Backwaters of the southwest side of Pine Island
29 November 2013
On day two of our trip, Ellen and I woke up a little sore from paddling the mighty waters of St. James Creek, but we were excited to get out and dip our paddles in the water on the other side of the island. We did a great 6 1/2 mile paddle again this day, this time in just over 4 hours. We had better weather for this paddle; it got a little windy especially at the end of our day, but it was sunny and warm, and I traded in my stocking cap for my river hat before we had paddled even a mile.
Our first two miles of paddling were through canals, which was a great place to see some cool bigger boats. People give their boats some hilarious names, though, and I’ve got some of my favorites here. There is a great big yellow sailboat at the end of the slideshow below—it was not in a canal (too big!) but rather was anchored in open water. It was impressive, and while it bore the sort of boring name “Mary An,” “we be jammin’” as a boat subtitle pretty much rocks.
Once we had made our way through the canals, we paddled through some open water—water not as wide as St. James Creek, but still pretty wide, as you can see in the photo to the left here. We shared this big water with a few Bottlenose Dolphins again, some big fishing and sailing boats and many, many more fishing raptors like the Osprey in the photo that opens this post.
The edges of the open water had inlets that gave way to backwaters and lagoons lined with mangroves, like the one to the left here. These skinnier waterways were havens to small boats like ours and, also, gobs and gobs of waterfowl. When we paddled into the first of these backwaters, all hell broke loose as we startled probably a dozen different kinds of birds: ducks took off panicking, anhingas dropped from branches into the water like cannonballs, herons of all kinds flew away complaining. See the great shots Ellen got of this commotion below. Ellen and I got to talking—we have some of these birds in Michigan, but all the birds get bigger in Florida. It must the heat, or the plentiful food.
In terms of other animals: a spiffy little salamander joined Ellen on her boat for a bit; see him pictured to the left here. He had very fancy fingers and toes and must have dropped off one of the mangroves we paddled under onto her hatch. A spectacle of a creature that looked for all the world like a clockwork spider scared the hell out of me and drew Ellen’s admiration—this was the Mangrove Crab, and we saw a number of them marching around on mangrove branches. We also saw a ton of well-spun webs with some fancy spiders called Crab Spiders keeping a watch over things. We ducked low and stayed out of their way.
We also saw a few domesticated animals at the houses along the canals. Among these was the handsome cat to the left here who reminded us of a dear old friend.
Also, here’s a sign I didn’t expect to see along the canal; it was nice to know we were among friends. Alas, would that the size of Wolverine Country could have helped with the Ohio State game this weekend. Ellen and I made our way back into Ann Arbor during the game, but apparently we didn’t bring any island luck or warm weather back to Michigan with us.
Allow me to close by saying one last thing about our two days of paddling: mangroves are a difficult place to use nature’s bathroom. I will spare you the glorified details, but if outdoor bladder relief were a sport, Ellen and I would have gotten top scores in balance and agility.
Thanks for the great holiday paddles, Pine Island!