Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mobile Bay Double Crosser

Woke up bright eyed at 1:00 am feeling full of energy. Moon was shining brightly overhead. Marine forecast called for smooth waters in the upper Bay. Wind forecasts predicted 0-5 mph winds and 3 inch waves. Perfect forecast for a 10 mile crossing of Mobile Bay to Fairhope and back.

Nearing Dog River Bridge. Waters slick as glass.

Going under Dog River Bridge.

Got to pay attention on night paddles. That green light is on top of a Mobile Bay Ship Channel navigation post. Hard to see the post eh? Not all the posts in Mobile Bay have lights on them. The lights in the background are on the Dog River Bridge.

Made it to Fairhope Beach by the Pier. The 10 mile crossing took 2 hours and it would be another 2 hours on the return crossing. Wind was from the NNW and was closer to 10 mph causing foot high rolling waves. The Bay waters were anything but smooth. I was disappointed. You can never trust marine forecasts. Open water Kayakers should always be prepared for stronger than predicted winds. Paddling at night in cross waves can be challenging if there is no moon. Rogue waves can blindside you causing a capsize or a really good soaking. Luckily my kayak is 27.5 inches wide so it is really really stable in cross waves.

The nearly Full Moon shed enough light to illuminate the waves giving me enough time to rock the kayak on the bigger waves. That way I avoided getting soaked from the spray when the big waves hit the side of the kayak.

That is the downtown Mobile skyline to the North barely visible on the horizon.

Enjoying the 6:15 am Sunrise on Mobile Bay.

Toward the west, even though the sun had already risen, the moon was still visible. Flocks of birds that call Gilliard Island home were seen flying in all different directions as they commute to their feeding grounds.

Finally getting close to Dog River bridge again. That meant the waves were getting smaller.

Ahhh, sure enuf, no more freaking waves. The Bay crossings which I expected to be on smooth waters was certainly NOT on smooth waters. 3 out of the 4 hours on open water was like kayaking in a never ending boat wake hitting the kayak from the side. You know you have been kayaking in open water waves for a while when hours after the paddle is over you are still feeling the motion of the waves even though you are on solid land. 5 hours later and the room is still rocking...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rabbit Creek

Eastern Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) was in bloom near the shoreline.

On a smaller scale Dwarf Sundew (Drosera brevifolia) was about to bloom. This wetland plant supplements its need for nutrition by capturing and digesting insects. The yellow circle highlights one insect being eaten by the Sundew after it got stuck on the sticky droplets.

Fishing spiders are frequently seen on trees next to the water. Yes, these spiders capture and eat minnows.

What scares some people is just how big fishing spiders can get. This spider that was about 8 inches from leg tip to leg tip.

The fishing spiders do not bother me. What does is the storm water trash.

Motorized litter removal boats cannot reach this trash. This floating trash in Rabbit Creek can only be accessed by canoe or kayak. Unfortunately I know of no effective program in Mobile that regularly removes trash accumulations from upper creeks and tributaries. The City of Mobile, Mobile County, the State of Alabama, and all the environmental groups just ignore the waterway pollution even though some of it may be hazardous to public health and marine life.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Dog River Orange Hues

Saw some Green Arrow Arum (Peltandra virginica) that had unusual orange colored stems.

Closeup of the stem seen in the above photo. Some research on the Internet revealed the orange color on the Green Arums is the result of Rust Fungi (Uromyces caladii). The Rust Fungi is known to grow on another member of the Arum Family called Jack in the Pulpit.

The plant Rust can also be seen on the top of some Green Arum leaves.

A closeup view of the Rust Fungi.

Sunset on Dog River is another source of orange hues.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Dog River

Sailboat about to go under the Dog River bridge into Mobile Bay.

Sunset on placid Dog River.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Dog River Great Drift

The 6th annual Dog River Great Drift was held yesterday. Despite the dreary forecast of cloudy skies in conjunction with a small craft advisory meaning windy conditions, 40-50 kayakers still participated. The launch was in Rabbit Creek at Rangeline Road and the destination was the Rivershack Restaurant about 5 miles away. 

Someone commented after finally getting to the destination that the name of the Great Drift is misleading because any Drifting they did resulted in the wind moving them backwards in the wrong direction.

10-20 feet away from the Rabbit Creek Rangeline Road launch site shows the ugliness of the Dog River watershed. Recyclable aluminum, plastic, glass and more pollutes the shoreline wetlands.

It is ignorant to let aluminum cans rot into the waterway environment but that is what is happening in ignorant Alabama where recycling is an option for a few instead of being a requirement for all.

Glass which is obviously being buried abundantly along Dog River Watershed's shoreline as seen here in Rabbit Creek next to Rangeline Road, is impermeable. That means less water will be able to seep into the groundwater aquifers as more and more glass acumulates along and in the bottom of the Earth's waterways. A bottle here and there after each heavy rain added to the waterway pollution will eventually add up after thousands of years of ignoring the recyclable glass pollution problem. What happens when all the drinking water aquifers dry up? Gulp.

After the Great Drift I went back to the start location to see how much litter was left behind. Remarkably, I was unable to find a single piece of litter left behind by the Great Drift participants or organizers. And I looked all over the launch and registration areas. Big Kudos go to Dog River Clearwater Revival, the participants and all the volunteers for leaving the ALDOT right-of-way cleaner than it was before the event!

The only sign that there was a bunch of people in the area was a few lines in the sand left behind from dragging some of the kayaks to the water.