Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Weeki Wachee River

I paddled the Weeki Wachee River today, Saturday, March 12, 2011.  First time since my birthday weekend in November.  Only one other car in the Rogers Park lot.  And I did not get a real early start.  On the water at 9:20.  The late start allowed me to off peel layers of clothing.   A cold overnight, Weather Underground reports the overnight low at nearby Spring Hill, FL, was 34.  I set out in swim trunks and light long sleeves.  I figured the cold overnight would mean manatees in the Hospital Hole sink/spring just up River from Rogers Park.
Three manatees.  I got in the water, floated above them.  They were docile, I let them be.
Out of the water.  My leaky yak had already taken on water.  I took off the duct tape, dried the spot, put new tape on.  The leak is in the rear.  The Wilderness Tsunami has a rear bulkhead, so water doesn't get into the cockpit. Other than the normal paddle drip.
The cold morning kept people off the River, at least to start the day.   A crab boat headed out as I approached Hospital Hole,  a couple neighborhood kids wading for crabs,  I saw one scuttle by,  and a couple in an electric powered canoe were all I saw until I got the the second former landing area.  "Former" as they are closed due "rampant criminal behavior such as vandalism, theft, and littering"  according to a sign.
A solo paddler, followed a bit later by a large group.  One of them told me they just saw five deer.   I got to the guy bringing up the rear, asked if he saw the deer, yes.  But  a few minutes later when another large group came down river my, "Did you see the deer?" question drew blank looks.  I did not see any. I did see three bald eagles.  Two juveniles and an adult.  I saw the youngsters from a distance.  By the time I got to photo distance they were either gone, or deep in the nest.  I think the former, as they were pretty big.  The parent was there, wondering when the kids would return.
Reached the end of the up Weeki Wachee paddle at 12:17.  Three hours, with a snorkel/manatee stop.
I turned around for the leisurely return trip. 
Leisurely, but working. To drain the kayak.  Paddling up stream I did not check how the duct tape was working.  Not well.  I  reached behind me, popped the hatch, reached back.  The dish towel I had to soak up water was floating.  I wrung it out, put the towel I had behind the seat back there, pulled it out, wrung it out, repeating as I went down River.
On the way up River, I had picked out a spot to stop for lunch and maintenance.  Just on the other side of the No Swimming, Scuba or Docking sign at the start of the Weeki Wachee State Park waters. Here's the view.

My wringing dishtowel method had almost completely dried the rear compartment.  I had a sandwich and a cookie, removed the duct tape which was half off already, and made a new patch, tighter, with more tape,  It worked.   I was on the water another 4 hours.  When I landed, very little water in the yak. But, I will get it patched.  Eventually.   I waited until the last down River paddlers of the day went by, and some people who had paddled down from the State Park,  not to far, and were now headed back.

One of the former landing areas.

I may have glimpsed a deer.  I thought I saw something in the brush.  I paddled back, listened, heard movement but did not see anything.  Probably a large bird. Or raccoon or otter.
Art critic.

The Weeki Wachee remains scenic even in the residential section of the River.
Boat traffic increase, but the Weeki Wachee is Idle Speed from the Spring to the confluence with Mud River.  Kids in a pair of canoes spotted two manatees.  "Its under your canoe" And eventually, under my kayak. Mother and child.  This was just up stream of Hospital Hole.  No photos. I wondered if they were two of the three I saw at the start of the day. Maybe.

One manatee was at Hospital Hole.
A woman in a canoe asked, "How can you sit there so calmly?"  She must have been seeing her first manatee.  "Just naturally lazy" More kayakers came, so I left.  And saw another manatee pair. Adult and calf.  The pair I saw earlier could have done a u-turn, passed me, done a second u-turn, so I again saw the swimming up River. But I doubt it.

Got back to Rogers Park at 3:50.   I kept going.  My usual route, under the County Road 550 bridge, than under the local road bridge on the right, to get to the least developed channel.. Homes on one side only.
Into the creek that leads to the Mud River.
Entering the Mud.
Fourth eagle of the day.
At least I think so.  Far away.  Head seems to big for a vulture.  I'm going for juvi bald eagle. White head and tail to come.
I paddled to within sight of the Bayport pier, and turned back. 

Cut the throttle, and slam the beer. Idle Speed and No Alcohol from this point.
Nest building osprey. One of the pair just landed, carrying a stick that trailed about four feet behind its tail.
I was taking a picture, or trying to, of the low bridge, when I got the "Change the battery pack message".  As I was almost done for the day, I didn't change it.  Landed about 5:20.  An eight hour day.  No time for a bike ride on one of the four paved trails I'd pass on  the the way home.  Time for dinner at the Upper Deck, overlooking Rogers Park.
As usual, I had the Chef's Special. Tango Mango.  Shrimp, chicken, and a mango sauce, over bow tie pasta with broccoli and red peppers.  OK, I've had better here.  Two of the last three meals here I've noticed they are cutting back on the amount of food, and not raising the 15.95 price.  Just 4 shrimp.  And 3 slices of bread for dipping, instead of a loaf.  But with a cup of soup, and a side of vegetables, still a good deal.


Octohawk said...

God, Weeki Wachee looks prettier every time you post it. I can't believe I haven't made my way over there yet. It's just beautiful.

Luis said...

I guess will have to enjoy the Weekie Wachee thru your posts. Not my wife's favorite due to the against the current paddling. Maybe the next time I go solo will go there. Just maybe...

Dave said...

Octohawk- Before or after you paddle Juniper Creek?

Luis- For a fee, the WW State Park will pick you up at Rogers Park.

Luis said...

Good to know that. But somehow believe that I would feel guilty if I do that. But if there is no other option... Mary really hated it the first and only time we kayaked there. We had a lot of company that day. Maybe if we go alone she will think differently. Thanks Master Dave.

Octohawk said...

I know, I know.. my to-do list of kayaking isn't getting any shorter..