Friday, June 10, 2011

"Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one." - Dr. Seuss

My favorite beaches are usually off the beaten path. My parking spot is with the beach crowd but I usually end up walking a distance to get to the sand less traveled. That's where the best shells & sharks teeth are and it is noticeably quieter.  The families with small kids & teenagers throwing Frisbees, balls, & each other tend to stay close to the facilities. I have often  looked at some of the little sandbars & mangrove islands  out in the bay & wondered if I could talk my water-challenged hubby into at least a small pontoon boat.  The last time he motored a rental boat the hubs backed it into the dock receiving a nasty look from the rental guy. The other time we lost a propeller on a rock which was an extra $40 bucks on top of the boat rental.  We are not boat people.  

Lil Shorty has come to my rescue. My girlfriend Lil Shorty has loaned me her sit-on  kayak.  She loves to kayak but her work schedule & proximity to the water has put a kibosh on her paddling. She offered this kayak novice the use of her boat for awhile so I could try the sport out.  Come on, how hard can this be? I looked at a few web sites for info. After watching a video on flipping over I felt certain I could perform "the belly button maneuver". You have to roll the kayak back over, pull yourself up to your belly button, and flop yourself back in. Lil Shorty also brought the paddle & a seat so I just had to borrow a PFD.  Whunu? I always called it a life jacket but apparently cool boating folks refer to it as a personal floatation device or PFD. Well, I certainly want to personally float if I end up in the bay .  There was also  the matter of my camera so a waterproof dry box was purchased as well.  With my gear & the suggested snack & bottle of water I was off for my maiden voyage.
Comination PFD & fishing vest - look at all the pockets

Watertite dry box holds camera & cell phone
I'm at least pointed in the right direction

Most kayak websites suggest you tell someone where you will be paddling for safety reasons. I decided on Stump Pass because if my paddle plan failed with the Hubs hopefully one of the park rangers would notice my SUV still sitting in the parking lot at the end of the day & come looking for me. Parking  directly in front of the launch area to the calm intercoastal bay side of the park I unloaded all my gear.  After waving to Ranger Betty to insure she saw me although being kayak incognito with hat, sunglasses, PFD, & big sun shirt she probably wondered who the heck was waving wildly at her. 

 I climbed on top of the kayak & planted myself in the seat. I decided to paddle into the wind & close to the mangrove line until I got my kayak sensibilities going.  Happily, it turns out that I have a knack for this kayak thing.  I got my stroke going & my balance was kicking in. I made a 3 mile loop around the bay stopping at each sandbar & little island I had formally longed to check out.  I saw dolphins, sting rays, & tons of birds.  Floating in a secluded cove  & peering down into the turtle grass that was just teeming with fish & huge horse conchs I just let the wind push me along. 

I've been kayaking 3 times now.  I've found that I like early morning calm seas & light wind the best.  At fifty- cough cough any exercise I can get is a good thing. Although I'm not kayak racing  or marathons, the workout I am getting from just my mangrove meanderings has already stopped some underarm flappings. Paddling is a great upper body workout. So I'm going to keep paddling along & take advantage of a good thing as long as I can but who knows...maybe the Hubs would be interested in a two-seater kayak.

After you get a closer look one realizes why mangroves are so important to our coastal water systems. Birds in their branches & oysters at their base to filter the water. Their roots are an underwater baby fish nursery of all kinds.

So nice to pull under a mangrove & just watch the activity for a while

This fella went back where I found him at the base of the fallen tree

Sand bar at Stump Pass 

Locals call this area ski alley


  1. You ain't got no flappings! I know that would be some major boys did it at a waterpark recently and said it was such amazing fun.
    Have you ever eaten conch chowder? It is yummy.

  2. You are so brave! I don't know if I dare go out like that alone. Wow! But it did look amazing and the video of the conch was incredible!

    My hubby, brother, and son in law are out in the Gulf on our pontoon right now. They like to do a little fishing. I'll go when we get a bigger boat!

  3. Fascinating, that video of the conch!!! I've never seen any live sea creatures like that...thanks for the treat!

    Our son's sit-on-top kayak hangs in our garage since his departure 6 years ago...wish I had the strength to pull it off the rack or a vehicle with a top rack for getting it to the beach...

  4. Yep, PFD is the name in trade.
    I wear a mustang survival hydrostatic release auto inflating vest. So comfortable! You can buy a little pouch to wear on the strap for you stuff.

    If I may make a recommendation a vest light is always a good thing. I wear an ACR firefly.

  5. Love love love love love it. I kayaked with my brother (the paddler, while I mostly took the part of the slacker) in Alaska, have wanted ever since to go in florida. Lately eyeing one of those super lightweight one person kayaks and dreaming of trying one of the rivers here. My fantasy life is very full, but you have added to it! :) Again!

  6. I have to much I love watching the lil critters come outa their shells and do their thing, I still get goose bumps on top of my head seeing it. I don't what it is but I get just a weee bit grossed out watching them....acccck!!!
    Good job on the's tough work!!

  7. Greetings From Southern California

    I am your newest follower. I invite you to visit my blog and follow back if you want too.

    Have a Nice Day :-)

    Btw, Great Photos!

  8. You are so right about yaking with calm winds. Anything else at a minimum can be a lot of exercise and at a maximum can be dangerous. Take it from someone who's done the minimum and maximum:)

  9. I am so proud of you girl! I love my kayak for just the same reasons - good exercise and getting to see stuff you otherwise wouldn't. Wish I was there - I would go kayaking with you. Keep it up.

  10. Great post - thanks for sharing your adventure!!

  11. It seems so relaxing sitting there. You really gave us a good view of what it's like. What kind of camera do you have? It takes great still photos and great videos :)

  12. Good for you for getting out there....without a prop to bust and you can't do much damage to any docks. Is "Hubs" getting inspired?

  13. I'm saving my pennies so I can get one of these and go kayaking with you! What a fun way to get around the Gulf and you don't have to worry about the BIG waves on the Pacific. Yeah, I could so do this!


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