I really like my kayak, the Taran 18. It carries gear like a barge but is fast like a surf ski; it tracks straight but the tandem rudder makes it maneuverable, it’s narrow and easy to roll but stable in rough conditions; it even surfs well, though I haven’t done so yet with a fully loaded boat. The one thing it lacks is a good seat. Last night after paddling for more than 10 hours in the head wind, I had to crack open the Bengay tube to apply some lotion on my shoulders, and a specially generous quantity on my south face that was crying with envy from the blisters it suffered in the battle with the wind and waves.
I noticed that British kayak brands really skimp on their seats. All they really give you is a back-band, and frying pan vaguely molded into a bottom shape better suited for a bar stool than a place to commit your most prized body part for hours of hard labor. A few years ago, I tried out a Nigel Dennis Explorer Kayak and felt disappointed at how little thought went into what is arguably the most important part of the boat. “Oh, you can cut some foam and get it fitted for how you like it,” the shop owner said.
“For a $5k boat? That should get you an adjustable seat with some soft built in pads, those things exist you know”, I thought to say. I passed on buying it. Perhaps evolution has given the British kayaker extra thick skin on their bottoms to cope with the blisters of the minimalist seat. The British are a tough bunch but sometimes I wonder if they are fruit headed. They chose to walk to the South Pole when they could have used dog sleds. Maybe dog sleds and kayak seats have something in common.
I made a stop at a deli market in Stuart; it was far too close to a private boat ramp to pass up a chance and stock up. I bought enough canned fish to last me until St Augustine.
My appearance must be dreadful. The store clerk gave me the look that said, “you’re going to pay for that, right?” I did my best to put on a cheerful smile and not have the cops called on me. On the way out there was a restaurant serving breakfast. I smelled an intoxicating odor of Canadian syrup, pancakes and fried bacon; I pictured myself eating those succulent goods, but I was worried about leaving the boat unattended for long. The boat ramp clearly said, “No trespassing” and I thought I better be out before anyone noticed.
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The wind changed to the East, so I made a lot of progress with the sail. I barely felt the day pass before I arrived at Sebastian inlet 28 miles north. The spoil islands followed one after the other along the intracoastal channel. Once they would have all been little sand piles when the channel was dredged, but they are now all covered with mangroves and bushes and do not look at all man made save for all being equally spaced round mounts.
Waves still look like a surfer’s paradise out there on the ocean side. A few breakers were rolling in through the Sebastian and were enough to convince me to stay in the intracoastal for at least a few more days. The next inlet is Cape Canaveral which is 45 miles north with no place to camp in between. The inlet campsite was an RV park, which would not work for me. “You can camp on the island in the channel, but the place fills with mosquitos there when the wind dies down,” said Camp Ranger. I headed to the island, but fortunately the wind was strong, and the mosquitos were nowhere to be seen.
Sea Kayak Florida Circumnavigation