Sunday, March 19, 2006

Day16: Launched at Cape Canaveral by a Manatee

... as reported by DancesWithSandyBottom

SandyBottom traveled through "Canaveral National Seashore" (CNS) today, Sunday Day16, and she began the day about 140 miles from CP6. With more favorable wind patterns in play, her plan was to start very early in the morning hours.

Nighttime paddling can be a bit scary in unfamiliar waters with no moonlight. At 4:45 AM SandyBottom called home to report that she was on a small island in Mosquito Lagoon in the CNS after being flipped upside down by a manatee, had recovered and was about to continue paddling north.

How did that happen?

There was no moonlight when the excitement started at about 3:00 am with a close encounter (close meaning 300-500 yards) with a barge on the ICW a few miles SW of HaulOver Canal. The captain had her in his spotlight and was not happy about the direction of her attempt to stay out of his way. After passing through HaulOver Canal into Mosquito Lagoon, SB sailed/paddled into shallow waters (~4 feet deep) trying to stay clear of another barge that was approaching.

Haulover Canal linking
the Indian River with
the more coastal CNS.

In the shallows along the ICW she surprised a sleeping manatee. Apparently it was a rude awakening for both parties. The frightened manatee launched the Kruger Dreamcatcher toward a low-earth orbit. The landing down-range was upside down. (This proves that it is possible for a Kruger to be flipped.)

After flipping SandyBottom discovered that the water was shallow for her to easily reenter the boat and paddle to a small island close at hand. She changed clothes immediately, pumped the boat dry and then called home to report that "I thought it was going to kill me." Manatees are relatively gentle but can be giants weighing up to 3000 pounds. And at 4 AM in pitch black darkness on unfamiliar waters....

SandyBottom lost an hour or two of time dealing with the aftermath of being flipped. First she quickly changed in to dry paddling clothes to avoid hypothermia. Then she used some duct tape to mend the base of her stern light pole. Shaken as well as stirred, SandyBottom nonetheless resumed paddling north by 5:00 AM.

Here is a closer look at the hallow waters and small islands along the ICW in the CNS....

Two or three other WaterTribe challengers have had wet encounters with Manatees recently, but none of them were flipped upside down.

At mid-day SandyBottom stopped for a moment near Edgewater, FL to rest and arrange wet clothes to dry --the clothes she had been wearing when the manatee flipped her like a coin. (Heads or tails?) While stopped, she was invited in for lunch and a hot shower by local residents Rita and Eoghan Kelley. Mr. and Ms. Kelley were very kind. They generously insisted she use their phone to call home and say "I'm okay!" SandyBottom was able to recharge her phone, enjoy a hot shower and a fantastic lunch --fresh leafy green foods and chicken salad. They offered to let her do her laundry but she did not have time to stay long enough. Eoghan wanted to give her an anti-gator gun to have on the St Marys River. He was very concerned about the gators and snakes there. I don't think she chose to pack heat because that would add weight to the boat. Thanks a million, Eoghan and Rita!

SandyBottom paddled northward until 10:00 PM and then camped near Pelican Island in the neighborhood of Daytona, FL.

DrKayak was 2.5 miles behind SandyBottom when she stopped to camp at 10pm. His posted float plan involved paddling additional nighttime hours.

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