After my failure at paddling the upper Econ this morning, I moved on to Moss Park and Lake Hart.

Moss Park is in South Orange County, situated between Lake Hart (to the west) and Lake Mary Jane (to the east).  A canal connects the two lakes, running through the Park:

View Larger Map


As of this writing, the entry fee at Moss Park is $3 for one person in a vehicle or $5 for up to eight people.  The boat launch is to the right as you enter the park and there’s a grass launch area next to the boat ramp:

Once on the water, you face a 1/2-mile paddle down a channel through the reeds to Lake Hart:

The channel opens up into a pool about a half way through; and once past the channel, you enter the open water of Lake Hart:

And here’s where my camera battery died, so the rest of the photos were taken with my cellphone.  In my previous post for today, I explained that my plan is to post the bad of my trips along with the good, so here was the first of the bad.

I’ve never been much of a photo-taker when kayaking, I prefer to just paddle, but one of the things I wanted to include in this blog was a lot of pictures, so people would have a good idea of what to expect on a given trip.

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on equipment starting out, so I went with a cheap camera, with a bit of water resistance and intended for outdoor use, the Argus Bean.

It’s a simple, cheap camera.  My reasoning being, if I dump it in a lake, I don’t want it to have cost a lot.  Well, $59.99 at Best Buy isn’t a lot, but maybe sometimes you get what you pay for.  So far, I’m not impressed with the camera.  I suppose it takes a decent picture, but this first outing didn’t show a decent battery life.  I’m going to make sure it has a full charge before my next trip and see how long it really lasts.

What I’d really like is the Sealife Ecoshot — waterproof to 75′ and shockproof to 6′.  But it costs more than I’m willing to spend right now.


For this trip, I circumnavigated Lake Hart.  The path in the Google Earth screenshot above is incomplete because because of problems with the new GPS, but it roughly shows the route.

View the Route in Google Earth 

Most of the shoreline of Lake Hart is unimpressive — reeds backed by forest:


But there are some nice houses along the western shore, including this one, belonging to someone who clearly loves to be on the water:

080610-HouseWithWatercraft By my count, that’s a ski boat, two SeaDoos, a canoe (with motor) and a catamaran at his dock.  I have to admit to a certain amount of jealousy.

Then there’s this guy:


This guy buys his lot, then clears it completely and plants palm trees.

There are no, or at least very few, naturally occurring palm trees on the shoreline of either Lake Hart or neighboring Lake Mary Jane, but this guy has to have his palm trees.  Look at how his house stands out as a breach in the shoreline, compared to the houses next door that kept the existing trees between the house and water.

I can absolutely understand the desire to have a home on the water and buying one if you can afford it, but I simply can’t comprehend the arrogance of destroying or so significantly altering the very thing your supposed to enjoy.

The paddle itself was an uneventful, but enjoyable, three hours on the water.  The only excitement came near the end, when I realized I was much closer to the southern shore than I should be to find the channel back to Moss Park.  I guess I was distracted or lost in thought, so missed the entry to the channel.

Now, I considered just leaving this bit off and letting everyone assume that I’d simply paddled a little extra distance at the end of the trip, but I’d just this very day decided to be up front about things that went wrong on these trips, so here are my thoughts from the last bit of today’s trip, starting from when I realized I’d passed the channel back to Moss Park:

This seems too close to the Southern shore — did I miss the channel?  No, I couldn’t have missed the channel … I’d have to be blind not to see it; my eyes are playing tricks on me and those houses just look closer than they should — the channel’s probably right around that point of reeds there.  Paddle some more.

Nope, not here.  Damn, I must have missed it — now I have to turn around.  Turn around and paddle some more.

You know, I was feeling pretty good until I had to turn around … now it just feels like work, because it’s extra distance I wouldn’t have had to paddle if I’d been paying attention.  Luckily I didn’t miss it by much, I think it’s right past those reeds.  Paddle some more.

Well, that’s not it either.  It must be around that next outcropping of reeds.  Great, more paddling I wouldn’t have had to do.  It’s getting hot and my back aches now.  I didn’t notice it before, but have since I turned around.  This isn’t as much fun as it was. Paddle some more.

Crap! Where is the damn channel?  I’ve paddled around this lake a dozen times and never had trouble finding it before.  What was the landmark I picked out to look for on my way back?

I don’t remember what I picked to look for … did I forget to look for something to help find my way back?  I must have … that was silly.  What’d I use last time?  I can’t remember … why can’t I remember what I used the other times I was here?  My memory must be going bad, maybe I should start taking Gingko-Biloba.  Paddle more.

Now I’m cranky.  I’m hot, I’m tired and I should be at the boat ramp by now, but I still haven’t found the channel …

Maybe I didn’t pass it … oh … that would be bad …

What if I didn’t pass it, I just thought I did and now I’m paddling away from it?  And I decided I was going to blog about things that go wrong, so I’m going to have to write about this … people are going to think I’m an idiot.  The fun’s definitely over for this trip.  Paddle more.

Maybe if I pull into this little hole in the reeds and stand up I’ll be able to get my bearings better.  Sure am glad the Tarpon’s a stable boat, so I can stand up in it …

Can’t see a damn thing over these reeds … that was a waste of time. 

Where’s that bass fisherman I saw earlier?  He could tell me where I’m going — or maybe give me a tow.  He has a motor … that’s smart; freakin’ paddles … if I had a motor, I’d be done by now.  Why do I have a paddle?  If God had meant for us to keep paddling, he wouldn’t have invented internal combustion.  I’m not having any fun!  Paddle more.

I really think I might have turned around too soon — but if I turn back now, and I really did miss it the first time, then I’ll be paddling away.  I could spend the rest of the day paddling back and forth, missing it by fifty yards at either end.  I’m going to have to paddle all the way north and all the way south to find this damn thing — that’s like another three miles just to get out of here.  No fun.  Paddle more.

That’s what I was supposed to be looking for:

080610-ChannelMarker A bunch of trees out in the middle of the reeds.  Finally … now there’s just that half-mile down the channel.  That’s a relief.

Yeah, a half-mile at noon, in Florida, with the reeds cutting off the breeze … great <expletive deleted> relief.  I need a motor.  I’m going to sell the damn ‘yaks and get a nice 26’ Sportfisher with twin diesels and a flying bridge … that’s how people my age should enjoy the water.

Okay … past the idle speed marker; I’m out of the reeds and under the trees … the shade feels good … maybe a hundred yards to the boat ramp.

Out of the boat onto the shore … the knees are a little stiff … stretch the sore spot in the back where the top of the seat presses wrong … should’ve fixed that years ago … boy, it feels good to be walking around a little.

You know, that little mishap probably added two miles to my trip.  With the channel and the distance around the lake, I might have done ten miles this morning … just me paddling.  I can be proud of that.  Bet the guy in the bass boat couldn’t do that — that’s why he’s got that beer belly.  Freakin’ wimp with a motor; motor’s are cheating.

Now I have to get the boat on the car and get home so I can unload and run errands this afternoon …

I wish I could stay and paddle around the other lake … that was fun.