Sunday, January 15, 2012

Long Key State Park

Today's paddle from the BSA camp at Craig Key (Lower Matecumbe Key?)  to the state park on Long Key was only 6.9 miles but brought a few new experiences.  Coming south to the bridge between the two keys, the seas were only 2 feet.  Just southeast of the bridge the group experienced shoals that mandated getting out and walking their vessels.  Jim "found" a sand-filled hole that seemed bottomless and immediately went in up to his mid-section.  At least it was sand and not the mud he found in a similar situation last summer off the coast of lower Georgia!  After the shoals the group experienced 3-4 foot waves with breaking white caps.  One of the kayakers was flipped and lost a bit of gear.  A Coast Guard Auxiliary boat was nearby and quickly helped him get upright and retrieve some of his belongings.  At that point in the journey, the Tennessee reef goes out 4 miles from the Keys, and Jim estimated the waves offshore were running 10 feet.  He said that Ibi was handling quite well except in one instance when the rudder was lifted out of the water, giving him little control.  Ibi is a Superior Expedition, decked-over canoe, built by Scott Smith in Michigan, with great carrying capacity.  Jim is quite enthusiastic about her handling characteristics, except he wishes he could make faster passages.  Still, it's always best to be safe!   Winds for tomorrow and Tuesday are forecast to be stronger and more easterly.  Will have to wait to see if plans for the group will be changed, as there is a longer open-water course awaiting the group.  Go safely out there!

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