Archive for the ‘Trips’ Category

Hello All, This is the long anticipated 2nd post in the Tribal Tides series. In this post I will discuss the actual route and “natural schedule” that Jeff & myself shall be attempting to paddle during our 2 weeks on the water. Why we chose the direction we are headed in on the route & possible opportunities that are arising.

The schedule as it sits right now of course is subject to change at any given moment depending on weather conditions, paddler safety/health issues, and available lodging/safe places to camp. At this time we are choosing to take full advantage of any local Bed & Breakfasts, inns, and local campgrounds (public or private) along the way; as well as some primitive beach/mangrove camping as available. Jeff & I have chosen not to go totally primitive every night for camping simply because the Great Calusa Blueway, along with Lee County Parks and Recreation & the Florida Paddling Trails Association have made it so easy for anyone to do all or some of the segments of the paddling trail. They have very detailed websites & links that get paddlers/mariners to safe and secure places to bed down for the night.

Also in the works is the possibility of doing an informative/teaching speaking session at the Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival  November third through the sixth.  And hopefully the chance to write some reviews about the local lodging & amenities, history of the area, fishing, cooking, and gear as we promote the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail!!

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Jeff & I will launch the expedition on Monday September 19th at the Caloosahatchee Regional Park; near the town of Alva. We will then head down river to Hickey Creek and do some exploring up the creek for 4-5 miles. Paddling back down the creek and headed down river for Telegraph Creek, up & back. Some may know that the Orange River is also here but Jeff and I have done this river many times before when we were guiding trips so we are skipping it. We will then be heading down river to camp and on Day 2 to begin exploring the remainder of the river and a few more of its tributaries. Eventually leaving the mouth of the river and primitive camping on Picnic Island.

Day 3 will find us heading north for Matlacha and threw the Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve. Lodging may be there for the night. We will then be paddling out again up the mangrove lined coast on Day 4 headed towards the most northern point of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail and Charlotte Harbour Preserve State Park for some exploring and then across 4-5 miles of open water to Bokeelia/Jugg Creek/Back Bay areas to bed down.

Day 5 we are headed from Bokeelia over to Cayo Costa Island, a crossing of about 8 miles. We will be primitive camping/exploring on the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico for a day or two if time /weather allow. On Day 6 or 7, Jeff & I will be heading south down the outer islands of North Captiva, Captiva and Sanibel Island and threw the Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve towards J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Possible stay on Sanibel or primitive camping on a spoil island in Pine Island Sound. We will be doing some exploring of the wildlife refuge then crossing along Sanibel Causeway and threw Matanzas Pass to San Marcos Island for a possible nights stay.

Day 8 or 9 will find us headed threw Hurricane Bay towards Hell Peckney Bay and into the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve; then across to the Estero River mouth and upriver to Koreshan State Historic Site & Park. Jeff and I will be staying a night or two at Koreshan, primitive camping and exploring Mound Key– site of the capitol city of the once great Calusa Indian Nation!!!

From there it is on Day 11 or 12 that we will head to Lovers Key and Big Hickory Island for a possible nights stay on one of either of the islands. Then on Day 13 we will start to make our way threw the Imperial River Preserve towards our final destination which will bring us up the Imperial River, possibly camping again somewhere along the river. Day 14 which will see us paddling to the Imperial River Boat ramp on U.S. 41 to end our paddling expedition and meet our shuttle vehicle to pick-up our boats and gear and whisk us home to our families & friends!!!!

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If one were to look at the segments of the paddling trail you would see we chose to do section 3 which is also the unmarked section first, then section 2 and finishing on section 1. Yes, Jeff and Sean can count and we do know 1 comes before 2 and 3. If you look carefully though there just seems to be a “Natural Flow” to the direction we chose, not to mention logistically being able to complete the most of the trail without having to double back much on anything to get the most out of the paddle/trail itself. Also lets not forget its “OUR” trip and WE CAN DO WHAT WE WANT as most people with teenagers will tell you. (That is my 16 year old sons favorite saying- “I do what I want!” – or so HE thinks!)
Also it is possible that Russell Farrow owner of Sweetwater Kayaks and one of the nations best paddlers and kayaking coaches will be joining & paddling with us for a few days!!(also our boss if you want to call him that- we just call him friend!) Well we hope everyone enjoys the most recent post and the third post in the series will be out in 3 weeks Tribal Tides 3: “Native Gear, well not quite”

– Jeff & Sean

WooHoo, I Love warm weather!!!!

