Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Monday, December 26, 2011

Goodbye, Key West

And Geiger Key.  I told Monica I'd take her kayaking.  Andy told be he could set up a trip, getting a boat to transport out to "the lakes"  At no charge.  I declined, not wanting to spend that much time on get away day.  We did wind up spending time at Re-Cycle.  I needed a new bike odometer.  I had lost mine, last Sunday, at De Leon Springs.  I found it, after that paddle.  Under the car.  Must have fallen out, then, I ran it over.  Nice to have a nephew who is part owner of a bike shop.  Turns out the day after Christmas is the busiest day of the year.  Lots of rentals.  Re-Cycle, soon to be renamed We-Cycle, not only rents no speed cruisers, but very nice Bianchi road bikes.  I asked Evan if part of the rush was re-assembling bikes that were under Christmas trees.  No, rentals are big on this day.   But there were other shoppers and folks getting bike worked on.  I had no problem waiting while my odometer was expertly installed. Booght a water bottle, too.  We then headed to Monica's freinds, Mimi and Simon, on Geiger Key.  They weren't home, their daugher was, for Christmas.  We put the kayaks into the Atlantic at 11:35

Geiger Key is located just south of Big Coppit Key. Like No Name Key, it is not on the Overseas Highway, so it is a little more remote.

 Hooded mergansers, female
This was the second time I've kayaked Geiger Key with my sister.  The first time we went into a channel that goes under the bridge linking Geiger to Big Coppitt. Into a lake like area on the back side of the Boca Chica Naval Air Station.  This time, three kayakers were coming out, on an outgoing tide.  Monica said, why don't we just paddle along the shore.

Good idea.

We came to the channel above, and turned around.

We were on the Ocean, but because of the reef, no big waves.

Landed at 12:50.  A short, 95 minute paddle.
 Kinda hard carrying the yaks through the tropical foliage. I kid.

Stopped at the Geiger Key Marina for lunch.  Gotta love the sense of humor.
I thought this was a ziploc bag.  A man-of -war
Lunch views.

Seafood enchilada.
Monica thought my camera would not get the mangrove snapper just off the deck.  She was right.  But it did pick up the sheepshead, which I had not even noticed.
The Marina has kayak rentals. The launch is a  cut in the concrete seawall. I would not want to launch here. Push off a steep, narrow, concrete ramp.  No margin for error. Deep water if you tip. But, if you don't know someone with oceanfront property.....
I've read there is a place off the road where you can launch.  Where it is, I don't know.
Headed home across the Seven Mile Bridge.  This ends a nice period where every other week since mid November I've had an extended weekend kayaking adventure.  I work Monday, Jan 2, so no 3 day weekend. But, just half a day, at time and a half for the 4 hours I work, normal pay for the 4 hours I paddle.  Before watching the Rose Bowl.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas From Key West

And Sugarloaf, or is that Sugar Plum Fairy?  Key.

I got up Christmas morning and headed to Sugarloaf Key.  About 15 miles up U.S. 1 from Key West.   I had never paddled this area. Stopped by once before, and when I saw the ramp fee was high, 8-10 bucks I think, I left.  But, that's the motorboat fee.  $3 for kayaks.  The Marina was closed for Christmas.  I walked to the adjacent Sugarloaf Lodge, asking the front desk clerk if I could pay there. "Don't worry about it. Merry Christmas"

I asked a gentleman who was launching his kayak if he was familiar with the area and where to go. He was, and told be about a shallow, clear path through the mangroves.  As he told me, I was looking at the main channel.  Which caused me not to find what he was telling me about.  Until later.  I was on my way at 9:30, past the pelicans near the launch site.  A wood ramp.  On the Florida Bay side of U.S. 1. I paddled north, towards the main channel.

I paddled past a wide channel, across, and running aground on, some grass flats, and explored the mangroves.
 Pale legs. Great white heron. Egrets have black legs.

Here is a chart Sugarloaf is on the far left. You can click on it to expand and move NSEW. The little inlet south of "Perky" has to be the Marina and Lodge.

Good wading bird habit in Lower Sugarloaf Sound. Another great white heron. Something I don't see in Central Florida.

Exploring the Sound.
 Marker on the west side of the main boat channel out of the Sound.  Which I think is the water way just south of a small island on the chart.
It was windy.  I saw some coral, and wanted to take a picture, but could not stay in place to do so.  Not windy enough to reel in Fat Albert.  Coming back through the channel, the wind was in my face, then choppy as I paddled towards the Marina.
 Saw the Bat Tower, and had to get a closer look.

 On the way to the Tower, I saw a opening in the mangroves. Was this the trail the gentleman at the launch was talking about?
Yes it was. He and his companion were fishing.

 I pulled my self through the mangroves. This is were I got the second photo of this Tale.  Asked my sister about purple coral.  The blue-purple object is a sponge. The red is coral.
 The tunnel is short, you then paddle across these flats, take a right, and take the main channel back.
Magnificent frigate bird.  I also saw one at No Name Key, Saturday.
 Coral? More Sponges?

Back to the Marina.  Where pelicans risk their lives to eat.

Landed at 1:10. The kayak ramp is the wood one on the right.  I landed next to right of the motor boat on the left.  Loaded the car, delayed departure as a guy was asking me about the car. His daughter just turned 16.  Back to Monica's in time for brunch and presents. 

 Oliva and Phin say, "Let's get this party started"
 Santa!  I was glad to see him.  I had forgot my battery charger.  I saw a camera like mine on the counter Christmas Eve. Did not see a charger.  Thought maybe it was Elena's.   No, it was Bill's.  I mean Santa.  He took my battery to his workshop Christmas Eve and returned it Christmas Day.  I did have two spares, but I would have run out of juice.
 Olivia gets a bike.
 Arlo gets a foul weather jacket

 Evan gets a custom made fishing pole.
Monica gets a framed photo.

Ashley gets a scarf.

Phineas is ready to follow his Dad into the bike business.

Camila also got a scarf.

I got nothing, and I liked it.  My secret Santa, Andy, was working.
Dinner was at the Rowan home.

Many guests brought a dish. I brought my appetite.  Had ham, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes (ala Arlo and Ashley) and sweet potaotes. And a bowl of cheese broccoli soup.  Washed down with egg nog, beer, and punch.  Elena, Aaron and Olivia dropped me off at Monica's, where I got the car and drove to Jack's Flats on Duval Street.  Actually, drove to Fleming Street, near Arlo's and Ashley's to find parking, then headed to Jack's Flats.  By the way, Elena says that whenever Olivia sees a car with a kayak on the roof, she says "Dave".

Andy was not at the bar yet.  Plenty of Packer fans.  Not one Bears jersey. Andy came in, wearing the same Packer t-shirt I had on.  I gave him his gift, a universal gift certificate, aka cash, then he paid for our beers.  And a sandwich, bacon shrimp club.  I let my brother have half.  Tasty.

Packers beat the Bears, the best Christmas gift of all.