I’m a little behind on my blogging due to no signal, but fear not, the updates are coming! Anyway, a small group of us launched out of Key Largo February 26 paddling to North Nest Key. Celeste, Dave, Jack and myself paddled to the Boggies, which is a little cut through some mangroves. This leads you out of Blackwater Sound in the Florida Bay. Jack was our escort and we said our farewells as he turned around and paddled back across the sound in some headwinds. I was not envious! Jack works at Florida Bay Outfitters and it was always a lot of fun hanging out after hours.
Myself, Celeste, and Dave continued our 8.5 mile journey to North Nest Key. It was much larger than I expected but the vast majority of it was low and held quite a bit of water in the interior. There was a long pier on the western side that was still twisted from hurricane Irma. The two port-o-potties on the end were a little damaged.
Dave hopped up on the pier and looked at the little kiosk showing the campsites. I have to say, there’s not much in the way of decent sites. We found a little flat, high ground and set up camp. Poor Dave thought we were camping on a chickee so he brought a hammock instead of a tent. Unfortunately, there were no trees large enough to support a hammock so he ending up sleeping cowboy style under stars. Luckily there was only one rat in that area and it really didn’t bother anyone except for my kayak. Celeste scared the hell out of it so it just stayed away.
The next morning Dave departed us and paddled back to Key Largo. I may team up with him next year and do the Everglades Challenge. Celeste and I continued on paddling west toward Flamingo. We paddled through some beautiful water. Once we entered the Crocodile drag-over there was wildlife every where! A small pod of dolphins put on a nice little show for us while we took a break for lunch. We found starfish and horseshoe crabs in the tide pools. There were so many ospreys, egrets, herons and even a bald eagle back there.
Nearing the end of the drag-over our luck ran out. The wind shifted and started blowing in our faces from the west. The tide also started coming and in and created some very difficult paddling. We still hand about 7 miles left on this 20 mile stretch. We took a little break behind some mangroves and just went for it. As the sun was setting we could see the Shark Point chickee and barely made it before darkness fell. After tying up we were treated to a bio-luminescent light show. It was our first time seeing it live and it was truly amazing! We were both exhausted and setting up camp on a chickee proved to be a real chore. Then the mosquitoes appeared. I still don’t know where they came from considering we were out in bay with a strong wind blowing but these monsters were there to stay!
The next morning we caught the sunrise and broke down camp. We weren’t in a real hurry because it was only 7 or 8 miles to Flamingo. As we cut through Snake Bight small shark fins started appearing in front of us. The water here was real shallow and it was breakfast. Most of what we saw were black-tip sharks but there was the occasional bonnet-head shark as well. It was an incredible experience to see so many sharks feeding in one place. A couple of the larger ones, approximately 5 feet in length, would swim right up the our kayaks and then abruptly turn away. They weren’t being aggressive but it certainly got your heart beating a little. About midway through a large raft of white pelicans did a low fly by right in front of us. That was a real treat! I’m having trouble uploading the videos I took but once I figure it out, I’ll add them. My apology.
As we neared Flamingo the wind picked up and slowed us way down. We slowly made progress and entered the harbor. We were instantly greeted by a few tarpon followed up by three manatees. At this point I became very lazy and didn’t take any pictures of the creatures or the harbor. On the other side of the dam two crocodiles lay on logs sunning themselves. While we waited on Frank from Florida Bay Outfitters to arrive, we treated ourselves to some cold drinks and snacks. Celeste and I were exhausted after paddling those 3 days but Frank energized us with some beer, sausages, kraut and campfire songs. It was the perfect end to an amazing paddle adventure. Celeste was an excellent kayaking buddy and a great friend. I want to thank everyone in Key Largo for making this adventure a meaningful experience. I consider each of you a true friend and I do hope we cross paths on future endeavors!