Boating is usually always a lot of fun. I really can’t understand anyone not wanting to be out on the water. The fresh air and scenery can’t be beat although sometimes the sunshine is overdone here. But some days even being on the boat can be stressful.
Boating Pass For Merritt Island – Bring Cash!
A week or so ago we decided to try putting the boat in at a new boat ramp down on Merritt Island. Travel time to the ramp is about 30 minutes for us, but we needed to go even further to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge to buy a year-long pass. Each visit to a boat ramp will cost $10, but a year long pass is $25. Unfortunately they only accept CASH OR CHECK and all I had was $20 cash. My son was flipping out because who doesn’t take debit or credit cards?????? I have to agree. There was no ATM on the premises, so be aware of this if you plan to visit.
We ended up with a $10 day long pass. My son was so mad I had to leave him in the truck and go back inside to buy it myself.
Strike one. Time wasted, no year-long pass. A visit all the way back down to the Refuge is the only way to attain a pass.
The Boat Ramp Was Horrible
The boat ramp was alongside the eastern side of Mosquito Lagoon surrounded by very shallow water. It was a Wednesday, which is generally a slow boating day, and even though the ramp had good parking, there was one ramp and one narrow passageway to access the deeper water. We found this ramp when we went to see the Falcon SpaceX rocket launch.
We were not impressed. Maybe we will never use the ramp again – probably not. But we maneuvered out to deeper water and then traveled north to the Haulover Canal. This is where we picked up the ICW to cross to the West side of the Lagoon.
Manatee Sightings – Good Part of the Day
This area (the Canal) is where manatees hang out, so going slow is key to avoid hitting them. The water is very murky and we passed a manatee just inches from the side of our boat! Because we are going slow, and our boat has a very shallow draft, the motor is unlikely to hit one of these creatures, but we kept a keen lookout for the telltale “bubble” of a swimming sea cow.
I did get this shot of a group of manatees gathered along the sandy shore of the Canal. I had to blow it up and zoom in to show their gray bodies. Hope you can see them okay.
So we saw manatees all along the canal, which is where the “Manatee Viewing Area” is, but something stunk really bad. I think something had died because the stench in that part of the canal was disgusting.
Finding the Spoil Islands
We followed the ICW looking for the Spoil Islands, which are little islands in that area where boaters can visit and camp. They can be rented, but I don’t know exactly how that works, or how you would keep other boaters off “your” island. My son has been camping on the islands along the Indian River and he wanted to check out this new spot.
We wanted to find an empty island to hang out on, but the three we visited had people on them. Because we didn’t want to go any further down south, we decided to head back. I think the area is just too full of people (my complaint with most of Florida).
At a railroad bridge we headed out of the channel and landed at a little beach. I did a little shell hunting and didn’t find anything interesting. My son found this little shell on the bottom of his foot! I had never seen one like it. As you can see in my photos, it’s very tiny. I believe it is called a Threeline Mudsnail.
In this area, near the railroad track, I did some exploring while my son took the boat out to deeper water to try his luck at fishing. I’ll write about my Mosquito Lagoon shell-searching adventure in another post, but I did find some cool stuff.
A Bumpy Trip Back Home
By the time we left the area and headed back the wind had picked up. The waves were high enough to make for a very bumpy ride all the way to the ramp! I thought for sure my back would be sore as heck the following day, but it wasn’t too bad. My butt on the other hand was sore from all the bouncing.
We’ve had much better days out on the water and personally I don’t see any reason to go back down to Mosquito Lagoon. For fishermen it’s supposed to be one of the best places to catch fish. But the boat ramps on Merritt Island are horrible (and cost money), the waves can be high in the wide open area of the lagoon. Our fishing boat is not made to run through constant waves comfortably.
The following day we went out over here near our home and had a great day… no hassles and all for free!