Friday, January 20, 2012

But it's only an inch on the map!

The group has a big task in store today, which began for Jim when his SPOT Track checked in at 7:21AM.  They'll be paddling from Bahia Honda to Sugarloaf Key.  By road they're only about 30 miles from Key West.  Paddling small vessels along the outlying reefs requires more miles and lots more effort!  Jim and I used to do vessel deliveries, mainly to the Caribbean from the East Coast of the U.S., but sometimes from Europe as well.  We had an inquiry once from a woman in New York who wanted a sail vessel delivered to the west coast of Florida.  When told how many days we expected the trip to take, she replied, "but it's only a few inches on the map!"  AHHHH - how blissful is ignorance!  The group Jim is paddling with will be passing Big Pine Key, Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve, Little Torch Key, Ramrod Key, Summerland Key and Cudjoe Key on their way to Sugarloaf Key and the KOA campground there.   Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve, a long and shallow expanse is a protected area of seagrass meadows, mangroves and coral reefs.  Key deer, the smallest of all white-tail deer are often spotted in the Preserve.  Little Torch Key, named after torchwood trees, is close to the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary.  By road, Little Torch Key is just 24 miles from Key West.  Ramrod Key was so-named after a ship named Ramrod was wrecked on a reef south of there in the early 1800's.   Summerland Key, is midway between the metropolitan areas of Marathon and Key West.  Cudjoe Key was possibly named for the Joewood Trees found growing there, also known as cudjoewood.  Another possible origin of the name Cudjoe was a fugitive slave or free negro who lived on the island before 1849.  Drug interdiction authorities maintain a "Fat Albert" radar aerostat on Cudjoe Key.  Sugarloaf Key is  a U-shaped island, about 15 miles by road from Key West.  The name for this Key was possible given because of an Indian mound on the eastern side of Upper Sugarlof Key which resembled an old-fashioned loaf of sugar.  Another possible source of the name might be after a variety of pineapple once grown in the area.  The Key is home to the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge.  Weather forecasted for the area being paddled by the group today calls for 70-degree temps., light winds and high humidity (approximately 85-90%).  That'll result in a lot of sweating for sure!  Today's leg of the trip will cover some 18 watery miles, with a 20-mile leg tomorrow and then about 7 miles on the last day.  So, you can see, there's a lot more distance to be covered by the paddlers in those little boats than if they were going by land!  Hope everyone keeps well hydrated! 

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