Saturday, January 27, 2007

01/27/2007 – Bay Grass

Launch: Causeway by the public boat ramps near the old Exxon station.
Launch Cost: Free.
Route: Northwest across the Tensaw River and Delvan Bay. Up Spanish River to Bay Grass Creek, up a tributary to the end, and back out across the Spanish River, through the Polecat Bay cut, south along the east edge of Polecat Bay, then back to launch site.
Distance: 11.9 miles.
Average Speed: 2.8 mph.
Time: Approx 4.5 hrs.
Pace: Leisurely.
Weather: Cloudy with rain. The temperature was 52 degrees; winds were out of the northeast about 0-10 mph. The tide was almost high and there was minimal current.

1) Light rain started within minutes of starting the paddle. Winds were calm. The clouds were beautiful.

2) I led a kayak club paddle today and no one showed up. The weather radar showed plenty of rain was expected. Does a little rain stop you from paddling? Some of my most memorable paddles have been during rain. Rain tends to dampen sound waves which allow paddlers to get even closer to wildlife.

3) This is a cypress tree with some unique knees.

4) A Barbers ice cream truck about 3 miles in the Delta. I wonder if they know this truck is here. I also wonder why this truck is allowed to deteriorate – spilling its hazardous fuel and oil into our water. If it was on the side of a roadway, tow trucks would have removed it about 75 weeks ago.

5) This is the Mobile skyline as seen from Bay Grass Bay.

6) Further up into Bay Grass tributary, the lush greens are early signs of spring. Oh boy, the days are getting longer meaning more daylight time to kayak!

7) This is a duck hunter’s blind used to hide their boat. They make hunting blinds with real reeds and grasses shoved into the mud. When done hunting, hunters leave their hunting blind as is. Both fish and birds make use of these old hunting blinds.

8) I’m not sure what these birds are – they were plenty of them swarming the waters and making use of the hunting blinds.

9) This is the first time I have kayaked in the back of a pickup truck. Again, I ask why are these trucks rotting in the water? The pickup truck on the right had a 12 volt battery in its truck bed. Is acid, gas, and oil good for the water?

10) This was a really nice paddle today – lots of birds. After 4 hours in the rain, all that was wet was the bill of my hat, my hands, and kayak exterior. All you need to stay dry is a good spray skirt and a good rain jacket. Mountain Hard Wear makes some really lightweight, wind stopper, breathable, waterproof jackets. I don’t let a little rain dampen my passion for kayaking.

11) Trip Track. Numbers indicate where above photos were taken.

“Don't take your toys inside just because it's raining.” -Cher

Saturday, January 20, 2007

01/20/2007 – Fly Creek - Fairhope Pier

Launch: Fairhope Yacht Club.
Launch Cost: Free.
Route: Northeast into Fly Creek, aka Devils Hole to a log jam and back. Then out into Mobile Bay, south to Fairhope Pier and back.
Distance: Approx 6.2 miles round trip.
Average Speed: 2.4 mph.
Time: Approx 3 hrs.
Pace: Slow.
Weather: Cloudy, 55 degrees, winds from the east 10 mph to calm, incoming tide, very little current.

Statistics indicate that only 7 percent of the viewers of this blog are using 800 x 600 resolution screens, the majority being 1024 x 768 or higher resolution. Therefore, I'll be uploading photos in the 1024 x 768 size from now on. As always, you can click on a thumbnail photo to see the higher resolution photo.

1) There were quite a few lazy pelicans on the rock jetties at Fly Creek.

2) A little ways up Fly Creek, it looked like this Duck was waving at me as I paddled by. Then again, it also looked like it was about to pass the gas. Those webbed feet are so thin that you can see the blood vessels in them.

3) A confused Cormorant cannot decide what to do with kayaks coming at it from both directions.

4) Kayaking is becoming more popular.

5) This log jam, about a mile up Fly Creek, is the turn around point.

6) Out in Mobile Bay, near the Fairhope Pier park, seagulls fight over a piece of bread which one of them just dropped.

