I had a close call with disaster last night. As I was getting all my gear out of the kayak, the tie knot on the string for the stern hatch cover somehow came undone. When I carried the kayak out of the water, the hatch cover fell, the current carried it away, and I didn’t see it. After I finished setting up camp, I went back to the kayak to close the hatches for the night. I closed the front hatch, the day hatch, and then went to close the stern hatch. Then panic set in. At first, I thought maybe it was in the cockpit, but it was not. Then I looked on the ground but didn’t see it either. It was already dark, so I grabbed my 18k lumen head lamp and waded into the knee deep current and began to scan the sandy bottom. All that time I was contemplating the awfulness of the situation. This will set me back days! I can’t go on without a hatch cover. I’m on a deserted island and my kayak has a giant hole. Hell, it will be a miracle to make it back to Titusville against the wind without the cover; even if I duct tape the thing, all the splashing water will surely get in and I’ll be paddling a submarine. And even if I get back, I’ll need to figure out where to stay and order a replacement cover, maybe even a spare for good measure, from an online store and wait however many days it takes to deliver it. Would I lose 5 days on this ordeal? Maybe, if I’m lucky, and I don’t have to swim back to Titusville.
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All those thoughts were racing through my head like a tornado as I walked up and down the beach in the night with my headlamp pointing into the water like someone hunting for crabs. And then, like the proverbial needle in the haystack, I saw it! The cover drifted some 50 feet down wind before it got caught on a submerged branch. I fetched it out of the water and felt it with both my hands to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Having a flimsy black piece of plastic never made me so happy. Crisis averted!
First thing I did in the morning was tie a new line on the hatch cover with a good strong bowline knot. Lesson learned; never leave a hatch open. I packed up camp and got on with the journey.
I sailed on a strong broad reach all morning. The distance to the inlet that connects into the Mosquito Lagoon was almost 15 miles, but I covered the distance in a little over 3 hours. I heard that the name Mosquito Lagoon is well deserved. When the wind dies down at sunset a ferocious breed of blood suckers and black flies as big as thumbnails form swarms that rival those in the arctic tundra. Perhaps it would not be so bad in the winter, but I wasn’t going to stick around until dusk to find out.
As soon as I had crossed the canal into the lagoon, I took a sharp turn to the Northwest and made the most of the strong downwind run for the next 20 miles. The lagoon is a labyrinth of islands dead ends and paths that turn back in on themselves. I kept close attention to the channel markers to not get lost; one false turn could send me down a rabbit hole. I rode down several one-foot swells shredding them with the kayak and linking 3 or 4 wave runs at a time. Conditions were ideal for covering a lot of distance, and this was the longest day yet; I covered 35 miles to reach Ponce Inlet, but it hardly felt difficult.
Sea Kayak Florida Circumnavigation