Category Archives: boating

Boating in Florida, on the rivers, ocean, and Intracoastal Waterway.

Second Day on The New Boat Spent at Disappearing Island

Finally the day arrived, and we picked up our new boat. It’s a flats boat, Hewes Redfisher and we are loving it! Our second day out found us behind Disappearing Island at Ponce Inlet in New Smyrna Beach. (That’s in Florida, in case you weren’t sure.)

The reason we chose this type of boat is because it can get into (and out of) shallow water, like this canal. We were able to gain access to the backside of the expansive sandy island, and stay a few hours, while the tide continued to go out.  Parts of the canal were very shallow and the tide still had a couple of hours to go out.  It would be easy to become stranded.

floating in the ocean disappearing island
Feet up and floating in the beautiful ocean water around Disappearing Island.

We arrived at the Inlet around noon on a Friday, so it was not overly crowded. On weekends I wouldn’t attempt to visit this place, as it is a madhouse from what I hear. But if you love the party atmosphere, and love to party with lots of happy strangers, who also enjoy the sun and sea, this island is the place to be.

The little backwater canal where we parked was not big, and we shared the space with only 2 other boats. A pontoon was pulled up onto the beach and he was obviously staying for the day. Once the tide was partially out, he was for sure stranded until the next high tide.  The group had rafts, a smaller boat, and were doing some fishing.

boater stuck in the sand
Beached Boater Gets Help

The other boat near us suddenly realized they were stuck in the sand. As I was coming back from my walk across the island, I could see them rocking the boat trying to get it to move into the water.

A group of people from across the way came over to help, and so did my son. They got the boat free of the sand so the grateful boaters were able to leave.

Whenever the tide is going out, keep a careful eye on the water depth, or you’re stuck until the water comes back in again!  Unless some friendly (strong) folks come by to give you a hand.  I have a feeling it happens a lot.

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Looking across Disappearing Island to the Inlet

We did some fishing as we left the area and traveled down the canal. We also saw sea turtles popping up for air. I caught a catfish (ugh) and some kind of little silver fish which got off the hook. Then I had a good bite, but the fish bit off my hook and got away. I don’t know my saltwater fish yet, but my son does. He thought it may have been a Bluefish.

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Hewes Redfisher 18

It was a wonderful way to spend a Friday. Now I must work all weekend to make up for my time off.

By the way, I saw almost no seashells on the island. The crown conch I found had a hermit crab inside. I did find a cute little cerith seashell, and a little crab walked past us near the shoreline. Pictures on my next post.

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Kennedy space center

Finding a Remote Boat Ramp in Scottsmoor

While we were over on the east coast of Florida one day, we decided to head south from the Edgewater area and try to find the next closest boat ramp.  Down that way the ramps go into the western part of the Mosquito Lagoon.  From there, make your way (in your boat) across to the Haulover Canal which passes through to the east side of the Lagoon.

Mosquito Lagoon
Mosquito Lagoon West

We drove east for a few miles from Rt. 1 on a dirt road and finally came across the small boat ramp.  It has room to put in one boat at a time and the boat loads into a narrow channel that feeds out into the open water.

Looking south, the Kennedy Space Center vehicle assembly building is barely visible.

Kennedy space center
Space Center, Cape Canaveral

I found some crown conch shells and thick clam shells, but the most interesting item I found floating among the weeds in the shallows was this horseshoe crab.  It was not alive.

horseshoe crab
Horseshoe Crab

Area map of Scottsmoor Landing Boat Ramp, Credit: Google Maps, Google imagery @2016 TerraMetrics

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Boat Ramp, where we were, with Haulover Canal, Space Center view

Once we have a flats boat we plan to spend some time fishing in this area. For now, we have to stay close to the Edgewater ramp where we put the little boat in, as it doesn’t travel very fast, or handle waves well!

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Our Little Boat Fishing Trip Looking For Keepers

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Catfish (not mine – credit goes to tpsdave @ Pixabay)

Went out on the little boat yesterday and three of us tried our best to catch a keeper. If we wanted to eat a meal of catfish, we could easily have done so. I caught a couple of large cats when we stopped one of the backwater canals for a swim and then fished from the water. We had more room than when we all tried to cast a line from the Gheenoe.

Other than the catfish, I did get a small snook. He was a silver shimmering beauty! It’s snook season right now, and my older son was hoping to reel one in. All he got was a few catfish himself. My younger son got a small redfish, and we certainly saw more than a few “tailing redfish” along the shore.

Yes, I am beginning to learn fisherman talk. When redfish are eating they circle and show their tail. The ones we watched each seemed to be alone, but they can swim in big groups with their tails above the water, and that’s what the fishermen look for.  The ones we watched would swim in a circle and make a large ripple in the calm water. These fish are really beautiful and they are delicious to eat. But size is important when you catch one you want to keep.

