Solo Everglades Kayak Trip 2015

My eighteenth trip and my first solo! I finally made my way around Cape Sable, and explored some new places along the way… [Gallery]


Source: NPS

I started out at Flamingo, where the marina is split in two by a dam. I put in on the north side and proceeded up the Buttonwood Canal to Coot Bay.


From there it was a fairly uneventful trip up to the North River Chickee.

North River Chickee

Saw this lone Osprey next to his nest right at the confluence of the two main channels. I think he was trying to attract a mate.


The next morning I loaded up as shown here…

[Note the two items behind the seat, foul weather gear in the orange bag and my big camera in a black waterproof box. This made both accessible without much turning.]

My Fully Loaded Kayak @ North River Chickee

…and headed northeast up one of the many channels of the North River


The Bladderworts (carnivorous plants) were blooming.

Purple Bladderwort

I went as far as I could go and almost lost a shoe in the mud. Got a bit lost on the return trip. It was a real maze! I made it back to the chickee just in time to share dinner with my friend Larry Rooks and his cousin who were on a fishing trip with a powerboat. Serendipity!

Larry Rooks

After dinner I skedaddled and made it to the Watson River Chickee just as darkness fell. The bugs were out so I retreated to my extra large tent and sat in my backpacker’s chair. Like having my own private screen porch….Sweet! There was no moon so the stars were brilliant, especially Orion and Sirius.


On the third day I headed up through The Labyrinth on my way to the Shark River.

Shark River

Spotted my first White Pelicans soaring…


My plan was to stay as far north as possible and come down Graveyard Creek to the campsite at it’s outlet. This was a bit of extra work at low tide, but passible. The campsite was totally different from what I remember. It was overgrown and very buggy. I headed to the tent early, sat in my chair and read a book.

Graveyard Creek

The next morning was something that had to be endured. There were hundreds, maybe thousands, of no-see-ums on the tent! When I finally got out, I was under attack the entire time I was packing up. The only relief came from walking about the site to keep ahead of the little bastards. Worst I’ve seen. I was so glad to get out on the water!

I began sailing almost immediately. and quickly crossed Ponce de León Bay (the mouth of the Shark River). Met another solo kayaker named Steve on the way. The wind increased and the waves grew until I judged it to be too dangerous (15-20 knot wind, 2-3 foot waves). The coastline was rather uninviting, with a fence of fallen trees and no beach showing. At Big Sable Creek I found one little spot that got me out of the wind and waves. After that I had an uneventful peddle to Northwest Cape. This gave me a bit of relief from the waves so I decided to sail again. I tacked downwind at about ten knots ever watchful for an involuntary gybe. This became a real possibility due to the growing waves that changed my heading 30° or more in a few seconds. [Video] I put the sail down when I reached the Lake Ingraham Inlet (that’s Middle Cape in the distance below).

Middle Cape from Lake Ingraham Inlet

Once I reached the Cape I found a nice little campsite out of the wind with a view of the sunset. This was the only night I was not alone. There were two kayak parties and several fishing boats.

The next day I started out on a port tack and sailed almost all the way to Carl Ross Key without turning (something like 14 miles!). As I passed East Cape I looked up and saw the fluke of a Manatee as it dove. I planned to eat lunch there but then my rudder failed. So I peddled on and steered with my paddle. It wasn’t bad, I only had to put in a stroke every ten seconds or so. I ate lunch in the boat and cruised the eastern side of Carl Ross and the larger Sandy Key. The later is off limits to humans and as a consequence there were birds in abundance, including rare White Herons and Bald Eagles.

White Pelicans

From there I crossed an enormous shallow bank for another ten miles to get to the Johnson’s Key Chickee. This one is a bit different, built higher (for the waves?) with a dock at the waterline. The place was filthy with bird droppings due to its location. I swabbed the deck with my bucket and my foot, and got my abode for the night tolerably clean.

Johnson's Key Chickee

The water was reasonably warm and very clear so I went for a swim before dinner. Afterward I just sat in my chair and took in the vistas. Beautiful place! While I was sitting there saw a Horned Grebe fishing for his dinner. In the near distance I could hear and see yet another Bald Eagle.

The next morning was spent mostly following a marked channel because everywhere else was too shallow. The floating seagrass kept fouling my drive. There were lots of White Pelicans feeding in small groups all with way across the bay. I arrived back at the marina but now on the low side of the dam. A easy finish to a great trip!


Juvenile Bald Eagle Followed by a Rainbow – Busy Day on the Lake!


Looked out and there was a rather bedraggled juvenile Bald Eagle sitting in the rain on my dock. Molting into adult plumage must be the equivalent of a teenager with acne. Not fun…



About and hour later the clouds parted and we were presented with this spectacular sky!

Rainbow Over Little Lake Santa Fe

The panorama above covers almost 180° and was stitched together from ten overlapping vertical shots. Click on the photo for a hi-res view.

Juvenile Mississippi Kite – With Surprise Appearance by Mom

Mama Shows Up

We had a juvenile Mississippi Kite who sat in the same tree for several weeks. While I was taking pictures an adult bird flew in, gave him a snack, and flew off. The entire exchange took about fifteen seconds!

mama leaves

Looks like a dragonfly? Mmm good!

junior has a snack

  More photos in the Gallery.

More Evidence Against Daylight Saving Time

Nice summary in the WSJ of recent research on the purported  energy savings from DST. The government sponsored study suggested savings, but there was no control, no way to eliminate other possible causes. One of the participating experts concludes…

We don’t know how the U.S. would have behaved without the daylight saving time extension. — Hendrik Wolff (Commenting on the 2008 Study)

The second study is from Australia where a natural experiment occurred due to changes made for the 2000 Olympics. While energy use declined during evening hours, it rose the same amount during the morning. There were no net savings! [graphic]

The third and most recent study takes advantage of another natural experiment in the State of Indiana. The authors point out that in this age of electric air conditioning and super-efficient LED lightbulbs, the percent of energy used for lighting is becoming less significant over time.

