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.
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.
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.
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.
I 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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Why 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.
Not 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.
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.
Off the water, drag all the gear back to the roundabout, load the car and ready to drive only a few minutes late.
At which time, I sit around and wait until 7:45 because her class ran long.