Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Haulover Canal

Went to sleep last night, Sunday's kayaking location TBD (To Be Dreamed). Rock Springs Run, Alexander Creek, the Hontoon Loop, Econlochatchee River, and DeLeon Springs were considered. I awoke at 7:50 am, and thought "Haulover Canal" Good choice (not that any of the others would have been bad).

The road paving project mentioned in my last Haulover Canal Tale is complete. No detours from 406 through the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. As I approached the Canal Bridge, I saw the road to the Bairs Cove boat ramp has been repaved as well. Very nice, but what about me? And other paddlers who launch on the other side of the bridge? Change is afoot on that side as well. The dirt/asphalt road to the Indian River is now all dirt. This is an upgrade from the partial dirt, partial asphalt track, full of pot holes and jagged edges. I don't know if paving plans are in the works. I say leave it dirt. Better for the environment and it adds to the sense of adventure.

My kayaking adventure began at 9:40, paddling west into the Indian River to Mullet Head Island. Saw several dolphins on the way, about a mile paddle. A tri colored heron trio among the many birds at the Island sanctuary.

Egret, above a couple pelicans, keeps an eye on a clutch of cormorants.

Great blue heron among the pelicans.
More cormorants, pelicans, and a GBH.

No rosette spoonbills today. Were cormorant sentries keeping them away ?
Circle of Mullet Head complete, I headed back to Haulover Canal. Rather, I began to. First, a manatee to observe, then several dolphins. Three here, one exhaling.

Dolphin watch done, I now paddled to, and past, the Canal, past the alternate channel to the south, towards my secret manatee spot.
The Manatee Zone sign does not mark my secret spot, I just like the picture.

Wouldn't be a secret, would it?

I approached the spot, hearing a splash as I paddled around a corner. A splash made by at least one manatee. This is not that splash, but a later one, for illustrative purposes.

I counted five manatees in the area.

The opening photo is from this part of the paddle. As are these.

I watched the frolicking manatees for almost thirty minutes. I left, paddling to and through the alternate channel.

To Dolphin Cove, which, alas, had no dolphin. To Bairs Cove, which had lots of manatees, and boaters coming and going, and two girls floating on a raft in the middle of it all. I'm sure that P.O.ed the boaters more than the manatees. I watched for a while, then went on my way. Too crowded for me, and, I have my secret spot. On the Manatee Overlook, where I looked over a few more sea elephants, on to the Mosquito Lagoon. Via the alternate channel on the north side of the Canal, of course.

Another manatee at the Mosquito Lagoon end of the Canal. Smooth seas, clear skies, would have been perfect for a Shuttle launch.

I had considered, strongly, watching Friday/Saturday's midnight launch from the yak. The thought of several hour in dark, mosquito laden waters deterred me.

Today was beautiful. Hotter than Hades, but rare not to see dark clouds on an August afternoon.

It was only 12:15 when the above pic was snapped, but you get the idea. Reason 127 of why I love kayaking. It's always cooler on the water. A 6pm check of weather.com shows a temperature of 93 in Winter Park, my home, 87 in Titusvile, near Haulover Canal.

I paddled back west, as a dolphin swam east through the Canal. It was not the only angler. Lots of boats on the water, plus people on both banks. Saw more manatees at the Overlook. Paddled under the bridge, across the Canal, towards Bairs Cove. Which had a crowd of kayakers at the entrance. But, they left, three in one direction, two in the other, before I arrived.

There were a lot of manatees. So many, I did not notice one next to me, nor it me. Until we touched. For an instant I thought I might roll over after it rose up under my yak. I kept my balance, got a good splashing from the manatee's fluke. Nice show for the folks watching from shore.

The boaters watching the manatees were respectful. Turned off their engines, looked, did not touch. I thought for a moment one boater was going to toss potato chips. Nope, he munched them while watching.

I spent over a half hour with the manatees. I left, paddled to the launch area, getting tangled in some guy's fishing land as I landed. It's hard to avoid six people casting from the launch area. Why don't they fish standing on the concrete ramp over at Bairs Cove?

Yak on the car, I stopped at the Scrub Jay Trail. Looked for spoonbills first. I've see them off the trail when the water is high. Water is high, but no spoonbills. Saw a raccoon, and then, near the end of the trail, heard to scrub jays calling. Saw one.

It flew off the tree, on to the path, chirping and hopping towards me.

A sign at the start of the trail informs people that it is a crime to feed scrub jays. I don't reacall seeing the sign before, I no recal the trail littered with nuts. Which explains the close encounter.

