Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

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.

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