December 18, 2009

Glover Bight

I’ve been spending time on the water, paddling the Great Caloosa Blueway, a random piece at a time. Civilization shrinks, out there, to the size of my boat, and whatever I’ve brought along... a carton of chili, a coke, some shortbread, first aid, a towel, tea, and a camera. With the weather expected to turn rainy and cool late in the week, it looked like my last shot at a sunny outing for a while, so I thought I’d explore the coast of Glover Bight preserve, a six mile round-trip to the southwest. 

After putting in at Bimini Basin, a leisurely paddle down several connecting canals brought me after an hour or so to open water, where a pair of looping dolphins escorted me out to Redfish Cove. The wind picked up there and a bit of a chop shifted my focus from taking in the scenery to negotiating the deep water. Mother nature, like most of her sex has a way, at times, of returning your attention to where it belongs. “Hey, mister... I’m down here.” Yes, m’am. 

My little Old Town Vapor, though only a 10 ft recreational kayak, and not made for speed or distance, is game for slicing through a bit of rough water. I haven’t taken her out on the ocean yet, but now I’m looking forward to trying out her mettle on some surf. By the time I’d reached the preserve, the only water in the kayak was a little drip from the paddles.

As I approached the Bight, which now seemed ominously named, I saw an ominous two-foot fin poking out of the water twenty yards off starboard. And what’s worse, it was cruising along in a straight line. It’s remarkable how quickly one’s notions about such things as universal connectedness can evaporate in the proximity of a formidable predator. Suddenly the idea of having a weapon stowed in the bow didn’t seem so absurd. In fact it seemed quite present, palpable, and obvious. Could I kill? I’d hunted small game as a boy. I doubt I could take a human life under any circumstances, but I hope that’s not just wishful thinking. I back paddled slowly into a tangle of mangrove roots near the shore to watch. The fin made several turns, swift and deft, as it patrolled the area. If nothing else, I thought, I’d found a promising fishing spot. Then it was joined by another, and the pair began diving in the graceful surface-breaking loops that revealed their pedigree - they were dolphins after all. 

The scare had given me an appetite. I found a little sandy clearing along the shore and dragged in for some R & R.

If I'd had a tent and a book, I'd have been tempted to spend the night. 

Mangroves striding to the shore

There's a trace of a path back into the island, but any serious exploring would be for another day.

I have no idea what this is but it struck me as vaguely psychedelic.

It bears fruit and flowers simultaneously; I suspect it blooms periodically all year.

Most bracket mushrooms, if I recall correctly, are edible, despite their appearance. I didn't test the fidelity of my memory on the subject. 

I hung the camera from a nearby tree branch to get this shot, and shortly thereafter took a nap. That's my real passion... finding interesting secluded places to nap.

The tide was against me on the return, as was a steady breeze. The one-hour outbound turned into a two-hour back leg. By the time I’d clawed my way back to the basin, my strength was as thin as a thread in a current. In this somewhat disoriented state, drained of extraneous concerns, the civilized world around me on my drive back home seemed peripheral but amiable. Civilization as novelty. What has no claim on you doesn’t trouble you.