The morning had become a blur. So much to do in such a short amount of time: The six mile paddle back from Butler Island, the 45 minute drive from Shired Island to Steinhatchee, the pit-stop at the Community Center to pick up the registration folders, then to the condo unit to unload luggage and gear and a quick shower before the first guided paddle of the day at 2:00 p.m.
By the time Delores arrived, Janet and Theresa had already checked-in, unpacked and were enjoying a beverage in the livingroom. Clearly, they weren't the primitive camping type!
Main Entrance to the condo.
Kitchen stocked with everything but food
Spiral staircase leading up to the second level.
Delores's upstairs bedroom
more of the upstairs bedroom
View from upstairs
View from the balcony
So now that the girls were settled into their accommodations for the duration of the Paddle Festival festivities, it was time to get the party started! Off to the Good Times Motel & Marina to meet up with the shuttle that was going to transport everyone to their first paddle event of the day: Steinhatchee Falls.
The doors to the Steinhatchee Community Center opened at 12:00 noon to kick off the official start of the event. That's when and where all of those who registered earlier in the year needed to go to pick up their registration packet which included their individual itineraries of each paddle they signed up for over the course of the weekend. They had until 4:00 p.m. to do so. There was no time to waste, either, because many of the attendees had a 2:00 paddle they had registered for and so registration and check-in to the hotel all had to be done within a two hour window.
The sign-in process went smoothly and everyone received a personalized folder that included an itinerary for each guided paddle they had signed up for and when & where it took place, a few marketing trinkets (whistle, sunglass bands, tokens for free drinks, etc) and lots of local marketing paperwork.
Good Times Motel & Marina was the official host facility for the Hidden Coast Paddle Festival. This was the hub where everyone met before disbursing again.
Once the formalities were over, it was off to check into the condo before the 2:00 paddle down Steinhatchee River.
By the time everyone made it to the Butler Island it was about 11:30 a.m. and the tide was going out. Many of the area oyster bars were just beginning to expose themselves.
Yep - This is the right place....
Kayaks had to be trudged through the mud during low tide to high ground because by the time high tide rolled around again during the night, that mud trail would be completely submerged under water.
View from the campsite. Looks like a great place to cast a line. No time for that now, though. It'll have to wait until other chores are done.
Marie & Delores, along with the 7 guys that were camping as well, spent the next hour unloading gear and setting up camp.
By 12:30, everyone had their tents set up and were taking a break.
Island exploration revealed this unusual site. What's left of a dead palm tree, its base all hollowed out now and full of water from the rising and falling tides. There were many of these scattered along the shoreline of the island.
Delores and Marie can't sit still for too long so after exploring some of the island shoreline, they jumped back in their kayaks and paddled to a nearby oyster bar to try their luck at catching a few fish
Just using Gulp bail on jig-heads lured a few small trout but that was about it. It is a place to put on the "let's do it again" list, maybe during a better tide phase, though.
They paddled back just in time. Dinner was being served: salad, fried redfish and grits. Delicious!!
Afterwards it was stories around a bonfire and then time to call it a night as Mother Nature slowly turned the lights out.
Thursday, October 2nd brought the most beautiful sunrise ever seen. Everyone seemed to want a picture of it. It was close to high tide, oyster bars covered over, and if it wasn't time to paddle back to Shired Island, Delores and Marie would have done some early morning fishing.
Sunrise came and the group admired it over a cup of instant coffee but it soon became apparent that the time to break down tents and pack kayaks had arrived too quickly. By 9:30 a.m. everyone was packed and launching for the paddle back to Shired Island which took about an hour and a half. There was no time to dilly-dally around, though, The Hidden Coast Paddle Festival was going to filled with one adventure after another and it was time to get going!
Early Bird Island Camping Trip
Day One of the Hidden Coast Paddle Festival was a new event that had never been offered before - primitive overnight camping at a nearby island which involved a 6 mile paddle to and from the island. Both Delores and Marie signed up for this adventure and they were the only two females that did so. The rest of the group consisted of 7 male campers and an additional 3 male guides. Those two had to stick together !!
The organizers of the event sent an e-mail to everyone with a list of what to bring along with instructions to be at the Shired Island Campground no later than 9:30 a.m. for a 10:00 launch. To find out how to get to Shired Island Launch Site, click on the LAUNCH SITE tab at the top and scroll down to find SHIRED ISLAND PARK.
As the morning progresses, new paddlers/campers arrive and unload
Marie is getting her kayak loaded with camping & fishing gear.
Delores's Loaner Kayak
The bad news was that Delores did not read the "details" of the camping trip registration paperwork very closely and signed up for it without knowing that there was a minimum 14 ft requirement in place for each paddler. Her kayak was only 11 ft - not even close! The good news was that she wasn't the only one who didn't read it and the guides were prepared, bringing several old loaner kayaks to substitute. "Whew...that was a close one!"
Lining up the kayaks for the armada launch...
A picture perfect day for a paddling a kayak
Shired Island Fishing Pier
Red Tide Evidence -
In contrast to the otherwise beautiful scenery, the red tide that is sneaking up on unsuspecting marine life a few miles farther out has sent a message to the local mainlanders in the form of a fish-kill washed up on shore. The message? "I ain't no joke!" The shoreline was littered with dead carcasses - what a shame! Many, many bait fish, mullet, keeper trout, bull reds and huge saltwater gar. Sad sad sight to see. County workers were doing their best to dig a long deep trench to bury them before the stench overwhelmed the public visitors.
Amongst all the dead fish was this little fella
By 10:00 a.m., everyone was ready to hit the water!
We're just a bunch of ladies having fun on the water.