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 the winds forced us to cancel our reservation.
You see, the winds are coming out of the southeast. Had we kept to the trail, we’d have been paddling for too many miles in crappy conditions due to wind and the fetch across Choctawhatchee Bay building up great waves.
Add to that the fact that today all the campsites at Fred Gannon State Park are already booked. So even if the wind had died or shifted direction, we no longer had camping at the State Park as an option.
So we decided to change course.
We can paddle into 13 mph winds, for say, 10 nm, without beating ourselves up too bad. Paddling straight across would put us at Destin, but there’s no camping. So, we went online and found a cheap hotel with water access: The Inn at Destin Harbor.
And then we packed up and started paddling. In need of water anyway.
First, we paddled north across the channel to where the channel was deeply dredged in front of large homes with private boat docks. Then, when the southern part of the channel looked equally deep we crossed south, seeking more protection from the wind. Stroke. Stroke. Stroke.
We paddled under the US 98 bridge and stopped at Ross Marler Park for a bathroom break, snack break, stretch break, garbage toss, and water.
Then we continued on, hugging the southern shoreline close, past homes, marinas and eventually another stretch of The Gulf Islands National Seashore with the loud traffic on US highway 98 zooming through it.
Then we came to East Pass, the entrance to Choctawatchee Bay and the very much smaller Destin harbor. White caps had formed at this point. But we were feeling strong and getting near to our destination. We traversed East Pass at an angle and crossed under the bridge into the Disney-esque scene of the Harborwalk in Destin.
We passed bars and tourist boats and a pirate ship. We passed luxury yachts and jet skis. And within a mile or so we came to the little slip of beach accessing our hotel.
Nine nm (nautical miles) and four and a half hours after launching from our camp of three nights on Spoil Island, we were back in the land of the 3Cs: Comfort, Cash and Complexity.
I’m writing to you now while laying on a King Bed, clean, and having been well fed at another nearby, highly-rated, inexpensive (thank you Trip Advisor!) Mexican restaurant.
I’m tired. I’m sore. John says I’m walking bent over like an old lady.
We washed some laundry in the sink and hope it’s dry by morning. All of our electronics are charging. There’s an outdoor faucet by our boats where we’ll fill our water bags in the morning.
The next official camp spot on the trail, Point Washington, is over 24 nm away. We’ll need to find a camp along the way. A recent CT paddler told us of a camp spot he used which is 16 miles away. Today’s 9 nm paddle for us was a grind. We may need to poach something sooner than that if it still is so windy. We hear there might be a spot under a bridge.
We are alive.
We are healthy.
We are adventurers.