For today’s trip on the Wekiva, I headed for Wilson’s Landing at State Road 46 to put in. 


View Wekiva – Wilson’s Landing in a larger map

The forecast all week calls for scattered thundershowers and halfway to drop my daughter off for her class and my couple hours on the water I ran into this.

IMG_0289 Traffic on the 70 MPH highway slowed to 40 as the storm cut visibility, but it soon cleared a little.

IMG_0291

The SR46 bridge is off-limits for boat launching, but Wilson’s Landing is close by.  There’s no official boat launch at the park at this time, but Seminole County recently approved a quarter million dollars to build a pavilion and launch there.

Frankly, I think I could build a pavilion and canoe launch for a lot less than $250,000, but that’s a different issue.

Until it’s built, though, launching is a little … unofficial.

park

Parking is a good distance from the water, but there’s a paved sidewalk most of the way (if you have wheels) and terrain’s mostly level (unlike Wekiwa Springs State Park).  There’s also a dirt road that continues past the parking to a roundabout that gets you about halfway closer to the water.

The sidewalk leads to a boardwalk over the water, but there’s a dirt path branching off it to the only clear area of shoreline in the park.

P5170012 The path is surrounded by landscaping, but hasn’t been landscaped itself and there are no signs prohibiting boat launching, so I’ve assumed it’s okay to use this spot until the official launch site is built.

The site itself, though, is pretty cramped right now and it’s a bit tricky to maneuver a large boat onto the water and back to shore for boarding.

P5170013Once on the water, you can see that you’re only a short distance from the SR 46 bridge.

P5170014I had limited time for this trip, starting at 5:00 and needing to be off the water by 7:00 in order to pick up my daughter at 7:30, so I started upstream – planning to paddle until six and then head back to my launch point.

route

(view in Google Earth)

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Shortly into the trip, though, I found that staying by the right-bank had been a mistake and the channel I’d followed became clogged and impassable.

P5170017After heading back downriver, I decided to keep going that way, rather than retracing my path nearer the left-bank, so I headed for the bridge, taking a couple photos along the way.

P5170018 P5170020 P5170022 The Wekiva’s an interesting river, because it can change from the very open river I started paddling in to a much closer, tree-lined river in a very short distance – as it does, just after the bridge, splitting into two channels with a tree-covered island between them.

P5170023 And then opening up again just as rapidly.

P5170024 Ducks were out in force this trip and I saw quite a few of them.

P5170026 And farther down river, two deer were getting an early dinner.

P5170032 P5170034 You’d think after almost forty years in Florida, I’d know what some of these damn birds are, but I really have no idea.  I got a decent picture of this thing, though.

P5170037 And to think the mess I’d driven through earlier turned into this:

P5170040Ducks I can recognize, though, and this one seemed to not care at all about me.

P5170042 P5170043 P5170044 By this time it was six and time to turn around, but looking ahead I could see that I wasn’t nearly out of river yet …

P5170047

Surely I could paddle a little farther and still make it back in time? Right?  I decided to paddle until 6:15 and then head back.

And I’m glad I did, because just a little ways downstream an alligator left the reeds ahead for the far side at my approach.

P5170048P5170050He was followed by a second, larger one, who reached the far shore and then paralleled my course for a while.

P5170051Shortly thereafter, I ran across this plant – not sure what it is, but it looks nice.

P5170053At this point, it’s 6:08, so I decide to turn around and head back … mostly because my watch is slow and it’s really 6:12.

Remember all those big open spaces on the river … well, now the current’s against me and the wind seems to have picked up and is funneled between the trees and I have to hurry back to the put in.

P5170055Why does this little stretch of river seem so much harder to paddle than the open-ocean side of Honeymoon was Friday? 

Finally, ahead of me, the river splits and I paddle into the narrower channel on the right-bank.  Once I’m through this tree-covered area, I’ll be going under the bridge and then it’s just a few hundred yards to the park.

P5170056Doh!

wrongturnNot quite at the right split yet, and the homeowners have built a wall across the river – probably too many boats cruising through ignoring the No Wake signs.  So I have to backtrack and get out of this dead end, but if I hadn’t taken it, we wouldn’t have this picture of a pony in someone’s back yard.

P5170058Yes, the best picture I could get was of the horse’s ass.  I’m in a hurry and have to get off the water by 7:00 or I’ll be late picking up my daughter – give me a break.

As an aside, is that really a pony, or is it a demondonkey?

I’m just asking.

Saw another large alligator cruising ahead of me, but he submerged before I got close enough for a photo.  And now that I’m hurrying, fighting against the current and the wind to get back and off the water by 7:00 so I won’t be late for that 7:30 pick up, there’re smaller gators on every freakin’ dock I pass, it seems.  No time for pictures of them, though.

Finally, I’m in the right channel and reach the bridge.

P5170060And back to Wilson’s Landing where I can get off the water.

P5170062Yes, that’s the target I have to line my 16’ boat up against, get close enough sideways to step out onto land, then maneuver the boat around to pull it out.  I didn’t say it was an easy site.

Off the water, drag all the gear back to the roundabout, load the car and ready to drive only a few minutes late.

P5170063My schedule had some buffer time in it, so I’m able to make it with a couple of minutes to spare, arriving to pick my daughter up at 7:28.

At which time, I sit around and wait until 7:45 because her class ran long.  

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