Monday, February 16, 2009

Bishop Harbor to Shell Key Preserve

Here is the boat all packed and ready for paddling. My plan was to paddle out of Bishop Harbor and set sail and sail to the Gulf and then to Shell Key Preserve.
Here, outside of BH the wind was almost nonexistent so I decided it would be best to paddle to East beach on Mullet Key and if the wind picked up, I would sail on. Note the Sunshine Skyway in the background. Only 4.5 miles away. Paddling at 3.5kts I should be there in a little over an hour. Well...
Almost to the Sunshine Skyway. Check out the bow wave on the freighter. Traffic was busy today. At least 6 of these big ships passed me as I paddled along.
Well only two and a half hours later I made it to the bridge. The incoming tide was brutal. It pays to play by the tides.
The sun was setting as I approach Shell Key Preserve. The wind never did come up enough to make it worth rigging up the sail. I had to take a break at East Beach to let my lower back rest up. I am not in shape for paddling.
Here is my messy camp. The weather was beautiful wish you could have been here.
Here is my gear just before loading. From left to right:
  • first aid kit and personals in small blue bag
  • two food bags, orange with snacks stored in deck bag for easy reach, the green bag has meal supplies, the red bag in back is the mess kit
  • green bag has miscellaneous items like head lamps, bug repellent, extra matches, etc.
  • black bag is camp cloths
  • red bag is paddling cloths-warm weather and cold
  • skinny blue is mat for bed
  • sleeping bag
  • tent
  • in the deck bag I had my charts, note book, binoculars, sun screen, deck light and a survival kit.

I also packed 4 gallons of water, a tarp and a newspaper. Everything fit fine and I actually had more room in the boat for storage.

Look! it all fit.

Noisy visitors

Conchs playing tag.

Here are some of my learnings from this trip.
The boat performed to my expectations. I was able to reach my destination and have all the gear I needed for at least 3 days out. It paddled well in all conditions that I met and did so efficiently.
Below are some observations:
  1. A retractable fin is a must. The boat paddles so much better with a fin, however the fin has to come off to paddle through the shallows.
  2. Having a bit more free board would make the stowage process easier and keep the rider drier.
  3. It is important to be able to stow the sail and rig while on the water. If I had decided to sail out of Tampa Bay I would have had to change my plans and de-rig while on the water. I need to practice this maneuver more before I attempt the EC.
  4. As I paddled across the bay it became very apparent that I am in no shape to do the EC this year. My lower back was in extreme pain even with a backrest.
  5. Although I had a great time, it would really be better to have a few friends along to share the fun. I need to get busy and build some more boats.

So now that I have decided to pull out of the EC, what will my next adventure be?


john said...

Tray, that must have taken some time to put together ,also a great web page ,everyone should have as much adventurous spirit. John in h.c.

Jim said...

could not believe what I was reading while searching Google, paddleing/windsurfing from Bishop harbor to Shell Key? I live just down the road from the harbor and most windsurfers don't even know where it is. After exploring this site I must know Tray, I've been everywhere he has. Spent countless nights camping on Peace river, Shell Key, Cayo Costa, spent our honeymoon at Cabbage Key and even know the owner of NB windsurfing. Tray, you have a neat web site and I enjoy all the photos, I will share it with my windsurfing friends. . . Jim