer in sight. I turned around, back to Hontoon Island. Where I definitely saw a bald eagle. Harassing an osprey, or vice versa. I pointed out the aerial acrobatics to three kayakers coming towards me. One of the trio and I recognized each other. Folks from the Mosquito Lagoon Paddlers.

I entered the Hontoon Dead River, another waterway, another alligator.

Boats on the HDR, all power, most pontoon and houseboats complied with the Slow Speed Minimum Wake restriction, which is on the entire Dead River. They were encouraged to do so by the presence of a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer.

After I took my usual break, walking through the hammock to the Shell Mound, I saw the FWS boat tied up to a pleasure boat, as the boaters opened the seats to show the life jackets stored below. Perhaps they did not have enough, the warden busily scribbled on his pad and gave the driver some sort of citation or warning.

Wearing my PFD, as always, I continued my trip. I came to the mouth of Snake Creek, and entered it. Here, I though, I'd see no power boats. I saw one, but it had to turn around . I had the Creek to myself. This may be the last time I'll paddle it until fall. Two or three areas are getting clogged. I was able to power my way through, but summer growth may make it too difficult.

Here are some Snake Creek scenics.

When this osprey left its perch, I saw how big the fish was. Just under dinner plate size.

I exited the Snake Creek, returning to the St Johns. Yet another alligator.

My circumnavigation of Hontoon Island, complete, I entered Blue Spring Run. A satellite tagged manatee was just off the landing area. The float holding the antenna had orange vertical stripes.

Just like Hurricane's float when I saw him on the Wekiva. I landed, put the yak on the car, then walked up the boardwalk for another snorkel. Walking past the swim dock, I heard, "Everybody out of the water "

Must be manatees. I continued on, to the dive/tube entrance. The run was packed. Here is the scene at the Spring.

I left the crowd, floating downstream, dodging tubers and gar.

Head on a swivel. I searched the cloudy water, stirred up by all the activity, for manatees. Saw none. Entered the main swim area, which was empty of swimmers. All standing on the dock. I got out, and asked the Fish and Wildlife Officer"Alligators or manatees ?" "Manatees, and please stay out of this area" From the officer I confirmed it had been Hurricane I had seen both at the Spring and the canoe beach. Here at the swim area it was the 2 pals, Annie and Rocket, hanging out below the swim dock.

Another fine day. Four and a half hours paddling 5 water ways, with snorkel bookends.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mosquito Lagoon

After working Saturday morning, April 19, 2008 I headed to the Canaveral National Seashore to kayak Mosquito Lagoon. I hoped to see dolphins and manatees. I was not in the water a minute when a dorsal fin broke the surface. I lingered in the area, but the dolphin did not resurface as I watched.

I moved on, as usual paddling north towards Turtle Mound. Wind at my back, it felt stronger than Wednesday on the Wekiva. Past the ancient Mound I crossed to the other side, not of the entire Lagoon, but to Shipyard Island. This is the third Mosquito Lagoon/Canaveral National Seashore paddle on Dave's Yak Tales, and unlike the prior two Tales, the tide permitted me to cross over the oyster shells at the entrance to the Shipyard Island Trail. I saw green herons, snowy and great egrets, kingfishers and osprey. No good pictures.

We will have to settle for flowering prickly pear cactus.

Cactus on the water, a botany oxymoron

My Island excursion lasted 90 minutes. Back in the Lagoon, I feathered my paddle (set it so the thin edge of the out of water blade would face the wind) and paddled back towards my launch. And beyond, to Castle Windy. Another Indian Mound. I see how it got its name this windy day.

On the way, I saw laughing gulls, cormorants, brown pelicans and great blue herons. Lots of jumping fish.

I landed at the base of Castle Windy

Walked the short, scenic trail

to the Atlantic

Another flower picture

Firebush. Blooming four years to late. Sorry, it was to easy. The plant really is named firebush for the vibrant red flowers. 4-27-08 update. Opps, this is coral bean, not firebush. Hopefully, no kid wrote a botany report using my faulty info.

The wind was at my back as I returned from Castle Windy. My paddle served as a sail. I had another dolphin encounter. Two this time, and the surfaced several times as the swam south, opposite of my direction. Look very closely at the first picture and you will see a dolphin.

Here's the only bird picture of the day. At least I have a two for one. The great egret and Eldora State House.

My starting point was a short paddle from the above picture. I went beyond the put in a ways, as I had not seen any manatees. Maybe next time. I turned around, landed five plus hours after I began.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wekiva River

I worked to 1:00 PM today, Wed. April, 16, 2008, then went to Wekiwa Springs State Park.

Great egret in flight, afternoon delight. This picture is from Rock Springs Run, towards the end of the day. My paddling day began at ten after two. I had not paddled the Wekiva from the State Park, except the short portion to Rock Springs Run, since January. With the wind blowing hard out of the north, it was a good day for a short drive to rediscover the upper Wekiva.

I saw several limpkins. Perhaps even more than people, most of whom I saw in the first twenty minutes on the River. I paddled downriver for two hours.

There was not a cloud in the sky but cool, 68-72 I'd guess, and windy. Lots of turtles sunning. Surely I'd soon see alligators. I did, but it took almost the entire two hours of the downstream trip before I did.

As I always say, if its going to take two hours to see a gator, get a good picture. I saw two more gators, babies, shortly after I turned around for the upstream trip. Upstream is south, so now the wind was at my back.

I took a break at the Buffalo Tram Campsite, about a third of the way back to the Park.

It was 6:15 when I returned to the confluence of the Wekiva and Rock Springs Run. Wekiwa Springs State Park closes at 8:00 this time of year, so I had time for a brief paddle up my favorite waterway. I spent about 30 minutes on the Run, then made the short, 15 minute, paddle to the Park.

Bird list, in addition to those mentioned and/or pictured includes; blue heron, green heron , osprey, vulture, ibis and swallowtail kites. Just before landing, I paddled over a large snapping turtle, 2 feet long, easy. I landed a bit past 7, an almost 5 hour paddle. By the time I dragged the yak up the hill and got in on the car it was past 7:30. Too late to swim, so I took a brief walk to look for deer. No luck. Oh well, I'll just have to return.

Another version, with additional pictures of this Tale can be found at