With late Spring/early Summer at hand it is a great time to be a paddler! For those who follow Jeff & I through our paddling adventures it has been a long time since I posted anything, that is because we have both been so busy paddling since the weather got better we have not had much time to write. Jeff has been adding some postings as he has time and I much appreciate it! So now it is my turn to contribute. Read on and I hope you enjoy the story of my most recent trip and how I played hookie on Saturday:

sporting a Kavu Chillba Hat!

Saturday (05/07/11) morning began bright and early at 6:00 a.m with loading paddling gear into my SUV then heading for Peggy’s house to meet up with Kevin, Lee, & Caroline (paddling friends from our local FLOAT meetup group) to head for Nobleton,Fl. to paddle a new section of the Withlacoochee River. Nobleton is a spec on the map, but what they do have is access to the river at a nice little boat ramp.

The 5 of us left the house about 7:00 a.m. in Kevin’s truck, and as we headed out on the Howard Franklin Bridge, the sun was just peaking over the city of Tampa and the sparkling blue waters of Tampa Bay. We went through the city and its concrete jungle on our way to our paddling paradise- even if only for a few hours of solitude and paddling companionship. We stopped on Interstate 75 in Wesley Chapel,Fl. for a sit down breakfast at Cracker Barrel. YUM!! I highly recommend the Smokehouse Breakfast- yes, Lee that was for you. Inside Joke- the waitress kept telling Lee it was cheaper to get that particular breakfast instead of just eggs and sausage, which was actually cheaper than smokehouse option. Anyways……………….

Breakfast was delicious just the same and we were soon on our way again. We arrived at the launch just as the rest of the group did; around 9:30 a.m. The temp. was around 75 degrees and just beautiful with the sun shining bright as we all unloaded our kayaks and gear. Some people went to drop vehicles off at the landing site and soon returned so we could begin our paddle.

We headed out 12 strong down the Withlacoochee river for our little adventure. The river here is a little wider than other sections of the river I have paddled, but none the less awesome. The sides of the river are hardwood forest trees with lots of green, makes sense with the Withlacoochee Forest on both sides. The water is tannin stained brown/black which makes for perfect reflections on the water of the sky and surrounding trees! I felt numerous times like I was up north paddling in North Carolina or Tennessee somewhere. The water temp was cool and refreshing as there are springs that feed the river along its “crooked” path, which by the way is what Withlacoochee means in Native American.

We saw many forms of wildlife on the river including: an alligator, great blue heron, lesser blue heron, numerous limpkins, ibis, a brown-banded water snake(non-poisonous), snowy egret, many freshwater turtles, endangered sandhill cranes, hawks, wood storks and a partridge in a pear tree- OK, I made that last one up, but we saw lots and I am sure I missed something. The paddling was lazy with the conversations flowing naturally just like the river. We stopped along the bank and had a 30 minute lunch break that everyone enjoyed by the sounds of chewing that replaced the earlier conversations. I forgot to mention that there were also areas of clogged water lily pads and hydrilla along the way which added to the rivers charm and change in scenery- where you almost felt like you were on the Amazon somewhere.

  We did 9 miles & 4 hours total paddling and ended our trip at the takeout ramp on Hwy. 48. As Kevin went back to get the truck, several of us played with side-by-side eskimo assisted rescues and I did a forward paddle float roll to demo how you could cool off with a roll and come up using just your paddle float on the front or back deck of the kayak. Then Kevin called and it was time to paddle in and load gear and boats for the journey back home- DARN! foiled again & I would have gotten to paddle longer if it hadn ‘t been for that meddling Kevin!!! ( Thanks various bad guys from Scooby Doo).

Oh Yeah- Did I mention that Sweetwater Kayaks– the shop I work for-  was having their 3rd annual Paddle for the Cure!!! Yes I probably should have been there helping Russell & Jeff out to make sure things went well behind the scenes…………………….. but I was playing “Hookie” in the warm Florida sunshine & the cool Withlacoochee water! OOOPS!!!( Can You Blame Me?) Hopefully Russell & Jeff will forgive me. I heard they had lots of help and volunteers so maybe I was not missed so much. I HOPE………… but I here a good time was had by all who attended & things went smoothly. Who knows maybe Jeff will do a post on it in the future.

On it , In it, Under it – Sea Turtle Sean

Ahoy Matees,

   Just wanted to write a quick posting on our recent overnight trip to one of the spoil islands off Dunedin, Florida in St. Josephs Sound.  On Saturday, Jeff, Kayak Kev & Peggy, Tim & Debbie, and of course myself(Sean) decided to meet up and go for a paddle followed by an overnight campout! We all met at the Dunedin Marina launch site at around 1:00 p.m., after loading all our gear and getting everyone launched we began paddling over to the 2nd island south of the marina. We had 10 to 15 mph. winds coming at us from the port side with 1 ft. beam seas.  The paddle took us approximately 45 minutes to get over to the island and was pretty uneventful, with the exception of the occasional small wave breaking over the cockpit and spray skirt.

