🛶 nocturnal kayaking

published in Canoe News, Summer 2011, Vol 44 No 2, p.6

Working at a college gives me the benefit of a two week vacation from Dec 18th to Jan  2nd, so one would think that I got a lot of kayak camping in.  Unfortunately, I spent more time on land catching up on the basic day to day stuff.  But the time I did get out to camp was perfect.

Sean and I camped out on an island on two separate nights  Dec 23rd to the 24th and Dec 30th to the 31st.  Both times we parked at the west side of Tom Stuart Causeway north of the drawbridge.  It is not well lit at night and it is also a dog park, thus walking at night with a kayak to the water’s edge can be a smelly and squishy event.  Never the less, the location is a good place to launch.

Before getting on the water I outfitted my kayak with two deck lights on the stern.  The smaller one has a suction cup on it; where as, the taller light has a bungee and locking cam to keep it on the deck.  Kayalu makes the taller light “Kayalite”.  I have had it for about nine months and used it on several types of kayaks.  It is a good piece of kit.  (A detailed review is now available).

On December 23rd we paddled east into Boca Ciega Bay to Archie’s Island.  It was mild and in the upper 40’s F.  The moon was almost full and the tide was unusually high.  When we got to Archie’s there was a group also camping on the island.  We saw their powerboat on the east side of the island and gave them plenty of space.  We set up our tents behind some brush and started boiling water for dinner.

We went simple and ate Pad Thai by Backpacker’s Pantry, hot coco, and Freeze-Dried Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.  Yum.

We could hear the wind howl during the night.  And for a moment I thought I hear our neighbor’s powerboat engine come on.  In the morning there was so much sea foam on the shore it looked like mini icebergs.  But that was not the most surprising thing we saw.

The people who were camping on the east side of the island did move their boat.  And they anchored it like amateur boaters.  The Carolina Skiff was high and dry with the Yamaha engine’s propeller locked and buried vertical into the shell encrusted beach.  Ouch.

On December 30th we paddled west into the inter coastal waterway to Travestine Island.  We took our time getting to the island.  We looked at the Christmas lights on the local condos and meandered through some mangrove tunnels near an island.  This was tricky at night and we had to paddle backwards after entering a tunnel.  When we got on to Travestine we also discovered we had a neighbor so we gave kayaker some distance.

We set up camp and started boiling water for dinner.  Sean and I both received some new pieces of kit during Christmas.  And it was time to test it out.  I got a Snowpeak GigaPower Stove, and Sean got a GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist Cook System

I always cook with a bunsen burner pad to distribute the heat.  And this worked great with the Snowpeak.  The only thing I now want to add to my kit is a Snowpeak windscreen.  Because I can see cooking on a beach without one could be a problem.   Sean’s GSI Cook System worked great, but I still prefer my GSI kettle, Sea to Summit collapsible X-Mug, and Snowpeak chopsticks.

In the morning there was evidence on the shore of the effects of cold water.  There were several juvenile horseshoe crabs dead and washed up under a dead tree.

Before breaking down camp we fired up the stove to have some coffee.  Sean was a little skeptical about trying Starbucks VIA Ready Brew coffee.  We had the Italian Roast and it was great!

As we were paddling back to Tom Stuart Causeway we saw our neighbor on the water.  He was sailing his Hobie kayak.  He was having fun in that boat.  Given the chance, I would try sailing that type of kayak.



  1. Hey Suwannee Refugee notice that I am laughing my fool head off in the picture- I just could not help it! I also noticed you are a Miami Dolphins Fan – yet another thing we have in common- Yes I am!! I remember when they were the ONLY Florida NFL team.

    Sea Turtle Sean

  2. Hello,

    My name is Susan Williams and I am the president of the United States Canoe Association (USCA). We are founded upon a Five Star Program of camping, camaraderie, competition, conservation, and cruising.

    The USCA publishes a quarterly magazine, Canoe News. I was searching on line to find articles about our “camping” and “cruising” stars, and I came across your website.
    Would you allow me to reprint your article “Nocturnal Kayaking” for our magazine? Our readership spans the country and I believe this trip would be very interesting for us to read about. Photos would be great too!!
    Thank you for your time and help!

    Please reply to ladyjustice@erols.com

    Yours very truly,
    Susan Williams
    USCA President

  3. Hi Susan, Thank you for thinking that your readership would enjoy our article “Nocturnal Kayaking”. You may reprint it for your readership. What image resolution do you need? Sean and I do a lot of camping and nighttime cruising. I am open to the possibility of writing something special for Canoe News.

  4. I’m very delighted that I’ve found this article. The text proved to be very useful for me.Thanks a million!

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