We’re fooling ourselves to continue calling it an energy policy given the studies that show it doesn’t save energy. — Matthew J. Kotchen (Commenting on his 2011 DST Study)

Abstract—We take advantage of a natural experiment in the state of Indiana to estimate the effect of daylight saving time (DST) on residential electricity consumption. Our main finding is that, contrary to the policy’s intent, DST increases electricity demand. The findings are consistent with simulation results that identify a trade-off between reducing demand for lighting and increasing demand for heating and cooling. We estimate a cost to Indiana households of $9 million per year in increased electricity bills. We also estimate social costs of increased pollution emissions between $1.7 to $5.5 million per year. (The Review of Economics and Statistics, November 2011, 93(4): 1172–1185)

More indications that DST has outlived its utility and is now just a historic anachronism (see my prior posts).

Update Nov 10

Found two humorous (but true!) DST-related items today…

Wise Old Indian on Daylight Savings Time

Ten Swallow-Tailed Kites on a Communal Roost


Out on the lake a little after dawn this morning, looked over and there they were…  Swallow-Tailed Kites!  [gallery] I rushed back to get my camera thinking they’d fly away. More than an hour later I left them still preening and relaxing. I took photos until my arms got tired from holding the camera. I was surprised to see so many together, but apparently they can be quite social, sharing communal roosts near areas with lots of food.

My Two Cents on Net Neutrality

Comment Sent to the FCC

I strongly object to splitting the Internet into fast and slow
lanes. The current near monopoly power of a handful of companies
(Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, etc.) has led to our current
situation (supply of bandwidth lagging well behind demand). We the
people are already paying too much for too little. The fact that
Netflix must pay to have Comcast deliver its product is damning. If
Netflix is in such high demand, why doesn’t Comcast increase its
capacity? The public has already paid for it!! In a normal
marketplace this would be automatic. The FCC has been asleep at the
switch on this one.

The simple solution is to correctly label and regulate ALL
Internet Service Providers as Common Carriers! Please do this soon!!

Send your comments to:

Painfully slow submission process; confusing, redundant web forms; when I first tried to submit I got a “can’t find the server” error. Had to come back an hour later to complete the process. Oy Vay!

It’s almost as if they don’t want to hear from us?

November 10 Update

President Obama comes out strong for Net Neutrality, including the most important bit… I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. In other words, regulate ISPs as common carriers. Yes!

Lucid, Engaging Explanation of Net Neutrality by Vi Hart

This is the best exposition I’ve seen of the recent about face by the FCC and what’s at stake if it should become reality. Major take home…

ISPs Are Common Carriers!

They should be regulated as such. She also answers the question why we in the US pay so much for so little? Directly out of my Econ 101 textbook… Monopolies are bad for everyone except the monopolists. Vi puts traditional media outlets to shame. Kudos!

June 1 Update: Humorous take on the same topic by John Oliver! [profanity]

More Swallow-Tailed Kites!!


While driving back from St. Pete, I came across this pair of Swallow-Tailed Kites soaring between large oak trees. [gallery] It’s hard to describe their graceful maneuvers as they searched for their insect prey. They looked more like butterflies than birds! Just as I was leaving two small birds (Cardinals?) finally got fed up and mobbed the larger birds to make them leave.

Short clip, but I got the pair flying together between the trees. <smile>


You may see these birds from spring to fall all over the State of Florida. It’s hard to miss them if you know what to look for! I frequently see them along I-75 anywhere the trees come up to the road. I’ve also seen them soaring over shopping malls in suburban areas?! Unlike other predatory birds (such as Red-Shouldered Hawks), which sit on a perch and suddenly pounce on their prey—these Kites glide over and between large trees. Unlike other soaring birds (such as Turkey Vultures), they fly near the ground where they are easy to see. Online references place their numbers at 2000-4000. This species adorns birding trail signs throughout the state.

Here is what I wrote in 2009 about the Ultimate Bird

Every Spring I look forward to the return of Swallow-Tailed Kites (Elanoides forficatus) from their South American sojourn. I’ve seen two so far this year. In the US this bird is almost unique to Florida, where it comes to breed. I can still remember the first time I saw one driving along a rural highway—I looked up and “Wow!” I was hooked. After giving it some thought I’ve concluded that in addition to the striking forked tail and elegance in the air, the white on black plumage creates a dazzle camouflage effect. The smaller white bird on a dark background looks dove-like or even angelic in the morning light. Always a remarkable sight!

Daylight Saving Time Nonsense Again!

It’s that time of the year! Spring is always worse than the fall because we all lose an hour of sleep… Poof!… It’s just gone. When will the insanity end?!

Here are a view nuggets I discovered today…

Proposed Florida “Sunshine Protection Act” (HB 701, SB 74)

If this bill became law, the Florida would remain on DST all year long. That might be better than the current situation because our time reference would not change twice a year. At least our biological clocks would be spared, but remaining on Standard Time would be even better!

A Spring Forward or a Step Back?

This piece by David Dickinson brings up an issue I hadn’t thought of before… Astronomers don’t like DST. I find this ironic. If you go back a hundred years all time keeping relied on astronomers! For example there is an observatory where I went to college that was used to “set time for all the major railroads from Chicago to Seattle” up until the 1940′s.

Daylight Saving Time Explained

Finally there is this excellent video by CGP Grey…

iPhone Panoramic Photography

I finally finished my Disquisition on this topic, see the full article or go directly to the gallery.