We are back doing trips in Florida! Russell at Sweetwater Kayaks has invited us to work for him in exposing the best parts of Florida kayaking to new paddlers. And last weekend we plunged into the task.
As guides, Sean and I always have a plan B and C when we start out for a day of paddling. Saturday June 26 we planed on taking two guests on a scenic trip on the Homassassa River. We checked the weather forecast, we checked the tides, we checked our kit, but we failed to check one thing. We did not check to see if any local events were occurring that day at our designated put in.
When we approached the road that led to the put in at Mac Rae’s we came to a stand still. There was line of automobiles pulling powerboats that rivaled the worst 5pm rush hour traffic. We talked to a few people along the road and discovered that we picked the wrong day to paddle this river.
The recreational harvest season for bay scallops in Florida opened 12 days early because of the Gulf oil spill. The regular recreational bay scallop-harvesting season in Florida occurs from July 1 through September 10 each year. And the 11th Anniversary Homosassa River 4th of July Party was scheduled for June 26th.
Therefore, we had two major things happening at that boat ramp. If it were just Sean and I, we would have stayed at the boat ramp. I could tell that there were many good things to eat, drink, and the live band was rocking. However, we were on a mission to show two guests some of the best wildlife that these Florida Rivers have to offer. Granted, the life at MacRae’s was wild!
We decided to go paddle on Crystal River and put in at Hunters Spring Park. The last time we were on Crystal it was Feb. 11, 2007. The park is located near the center of Crystal River’s historical district. It is also the only sandy beach located on the Crystal River.
After getting on the water I noticed that there was more powerboat on Crystal than in the past. The boats were not moving on the river. They were all rafted up next to the no motor zones, manatee zones, and bird sanctuaries. All that boat and going no were. I guess they were collectively keeping their carbon footprints down…
Well, we paddled past the human wildlife to discover the things that we take for granted. We saw a few manatees, and birds. But the nicest thing was traveling up some small feeder creeks that are not easily accessible by boats with engines.
Sean treated us to a large lunch. We ate homemade style fried chicken, beans, potato salad, and washed it down with ice tea. Yum. It was a filling meal.
We took our time getting back to the boat launch. The beach at Hunters Spring Park is well loved by its locals. So we took our time looking for an opening to land and get out of the kayaks.
It was a nice day and a great start in getting back to taking guests on trips again. – Jeff