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Waccasassa River Camp: Day 49, Florida CT Paddle 4.02.18

Dear Reader, Despite our love affair with Cedar Key and our staying up late (for us) to watch Return of the Jedi on tv, we got up at 6 a.m. and got going. It’s been so rare to have calm, beautiful, paddling days from first thing in the morning that we couldn’t pass it up. We were even half tempted to do the 17.5 nm open-water crossing towards the blinking lights of the distant power plant, saving ourselves a day’s paddle. But chose to be conservative because of our age. No need to take unnecessary risks. Paddling the shoreline is …

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Cedar Key: Day 48, Florida CT Paddle 4.01.18

Dear Reader, I’m in heaven! Which is very appropriate for Easter, and fortunately it’s No April Fools joke. The day opened with fog and then progressed from a sky colored white to one colored blue, with various permutations along the way. It was a perfect day of paddling through a navigationally-challenging but fun maze of exposed oyster bars and mangrove islands filled with bird life: Oystercatchers, egrets, great blue herons, pelicans, cormorants and osprey, as well as flocks of sandpipers and shorebirds which we couldn’t approach close enough to identify. The tide was low, exposing both crab traps and scattered …

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Deer Island: Day 47, Florida CT Paddle 3.31.18

Dear Reader, This morning we got a late start leaving Suwannee, the town of canals and where everyone has waterfront property. The ceiling fan in our motel room had done a crappy job of circulating air around our rain-drenched paddling clothes which we’d draped over the three chairs – one to go with each bed in the otherwise spare room. It’s uninspiring to crawl out from under warm covers when wet clothes await you and grey clouds are outside. Besides, the tide was too low. So we dawdled until the sun peeked through the clouds around noon. We’d left our …

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Suwannee: Day 46, Florida CT Paddle 3.30.18

Dear Reader, I’m writing to you while laying on a motel-room bed in Suwannee, Florida, trying to focus while the TV drones in the background with the nation’s weather forecast. It’s dry in here. And the hot shower was sweet. Now, getting here was a different story. We packed up this morning while the winds were still kicked up and blowing foam upon the grasses. Rain clouds were moving in and we wanted our gear to be packed and stowed while dry. We succeeded with that but started to get cold while we waited for the winds to slow, so …

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Layover #2 Butler Island: Day 45, Florida CT Paddle 3.29.18

Dear Reader, Last night the winds stayed down, as if they had better things to do than flap at our tent fly, but by 2 a.m. they’d returned. And by 6 a.m., when it is still pitch black in Florida and you’d think it was still the dead of night but for the clock on your phone and the hunger in your belly, the winds were at full force and John scrambled out of the tents with the stakes, guying out the rain fly’s corners to prevent damage to our tent. We weren’t going anywhere today. That we knew from …

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Layover Butler Island: Day 44, Florida CT Paddle 3.28.18

Dear Reader, Last night the marine weather forecasted another day like yesterday – windy in the morning and lightening up in the afternoon. And so we are going to try a new strategy for us. We are going to spend the morning and early afternoon in camp and then launch when the winds are calming. In the Pacific Northwest, where most of our paddling has occurred (John and his friend Bruce were the first to thru-paddle the Inside Passage from Skagway, Alaska to Olympia, Washington in the early 1980s, we met sea kayaking on Barkley Sound on Vancouver Island a …

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Butler Island: Day 43, Florida CT Paddle 3.27.18

Dear Reader, Today was a grueling paddle! Ten nautical miles of paddling straight into a 20-25 knot wind, with gusts that practically stopped us. And two miles paddling in less wind. For a total of 12.37 nautical miles of paddling today. Imagine swimming the crawl stroke in one of those tiny wave pools. And not being able to stop. For fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes. Thirty. And then you can take a break. For five minutes. And then you start again. And keep at it for six hours. When we’d come to a headland of grass, we could tuck into the …

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Layover Sink Creek: Day 42, Florida CT Paddle 3.26.18

Dear Reader, Yes, you read that right. Another layover day. Again we’ve been laid low by the wind, and a cold one at that. Last night’s marine weather forecast had a small craft advisory for today. And Miss Pink and Baby Blue are nothing if not small, with their not-quite 16′ length and their skinny little waists. So today we slept in. Under gnarled trees. And beside others that have lost all but their core. Except to cook, eat and do dishes, we’ve stayed huddled in the tent reading. We hang our food bags in trees if we can, during …

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Sink Creek: Day 41, Florida CT Paddle 3.25.18

Dear Reader, This morning we had a grand sendoff by the local pelicans at the Good Times Motel in Steinhatchee, and then were escorted by motorboat wake out the river and onto the gulf. Gone was the flat, clear water of two days ago. Instead, our 9 nautical mile paddle to Sink Creek was in a headwind and light chop. The tide was high so our only concern with getting grounded was as we made our way between grass mounds. And it was pretty deep around their edges as well. For a pee break, I just paddled straight into some …

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Layover Steinhatchee: Day 40, Florida CT Paddle 3.24.18

Dear Reader, Last night we had a special treat. Fifteen days ago, a twenty-three year old Marine named Esteban Blyar began solo paddling the Florida CT at the Florida Alabama border. He has a facebook page called Kayaking Around Florida, which we started following. He is blitzing his way away Florida, with the goal of beating the current record of completing the trip in 60 days. We’ve been looking over our shoulders for days, expecting him to pass us with a huge rooster tail blasting off his stern. We wanted to make sure we weren’t blocking his way. Last night …

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