I stopped at the restaraut at the Max Brewer Causeway. To find it is closed. Hopefully just until the new bridge and fishing pier are completed.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weeki Wachee River

Kayaked the Weeki Wachee River today, Saturday, August 29, 2009. Put in from Rogers Park at 7:45. Up River just over 2 hours to the "No Vessels Beyond This Point" sign. Passed two guys fishing at Hospital Hole, a jet skier slowly coming down stream, and that was it for the first hour. First paddler was a guy who said he had got an early start up River. Must be a local, as I was the only car parked near the kayak launch at Rogers Park. After that, paddlers who had put in up stream began to come down the River. Not a great day for wildlife, here are the upstream photos.

I did not see any great egrets or great blue herons. Or deer. Here are a couple mottled ducks. Bottoms up.
There is an island in the Weeki Wachee, just downstream of the upstream launch at Weeki Wachee State Park. On my return paddle, I was going to take the right side to pass kayakers on the right. But, when the lead paddler raised his arm to indicate to his lagging buddies he saw something, I headed to the right of the island. "A mother and baby!" Manatees.
Lots of paddlers were on their way, so no good photos. I took advantage of the manatees occupying the crowd, making my way down River, ahead of the masses. No wildlife pics, but the lead photo is from the downstream trip.

As morning turned to afternoon, more and more people were on the River. Lots of kayakers coming upstream. It appears things are good for the rental business across from Rogers Park. Thanks to my early start, I had the Weeki Wachee to my self for most of the am.

As I neared Hospital Hole, a boater told me to look for a "Big manatee". I got to the sink hole, a family was swimming, anther boater came in to anchor. I floated by, did not see the manatee. On to the now bustling Rogers Park. I landed around noon, had lunch, then headed back out.

My usual side channel, under the bridge, to the creek to Mud River paddle. Down the Mud to the Weeki Wachee, almost to the Bayport Pier. Into a bay on the north side of the River, then back upstream Landed about 2:00. One pic from tjhis part of the day. Another blue heron. I think the wildlife highlight of the day(besides the manatees) were six wild hogs on the side of State Highway 50 on the drive in.

Speaking of Highway 50 and hogs, I stopped at the Deep South Family Bar-B-Que, on the way home. A place I have passed many times. Had an tasty pulled pork sandwich. $4.95 with three dill pickle slices and a bag of Lays. $1.75 for a Bud. The only beer. No meal photos, as I had so few pics I had no reason to bring the camera in to the restaurant to review photos. Interesting place. Family operation.Open air. Large screens in a wood building and ceiling fans kept it comfortable. I'll be back. With more cash. That's all they take. I was .22 short, told the cook/waiter I had quarters in my car. "Don't worry about it" That's southern hospitality. Speaking of southern, the menu has a side item. "Corn dodgers" 20 years living in Florida, and I had never heard the term. I now know it is another name for hush puppies.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lake Maitland and Lake Minnehaha

I got a quick paddle in this morning, Tuesday, August 25, 2009. Launched at Fort Maitland Park just before 9 am. One car and trailer in the parking lot. Paddled east to the Lake Minnehaha Canal, pausing for photos on the way.

Long time Yak Tale's readers should recognize the covered bridge.
A stock shot in every Lake Maitland Lake Minnehaha Tale.

Into Lake Minnehaha, I paddled the lake shore counter clockwise.

I was about half way around when I spotted an otter on a dock. Snapped two photos before it dove in.
This was cool, usually my otter pics are just a head poking out of the water. My astute readers think, there must be more, looks like you saw more than one otter judging from the opening picture.

Paddling past tall shoreline grass, I saw a section moving counter to the wind. A small. thin, dark shape causing the disturbance. Baby gator or snake, I did not see enough of it.

This is the same great egret as three photos above, it had flown across the lake.

A few minutes later, two otters on a dock.

These two did not dive in the water when they saw me. Having a buddy makes them less afraid, perhaps. They were more interested in each other.

The otters out lasted me, staying on the dock after I departed. Both otter docks had common features. Old, dilapidated, greenery all around, no boats tied up. Seems like a perfect otter home. A place to sun, few people and boats coming and going, food and shelter in the flora.

Speaking of boats, I had never seen a moving one on Lake Minnehaha. Which has homes and plenty of boats all the way around. Helps that I only kayak here on weekday mornings. That string ended today. I paddled past a dock and a home/boat owner was cranking up his speedboat. He buzzed around the lake in a few minutes, a journey that took me 30. Bet he did not see any otters.

I wonder if anhingas grow into their feet.
This returning shot of the covered bridge is nicer than the earlier, outgoing look.
Hawk along the canal
Back to Lake Maitland, I paddled away from the launch, along the shore. Just two boats that I could see on the Lake, one from Lake Minnehaha. Did not go to far. To a small bay, then back, on more of a straight line, across the open water. Final photo.

I saw no male wood ducks this morning, rare for this paddle. But the otters more than made up for it. I landed at 10:40. Nice to have such a scenic paddle less than a mile and a half from home