Hi, we are planning a wilderness waterway trip mid April (yes, buggy, I know). Any advice on the best direction (south to north or the other way round), I am in a sea kayak but my friend is on a SUP, so more affected by the wind. My research shows winds from east and southeast in April. I have only paddled Dec/Jan before.
Let me preface this by saying I've never done the full WW—but I have canoed everything south of Shark River.
On a SUP, you'll probably want to avoid larger waterways in that area. Whitewater Bay is aptly named—it can easily get too rough for a canoe, much less a SUP. Even portions of Joe River (between Coot Bay and South Joe), Oyster Bay, West Lake, etc. can get bad when it's windy.
To the extent possible, I would have plans in place for both directions, wait until the day before, and then base your decision on not only the historical winds, but also the weekly forecast. I'd also stick to the more inland routes (Labyrinth, Cutoff, Roberts River, Hell's Bay).
My last trip was a four-day loop around Whitewater Bay in a 17' Grumman canoe about a month ago. We had strong winds from the southeast for the first two days (which is normal), so we went clockwise. The southeasterly tailwind helped us make ridiculously good time up to Oyster Bay, but it was tough keeping the canoe tracking straight whenever the waves were diagonal to the keel. On the third day, the winds shifted to a pure southerly direction, so Cormarant Pass was too rough to cross W-to-E. Instead, we had to cut through parts of the Labyrinth and hide behind barrier islands, and there were still a few crossings where we had to paddle hard at an angle into headwinds. Sucked. That night, a cold front came through from the north, the winds reversed, and the next morning we rode that strong northerly wind down Roberts River, across the southern bay (using islands for cover) and out of there, but the last day was still exhausting, and if the wind had been from the SE, we would have gone out through Lane Bay/Hell's Bay.
I assume that you are going with Richard Moran from watertribe? If so I wouldn't worry too much about white water bay if you are going south to north. Otherwise you will be fighting some nasty head winds unless you dodged south to Joe's river. I do recommend a bug shirt, long pants and gloves though.
Yep, you assume correctly. We are going to make 2 plans, n/bound and s/bound and decide the day before. I've had good success with the Thermacell device, but will definitely take all the bug gear.
I you guys have the time I'd recommend adding on the florida bay from key largo to flamingo. It adds one more day but I think it's well worth it. The waters are absolutely beautiful in the eastern bay. You can leave from florida bay outfitters In key largo. Frank lets kayakers launch and park for free just go inside and let him know. A few of his employes actually race the everglades challenge. Otherwise fair winds and following seas it's a nice trip.
Thanks CaptAlan, I have paddled florida bay once before from florida bay outfitters, they have a great crew there for sure. I'll pass it on to Richard but I think he's limited by time.
I am in Sarasota, are you in florida ?? Just moved here from New England and looking for paddling buddies
I was just at Frank's FBO last week. Really great shop and .. location, of course! Parking is very limited, idk that you could really park there for a week. I guess you could ask though.
I had some fun at north Nest Key, I'm happy to report that there were almost no bugs at all, even at night! :)
Click pic for a fun story:
My sister went to Havana and all I got was a Cuban cigar so I smoked it in the Everglades!
I parked at FBO for a week once but I had friends with me who rented 2 kayaks from them. Good story Flex, I've been following your website for a long time...awesome pics always. I like the buffs too.
I'm out of Islamorada. I wouldn't call myself a expert paddler by any means but that's compared to people like Frank and water tribers. I tend to dabble in sailboats instead so much so that now I get paid for putzing around the keys in a sailboat. If you are trying to keep a 5kt pace I'm not your person. Cycling tends to not help my paddling.
Frank has quite a bit of parking that he shares with the caribbean club and the sunset charter that went out of business. Knowing Frank I nearly guarantee that he would let you park there for a week if you were out paddling. Last time I was up there Frank had a british couple that were paddling from FBO to everglades city and back to FBO parked there. Ive also been following your website for a few years now your photos are always phenomenal. It got me interested in pole photography. Mind you none of mine come out nearly as good as yours though.
Thanks guys! BTW, CaptAlan, I've settled at 39ft for my tall pole, that's pushing the limits. It has to be "walked" up. Most of the time I now go with an 18 footer that I can use from the kayak.
I'd try to do the WW all on the outside or as much as possible and beach camp. I believe the Park gives up on charging for the privilege of camping with the bugs on April 17th this year! It's getting warm, so aside from bugs the heat and humidity along with early thunderstorms will be the main factors.
I just ordered another 5 pack of fun face protectors "buffs" from (google 'safishing') for $15 ! (No affiliation). They have promo deals like this seemingly all the time now. No reason to pay more!