I had a bit of a later start than I planned this morning, due mostly to a muttered “oh, hell, no” and slap at the alarm clock around 0-dark-thirty.
Once up, though, I loaded the car and hit the road for Dunedin, FL, stopping just twice:
- Subway for breakfast and lunch – their new breakfast is pretty good, easily in the top five of semi-fast-food, after Panera, Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A, and the cheapest of the four. Quite a bit above McDonald’s or Burger King. Plus you can pick up a cooler-friendly lunch at the same time.
The Best Buy in Dunedin to pick up an iPhone battery. Yes, I know you can’t replace the battery in them. I was looking for either a solar charger or charger that uses regular batteries, because I’ve been using the iPhone as my GPS tracker on trips (safely ensconced in the deck bag, of course), but the GPS eats battery life. What I found was this thing from Energizer that works as an external rechargeable battery:
So far, so good – it ran the iPhone for GPS tracking over four hours today and the phone still had a full charge.
A good put-in to paddle either Honeymoon Island or nearby Caladesi is from the Dunedin Causeway.
View Dunedin Causeway in a larger map
View Dunedin Causeway Put In in a larger map
You can enter the state park on Honeymoon Island, but the portage from parking lot to beach is a lot longer than on the causeway:
Of course I still haven’t repaired the seat padding that blew off, so I had to improvise an
All in all a folded towel is okay, except for the part where it gets saturated and you sit around in salt-water all day … but the Tarpon’s a wet boat anyway, so I didn’t really notice.
My goal today was to circumnavigate Honeymoon Island then paddle around St. Joseph Sound on the east side of Caladesi. With the late start and the stops, I only managed the first half of that.
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The weather forecast called for the winds to be out of the ESE between 8 and 12 MPH, so I started my trip on the east side of the island (going counterclockwise), putting the wind and waves at my back and quarter for the first part of the trip.
I did have to paddle into the stronger wind for the latter part of the trip down the west side of the island, but it was a much shorter distance to face that than the east would have been. You can see from the GPS track that I was a lot slower on the West side, especially when I got far enough south to be out of the lee of the island.
I passed near Grassy Key on my way north, a small mangrove island.
Most of the southeast portion of Honeymoon is mangrove also, with no beaches or stopping places.
It’s not until you round the northernmost headland of mangroves that the shore begins to offer places to beach.
I stopped three times on the east side of the island.
The first stop was because I had to pee. I know, TMI, but under the Florida sun: If you don’t have to pee, you’re not drinking enough. Something Florida paddlers should keep in mind. I also picked up about a dozen cans and bottles at this stop to dispose of properly.
The second stop was because I thought I remembered there being an easy portage spot there – clearly I was mistaken, since that stop was at about the widest part of that portion of the island. So much for my memory.
And the third stop was because an osprey had perched on very low post.
The wind and waves were driving me right to the beach at the base of this short dune, so I was able to keep still and exit the boat out of his site. This let me get a lot closer for a picture.
The north end of Honeymoon is roped off and signed as restricted to protect nesting birds. The sandbar there is also a gathering spot for the feathered ones.
Rounding the north end of the island presents you with a view of the open Gulf.
The ocean-side of Honeymoon should be considered an open-water paddle. Unlike the sheltered sound to the east, the west-side can get the full force of wind, waves and currents. A basic understanding of currents and tides is helpful and you should be comfortable having nothing on one side of you until Mexico.
The combination today was a light wind out of the south and a moderate swell out of the south. Since I had to go south, this made the second half of today’s paddle more challenging. But I find swells easier to handle than the chop the wind was kicking up on the east side, so I’m glad I went counterclockwise today.
The northern beaches on Honeymoon are the farthest from the parking lots, so they’re not very crowded.
But this changes as you head south.
I saw only one dolphin on this trip, that just as I was turning east around the south end of the island. I wasn’t able to get a picture, because he only surfaced twice, both times quickly and heading north.
I pulled onto the beach at the very southern tip of the island, just before the channel and crossing to Caladesi, where I had a quick lunch. As soon as I had my sandwich in hand, this guy showed up to try mooching a bite.
His presence also irritated a couple other gulls who were busy with the preliminaries to seagull sex.
After lunch, I crossed the channel to the Caladesi side.
But I decided to call it a day and head for the causeway and home.