This time around I started plotting my arrival in Miami over a week in advance. It wasn’t the most important thing in the world, but in order to make the arrival on my “friend’s” beach work I’d have to arrive on a week day. There’d be no sense in having him drive to work on a day off to pick me up. All the way back in St. Petersburg I had carefully scaled the distances, found the camp sites, and calculated the daily mileages needed to make it happen. It all depended on the weather, of course.
As you may have read the first four days out of St. Pete I ended up staying with people in their homes which allowed me to put on extra miles and stay “rested” on days that normally would have started to wear me out. By the time I was back in my tent on Cape Romano last Monday things looked like they probably wouldn’t work out for reaching Miami. Instead of arriving at the office on Friday I thought I’d be spending an extra night on an offshore island and possibly paddling all the way up to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday. Which would have made a perfectly fine “plan B”.
Tuesday, however, brought a nice tail wind and I managed to put on some extra miles making it all the way from Cape Romano to Highland Beach in one day. Along the way I was stopped by some concerned game wardens that were wondering if I was OK as they don’t normally see paddlers out as far as I was. When I explained myself they relaxed a bit and were surprised to hear that I intended to spend the night on a beach twenty miles down the coast. When I explained that I have a 30 mile daily range and could do it they joked that their twin 250 HP Yamaha outboards could get them there in twenty minutes. As they sped off to do whatever it is they do I continued on at my comfortable 4 mph and reached Highland Beach well before sunset.
The next morning we both launched just before sunrise and said or good bys as he headed north and I turned south. It was Matt that suggested that the “inside” route through Whitewater Bay (and the maze of rivers and islands that make up the setting for the Wilderness Waterway) would be a great way to avoid the big winds that were predicted later in the day on Wednesday. My friend Russell back in St. Petersburg had also suggested that route noting that he knew of several people that had run it all in one day. I was leery because the few camp sites on the inside are on raised platforms (called cheekies) that are often occupied by other campers on weekends and difficult to access from kayaks even when they aren’t. That meant that once I committed to the inside route I’d have almost no choice but to make it all the way to Flamingo by the end of the day. After getting worked over in strong following seas for half the day Tuesday I was in no mood to repeat the experience on Wednesday so I decided the long run through the inside was worth it. Besides that almost all of my time touring the Glades had been on the outside and I was up for something new.