Saturday, September 23, 2006

09/23/2006 – Dauphin Island

Launch: Southeast end of the island by the rock jetties. Launch Cost: Free. Route: South to the southeast end of Sand Island, then northwest along the north side of Sand Island, staying on the protected side. Then back along the coast of Dauphin Island to the launch site. Distance: Approx 9.9 miles. Average Speed: 3.7 mph. Time: Approx 3 hrs. Pace: Moderate. Weather: Sunny. The winds were moderate out of the South but Sand Island buffers the southern winds so the waves were minimal in Pelican Bay. Venturing outside the protected waters meant negotiating some waves. I did play in the waves down near the Pier and had several nice rides.

(1) Above left. Can you find the bird that doesn’t seem to fit in? (2) Above right. A Figure 8 jelly fish, mostly harmless.

(3) Above left. A sandpiper type bird was pulling its head out of the water. Its feathers are ruffled from the wind. (4) Above right. The waves in this photo are why I advise kayakers not to go kayaking to the Light House off Sand Island. When the current is flowing and the wind blows, waves can break in several directions across the shallow waters making for some confused seas. You may ask why I go kayaking out here all the time. 98 percent of my offshore kayaking trips are with the Hobie Outback – a sit on top. No worry about crashing waves filling up the cockpit and swamping me. The Outback is 35 inches wide and only 12 feet long – it is very stable and handles offshore chop very well. I’m still testing its limits in terms of waves and wind.

(5) Above left. A Sanderling prods the sand for food to eat. (6) Above right. The water really wasn’t this green – must have something to do with the angle of the sun. You can tell the wind was blowing – there are little waves forming in the small inland pool. It is also another view of the breaking waves across the shallow sands of what used to be Sand Island before the Hurricanes shifted the sands.

(7) Above left. This view is from the north end of Sand Island showing the waves along the west side. Dauphin Island is in the background. The Northwest tip of Sand Island is also in an area of shallow, shifting sands that help cause breaking waves. (8) Above right. A couple of kite boarders were out taking advantage of the winds. Here, this fellow from Australia shows the starting position to take off. There are four lines attached to an overhead kite that go to a bar that he controls, which is also attached to his body harness.

(9) Above left. Several times I thought the kite was going to crash into the water but he controls the kite to make it swing back up. (10) Above right. He was a little disappointed that the waves weren’t big enough to catch some air. Here, he found a little wave to launch him several feet into the air. This looks like an awesomely fun sport, but I can’t help think it is the opposite of fishing. Here, the human is dangling on the end of a line being trolled along the surface of the water by the kite. Can you say, ”Shark bait?” I’ll stick to kayaking.

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