Yesterday was Miss Pink’s and Baby Blue’s last day on the water during our Phase 1 paddle of the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.
We stripped them both down of all deck bags, under deck bags, spare paddles, contact tow lines and map/chart cases. Then, using two plastic chairs in place of saw horses, we hosed them down and sponged them out. And gave them a good looking over. They’ve held up incredibly well, despite our oyster bar thwacks.
We let the hatches dry, lubricated the hatch covers, and then got back in them for their final paddle to their resting place for the summer: the Homosassa Springs Marina, 1/4 mile up river.
Our gracious hostess, Kathy Faulk, motored up to the Marina with Tania and her friend Sherry, to meet us and pick us up.
We carried Miss Pink and Baby Blue into the marina, and into a temporary bay until they get moved to a more permanent place once the staff does some rearranging to make space.
Goodbye Baby Blue. Goodbye Miss Pink. My eyes tear up. It’s hard to leave our babies behind. May they be safe during hurricane season. May they not feel abandoned and left behind. They, at least, will remain by the water, remain on the trail. They’ll hear the water lapping against the docks and the call of the osprey as it flies by. Manatees and turtles will surface and breathe nearby. If John and I are not acclimated to Florida’s climate upon our return next winter, at least Baby Blue and Miss Pink will be.
Before heading back to her house, Kathy took us out for a further spin in her boat. Up to the spring, where we saw a manatee in crystal clear water swim by. Then out through the back channels, weaving along the marshes back up the way John and I had paddled in.
It rained on us and the wind blew. And Kathy, a seventh generation Floridian, charmed us with Huck Finn-type stories about growing up on these creeks, gathering the family’s water every Friday in 25 barrels from the springs, and hunting and fishing and wrestling alligators, while we picnicked on the boat. She took us to Prices’ Creek, where her brothers’ ashes were released, surrounded by vast, glorious marsh lands as far as the eye can see. And then she opened up the throttle on her boat. And thwack! Dear Reader, we hit a manatee. Our hearts and throats and eyeballs dropped into our stomachs and the soles of our feet. We stopped to check on it and watched one swim away. And saw another one near it, swimming in the opposite direction. At least whatever damage we caused didn’t appear to be immediately fatal.
Dear Reader, The rivers giveth. And the rivers also taketh away.
FCT Phase 1 Final Stats:
- Start: Orange Beach, AL
- End: Homosassa, FL
- Trip Dates: 2/13/18 – 4/6/18
- 53: Total Days Out
- 38: Total Days Paddling
- 15: Total Layover (Zero) Days
- 8: Total of the 15 Zero days due to wind
- 415: Total Nautical Miles
- 478: Total Statute Miles
- 7.8 nm/9 sm: Avg distance per total days out
- 10.9 nm/12.6 sm: Avg distance per total paddling days
- 27: Different campsites
- 10: Different beds (Motels, etc)
- 35: Nights in our tent
- 18: Nights in beds
- 2: Days John was sick
- 4: Major ReSupplies
- 2: ReSupply boxes from PO
- 1: Full day paddling in rain
- 1: Full day paddling in fog
- 32: Days in protected waters
- 21: Days along the Gulf
- 8: Most days spent paddling between Layovers
- 1: Least days spent paddling between Layovers
- 3: Most Layover days in a row
- 52: Days writing in this blog
- 0: Marital squabbles
We are alive.
We are healthy.
We are adventurers.