I felt cold even while paddling. For some reason it was difficult to hold my downwind heading under sail. The waves and the wind didn’t quite align. It must be the refraction from the seabed. I remember from my high school physics class that when the water depth becomes shallower, the wave will slow down, and if the depth change is angled to the direction of the wave, the wave will bend towards the shallows. So here my course was Southwest to follow the coastline, but the wind came from the north, and that made the swells curve to the Southeast; the result was It felt like I was riding a rebellious mule. Anything other than holding on was next to impossible; I gave up trying to use the pee bottle as that would have required 3 hands; one to hold the bottle, one to aim, and one to hold the paddle. The bottle was the least important, so the wee wee went in the cockpit. Fortunately, there was enough water in there already.
Eating and drinking was tough too. I had to point the boat into the wind while I grabbed things as quickly as possible. At those moments the full force of the wind would hit me, and I felt the cold cut like a knife. Eventually I decided that sailing was just not worth it today and stowed away the sail. My boat handling then improved considerably.
I stopped early to have time to set up camp with daylight. It was awfully cold. I was shivering as I walked on to the beach, and instead of performing my usual ritual to unload the gear, I hastily grabbed the dry bag with clothes and went to find some protection from the wind to dry off.
I stopped at Howard Park, a small island with a wide manicured sandy beach connected to the mainland by a causeway. Once dry, everything felt wonderful, I found a tent location away from the wind, there was a clean restroom, a beach shower to wash things, and a small table to sit, eat dinner and enjoy the sunset. Then when the park ranger showed up and things did not go so well. “Everybody has to leave by sundown,” he said.
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I remembered my first night when the Miami police told me I had to pack up my stuff and get out of my island. Tonight, it would be infinitely worse. The forecast was for the temperature to drop down to freezing, and the wind was blowing well above 25 miles per hour. I pleaded with him and explained the situation. I had arrived by kayak, and this was an emergency stop because of the cold weather and going back out after sunset in the dark would mean death from exposure. But he wouldn’t budge, “I’ll be fired if you stay the night and someone finds out.”
"Who on earth would come here at night to check?" I thought. Given the situation, I wasn’t going to risk my life for someone’s minimum wage job, so I decided to fake my departure. I made a show of getting everything in the boat, put my wetsuit back on, and paddled out into the water, and stayed a little off from the beach until I saw he had driven away in his pickup truck. I then paddled to the north of the island, where it seemed I wasn’t visible from the road and landed again. The only issue, however, was that on the north side I was completely exposed to the wind, and with barely any twilight left, it was almost impossible to see what I was doing, but I dared not turn on my headlights in case someone would see me. I got the tent up, but the rainfly was impossible to tie down. The pegs kept flying off and I could barely hold the tent poles in place even with all the gear inside to weigh it down. The only solution was to get inside the tent, dress in all my layers, and wrap myself and the sleeping bag with the rain fly for warmth. That just about worked, it was enough for me to fall asleep, dreaming of how wonderful it would be when the sun came up the next day.
Sea Kayak Florida Circumnavigation