Paddling The Ditch: Day 13 Florida CT Paddle 2.25.18

Dear Reader, This morning we woke to still air and heat. We had sweat running down our faces as we loaded up the boats and began our first day of paddling in the Intracoastal Waterway, aka The Ditch. Gone were the houses. Gone were the docks. And save for one kingfisher, one pelican fishing by the culverts, one cormorant and one hawk, gone too were the birds. For 12.5 long nautical miles we paddled a line of dark water bordered by sand embarkments topped by soil and pine trees. Some pine trees were barely holding on, like this one with …

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Point Washington, Day 12 Florida CT Paddle 2.24.18

Dear Reader, Today was an incredible day. Although it started bad. (But maybe the fact that it didn’t stay bad contributed to being incredible.) The bad was the bugs. The bugs were SO bad that we resorted to peeing in a coffee cup inside the tent so we didn’t have to go out. The bugs were SO bad that we poured our morning coffee into our empty water bottles so we could drink our coffee while out on the water in our boats. SO bad that our breakfast was a shared granola bar while out on the water in our …

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Live Oak Point: Day 11 Florida CT Paddle 2.23.18

Dear Reader, Our stealth camp last night below the Destin bridge was a success in that we weren’t bothered. The golf course groundskeeper even discretely waved at me as he drove by on his lawnmower. But I paid for it today in my lack of sleep. That’s a busy bridge! All night long. And our tent was pitched on a slope. Add to that a dash of nervousness that we might be bothered, and I might’ve only slept a few hours. We got an early start though, breaking camp at first daylight and eating leftovers for breakfast, and then paddled …

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The Inn at Destin Harbor: Day 9 Florida CT Paddle 2.21.18

Dear Reader, We got back on the water today. Miss Pink had bird poo on her this morning and she looked not too happy. The birds were getting all too familiar with her. She was ready to move on. And John and I and Baby Blue were too, despite the 13 mph winds that would be in our face. But we made an important course change. The Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail route called for us paddling about 15 nm northeast to Fred Gannon State Park, which is where we’d booked our campsite for a night or two ago, before …

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Layover Day #2, Wind at Spoil Island: Day 8 CT Paddle 2.20.18

Dear Reader, If you are expecting wild tales of John and me paddling in high winds today, I will have to disappoint you. One thing about being retired is that we don’t really have to be anywhere other than where we are. So if it’s windy, we don’t necessarily have to force ourselves out on the water and beating our bodies up in the process. Fortunately, we enjoy camping as much as we like sea kayaking, so a day on the beach with a good book or two or three is a good day indeed. Sometime we might not be …

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Layover Day, Spoil Island: Day 7 CT Paddle 2.19.18

Dear Reader, Yesterday we began Segment 2 of The Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail when left the Navarre Waterfront Best Western, just west of the too-pricey Navarre Campground shown on this map, far left. Arriving at the Spoil Island primitive camp exhausted, we decided to stick to our plan of making today a layover rest day. The day broke windy and overcast and remained so most of the day, which was great for this layover day. The wind meant no bugs. The overcast meant no desperate searching for shade. And both meant none of the beach-loving crowds that were so …

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Spoil Island near Fort Walton: Day 6 CT Paddle 2.18.18

Dear Reader, Tonight I’m exhausted and cranky. Maybe it’s because we’ve paddled 37 nautical miles in the last three days, since our layover day. Maybe it’s because today’s 11.4 nm paddle was in a fully loaded boat, after shopping at Winn-Dixie this morning, and it was mostly against the current. It could be that I stayed up late last night, fielding birthday phone calls and FB messages, and a Whatsapp business meeting with our Nicaraguan property manager. Hotels and electricity. You’d think last night’s comfort would’ve been relaxing. We awoke to an absolutely flat sea and paddled back across Santa …

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Navarre Waterfront Best Western: Day 5 CT Paddle 2.17.18

Today’s my birthday: Sixty-two spins around the sun! What better place to be than on a grand adventure? It started with fog and sweat and a head net to ward off no see ums. And ends with me sitting in a wooden Adirondack chair along the seawall overlooking Santa Rosa Sound with country music and tiki torches in the background. Our clothes are washed. The tent fly, which is saturated every morning in dew and was packed wet this morning, is dry. My hair’s washed and we’re both well fed, with leftover tacos for lunch tomorrow while on the trail. …

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Big Sabine Point Camp: Day 4 CT Paddle 2.16.18

We woke to dense fog at 6 am. Not the best conditions to cut across the intracoastal waterway at the entrance to Pensacola Bay but fortunately it burned off as soon as we got on the water and came upon a large barge threading its way through a pinch spot. A huge flock of gulls, mixed in with pelicans, rose as one and screamed overhead. A small school of porpoise raised their fins, dove, surfaced, dove, as John and I crossed from green buoy to red buoy which marked the outer points of the deep, central channel and worked our …

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Layover Day Perdido Key Camp: Day 3 CT Paddle 2.15.18

Yeah, I know, it seems kind of early in the trip to be taking a layover day (meaning we don’t break camp and move on). But we have 80-some days to get to Key West and we want to be smart about our bodies and work into the long-distance paddling gradually. Tomorrow’s stretch is 15 nm (nautical miles) to the next camp. That’s going to be a long day for us so we wanted to be rested up. So what do we do all day in camp, on a strip of sand between the ocean and a lagoon? Right off …

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