An afternoon paddle on the Wekiva today, but no pictures or GPS due to battery issues. Those should be resolved before my next paddle, though.
I started at Wekiva Springs State Park and turned onto Rock Springs Run to paddle upstream until the water became to shallow to continue. Then I returned to the Wekiva and paddled downstream past the marina for an hour or two.
Two small gators, a number of birds, and a bevy of drunken paddlers from the marina. The highlight of the trip was a hawk carrying a squirrel (or some other small, furry dinner) that back-winged mid-river to reach a tree on the bank.
Part of this trip was to try out a couple pieces of new equipment.
First was a carry strap I got from topkayaker.net:
(stock photo – sadly neither the yak nor the brunette are mine)
I’ve used this the last couple trips, but those were short transfers. It worked well for those, but the 100-yard sand path from the parking lot to the launch at the Park would be a good test, with soft sand much of the way that tends to bog down some kayak cart wheels and a significant elevation change between the parking lot and the launch area.
So what I found was that the weight, even on one shoulder, wasn’t a problem. The 16’ length of the Tarpon is an issue, as it’s simply unwieldy to carry – controlling the ends, and such. The biggest issue for a long portage with this device is that the bottom of the boat presses against my leg just below the knee – so each step rubs that spot back and forth along the bottom edge of the boat.
On the trip down to the water the kayak had been on top of the car for a couple hours, so had plenty of time to heat up the plastic and it was uncomfortable. On the way back up again, the friction was noticeable – in fact, I believe there is a spot bare of hair on that leg now. Next time I’ll have to bring some pants to change into for the portage – that should alleviate the rubbing.
Next were these:
I’ve been looking at the Vibram Fivefingers brand for a while and my kayaking sandals are just about at the end of their useful life, so I decided to try a pair.
These are the KSO model, along with the Flow, designed for watersports.
So comparing them to the sandals I usually wear, I was favorably impressed. Yes, the having-stuff-between-your-toes thing takes a bit of getting used to, but aside from my left pinky-toe, all adjusted quickly and even that awkwardness went away once they got wet the first time.
I was in and out of the boat several times and when the water got very skinny on Rock Springs Run I got out and walked for a couple hundred yards pulling the boat.
The “feel” of these is very much like being barefoot, but still protected from rocks and logs. I didn’t have a need to perch on a log while pulling the boat over, but I do think these would provide better grip and balance than sandals.
The bottom of Rock Springs Run is more sand than mud, but there are spots where the sand isn’t hard-packed and your feet sink. These were easier to deal with in the KSOs than in sandals. With sandals, once you’re foot sinks, pulling it out often creates a void between the sole of your foot and the sandal – that creates some suction and makes it more difficult to get out. These both stay on and avoid that problem.
The fit around the ankle is tight enough that very little sand or dirt is able to get into the shoe.
Overall quite comfortable and effective.