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Lazy Kayaking in Florida

Lazy Kayaking in Florida

My SO Becky and I just returned from a very lazy week of now-and-then day tripping, focused on Pine Island, just west of Fort Myers, FL.

We fell into a sweet deal with friends who live on a houseboat on the Caloosahatchee River in downtown Fort Myers. They took us and our rental open cockpit double aboard their craft, launched at dawn, and by noon we were afloat in the mangroves in Matlacha Pass (E side of Pine Island), dodging mullet splooshes and pelican “missles.” A quick mile or two later, we spied on a collection of ibis, wood storks, red egrets, and spoonbills, bird species we had never seen before. On return to the houseboat, we managed to dump a few gallons of cold water onto ourselves before yarding the yak onto the roof of our domicle-for-a-week.

The next day dawned clear and cold (45 F in Florida??), so we adopted a pattern that was to stay with us throughout the unseasonably cold weather:

      1. Wake up to coffee perking.


      2. Deconstruct our bed and reconstruct the dining area (same space).


      3. Make muffins so the boat would warm up.


      4. Eat muffins; drink coffee; listen to weather forecast detailing the direction of the 15-20 knot (!!) winds for the day.


      5. Play cards until the sun warmed the outside of the houseboat.


      6. Think about putting boats in the water.


      7. Put boats into water, donning wet suits, ’cause the water temp was in the high forties!


      8. Dink-paddle the mangrove edges.


      9. Reverse boat, wet suit process.


      10. Cook dinner so we could re-heat the houseboat.


      11. Play cards until lights-out. Re-make bed.


      12. Sleep.


    13. See number 1.

Our hosts claimed “we’ve never seen such sustained cold weather down here … it’s never like this …” but we knew better. That stuff follows us around. The weather gods knew there were some furreners from the Pacific Northwest down where they should not be.

Despite the cold and the sustained N/NE/NW wind, we managed to find sheltered anchorages and did some cool paddling. Best day was a 10-knotter devoted to Cayo Costa State Park, for much walking and ogling of plants, shelling, and eating.

Logistics: we rented from Barb and Greg of Captiva Kayak Co (1-877-EZ-KAYAK), who made it easy and were very safety conscious. Only downer was our choice of an open-cockpit boat (it was supposed to be warm, remember?): not seaworthy for choppy water, and ran nose-down, dumping water on the forward paddler. Next time we’d exchange the Pamlico Excel for a Sea-Two. Both are roto-molded Wilderness Systems boats. The latter is a trad. closed cockpit double, and can handle chop and rougher water. Or, pay the freight to yard our Folbot double down there (at least one bag is oversize: $75 excess baggage charge per bag, each way).

On our return to Oregon, it was **warmer** in Astoria!

Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR

Copyright 2001 by Dave Kruger.
May not be reproduced or redistributed without author’s permission.
Originally posted on Paddlewise mailing list on 1/28/2001. Republished with permission.