7) The sun was shining 5 miles to the south. Over by the Fairhope Pier I met David who was fishing from his green Prowler ocean kayak. Interest in kayak fishing is picking up. If you are interested in fishing from a kayak, here are two links to check out – Mobile Bay Kayak Fishing Association and Forgotten Coast Kayak Anglers (Tallahassee area). There are some good photos on those sites.

8) Even though the sunset was hidden by the clouds, as the waters laid down the hues of blue and gray were beautiful as the reflections slowly swayed in the waters.

9) The new Fairhope Pier is sturdy enough for a pickup truck. A new roof was being put on the Yardarm Restaurant. Note that the old July 4th gathering point now has a row of rocks between the water and the yacht club pier.

10) Dusk at the Fairhope Pier. Why wasn't anyone fishing off the pier? Oh, that's right - the smart ones are fishing from their kayak.

"Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."
- Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, January 14, 2007

01/14/2007 – Bay Minette Basin

Launch: Buzbee’s which is just a few miles north of Spanish Fort on Hwy 225.
Launch Cost: $3.
Route: This was a club paddle (Mobile Bay Canoe and Kayak Club) led by Harriet through Bay Minette Basin up into Yancy Bay.
  Distance: 5.7 miles.
Average Speed: 2.2 mph.
Time: Approx 2.5 hrs.
Pace: Leisurely.
Weather: Mostly sunny, temps in the 70s, winds out of the south about 10-15 mph, rising tide, minimal currents.

1) These two future kayakers proved that a canoe or kayak is not necessary to have fun on the water. They were sitting on piece of plywood that was lying on top of an inflated tube.

2) As the youngsters were heading home on their inflated tube, local kayakers were gathering for a short kayak trip on a very beautiful Sunday afternoon.

3) It appears the Baldwin County building boom will affect the Spanish Fort shoreline as trees are replaced by Condominiums. In this photo, double rows of both hay bales and silt fence indicate a contractor’s strong commitment to protecting these waters. 

4) Tom tests his new GPS which is advertised to be waterproof and floatable - it worked.

5) A nice tailwind pushes Fritz and the rest of the Mobile Bay Canoe and Kayak club members north up Yancy Bay without having to paddle much.

 6) If you have never been on a club trip, note that there are all types and colors of kayaks used. Jan, in the blue kayak, was having a great time pedaling his kayak.

7) This photomerge was taken at the end of Yancy Bay before we got out and stretched the legs. Note the land-locked houseboat in the photo.

8) “He’s safe!” No…Fritz is not indicating someone is safe, it is a reaction to sinking fast. Fritz and Tom entertained us by trying to walk to the houseboat. Both were unsuccessful as vegetation gave way to water waist deep.

9) All of us, in our vibrant colored kayaks, were thoroughly enjoying the nice warm day in the middle of winter.

10) Jeff, who was fishing alone from his kayak while we were at Yancy Bay, watches the sunlight fade into the horizon. During our chat, Jeff made an interesting statement, saying he has had more fun using his kayak than he ever had using the motorboats he has owned. If you have never been in a kayak, you ought to give one a try! Check the following websites frequently to see when group paddles are scheduled: Mobile Canoe and Kayak Club Blog or join their Yahoo Group.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

01/13/2007 – Whiskey Ditch

Launch: River Doc launch on the north side of the Causeway near Ed’s Seafood. It is a mud parking lot.
Launch Cost: Free.
Route: East along Pass Picada, northeast along the Apalachee River, then west to the end of Whiskey Ditch and back.
Distance: 5.6 miles.
Average Speed: 2.6 mph.
Time: Approx 2.5 hrs.
Pace: Slow.
Weather: Winds from the south 5-10 mph. Temp in the lower 70s and partly cloudy. I have to grin after reading a message from a kayaker who was cussing because it was 5 degrees where he lives. I love Mobile weather.

1) I dropped off the broken Hobie Outback kayak and loaded up the Necky Zoar. There was no way a broken kayak was going to ruin this absolutely beautiful kayaking day. Photomerge taken after launching – this is the entrance to Pass Picada. The barely visible building on the far right is the Oyster House restaurant.

2) After passing the Bluegill restaurant, I met Mike and Sherry. They had just launched and they too were headed to Whiskey Ditch.

3) Nice puffy clouds combined with calm waters made excellent reflections.

