Shark River tide chart
Jan7 Hi 12:12pm Lo 18:10 Hi 23:10
Jan 8 Lo 7:00 Hi 12:49 Lo 18:51
Jan 9 Lo 7:38 Hi 13:27 Lo 19:32
Jan 10 Lo 8:17 Hi 14:05 Lo 20:14
Jan 11 Lo 8:57 Hi 14:44 Lo 20:57
Thursday – paddle from Coot Bay Pond through coot bay into whitewater bay then northward to Oyster Bay
16.5 miles finished at 3 left at 9. Fog till 11 10 knot cross breeze till 12 then light and variable. Hundreds of coots in Coot bay. At Oyster Bay, I met Mike and Dave from Detroit heading south. They had been out for 6 days and had one more night to go.
Friday -Oyster bay to graveyard then up the coast to Highland Beach then into Broad River Chickee
Today I celebrate my 55th birthday! What a long strange trip it’s been.
Easy crossing oyster bay outgoing tide was welcomed. Gulf of Mexico was dead calm no breeze at all and mostly overcast all day. At the Shark River mouth in Ponce de Leon Bay saw many dolphins. Many birds today. Flocks of ibis, brown pelican, terns, plovers, cormorants, anhingas, many ospreys, king fishers and 2 bald eagles. I decided to duck in and check out the nightmare creek. Sorta tight and some low overhead. Got to use the short paddle I brought. Just 1 super tight spot which I had to duck under but my cooler fit. After nightmare I paddled out to highland beach. Kinda nice oyster shell beach but didn’t look too comfortable for camping. Had lunch there then continued to broad river ground site which was being occupied by 2 alligators. Luckily they moved on when I approached. Hopefully they stay away tonight. . Started a fire even though I’m not supposed to. Plenty of fuel thanks to wilma or whatever hurricane killed all the trees. Mostly they have been replaced but you can tell they are all the same age because they are all competing for the sun. When smoke comes your way you are supposed to say i hate white rabbits but today I love them. Chili and macaroni tonight. Mocha mousse pie for dessert. Beer is still cold thanks to the new yeti cooler. No cake and candles but maybe I’ll blow out the lighter. The mosquito count is off the charts. I will be mostly packed when I turn in tonight so I can make a dash for the safety of the river first thing tomorrow. Changing the route a bit. Going back out to the Gulf then back in the nightmare where I picked it up today. Might try to make cane patch tomorrow if nightmare goes as good tomorrow as it did today. Tried the weather radio. Apparently there is still 1 place in the country where the National Weather service doesn’t broadcast. Guess I’ll just have to wing it.
Saturday – Broad River to Harney River had to cut out the nightmare because of low water. The tide is about 4 feet and since high tide isn’t until 1 I decided to get moving. The were enough mosquitoes that if they were worth a dollar each I could pay off the National debt. Sleeping was good. The gators stayed away. I did hear a lot of dolphins in the river breathing all night long. The thermacell was working pretty good but there are some terribly obnoxious mosquitoes in the everglades. Since tide was still falling, I opted to go back out to the ocean and head south. The first major hurdle was getting my gear and sup down to the water without breaking my neck on the slickest mud in the world. I ended up just plopping all my gear bags in the mud and then managing to get my board down there too. Too many oysters around and the current was trying to take my board out to sea so I just rinsed off the gear best I could and set it upon the board. I paddled out to the middle to try and get away from the mosquitoes. Didn’t help much. I then rewashed everything and strapped it down while floating downstream. Cruising downstream is fun until you go over an oyster bank. Thank goodness for my keel fin which is only about 6 inches deep. I didn’t hit once but I sure was nervous. Out the mouth and down the coast. Dolphins were working the area pretty hard. Saw many of them and they didn’t seem to mind the company. Fog closed in and I had white out conditions. Good thing for the compass as I had to stay out to sea to avoid the shallows. There were islands in places there wasn’t the day before. The gps was helpful for picking out the correct creek to go back in on and I cruised right in without incident. Harney river was pretty wide at the entrance but I did find a nice side creek to take. When I got to the shelter, it was so pleasant that I promptly hung my hammock. Today was supposed to be a lower mileage day so I’m sticking with that original plan. Canepatch will have to wait for another trip. Nice breeze blowing and keeping most of the mosquitoes away. Good site here. I don’t think I’ll ever want to stay at broad river again.
Laid around camp all day reading in my tent and lounging in the hammock. Mid dinner the noseeum army descended. Chased me right back to the tent. Thinking of cutting the trip short tomorrow and pushing through to coot bay pond. Right at dusk I was joined by 3 canoes full of outward bound staff and a couple of trainees.
Sunday – Harney River to Watson River via the Labyrinth then on to Coot Bay Pond
Started extra early Sunday morning left the chickee at about 5:30. Still dark out I was greeted immediately by bioluminescence. That was a welcome surprise. Next off I woke up an alligator who is sleeping in the middle of the creek. It was nice being out before light watching the stars and planets and very peaceful. The current was against me so it was extra hard work at first I went up the North Fork of Harney River and then I took the smaller Harney Creek which was pretty nice. When I got to Tarpon Bay I turned to go down Shark River and then I was hit with a headwind so while I had the current in my favor, I had the wind against me. Stopped at the Shark River chickee for a breakfast snack before heading into the labyrinth. That place is crazy very difficult to navigate without GPS I don’t know how anybody did it before we had these wonderful instruments. I would go into a little bay and there would be 6 exits all twisting and turning around you didn’t know if it was an island or another Creek. Thankfully I had mapped out the area out beforehand so I stuck with my course. After exiting the labyrinth, I had a nice little downwinder to Watson River chickee which was where I was supposed to stay. It was only one o’clock when I got there and since I was missing home a lot I decided to push on the rest of the way and cut the trip short by one day. Well I had a nice 5 mile 7 mile crosswind about 15 knots that really tested the boards stability. I managed to not fall off. When I got into Coot Bay the wind was much more in my favor and so that was a downwinder for about 3 miles and then I finished up in Coot Bay Pond. Coot Bay Pond was visited by thousands of coots which were fun to watch on the way out. Kind of a goodbye from Everglades.
It’s hard to describe how magical the Everglades is. It doesn’t jump right out at you all the time but a couple of Ospreys getting their fish, a hawk sitting on top of a tree calling you or ibises who keep crying in front of you only to have you have to push them out again. Top that off with a couple of alligators and some bald eagles and lots of dolphins as a great place to visit