Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Blue Springs, St Johns River

Sunday, October 5, 2008 I paid a visit to Blue Springs State Park. After sleeping relatively late, fiddling with my cameras, purchasing a new annual pass on arrival at the Park, scouting out the shore to see where the new, temporary launch site was, the usual place, above, under water, it was 11:00 when I got the yak in the water.

I headed up Blue Springs Run, whose clear water normally extend almost to the St Johns River. But even six weeks after Fay, the St Johns is still at or just above flood stage and tannic River water reaches well into the Spring Run. Not until I paddled through this, photo taken later, from the boardwalk, was I in clear spring water.

The swim dock is closed, due to the high water.

There is a wooden stair case that leads to the metal pier, in this picture the ADA ramp is on the background. Looking at the staircase, I saw it has water marks five steps up. That's high water.

There were people on and near the pier. A Manatee Research canoe. A guy had an animal on the pier, in a net. Manatee? No alligator. And not a net, but a metal trap. Got to remove the gators before swimmers return.

Swimmers now can enter at the entrance farther up the Run. I paddled to it. A rope line has swimmers from going downstream, paddlers up. Usually, in early morning and late afternoon. after the swim surge, you can paddle to the spring source. Of course, on 11-15, the entire Run will be closed to human intrusion as the manatee sanctuary goes into effect.

One manatee did not have a calender, surfacing near the end of the Run, headed into the St Johns River. I had deceided not to do my usual "Hontoon Loop" after seeing the vegetation in the Run. I did not want to be 7/8 through a canal and have to turn back. Perhaps the manatee was thinking the same way, as it headed downstream. I shadowed it, across the River, into the channel that leads to the canals. I lost contact, then looked for the Snake Creek entrance.

Found it.

I could not find the entrance to the northernmost canal, the one I usually exit on this end, coming from the Hontoon Dead River. I paddled through the middle of the three canals, for I believe, just the second time. This canal may be used by power boats, it has a Manatee Zone. No Wake sign at the entrance, the other two don't. Thanks to a downed tree near the Hontoon Dead River end, I don't think any craft much larger than a jon boat could make it through.

Here is a bird gallery

Lots of alligators.

All but one, in the water like this one. One surfaced to close to the yak for a sharp photo. The land based one was on the bank of the third canal, as I was coming out. A big'un, but it raced into the water as soon as it sensed me.

Back in the St Johns, the wind was in my face. Fairly strong. But, it was a perfect day. No power boats. Because of Fay's flooding, no boats were allowed on the St Johns between Lake Monroe and State Road 44. That was lifted September 19, but a no wake edict is in effect. Local marinas and ramps are still underwater, so boat traffic is almost nil. Almost. I heard voices, a rental pontoon boat. Shortly thereafter, a tour boat from Blue Springs State Park.

The tour boat paused for a time, passengers looking into the thick vegetation. It left, I paddled to where it had been. I saw nothing. Paddled towards the main channel of the St Johns. Then, one, two, six manatees.

I watched them feed and frolic for thirty minutes. I decided to join in, and got a sandwich from the cooler in the back of the yak. Retrieving the cooler takes a bit of dexterity. I have to twist back, undue the clips attaching the bow cover, unzip the cooler, carefully remove the sandwich, feel warm breath on my arm... please manatee, don't bump me now when I'm in a precarious position. No yak tipping two days in a row, whew !

I heard a boat coming at high speed, who the #*@& ? is this knuckle head ? A cop, lights flashing. He slowed wen he saw me. I have a question- if he was going to rescue someone, why slow down ? I think he was on a joy ride on the empty River. The manatees, of course, all dove down on hearing the engine, a froth of air bubbles rising to the surface. One of the manatees was the one I had followed from the Spring. I recognized the scar.

I found the "entrance" to the northernmost canal.

Back to the Spring Run, my usual tour of the nearby island, and landing. Yak on the car, I walked the boardwalk to the Spring entrance.

I was not sure how the old camera would work in the water tight hosing, but it does the job. In Blue Spring Run, the fish are generally downstream of the dive entrance, and due to the high water, no one is allowed beyond it. So no underwater critters.

I saw a flock of turkeys in the woods as I prepared to leave. I had to photograph this.

I've read that due to sandy soils and shallow root systems, trees often enter into this symbiotic relationship. Okayyyyy..

My first Tale was October 2008, so this is an annviersary. Thanks for reading.

No comments: