Updated: May 15
My tent’s bug mesh tent works like a very fine sand filter. In the faint moon light, I poked my head out of the rainfly cocoon and saw that everything inside the tent was covered with a fine white dust. It was awfully cold; I felt a blast of chilled wind on my nose and covered my head back up. Problems to deal with in the morning, I thought.
At around 7am there was an engine noise. At first, I thought it was a boat passing by, but then lights shone in my direction. I realized it was a beach combing tractor scooping up the sand. That jolted me awake like a shot of adrenaline. I frantically started to pack up all the gear whichever way possible before anyone saw me or my tent. I could organize things later. I tried to act like a regular tourist, taking an early morning stroll. None of the workers bothered me, and I made no effort to talk to anyone, lest someone ask me what I was doing here this early, and how I got here without land transportation.
I had the best kayaking day so far. Not that the cold was any help, I used my thicker wetsuit which had been dead weight until now, but once I paddled to the ocean side of the barrier islands I had the wind and the swells pushing me due South, I surfed from one wave to another for some 25 miles linking every acceleration down the face of one swell to the crest of the one in front. The GPS indicated that at one point I hit 10 mph and was regularly exceeding 9. I felt like a bluefin tuna; even a dolphin would not keep up with me for this long.
Up in the sky I saw a US coast guard plane that seemed to be flying in low circles around me. I’m not sure what it was doing, at one point it came just 500 feet above me and I could clearly see the letters USCG on under the wing. For a moment I was worried. Maybe the Inreach GPS banged about in the day hatch and activated the SOS signal. It’s a big red button on the side of the device so that if needed, I just need to smack it. That would be a costly misunderstanding. Eventually as I kept going South, the plane stayed behind. Perhaps they were doing drills as out on the horizon there was something that looked like a military ship.
Tonight, I have better accommodations than yesterday. My Colleagues from the office in Miami put me in touch with the staff at the St Petersburg wastewater treatment plant which is right by the ocean. I talked to the plant manager over the phone to coordinate my arrival time and he came to pick me up on a gas-powered golf cart underneath the I-55 overpass. It was a tricky spot to unload with a lot of sharp oyster beds, but with two people it was doable. I sat on the back of the cart and towed the kayak on my dolly as we slowly drove to the plant site along a bike path.
Jonathan, the plant manager, was a good fellow to have a drink with. He too is an avid kayaker, and owns a 17-foot Valley, which he paddles to and from Egmont Key. “You’ve got to be careful with the tide there, it rips fast, and if the wind is roughing it, you’ll have some large swells too.” He warned me.
Staying at the plant was a welcome difference from yesterday, I slept on the floor under the desk of someone’s office, by the secondary clarifiers, but it was cozy and warm, and best of all they had a warm shower too.
Sea Kayak Florida Circumnavigation