The Everglades Adventure - Day 6

Rabbit Key to Chokoloskee - 6.1 Miles

Today's Track...

I was up a few times during the night tending to raccoons intent on getting into my water and chip supply in the covered bow section of the canoe. I tie a plastic milk crate over the opening with dyneema line (very strong stuff) but this time I did not have it tight enough and the rascals squeezed in enough to bite a tiny hole in the top of a 2-1/2 gal plastic water container. They did not actually get anything so I taped over the little hole and drank the water later, no ill effects. Between the raccoons and worrying about the crack in the hull I did not sleep well.

The tide is falling and I am no where near ready to travel, really need the cracked area dried well so the duct tape temp patch will hold. It will be afternoon before the tide will be high enough to leave so I clean the cracked area with some fresh water and head off for a beach walk around the island. There are two other groups camping here, I went over and met three buddies from the Virginia area that had entered from Turner Creek and were on a three day camping and fishing trip. They drove down with two canoes in one truck. The others I have not met yet.

I am camped on the North side and start off clockwise. There are many of these rubber looking blobs all around this island. I have seen a few elsewhere but none in these numbers. They all seem to be in mating pairs with one large and one small blob stuck on its back off center. The colors range from black to grays and browns. This one is up on the beach and I almost mistook it for a tar ball. Tar balls are crude oil clumped together that wash up on beaches. On hot days they soften up and if you step on one it makes a mess that only petroleum products seem to clean off. They sometimes lie just under the sand waiting in ambush...I did not see any on this trip which is a good sign. There are many all over the Keys, Dry Tortugas, and Bahamas, I can tell you from first hand experiences. I would like to find out what these blobs are. I am guessing some form of jellyfish or sponge family? Really no clue...

Here are two in different shades of gray in the water. Strange beings...

The Rabbit Key NPS marker and Port-o-Let are located on the Southeast side of the island, this view facing West. You can see the tide is now out quite far.

This area has millions of little black live snails, I did not want to walk on them because they are fragile and crunch under my shoes. I got close to the edge of them in order to capture this image.

No barefoot walking around here...oyster patches are scattered all around this island so you will want to enter at high tide the first time to pick the best landing spots. The East end looks to be the safest where a fairly large sandspit extends.

This is a view from the West end, don't like the looks of it for landing at low tide, especially if surfing in on Gulf waves! Entering from the Gulf would be to the North side then up that side to the East end for a landing, in less, of course, a Northwest wind was hard driving in which case I would approach from the Southeast outside of a small nearby island.

I liked this lone yellow sea grape leaf, sort of reminded me of me! But you can also see the extent of the oyster beds in the background facing West.

Butterflys were around most of the islands alongside the flowers. They are fairly skiddish therefor difficult to get good photos, this one came out OK.

As I made my way on around the island I met the other campers, a nice couple from California out for one night. They wanted to get back early so had decided to portage a hundred feet over the mixed ground. They had a rented rotomolded dual kayak which can take a lot of abuse from these sharp objects. They were having a good time and liked their outfitter.

Returning to camp it was bright, clear and really hot so I pulled out the solar panel to try and charge my cell phone battery a little. I would be heading into Chokoloskee for repairs but had not taken an AC charger along so the DC and sun will need to make do.

Take a look at this, not a good thing to have out in the Gulf with a heavily loaded low riding canoe in waves and to top it off this Island is loaded with sharp shells and rocks around most of its perimeter. At first glance I thought one of the oysters or rocks had cracked the hull but later figured it was from one corner of my milk crate seat base pressing on a prior weak spot. In addition I noticed some fairing epoxy split off beside the crack and the glass fibers were forced from the inside out so seat base had to be the culprit.

Virginia area campers heading back up the Turner River. The Turner River is accessable directly off of Tamiami Trail a short distance East of Everglades City.

You can see hear the sand buildup of raccoon paws on the leeboard. They tracked a lot of sand in the boat overnight working at getting to my supplies.

Robinson Calusa up on it's side ready for duct tape.

The hull was nice and dry now so on goes the tape. 4 or 5 layers on the inside and out. This should work unless I encounter some unwanted rigid object on the spot on the way in to Chokoloskee, I'll be extra careful.

