|Day 2 – to Northwest Cape
by Julio Perez and Hank McComas
The day begun with my awkward stretches and Hank’s Yoga, a simple breakfast of oatmeal and instant coffee for me, packing up and a social departure with greetings and well wishes for those sharing the island with us. Then north we go into NW winds of 10-15mph. After about 1.5 hour we were nearing the cape where would get brief reprieves from the wind. When I complained to Hank, he reminded me that on his prior trip he had to contend with wind over 20mph.
We stopped at East Cape for a break. There we left a seaweed message for our friend Joel who would be camping there that night with a large group of clients for Florida Bay Outfitters. Back into our kayaks, we paddled along the very long beach between East Cape and Middle Cape, protected only partly from the Northeast wind.
We made good time to Middle Cape where we met a couple from Maine who were resting on the beach and fishing. The fishing was so mesmerizing that a shark within 15 ft was not noticed until brought to his attention. They would be camping near Joel on the next day and then on Carl Ross the day after. At the point, where the northerly wind was creating an eddy, spotted rays were jumping out of the water 3-4 ft and several small sharks were chasing their lunch meal. At times the small pool created by the eddy was boiling with activity and the mullet seemed to be in Olympic competition for height and number of consecutive leaps.
The journey from Middle Cape was relaxed. A moderate headwind slowed our progress but with five hours of daylight remaining and only 5 miles to go we were in no hurry. In fact we took the opportunity to explore a narrow stream ( Little Sable Creek ) that meandered through the interior and would put us back on the beach one mile north of NW Cape. The, initially narrow stream, widened and left us in a mud flat complete with wading herons and a 9 foot 'gator that looked at us like we were hot wings at a superbowl party.
There are long sandy beaches between the capes with plenty of enticing campsites. The beaches are so shallow that it took careful study of the debris lines to determine the most recent high tide line. We found a nice flat spot on NW Cape set up camp, took a walk on the beach and prepared a real meal. A mild breeze continued through the evening keeping the mosquitoes down and making for pleasant sleep. I awoke to the sound of waves lapping within six inches of the level of our sleeping bags. We stayed dry but it was close.
During trips longer than a week end, rituals develop that illustrate our adjustment to the different pace of life. One of our rituals became that of the coordinated shelter and evening hunt. We were blessed with great sunsets throughout the trip so on each evening we managed to provide some nutrition for the little sharks of the air during our attempts to capture those sunsets. After shooting photos of the sunset we would swat in unison and dash into the tent as quickly as possible. Zip the place shut and begin the hunt for the little humming vampires.
By the end of the trip the inside of the tent looked like one of us had taken a chainsaw to the other. Blood streaks everywhere and mosquito carcasses in every corner. The joy I felt at squashing a plump one makes me ashamed now. I have some guilt for betraying my Buddhist beliefs as well as having so easily discarded my maturity. It was not just the joy felt but the cheers, insults and congratulations for successfully assassinating each enemy combatant. On some nights, it took us over an hour to extinguish the critters and still we awoke with a new bite or a little beast with full abdomen on a tent wall trying to digest the meal we begrudgingly provided for her.
On to Day 3.....