Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Florida Circumnavigation (3)

I called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission today to check ahead on what requirements there are for obtaining the necessary camping permit through the area. While having another person to paddle in company is usually a good idea, it is often difficult to arrange. The FWC requires that at least two people paddle Segment 6, or the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area. The reasoning is that this area is mostly open Gulf waters and subject to adverse weather and sea conditions, making it one of the more strenuous legs. To minimize impact on the conservation area, they limit the upper size of the groups to no more than 8 people or 4 two-man tents. Probably a group of 2-4 would be the easiest to work with. The total distance in Segment 6 is 153 miles or 15 days. So, there are two hurdles. The first is finding a partner. The second is scheduling a transit time through the wildlife area. They closely monitor the movement of paddlers, and it’s necessary to find an open day when no one else is scheduled in the area.

Credit: FWC Big Bend site

In planning for the trip, I took advantage of a number of resources. If anything, I’m probably over prepared, because I had purchased charts and cruising guides when planning to cruise the area under sail. The MapTech Chartkits were purchased for the Gulf from New Orleans east and the West Coast of Florida, and the Florida Keys and East Coast. Three volumes of cruising guides written by Claiborne Young were added to cover the Northern Gulf Coast, Western Coast, and Eastern Coast of Florida. It would be impossible to carry all this material in a canoe or kayak, so portions will be traded in and out of the trailer.

Jean, my wife, will be the support team, and what I’m not immediately using can be left in the trailer to give me more room and reduce the weight I need to push through the water. She will do the vehicle shuttle. We’ll find a nice camp, and she will drop me and Ibi off and then return to the camp. I’ll paddle east or south to her, and then we’ll do sightseeing while driving together to the next leg. In this manner, we can follow the coast as far as we want.

I then copied all the information provided in the internet guide, which you can view at the site below.

A problem with the maps provided in the guide was that they wouldn’t print adequately, at least on our printer. The very light shades on the map made it impossible to distinguish between land and water in most areas. To deal with this, I followed the entire route on the marine charts and marked the track and camp locations. Then, even with the charts, there were many sections where the creeks, islands, and shoreline are so intricate that the chart couldn’t be followed. In those portions I copied Google Earth aerial photographs and marked the track on the photographs. Therefore, we’ll have a lot of redundancy in the information, which should serve us well.

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