Saturday, February 7, 2015

A nice sunny morning? That's a paddlin’.

Kayaking appears to be quite popular here, which isn’t surprising given the vast, extensive network of intercoastal waterways, bayous and rivers. Plus, it’s generally warm out! Bonus.

This Saturday morning we took our turn to venture out, booking ourselves a tandem kayak with iKayak Sarasota. Julie determined that they offered the best value and timing of the operators we found online. Unfortunately, when we got there, we learned it was low tide and our guide was a bit nervous about us being able to get into, and out of, the mangrove tunnels. But on the bright side, we were the only guests for the morning so we could go do whatever we wanted.

Our guide, Mark, is a lifetime Sarasotan who has spent much of his life on the water, but “couldn’t spell kayak guide 5 years ago!”. No matter, we’re not white water kayaking here, but lazily paddling out in the calm waters in between Lido and Bird Keys and Mark definitely knew the finer details of the area. He pointed out the AC/DC frontman’s impressive place on the water. And then pointed to an even more impressive house and invited us to a garden party that afternoon – with a wink. And an apartment building for seniors where they used to have to will their estate to the church that operated the apartment (no longer a requirement due to fussy children).

There are obviously plenty of sea birds in this area: cormorants, anhingas, brown pelicans, spoonbills, etc., but we can easily pick out our snowbird brethren (ducks and big white pelicans) because they aren’t nearly as comfortable around humans. Take this anhinga for example. He swam right up to us, and even underneath us!

An anhinga comes swimming close to our kayak

But the White Pelican wouldn’t let us get closer than 100 meters.

Mark scooped up a sea urchin, and warned us of stepping on them. He said it’ll sting, and you can try and try to dig the spike out of your foot, but you’ll have to give up and accept the fact that you’ll now have a piece of the ocean inside your foot (appearing as a small black dot). Upside down jellyfish were also neat to see, and likely something I would not have spotted on the sandy bottom prior to Mark showing it to us.

Eventually we worked our way to the mangroves and our guide picked out a small break in the trees for us to paddle into. They weren’t kidding when they wrote mangrove tunnels on the tour description – you really feel like you’re in a tunnel!  It’s so quiet in here, save for the gentle clucking of oysters shutting their shells. paddling out of the mangrove tunnels

In order to exit the mangroves we did have to get out of our kayaks and push them – with a newfound awareness of where I was placing my feet in the water!

The tour was about 2.5 hours, and a great way to explore the area. We’re now wishing we had our kayak here with us. But we made a friend with Mark and hope to go sailing with him.

Photos on smugmug: 

where were we?15-02-07 kayak gps map

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