Because the little “Yea Mon” Gheenoe has a shallow draft, we can get into the backwater channels where most other boats can’t go. We always find shallow water to swim around in and sand islands when the tide is low.

And we have the place all to ourselves!  The water was flowing, and we could drift along in the very warm water.  Yes, it’s brown, but it usually is in this area.

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Floating in Backwater Chanel

Other than fishing and enjoying the sunny Florida weather, I also did some shell hunting. Because the tide was just coming in, there were a number of sandy beach areas exposed. I found a large shark’s eye shell with a piece missing. Also picked up a crown conch and pear whelk. Picked them up and then had to put them back down. Every shell was inhabited by a hermit crab.

sharks eye and crown conch
Shark’s Eye & Crown Conch
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Slime covered Pear Whelk Shell

I really would have liked to keep those shells as they are all favorites of mine. In fact I don’t think I have ever found a pear whelk. I really wanted that one for my seashell collection! The place to go and get great shells is the Gulf Coast. A vacation may be in order – one day.

I took photos with my iPhone, but because of the extremely sunny conditions, it was difficult. Also, I worry about dropping the darn thing. I really need a waterproof case. Shuffling along the uneven sandy bottom of the canal is tricky. I could step into a hole at any time and drop my phone! My nice camera is still packed away, waiting for me to move into a permanent home.

Once we have our newer, bigger boat, it will be so much easier to grab the phone and get video and photos while the boys fish. Not to mention that fishing will be much more fun! So it’s all a waiting game, which is par for the course in my life. But we still had a very nice day out on the water.

 

Boating the Florida Backwater, Fishing and Shell Collecting

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Catching a Catfish

Three of us in one tiny boat isn’t ideal, but it gets us out on the water. We go boating in the Florida backwater where my son Nick tries his best to catch a nice Redfish.

My younger son caught some catfish (picture) and I didn’t fish this particular day. I took the photos, because my goal was to find some awesome seashells.

Since I’ve moved back to Florida, it’s been mostly work and not much play. Summer in the sunshine state is for tourists, in my opinion. The rest of the year, when the weather is not as stifling, is for locals to enjoy. But tourists are here all the time, and the only way to get away from the crowds is to go boating – during the week.

Below: Yes, that’s our little Gheenoe, and it does hold three people! It can’t move very fast when it’s loaded down, but it’s fun to go out and explore. We have to keep an eye on those building cumulus clouds. Storms can build and move in fast. It’s not fun to try to outrun a Florida thunderstorm! (We’ve done it.)

low tide on the Indian River
Low Tide Treasure Hunt

The day I took these photos it was terribly hot, over 100 degrees, but there was a breeze. Even the water was hot, and I mean very hot. I half expected that if we caught a fish it would be partially cooked already! The tide was out which made maneuvering the shallow channels a bit tricky, but my son fishes this area frequently and was pretty good at not hitting the sand bars.
Finally we stopped at Three Sisters, which is a set of three islands, one of which has a long sand bar on the northern side when the tide is low or out.

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Atlantic Giant Cockle Shell

I found this giant Atlantic cockle shell (it’s name is “Giant”, it’s not really all that big) while walking in the hot shallow water on Three Sisters. Both sides of this bivalve were connected and it was upside down and filled with mud.  Since then, I have found a few more of these beauties, in exactly the same state – upside down in shallow water. In my experience, shells that are attached eventually dry out and come apart, but it’s fun to find joined bivalves.
I also found my prized big horse conch on Three Sisters.

Florida’s Glass Bottom Boat Tours

Because of all the bodies of water in Florida, viewing and enjoying that water has it’s own money-making opportunities. One unique way tourists can enjoy rivers and oceans is the “glass bottom” concept. With so many springs in Florida’s rivers, many of the state parks contain “Springs” in their name.  Those springs bubble crystal clear water up from underground to create the clear water needed for a great underwater view from a boat. (They also make a great place to swim as the water stays a cool 72 degrees in the heat of summer.)
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(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Way back in the 1980’s, shortly after I had moved to Florida, there was a creepy glass-bottom boat story. One day, as visitors were taking a tour at one of the springs that offered such rides, suddenly the partial torso of a man glided beneath the glass! He had been diving and an alligator had eaten half of him.  I think it was a news story enhanced a bit for interest, but those alligators are

I believe that Silver Springs was the first to offer the Glass Bottom Boat ride.   Silver Springs (near Ocala) was a popular tourist attraction because some old Tarzan movies were filmed there. It is rumored that some of the monkeys escaped from the set and now Their offspring play in the trees around the Springs! The old “Sea Hunt” television show was also filmed at Silver Springs State Park. Continue reading Florida’s Glass Bottom Boat Tours