This season we discussed including some out-of-town paddles to extend our range. So, we decided to head to Lido Key. It has a nice paddle through the mangroves, also some open water options and it is close to St. Armand’s circle for lunch and shopping options. With the traffic, it took about 1 ½ hours from Punta Gorda. We were the first group of the day to arrive so there was plenty of parking. Our aim was to go through the mangrove tunnels first and then head out to Sarasota Bay if we wanted to go longer.
However,…the best laid plans… Once we got in the kayaks, we realized that (oops) we are in low a low tide situation. It turns out that it was the lowest of low tides. This happens mostly in January. We happily got in the kayaks only to realize that we were stuck in the mud. So, we ended up towing our kayaks and hiking out to deeper water. Because we were unable to get into the mangroves, we stayed out in the bay for the whole paddle. The wind was blowing 10 to 12 from the north east so we had some fun waves to navigate and got a good work out.
After the paddle we went to the Spanish themed Columbia Restaurant at St Armand’s Circle. Very good food in a quality place which is expected in the circle.
There was a little disappointment at not getting into the mangroves, but will maybe try it again later in the spring.
PGI PADDLERS-Paddle to Shell Creek- 2023
On January 12th a group of intrepid kayakers headed to Shell Creek for a fun paddle. It was a little cool and breezy in the morning so at first we might have thought for a minute about a light jacket. But no, we are hardy. In the creek with the trees for protection, it was very comfortable with a slight breeze. Perfect for paddling. There was a nice group of 18 people participating.
The launch ramp at Hathaway park was open so we were ready to go. As we left the ramp, our resident photographer Craig positioned himself to get individual pictures of most of us. They turned out great!
We paddled up and back for about 1 ½ hours. The creek is dammed so there is no current to deal with. On the way we saw a 6-foot alligator asleep on a log. With him was a turtle. The turtle was maybe brave or stupid or understood that it was nap time. Several people commented that there were almost no birds. It was very quiet without the birdsong. We thought it was maybe an effect of the hurricane but no way to know for sure. Paddling in Shell Creek is always a treat.
When finished, we got a great group photo then headed for the Celtic Ray for lunch. It was a good pick because it is big enough to spread out. We would usually have gone to Peace River Seafood but they have changed things after Ian.
PGI Paddlers kayak trip to Matlacha June 24, 2021
11 lucky paddlers spent the morning kayaking around West and Porpoise Point Islands that make up the community of Matlacha.
The Matlacha Community Park is a beautiful park and launch site next to the Blue Dog Café.
The group departed about 10:00 am. The weather was warm (of course) with the slightest breeze. Since we were in open water it was quite comfortable. For us Florida people it was just perfect.
Someone with a sense of humor had a statue, (I don’t know what else to call it) in the water.
Our other excitement early on was that three dolphins were feeding in an area we crossed. They breeched several times within feet of us as if to say hi.
After that we had a nice lunch at the Blue Dolphin Café. All together a wonderful day on the water.
Kathy and Rolf Simonson
PGI paddlers Christmas Day at Ponce Park
December 25th was a beautiful sunny day on the water as the weather was perfect. Nine of us started at the boat ramp at Ponce at 10:30.
There was a question about the future availability of the kayak launch area we had used over near the Peace River Wildlife Center. We checked it out and they have removed some rocks at the end of the seawall and graded the slope, so it is easier to navigate. The problem we saw is that there is a lot of debris on the path leading to the beach. At this point it doesn’t look very open to drive on it. We don’t know if that is permanent or temporary. However, we had no problems using the boat ramp.
There was a light wind, so we headed north into the open water of the harbor. Since it was sunny, we had a beautiful view of the sea bottom all the way to the canals. Again, the water in the canal on our way back was calm. People were out celebrating Christmas with their families and sent us a lot of friendly Christmas wishes. Because of the storm on the 21stthere was a lot of debris in the canals. We weren’t fishing but we caught some interesting things. Rolf picked up a large bucket. Kathy got a bunch of plastic bags and a tide pods container. Ken got a covered cat littler box. Fred won the fishing trophy by bagging a large fiberglass fish about 40ish inches (although he might claim it was bigger😊). It was a great 2-hour paddle.
Ken and Diane invited all the paddlers over to their place for dinner after the paddle. We enjoyed some great Christmas cheer, and wonderful food. We would like to thank them for their warm hospitality.
Since we had to cancel the trip to Coral Creek on the 21st, we will reschedule it for after the next monthly meeting in January.