   When we arrived at “OUR” island we found a fairly nice sand and pebble beach to land on and exit our kayaks. We found a great campsite that was very nice and extremely large. Also provided alot of shelter from the high winds. The only problem that we found was the trash and broken glass left behind by previous boaters/campers!! My guess is “They” were more of a partying type of crowd. Sad, not everyone subscribes to the Leave No Trace ideaology! Anyway, we all got our tents/hammocks up and proceeded to get a fire going and dinner on. Kayak Kev, Peggy, and Tim went for another short paddle until they got rained on by a brief passing shower. By the way Forecast: NO CHANCE OF RAIN ALL WEEKEND! Thats what happens when you go paddling with the bad weather trio: Kevin, Peggy, Sean.

  Dinner was great and very filling! Thank You Shelly(Seans’ wife) for making the Homemade Fried Chicken and Hobo Beans. After dinner we watched a pair of Ospreys that kept flying around our camp as if to say “YOU ARE WELCOME HERE.” The rest of the night was spent talking and laughing around the campfire, and eating Jeffs’ Pistachios- those things are like CRACK!! Also Tim & Debbie: Thank You for the Rum & Coke, it hit the spot before bed!

  I awoke the next morning to the rest of the camp already up and moving about. We slowly broke camp and packed our things up. Peggy made eggs and we wrapped them in tortillas with Mexican Cheese blend, Tim provided some awesome Teriyaki Beef Jerky to finish it all off- OH YEAH and COFFEE!!!!! A BIG THANK YOU to Peggy for cooking & dishes.

  We then hopped in our yaks and headed into the wind for the first quarter of the paddle back- the winds had increased to about 17 mph. steady with 20 mph. gusts. When we got close enough to shore we then turned north and headed for the marina and our cars using the treeline and shore as a natural wind break. Also a pretty uneventful paddle back, with the exception of a few waves breaking over the bows of the kayaks. To all who went: Kevin, Peggy, Tim, Debbie & Jeff-  THANK YOU MY FRIENDS for a WICKED FUN little getaway this past weekend! We will have to do it again soon.

                                               -Sea Turtle Sean

What can I say, I obviously must have been a very GOOD boy last year! My older sister Mary told me so!! For Christmas and my Birthday (Dec. 21st)  she bought me a North Face Cats’ Meow 20 degree sleeping bag. This present could not have come at a better time for it was given to me on Thanksgiving weekend, and as some know will have been used on the Suwannee River Expedition!

Well, I am back from the Suwannee River Expedition and have had ample time to pack, sleep in, re-pack many times over, and launder my Cats’ Meow sleeping bag!  So lets get on with the gear review:  One word LIFESAVER!!!!  This sleeping bag made for a very pleasant trip and the trip could not have been done without it!! IT truely is the Cats’ Meow!!!!!!! We had sleeping temperature averages of about 25 to 30 degrees and at least one night of under 20 degrees! I will admit I did get a little chill on the under 20 morning right at the end of the night/daybreak. Had I added my extra sleeping bag liner(not incld.), I probably would have been fine!

Lets start with the specifics that I liked about the Bag:  1. VERY WARM and Comfortable with the soft silky lining.  2. Pocket on the chest fit my cellphone/light/alarm clock perfectly.  3. The drawstring to seal up around your face is easy one hand operation & the material is stiff enough that it doesn’ t feel like it will slide around and choke you out in the middle of the night, if it has ever happened before; you will know what I’ m talking about! 4. The ease of washing when I got back- loaded it into an  industrial front load washer at my Moms house on gentle cycle. Spun it out on delicate and let it air dry. PERFECT!!

I would recommend this sleeping bag if you need a good quality 3- season bag at a reasonable price; around $165- $175. I also liked the fact that the bag comes in Black & Atoll(blue) with black lining so it doesn’ t show soiling. Has a glow in the dark zipper tab and comes in RT. or LFT. hand zip configurations. Comes with a stuff sack AND large laundry/storage bag. The bag is Synthetic filled as opposed to Down filled, my sister chose synthetic because it will still retain up to 80% warmth even when wet. Here is a link to North Face and the Cats’ Meow to read up on specifics!

Things I did not like:………………….Nothing! Great Product for the money!!!! Bottomline:: Mary my Dear Sister……. You did GREAT!!!! I Love You!

-Sea Turtle Sean