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2017 Florida, Alabama

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017
I wrapped up things in Jamul and had lunch with Gene, Laura, Alyx, and Don. Gene, Don, and I then visited Seaport Village.
Camp: Motel, San Diego

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017
I flew to Birmingham and went to church with John and Sale.
Home: Leeds

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
We fixed a canoe and tire, packed, and headed south.
Motel: Perry, Florida

Friday, March 3rd, 2017
We visited the Lower Suwannee NWR's north side, and the Cross Florida Greenway / old Barge Canal / Florida Trail. Then we collected Judy from the Tampa airport and Carrington from the Micco Trailhead of the FT.
Motel: Punta Gorda

Marine Weather Synopsis... BRISK NORTHEASTERLY FLOW WILL PREVAIL ACROSS THE REGION THROUGH TUESDAY IN THE WAKE OF A FRONTAL BOUNDARY PASSAGE. NORTHERLY SWELL OF 2 TO 4 FEET WILL AID IN PRODUCING HAZARDOUS SEAS ACROSS THE ATLANTIC WATERS THROUGH TONIGHT, CREATING SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY CONDITIONS.

GULF STREAM HAZARDS... SEAS OF 6 TO 8 FEET THROUGH LATE TODAY DECREASING TO 5 TO 7 FEET TONIGHT.

THE APPROXIMATE LOCATION OF THE WEST WALL OF THE GULF STREAM AS OF JUN 18, 2016 AT 1200 UTC...

16 NAUTICAL MILES EAST OF FOWEY ROCKS. 25 NAUTICAL MILES EAST OF PORT EVERGLADES. 19 NAUTICAL MILES EAST OF LAKE WORTH. 20 NAUTICAL MILES EAST OF JUPITER INLET.

THIS DATA COURTESY OF THE NAVAL OCEANOGRAPHIC OFFICE. 

Saturday Afternoon: ENE wind around 18 kt. Mostly sunny. Seas 1 ft or less. Bay and inland waters a light chop.

Saturday Night: ENE wind 16 to 19 kt. Partly cloudy. Seas 1 ft or less. Bay and inland waters a light chop.

Sunday: E wind 17 to 23 kt. Mostly sunny. Seas 1 ft or less. Bay and inland waters a moderate chop.

Sunday Night: E wind 16 to 20 kt. Partly cloudy. Seas 1 ft or less. Bay and inland waters a moderate chop becoming a light chop.

Monday: E wind 16 to 19 kt. A slight chance of showers after 1pm. Seas 1 ft or less. Bay and inland waters a light chop.

Monday Night: E wind 14 to 18 kt. Partly cloudy. Seas 1 ft or less. Bay and inland waters a light chop.

Tuesday: ESE wind 12 to 14 kt. Mostly sunny. Seas 1 ft or less. Bay and inland waters a light chop.

Tuesday Night: E wind 8 to 12 kt. Partly cloudy. Seas 1 ft or less. Bay and inland waters a light chop.

Wednesday: E wind 5 to 8 kt becoming variable and less than 5 kt in the afternoon. Mostly sunny. Seas 1 ft or less. Bay and inland waters smooth.

Saturday, March 4th, 2017
We bought groceries, then visited Audubon Corkscrew Swamp. The most interesting sightings were Roseate Spoonbills feeding perhaps 20' away, and an interesting feeding behaviour of Snowy Egrets I had never heard of before.

The Snowy Egrets flew slowly with their feet just dragging in open water. The flight mechanics were akward. The Egrets would catch and swallow perhaps three creatures from the surface of the water per flight before perching and resting a while. Later, at a pond with various species of floating weeds, the Egrets partly walked on small weeds and partly supported their weight by wing flapping thrust, and similarly struck at and swallowed several small prey items per flight.

Other birds sighted: Wood Storks, Little Blue and Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Wood Storks, White Ibis, Anhinga, Cormorant, Belted Kingfisher, Black and Turkey Vultures, Crested Caracara, Hawks. There also were lizards, Alligators, and turtles.
Camp: Skunk Ape Headquarters
Maps: chart 41 Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands, NGTI 243 Everglades NP

Sunday, March 5th, 2017
We rode bikes 15 miles around Shark Valley. New bird sightings included Glossy Ibis and Black Crowned Night Herons.
Camp: Skunk Ape Headquarters
Maps: chart 41 Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands, NGTI 243 Everglades NP

Monday, March 6th, 2017
Wind and chop continued, but we paddled a fairly protected route. The wind was with us. I saw dolphin from our camp.
Camp: Tiger Key
Maps: chart 41 Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands, NGTI 243 Everglades NP
Miles: 8