View of my lift system for getting at the bottom. I do have wheels but did not care to lay in the sand.

Almost to civilization - Chokloskee just ahead.

The Smallwood Hardware Store. Good, maybe they have a fiberglass repair kit. I'll pull up and check it out.

Right, It's a frigin museum that sells 10 cent cokes for a dollar. Oh well, pretty cool place anyway so might as well look around since I'm here. The owner/caretaker Ken (if I remember correctly) was a great guy and very interested in Robinson Calusa. We talked a little then I looked the place over. If you are ever this way you must stop in, a lot of really cool history here. Anyway it was starting to get late and I needed to find a place to stay and repair Calusa before everything closed up. Ken gave me directions to the Chokoloskee Island Park just around the bend and off I go.

Don't know that I would stay in that stilt mobile home during a hurricane but it should work for high tide. I noticed two of these close by.

I find the Park/Marina and pull past the main area that is busy with power boat launching at a ramp. I hope these people can help me out. I get to the office and they have the Air Conditioning what a treat, it has been hot for a few days now and this felt great. They have a little space for a tent but this is an RV type park with lots of fishing boats parked beside or in front of mobile homes, travel trailers, or motorhomes. I inquire about a rental and yes, they have a few with A/C for a little over double a tent space. SOLD... I then explain my plight, I'm told the only place to get any supplies is in Everglades City about 3-4 miles up the road. OK, would you please call a taxi for me? No taxi's here - rental car, no - bicycle, no - scooter, transportation available of any type. This is Chokoloskee... A nice guy Pat is listening as I explain the damage to the hull and he says, hold on, I'll be right back. Pat returns with some bondo with fibers he swears will hold until I get home for permanent repairs. Great, that will do and he also says I can pull the canoe up the ramp and work on it just beside the ramp - these are good guys. Pat also unlocks a large four wheel dock cart for me to load all my stuff in for the short walk to the rental trailer. I pull up to the trailer and unload all the gear almost exhausted, turn the air down and regroup my thoughts. Still need a toothbrush and it would be nice to have some fresh vegetables. I had forgotten my toothbrush somehow and had been brushing my teeth with my finger and floss. I also needed to get the repair underway.

The mobile home rental is nice and clean. They have a welcome book so I call the only market which is in Everglades City. Joe said he is open until 8 but would wait for me, told him I'm on foot as there is no transportation. He mentioned to stick my thumb out and someone would surely give me a ride. In these modern times I'm not so sure, anyway off I go. A few blocks later I'm on the causeway connecting Chokoloskee and Everglades City. At least there is a sidewalk, stick out my thumb while talking with Pam on the cell. No one is stopping. Looking like a refugee I'm thinking to myself, self would you pick up this guy. I doubt it! A big black Dodge Ram pulls over and I'm thinking great, a ride. When I get over to the window the fellow says sorry, I was just turning around, Oh OK thanks anyway and keep walking. After about 20 cars pass I tell Pam forget the thumbing, it is not working, I'll just turn the direction I'm heading and walk faster. A few minutes later I hear a vehicle slowing down, it is the same big Ram truck and the guy says he will take me to the only grocery store as he needs to refuel. We start to chat and I find that Dan is both a fishing guide and construction worker depending on what is hot. He is a true Chokoloskeean, lived here all his life. He drops me at the store and says he will take me back after he refuels, how lucky can I get. I'm starting to get the feeling there are some really helpful folks in Chokoloskee. Dan drops me off at the front door, I toss him a token, put the goods inside and head to the boat ramp while there still is a little light left. I figure the dew would not dry off until later in the day tomorrow so I had better find some more energy and get on this repair tonight. I read the instructions and start scrapping the gelcoat with my knife, no sandpaper around. Get some prep supplies out of the dumpster and get to work. I mix the polyester resin wit the MEK hardener, wipe it on. place a sheet of plastic over and press it down with my bare feet. I can feel the heat build and it is set in 5 minutes. Peel the plastic off and it's ready to go. Head back to the A/C temple, cook up some grub and turn in for the day. What a day it has been...

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