John and I had a special treat today. Our new friend, Maureen, was kayak guiding a high school group for The Crystal River Kayak Company this morning, and while there she arranged for Buffy, John and I to have use of three of their sit-on-top kayaks for a quick jaunt into the Three Sisters Springs area of King’s Bay.
In the winter, hundreds of manatees congregate in the warm springs, and the springs are then closed to kayaks but open to swimmers. As of April 1, though, most of the manatees have dispersed into the warmer Gulf, allowing the seasonal opening of the springs to kayaks. So, in we went, with Master Naturalist (and our new buddy, and lodging host), Buffy, for our guide.
There weren’t any manatees there, but it sure was beautiful.
Near another spring, though, there was a pod of five. One got up close and personal to John. And another approached and then dove alongside Buffy, practically giving her a manatee baptism, as it’s called, into the water.
What beautiful, amazing creatures. I want to come back here next winter, before we pick up again on the Florida CT, so we can go swimming with these gentle giants.
No rest for the weary though! And enough fun and games. Time to get back on our own paddle, so back to Buffy’s house we went, where Miss Pink and Baby Blue were awaiting.
Thank you Buffy for your incredible hospitality, and Maureen and A Crystal River Kayak Company for the gracious use of the Sit On Tops. As a reader commented on my blog last night, you are the best kind of Trail Magic! And now, our new friends!
We paddled out the canal from Buffy’s house, across the Crystal River and into the Salt River, hoping we’d timed the tides right and would get an easy ride. But alas, it was not so. Ugh. A slow, laborious paddle against the current and practically all in shallows as the tide continued to drop. It never feels like a good idea to be heading up narrower and shallower passages as the already low tide is dropping even lower. And, if I may make another point here: It’s not a good idea to eat leftover pork ribs, sweet potato, bread pudding and sweet rolls, no matter how freakin delicious, right before you paddle. It’s just not. Now I know what heartburn feels like. I never knew before. Just sayin.
But back to those muddy, shallow, narrowing passages…we never did find Uncle Tom’s Island, the designated camp for the night. The sky’s contrails were easier to follow than either our gps or the waypoints on Google Earth. And so we backtracked (another first!) a mile or so to where we’d spotted a makeshift fisherman’s camp near a couple of shell mound islands in the Narrows.
We set up our camp, and other than watching a pod of dolphins come in to feed and listening to them breathe (what a cool noise!), I climbed into the tent to chill.
We only paddled 7.25 nm today, plus however far we paddled around the springs, so it’s not due to that. Maybe because it’d Day 52. Maybe from the added excitement of staying in Buffy’s home last night (another first – staying in a private home) and going out to eat and paddling with the manatees. It could be that. But also, very likely, it could be due to the fact that we’ve paddled seven days straight (yet another first). Our max has been six days straight and we’d only done that twice. Oh, and another reason why we might be tired is that we, just today, got off the open Gulf after being out in it for 21 days! Seven of which were Zero days (zero miles paddled; aka Layover Days) because of the wind.
And ready for some zero days in Homosassa with my sister and her friend, Kathy, whose family owns MacRae’s Fish Camp there. That’s where we’re heading tomorrow. But right now, I’m going to bed.