Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kings Bay and Homosassa River

Friday, November 12, 2010.  In honor of Neil Young's birthday, I went Down By The River.  As it is my birthday also, I paddled two rivers.  Or, a Bay and  a River. Launched at Hunter Spring City Park in Crystal River, Florida about 8:40.  When I arrived, a local outfitter was unloading an armada of kayaks from a trailer.   Fortunately for me, the mob of 14 paddlers wasn't going out until 9.

Paddled out of Hunters Spring, into Kings Bay, past Pete's Pier, pelicans, coots and cormorants.  To the run/channel leading to Three Sisters Springs. To my surprise, the winter manatee sanctuary buoys were in place at  the run/canal to Magnolia Springs.  "No Entry, November 15-March 31.  A tour boat operator told me they were put in early after a recent cold snap.   I arrived  at Three Sisters, which is now a part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.   As a contributor to the effort to Save Three Sisters, and a taxpayer, I think a blue goose sign every 10 yards is a bit much.
Speaking of too many, too many people in the Spring.  Don't these people have to work?  I stayed in the yak, did not snorkel.  No manatees in Three Sister.  A few outside the short run, in the Idiots Delight Spring sanctuary.  More snoreklers than manatees in the water.

Paddled out of Three Sisters. Passing Magnolia Springs, a Birds Underwater boat was anchored outside the buoys, snorklers inside/ I asked about the restrictions, and was told the markers went up early, due to a recent cold spell.  Today was a warm day.  I snorkled in.  If any mantee advocate readers know I did wrong, let me know.  The bulys state the no entry restriction begins on the 15th.

As I got back into the kayak I saw someone who could answer my question. Tracy C., local guide and manatee advocate. I actually paddled with her and two other ladies for a while on the Weeki Wachee in September.  She was to far off to talk to, as she lead a smalll group of paddlers.

Back in the yak, I paddled out of the canal/run into Kings Bay. Navigated south, Buzzard Island on my right. Manatee Sancturay bouys in place.  I saw a few as I approached Banana Island.  You can get the lay of the water here

The largest of the 30 or so springs in Kings Bay, Kings Spring, is at the southeast corner of Banana Island.  Two many manatee tour pontoon boats around for me.  Not to mention, the tide was too high to safely exit the kayak and swim to the Spring.

I planed on circling Banana Island, but the wind kicked up, so I paddled on the south side of Warden Key and into a channel on the mainland. Out of the wind for a time. Residential, but quality birds.

Paddled back to Three Sisters, on the east side of Banana and Buzzard Islands.

An alarm went off.  Civil defense? Tornado? Nuclear meltdown?  I looked at my watch, noon.  Had to be a test.  But with a nuke plant nearby, you never know.  Caught a view of the power plant twenty minutes later.
Looks ok to me.

Back in the canal/run to Magnolia Springs and Three Sisters Springs.  I write canal/run, because I assume this straight, house lined waterway at one time was a spring run, a stream flowing out of a spring into a larger body of water.  At Magnolia Springs, boats were inside the restricted area.  Private craft, not tour boats.  Made me feel a little less guilty about swimming in.   I hoped Three Sisters would be less crowded.  It was not.

The boulder above used to be in the short run from the canal/run to Three Sisters.  It, and others were removed to allow manatees better access to the Springs.  The rocks are not a natural part of the spring run.
Speaking of access, I had to wait for a train of eight or so kayaks to exit the springs.  Why any one would want to go into a small area with such a group is beyond me.
I headed back to Hunter Spring.

Kings Bay is the one place I have see Canadian geese in Florida

Approaching Hunter Spring Park at 12:20.  There are two flat sandy areas.  One for kayaks, the other for swimmers.  As no one was swimming, and it was closer to the car, I landed at the swim area.
Got the yak on the car.  Drove south about 10 miles on US 19 to Homossasa Springs.  Unloaded the kayak at the end of Cherokee Avenue. The parking lot at McRae's was full.  It has been reconfigured, less spaces.
I drove to the trailer lot two blocks away.

57 minutes after the last Kings Bay picture, the first Homosassa River photo.  Monkey Island is just up River from the launch at McRae's.

More conventional wildlife.

Bald eagle on the right, south side of the River.

It took about 50 minutes to get to the area outside Homosassa Spring.

You can not get to the Spring from the River.  It can be viewed from Homosassa Springs State Park.  I've never been there.  I have my own view.

If you are ever fortunate enough to be in the water with manatees, don't bother them when they have their snout planted on the bottom.  They are resting.

I got back in the kayak.  Just two boats in the area.  A far cry from Kings Bay.  The winter manatee sanctuary markers were not yet up on the Homosassa.

The above signs are up year round. There is a small cove on the north side of the River.  I've always thought it was a good place for manatees.  One was there this trip.

Belted kingfisher
Wood ducks, mallards, and a great blue heron

Followed a manatee for a while as we both headed down the broad Homosassa River.
 The osprey was on Halls River.  I just paddled far enough on Halls to verify it was and osprey, not am eagle.

Happy birthday to me. I saw manatee.  This monkey looks like
 He has to pee

I landed at 4:30.   I wanted to get to my base for the weekend,  Kings Bay Lodge, before dark to check in and have a swim.
 I knew the pool is a spring.  But to get in it, and think hey, there aren't tiles and chlorine, but plants and fish here, was very cool.  Too bad the light wasn't good.
 The water flows out of  the pool, into Kings Bay.

The grounds and view.

 There is a low, floating dock, which could be used to launch a kayak.  I did not use it during my stay.

 I made myself a steak, potato and corn on the cob dinner.  Not here, in my efficiency.  And began to compose this Tale. Two nights later, at 10:50 pm Sunday, its done.


Joanne said...

The opening picture of the manatee is superb. Good blog!

Dave said...

Thank you Joanne. I hope it is still good as it was less than a quarter complete when your comment posted.

Dark Knight said...

Great tale Master Dave. Excellent pics. Your underwater manatee pics are my favorites.

Thanks for sharing.