We Start our Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddle: Day 1, Perdido Pass, AL to Big Lagoon State Park FL 2.13.18

Hooray! We've begun!

What a gorgeous day to start our three-month sea kayaking paddle to Key West, Florida, along the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.

My 90-year-old dad and his wife Sara launched us this morning near their beachfront condo in Orange Beach, Alabama. So we paddled 8.5 nautical miles (nm) today to get us to the starting point, technically, of the trail at Big Lagoon State Park, FL.

Two months ago today we left our home in Nicaragua. Our son Cliff graduated from college in Colorado and then we had a family reunion over the holidays in Orange Beach. John and I'd had this crazy notion that we could start this paddle the day after Christmas. And that we'd do the full 1,515-mile paddle to the Georgia border in one go. But what a cold winter it has been. We at least wanted the night-time temperatures to be above zero. And we didn't want to start in the middle of a storm cycle. So, finally today we begin! And we've adjusted our goal to be Key West, FL by May 9th. And doing the east side north to Florida next winter.

We started at Perdido Pass and sea kayaked on what's called the Old River in Perdido Bay. This whole area of Alabama and Florida is made up of barrier islands with bays and lagoons and channels dredged in between to facilitate boat traffic in more protected waters than the outer coast. A fair bit of our paddle around Florida actually will be along the inside passages of these barrier islands.

The sand is a fine whitish tan. And the boat channels are flanked by marinas, condos and single family homes with boat docks. There are small, postage stamp islands, like this one called Sunset Island where we stopped for a break.

And the channels are not evenly dredged so it's possible to run aground, as we did when approaching our campsite at Big Lagoon State Park.

Do you recognize this spot? John and I stopped here during our reconnaissance last week and I posted about it. The CT logbook is here. As is the Caution Alligators sign. So far no alligator spottings. But I'll have you know that we ARE in our bug suits this evening. The no see ums are biting.

Nautical Miles: 8.5


  1. Bennie Giles says:

    We’ll probably cross paths at some point on the CT. I’m currently in West Palm Beach and should be in Key West in a couple of weeks and then start heading up the west side of Florida soon after. I started in St. Mary’s, GA with Scott Hite who is about 70 miles ahead of me.
    Safe paddling

    1. susanafield says:

      That would be awesome!

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