Everglades Exploration Network

Pedal and Paddle in Shark Valley: The kayak and the wheel, a symbiotic relationship.

A short adventure that took all day..

kayaking to Seagrape Hammock, aka Willoughby Key in the Everglades!

click pic for story


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Another top story. Thanks Flex. I need to run the Shark Slough this Fall.
Flex, loved your trip report. Been toying with my bike canoe trailer recently and found this simple design might work for your next trip


Thanks Bill & Vivian! Yeah I've seen that advertised before. What I used is essentially the same thing, made from junk aluminum windsurfing tubing, etc .. saved myself  the $60 !

The trick I found is to have the minimum possible gap between the boat/bow and the attachment hook. Otherwise boat will run into back tire and cause some real handling problems! Some kind of a foam or rubber stopper block (like you see on powerboat trailers) would probably work best. For a one-off ride like this it was doable. For repeated use there a lot of refinements that could & should be made!

Pedals, Paddles and Grass equals a Shark Valley adventure! smile emoticon

Video edition by David Warfel

Shark Valley with a Twist! (On the Grass with wheels, bicycles and paddles)


Excellent addition to the story package!

You hadn't mentioned the law enforcement interaction in your prior report!

We do freak them out at times, I love it when they say:

"You're going where? at this time of night? in that???"

That's when you know you're pushing the envelope just right!

Actually the Park LEO Ranger was pretty cool. He'd just never seen anybody with that kinda rig at Shark Valley! ;)

I did mention in the beginning of my story that this kind of bicycle trailering was kosher. It's only thanks to the lady at the entrance booth that we talked with him, because she's the one who saw me pulling out and called him to check up on us.

I'd like to thank her, because it confirmed 100% that we can legitimately access the slough from the Jetsons tower this way! :) 

Nice edits and story line on the video.

Hey Flex,

Have you thought of carrying a copy of the Compendium? I had a bad experience with rangers not familure with the rules up at big cypress. I was just trying to pick up some of their backcountry permits which to my understanding are required for any hiking in the park. They initially gave me a go around and told I had to go to another ranger station to get the permits . Those rangers said that if you wanted to ride a bike on the ORV trails that you needed to get the 100$ ORV permit. They also said that any off trail hiking(slough sloging) was prohibited. The rangers started treating me like I was trying to commit a felony. All I was trying to do was have the proper permits to do a hike! I was mentioning the sections of the compendium for big cypress that out lined my plan as being legal.

I also nearly got killed by a ranger just to the west of Flamingo at around 2200 local last year. I was anchored out in my skiff halfway between the #8 marker and Bradley key waiting to get permit to paddle the wilderness waterway the next morning at 0700. I had my white 360 anchor light illuminated and unobstructed 7' from the water. I saw a vessel coming in from east cape running a spotlight for about half the way in. I went to sleep only to wake up 20 min later to the roar of outboard I looked up to see a red and green light with a white light right above it. I raced back to the console and fired the "danger signal" on the horn 4+ one second blasts of the horn. I also attempted hailing the vessel on 16 but received no response. The vessel did not deviate course until it ran over about 1/3 of my anchor rode at which point he swerved aggressively to starboard. He came within 10' of my port side at which point my anchor light light up his port side which read "Everglades Park Ranger". The operator had his face glued to his chartplotter which appeared to be at max brightness. The vessel was not equipped with radar, so if he was navigating strictly by chartplotter he would have no means of collision avoidance. Or he could of mistaken my white anchor light for the green head pin for flamingo and been navigating directly to my vessel. The next morning When I went into Flamingo I got the hull numbers off of the docked boat and mentioned it to the new ranger at the desk after I got my permits. The ranger blamed the whole incident on me say that I did not know how to operate a vessel. Which is quite untrue i'm a licensed captain and that's what i do for a living and i've been operating in the florida bay for more than a dozen years and have memorized the entire florida bay including its 130+ passes. I ended up contacting USCG islamorada once i got back to the keys and had them speak with the negligent ranger. Someone operating that negligently will eventually kill someone in a kayak. All that I want is people to operate in a safe manner on the water.

Don't get me wrong most of the rangers are very knowledgeable and helpful but, they often get moved around and different parks have different policies and different skills sets. Like You don't need to know how to operate a bay boat in a fragile ecosystem if you are a ranger in yellowstone but, it's a very big requirement if you work in ENP. This might be why every time I get stopped the rangers leave a prop scar and floating sea grass and mud when they take off. I think that there are a few parks that don't allow any off trail hiking/kayaking. If a ranger came from one of those parks they might assume that any off trail canoeing or hiking is prohibited in ENP and cause a bunch of problems. It gets me quite frustrated when i spend a good bit of time and money on a trip only to have someone who doesn't know the rules tell me i'm breaking a unwritten rule that doesn't exist. I mean it is the "The people's park".

I've started carrying a current copy of the current compendium for park that i'm in. That way I can point out that what I'm doing is legal if there are any questions. Luckly I haven't had any problems since. 

Sorry if this sounds like a rant.

By the way here is the link to the current compendium


Wow that's pretty crazy CaptAlan! What a nightmare, literally!!

I've been aggressed by overzealous cops kayaking at night, once also nearly run over for no good reason at all. Then I had to educate the two on board about lights on kayaks. I had a 3 foot mast (Scotty mount) on the stern with a 360 while LED conical light, visible from far away. They said that I looked like a small vessel running without the bow red/green lights. That's actually what they claimed caused them to "rush me". Kayaks aren't required to have those, although I sometimes do clip on those lil button LED lights. I always have also have a strobe strapped to my upper arm that I will activate if needed.

Of course if the operator of a vessel isn't paying attention, no amount of signaling will do any good.

I think it also a sign of the times. Most people really don't pay proper attention to what's going on around them. You can see it the way people drive with all kinds of distractions, namely their phones and gps devices. People will operate their boats the same way they drive on the highway! Cops are just people too, so it's not surprising to see them doing the same thing sometimes, although they should know better! As a kayaker I make it a point to stay away from any boating channels as much as I can, even in the daytime. I will say though that the boaters in Florida Bay are a lot nicer and seem more competent than the general boating public of South Flariduh!

Thanks for the compendium. The thing is that regulations typically only point out the things you CAN'T do, so they're not gonna spell out what you actually CAN do. The ranger we spoke with at Shark Valley was nice and said that we can paddle anywhere in the Park 24/7 as long as the area isn't posted as closed or has restricted access points. It also didn't hurt that we were talking about all of this "after the fact" on the way out!

Skinny water is your friend, REALLY skinny water can save your life.

Get out of the channel and into the shallowest water you can paddle. That's the only place that's idiot proof! The idiots run aground before they run over you. I'll take a prop scar in the grass over a bow to the head* anytime!

I hate open water crossings, especially at night. You don't know what folks (knowledgeable & drunk or sober & stupid) with motors are capable of!

*I was going to say prop scar to my ass, but I promised Keith that I wouldn't use any inappropriate language on the site and I wasn't sure if it was OK to use the word ass when not referring to a donkey..

Yes... Thanks for the compendium. It is now stored on my tablet / GPS.

Reading through it raised a question about the location of the rookeries. I know where Cutbert is and where another one between Hells Bay and Lane is... but not what that one is called. I have no idea where the third is, and I could not find this information anywhere.

I'm guessing this info is not published on purpose?

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