Happy New Year
Rolf and Kathy
Kayak Eco Tours at Nav-a-gator
February 8th 2022
Our trip to paddle out of the Nav-a-gator bar on the Peace River started out a little slow. We had scheduled with tour guide Steve Burroughs. It was cool and drizzling off and on before we started. So as a group we went back and forth with the decision whether or not to do it. Finally, we decided to give it a go. It did not rain while we were out, and Steve led a very nice tour. The Peace River has many twists, turns, and back channels so it is fun to have a guide to show you the way. We got to see many birds but no alligators this time. The paddle lasted about 90 minutes.
Lunch after was at the Nav-a-gator bar and grill. Very nice as usual.
Manatee Park Paddle
February 15th 2022
Every year we try to paddle at Manatee Park in Fort Myers. The manatees are sensitive to water temperatures and will come to the park to stay overnight in the area of the effluent from the power plant whenever the water temperature is less than 68 degrees. The best viewing times are late December, January, and February. Since it has been chilly this January and February, we had a great day with many sightings in the Orange River. The day started a little cool but warmed nicely and we had a very comfortable paddle. The current at the start of the paddle was quite strong downstream due to the tide, river flow, and plant discharge. So, after seeing that we were floating downstream too fast we headed upstream for a while. There were not many manatees up there, but the scenery is beautiful. After we turned and went down stream it was a quick trip. Past the power plant there were many manatees to view, sometimes as many as six at a time. Some saw mother and baby pairs.
Lunch was at Rib city. If you like falling of the bone ribs and great pulled pork, this is the place to go.
The PGICA Paddlers have had to cancel several paddles this year due to inclement weather including the one at Liverpool Island. Seeing a good weather opportunity this week we decided on a last-minute paddle to see how it would go. It was a success according to the participants. There were 8 paddlers that were able to come at the last minute. All were happy that we were able to do it as we didn’t want to miss seeing the rookeries this year.
The weather was lovely. We got to the first island in a light breeze. The wind picked up and we had an upwind paddle until we turned into the next channel. From there it was downwind past the second rookery island and all the way back to the ramp.
We didn’t know if the birds would be there since it is later in the spring. The first island had some wood storks nesting. The second island had a bigger colony of wood storks, roseate spoonbills, and egrets. The nests on the second island seem to be a little more hidden in the foliage than the first island. It does seem that in the last couple of years more birds have moved over there.
If anyone new is interested, this is a beginner to intermediate paddle depending on the wind. The river there is fairly wide; so, if you see any alligators they are pretty far away on the bank.
After the paddle, we gathered at the Peace Rive Seafood Restaurant for lunch. We discussed looking at some last-minute paddle notices occasionally for next year if we run into the same problems of cancellations.
Trip Report: Ponce Tunnels, April 4 After cancelling several paddles this winter sixteen PGI paddlers ventured out on the water to traverse the Ponce Tunnels. We checked the radar several times to be sure the storms were passing to the north. Despite storms in the area, the water was calmer than usual. Paddling through the mangroves we did experience a fallen branch that was not there the day before, and everyone made it around without difficulty. The group returned to the park via the harbor. As the sky grew darker and more ominous we paddled faster. After loading our kayaks we met up with several more members who opted to skip the paddling under the park pavilion to share food and drink and miss our “snowbird” members a safe trip north. We took times out to get a group photo as the sun set. Thank you to Miriam Taylor for the club shirts many of us are wearing. When the park ranger arrived to lock the park gate the group headed home.
Thirteen club members participated in the Feb. 22 paddle that launched from Oyster Creek Park and toured that estuary and its intersection with Lemon Bay. We had the joint benefit of having a guide and beautiful weather. Our guide, naturalist Mike Weisenee, paused periodically along the way to point out many of the natural elements that we otherwise often pass by without noticing. On our first pause, Mike scooped up a few “Upside-Down Jellyfish”, the scientific genus Cassiopea. Upside- down Jellyfish - Gulf Specimen Marine Lab. They were plentiful, but visible only when you know what to look for, with a very mild sting. We paused mid-trip to land on a sandy beach where various Mangroves, shells and other sea life were identified, as well as raccoon and crab tracks. Many types of birds were observed, including Great Egret, Crowned Night Heron, Cormorant, Osprey and Willet. We were also able to observe a very large eagle’s nest with two fledglings visible. There was a light chop as we returned to the launch site, but overall it was an easy paddle, the main feature being the science lessons explaining the beautiful environment along the way. Oyster Creek Park is across the street from the Cedar Point Environmental Center, which operates in tandem with the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center (CHEC). Our guide encouraged us to return for a visit there to experience the views from the land. Each paddler contributed $10, covering the guide’s fee with $50 additional left which will be donated to CHEC during the April Giving Challenge, to double our impact.
Many of the participants then adjourned to lunch at the nearby Ken & Barb’s Grove City Grill.
Bald Eagles Nest