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
With more wind and chop, we decided against a long, exposed paddle to Pavillion Key and instead took a short day to Lulu Camp Key. There were many Osprey. I saw one grab a fish from water and several flying with fish. Along this entire trip I saw many scenic waterside Osprey nests. We saw one Bald Eagle. There were also Turkey Vultures flying near camp. Judy found a Crinoid disk perhaps 1½" in diameter and a half inch thick, the largest I've seen. We found and atea coconut that was just beginning to sprout, with the growth from the eyes still within the husk. My previousexperience was that all found coconuts were rotten and powerfully stinky.
Camp: Lulu Camp Key
Maps: chart 41 Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands, NGTI 243 Everglades NP
Miles: 2 10

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
The wind finally abated somewhat. A smoothing chop reflecting clouds was mezmerizingly beautiful. In one area on Pavillion Key were many large cone shells, as much as 6" in diameter and a foot long. In the mud flats were many cone snail trails and worm feeding trails. Tom and Sawyer overshot Pavilion Key by 7½ miles.
Camp: Pavillion Key
Maps: chart 41 Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands, NGTI 243 Everglades NP
Miles: 15 25

Thursday, March 9th, 2017
We paddled over several large Rays. From Kingston Key we called rangers to report our missing people and were glad to hear they were fine and planned to (but didn't) join us tonight. Cell phone reception was iffy.
Camp: Picnic Key
Maps: chart 41 Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands, NGTI 243 Everglades NP
Miles: 12 37

Friday, March 10th, 2017
In the gathering light of dawn I was examining the mudflats and their many interesting animal signs. It was quiet enough that I could hear and track a pod of dolphin by their breath gasps as much as a mile away. Later, when John arose and began repeatedly yodeling yoohoo, dozens of Racoons all up and down the beach loped from their feeding grounds on the mud flats into the woods. A helicopter circled our camp, perhaps verifying Tom and Sawyer were still missing. But we found them happy in Everglades City. A flood tide and low winds made the day's paddle easy and quick.
Camp: Long Pine Key
Maps: chart 41 Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands, NGTI 243 Everglades NP
Miles: 8 45

Saturday, March 11th, 2017
Judy, John, Carrington, and I visited sites along the main Everglades road, then dropped Carrington in Delray Beach. We visited the Florida Trail around Lake Okeechobee.
Motel: Okeechobee
Maps: NGTI 243 Everglades NP

Sunday, March 12th, 2017
Judy, John, and I visited sites along the Florida Trail / Kissimmee River, including Chandler Slough East and West, Micco, Fort Basinger, and Hickory Hammock. We saw a pink 4' Rat Snake and a 3' black Racer, Iris, Dewberries, Bluets, Blue Eyed Grass, Brazilian Pepper, Live Oaks, palms, Spanish Moss, and etcetera. I was reminded of the high wildlife diversity and density and wanted to hike the Florida Trail again. We visited the Peace River canoe put in at Highway 60, and dropped Judy in Tampa. Phosphate mines near the Peace had massive tailings piles. I saw Black and Turkey Vultures, Egrets and Vultures, Hawks, and Sandhill Cranes. Some Snowy Egrets paired one to one with cattle and walked in the grass by their side, perhaps catching bugs flushed by the cattle.
Motel: Gainesville

Monday, March 13th, 2017
John and I drove home in occasional rain in time to visit Mary Sue, visiting on her way to Texas. Along the highways I saw a Peacock, Black Vultures, Canada Geese, and a couple of dead Coyotes. Redbuds were just blooming in the Birmingham area. On the trip south, blooming had just started in southern Alabama.

Poison Oak Rash
A Poison Oak rash from Jamul, already on the mend when the trip started, healed up very quickly with frequent exposure to sea water.

Maps
I loaned my chart to Tom, and noticed that my NGTI map was missing some keys, some keys were incorrect in size or shape, and many named keys were not labeled. Much other information only available on nautical charts was missed, such as depths. I need to check in to frequency of updates of the plastic charts, as the sands and islands are always shifting. Former Homer Key was just a long sandbar on this trip.

Future Long Paddle Trip
It occurred to me that I could someday, perhaps right after the group canoe trip ended, rent a Sea Kayak and paddle a longer trip alone. This would allow much more exploration time, as the group paddles only mid morning to mid afternoon. I would have the opportunity to paddle to many points the group as a whole might not visit. I might paddle as far as Flamingo. There are many rental places in Everglades City: Ivy House may be one.

GPS Batteries
Before this trip, I noticed my Garmin 650t GPS NiMH battery pack was not holding a charge very long. It consisted of 2 AA Nickel Metal Hydride rechargeable cells in a plastic retainer which held the cells together and also depressed a switch when installed to tell the GPS to charge the cells with power from the USB port. I bought new, higher Ah capacity NiMH cells, but noted they did not charge in the GPS 650t. Internet research discouraged tricking the GPS into charging non Garmin NiMH cells by using a shim to push the switch since that would void a warrany and since the charge profile of the GPS limits the useful life of the cells. NiMH cells today have about 50% more Ampere Hour capacity than when I bought the GPS and battery assembly. I may buy a new NiMH charger, or modify the new cells to charge in the device.

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