4) This photomerge was taken near the end of Whiskey Ditch. Some of you will recognize the trees.

5) There was a lot of bird activity today. These were red-winged blackbirds.

6) In Whiskey Ditch lake, looking back southwest toward the sun, a bright spot appeared in the clouds to the right of the sun. Could this be the sun’s reflection off of a big lake shining back into the clouds?

7) On the way back, flocks of birds were still making noise.

8) Not far from the launch site, I thoroughly enjoyed a colorful ending to a wonderful kayak trip.

9) I think all kayak trips should be timed so they take in the sunrise, or the sunset, or if you are lucky, both.

10) After getting out of the kayak, upper level clouds turned several shades of pink before disappearing into the darkness of night. I didn’t see much wildlife today but the ever changing scenery made me forget all about it.

"God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars."
-Martin Luther

01/13/2007 – Dauphin Island

Launch: Southeast end of Dauphin Island by Billygoat Hole just west of the Mobile Ferry launch site.
Launch Cost: Free.
Route: Around the east end of Dauphin Island and back.
Distance: 2 miles.
Average Speed: 3.2 mph.
Time: Approx 45 minutes.
Pace: Leisurely.
Weather: Sunny, temp in the 70s, winds 10-15 mph from the east – a really beautiful day.

1) The road to the end of Dauphin Island was closed at Fort Gaines meaning I could not launch at the Rock Jetties, so I launched next to Mobile Ferry, planning to go around the east end of Dauphin Island and then head to Sand Island.

2) Nice kayaking conditions today – well, almost. Around the east end at the shallows, tide and wind were making the wave action very agitated (3 foot waves with 2 foot spikes on top of the waves). I always like to launch on the south side of the island to avoid east end which can get nasty during peak tidal flow. I chickened out and turned around to paddle inland Dauphin Island. Hey kayakers - there is nothing wrong with chickening out and turning around. If wind, wave, current, or weather looks bad, or you don’t feel comfortable kayaking in the conditions, don’t do it – especially if you are kayaking solo. Go elsewhere or kayak another day. You should be even more cautious in the winter when water temperatures can quickly cause hypothermia. Do you know what temperature the water is where you are kayaking? Even though waters at Dauphin Island are about 60 degrees right now, being in that water temperature can cause unconsciousness or exhaustion in about 2 hours.

3) It is a good thing I turned around! My Hobie Outback Mirage pedal drive unit broke about 10 minutes after turning around. It broke in such a way that I could not fix it, so this trip came to an abrupt end.

4) I had to look at this sign several times and still could not figure out why (DISL) Dauphin Island Sea Lab has a sign that says, “NO DICKING.” Either weather eroded the sign or some prankster did a bit of touch up work on it. Every kayak trip is a new adventure!

Monday, January 01, 2007

01/01/2007 - Mobile River Fireworks Show

Launch: Triple public boat ramps in the middle of the Causeway on the North side.
Launch Cost: Free.
Route: Down the Tensaw River, around Choctaw Point, up Mobile River to near Austal and then back.
Distance: 11.9 miles.
Average Speed: 3.2 mph.
Time: Approx 4 hrs.
Pace: Moderate.
Weather: Winds calm, temperature low 50s, and bright moon shining. Receding tide - current was going out 2.5 - 3.5 mph.

1) I’m between the interstate lanes heading out to watch the midnight fireworks from Mobile River.

2) This is what Mobile River looks like at night. One has to be very careful when kayaking in this busy river, especially at night when it is necessary to see the moving lights amid all the stationary lights.

3) I got to the fireworks show about 3 minutes late due to a running light that refused to work and a chain on the pedal unit broke about 20 minutes into the trip and had to be replaced.

4) The reflections of the fireworks on the water were amazing. A couple of the fireworks were the biggest ones I’ve ever seen and with them came some of the strongest concussions I’ve ever felt. It helps to have the best seat to watch the fireworks from.

5) There is a tugboat passing in this view – it is between the tall RSA building and the new state docks crane to the right of it.

6) After fighting some strong currents on the way back, I took a photo of the battleship with the moon shining above it. This was a very good way to start the New Year off. Hope your New Year gets off to a great start as well!