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Part 1 Dec. 24th - Day 4 - Sea Kayak Florida Circumnavigation

Updated: Jan 29

Around Florida by Kayak

I camped on Peanut island. There is everything I could want here; showers, clean toilets, a place to charge up batteries, and a lovely view of the inlet where I can sit under a straw canopy and watch the cruise ships sail away. I felt sad to leave; if there was a way for food deliveries to reach here, I would love to set up shop and work from here. Technically I needed to pay to have camped here last night, however, since I arrived late in the day, and no one came to collect dues, I didn’t bother to find out how to pay.

With the wind still from the Northwest I paddled on the ocean side for a change of scenery. Whereas in the intracoastal waterway I counted the bridges to know how far I had traveled, on the ocean I counted the buildings as they rolled over the horizon. The coastline here starts a gradual bend from North to the Northwest and I found myself progressively sailing tighter and tighter reaches, until using the sail became undoable. A sudden 25 mph puff nearly knocked me over while I opened a pack of jelly beans; that was a sign to put away the sail and strong arm the wave from here on.

I reached Jupiter Inlet an hour before slack tide. The inlet here is like a Venturi meter; it progressively narrows into a throat between two great piles of boulders only 300 feet apart. At the inflection time between high and low tide the current scours the seafloor and even motorboats struggle making any headway against the flow. I thought the timing would make things doable, but as I approached the inlet the current surprised me with a strength that resembled the Bay of Fundy emptying millions of gallons into the ocean. I turned around before the narrowest point where the waves could have hurled me against the rock jetty, headed for the beach and waited until conditions improved. Current, headwind, and a packed boat; three strikes I would not want before attempting a do or die sprint.

After waiting an hour I went to assess the situation. Things looked better; the standing waves seemed smaller, but the outflow was still ripping, the momentum must keep the water flowing out for some time past low tide. I waited another 30 minutes, drank some water, ate 2 cliff bars to fuel up the engine, and readied for the attempt like a gladiator suiting up for a fight. Once I pointed into the current there would be no do over. Turning around would mean smashing into the jetty, or being run over by a powerboat, who no doubt would be smashed in the rocks as well if he dared to avoid me.

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I paddled for 5 frantic minutes to cover the 100 feet on which my life depended on. There were two Chinese ladies snapping photos of me from the peer while a third friend of theirs cheered me on; I had noticed them looking at me curiously as I had been getting ready. “Where you are going?” one of them had asked.

“Up the inlet, against the current, hopefully,” I had said faking confidence.

“Wow, you are brave! Good luck!”

The most difficult moment came when a motorboat sped out the channel with a bow wave that sent me a little too close to the rocks for comfort, but I saw I was making headway, and the adrenaline rush carried me through to the other side.

The wait was an appreciated rest, but ate up valuable time. I stopped at Jonathan Dickson Park some 10 miles north of the inlet. I had a possible beach campsite marked, and there was just about enough space to pitch the tent above the high tide mark on the sand as long as no big boats rolled through the channel at night.

Sea Kayak Florida Circumnavigation


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