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Part 2 Jan. 7th - Day 18 - Sea Kayak Florida Circumnavigation

Updated: Jan 29

Around Florida by Kayak

Another very cold night. In the morning I noticed that the water level on the river rose considerably . The small river beach I landed was almost all gone and was fast reaching the kayak; thank goodness I had had the forethought to pull it high on to the riverbank. By the time I was packed up, the beach was gone. I think I’m far enough upriver that the change in water level wasn’t due to the tide, but from the heavy rain two days ago.

Tomorrow I will start crossing the Okefenokee Swamp. I am hopeful that the rain will make crossing the swamp easier than the 37-mile portage from St George to Fargo. The portage to the canal on the swamp is much shorter, and there is less paddling upriver which is much slower.

The Trader Hill boat ramp put-out point was only another 8 miles up the river. There is indeed a modest hill here that rises some 50 feet above the river and was quite steep to pull the kayak up with all the gear in it. Back in St Marys I reserved a night at the Okefenokee Pastime, which is a cabin lodge on the side road that leads into the swamp. To get there, however, I had a four-mile portage along State Road 121 which I did not like at all.

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I was told that when pulling the kayak along a road I should keep the sail up to be as visible as possible to the oncoming traffic. That was very good advice. There was heavy traffic, and in both directions, there were logging trucks running up and down the two-lane road at great speed. The shoulder wasn’t all that wide and more than once I pulled out into the grass when the biggest vehicles lumbered through. I had images in my head of the time an 18 wheeler semi-truck scrapped me while I rode my bicycle in the California desert; that time I escaped with my life by an inch with just a deep cut on my butt cheek and wasn’t keen to repeat the experience. Perhaps the strange circumstance of seeing someone pulling a boat high and dry along a country road like a whale out of the water was awkward enough to make most drivers slow down and keep their distance.

I arrived at the cabins around 4:30pm which was good timing as I had been told on the phone that if I arrived after 6pm there would be no one to receive me. “You did indeed come on a kayak,” Said the receptionist. She was eager to talk and ask me about where I had been thus far on this adventure. When I told her I was from Brazil, that really piqued her interest. She told me of her hopes of one day moving to Rio de Janeiro where she heard the locals are super friendly to foreigners and would love to learn Portuguese. I thought of whether I should douse her dreams with the cold splash of reality; the number one advice Brazilians give to foreigners in Rio is how to minimize your chances of being in an armed robbery. Instead I indulged her fantasies; I told her that Rio is indeed the most beautiful city on Earth, a sort of paradise where San Francisco meets Yosemite National Park, and carpeted with lush palm trees on a beach. That isn’t technically a lie, but the truth is that the Rio situation is more like that of a beautiful woman married to a violent wifebeater. You want to help her out of the abusive relationship, but she can't help herself.

Sea Kayak Florida Circumnavigation


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