Posted by: noadventure | October 25, 2011

Pensacola Kayak Expedition

Pearce and I drove over to Pensacola for a bachelor party a little early. The dudes were getting there at 5 pm, but we left New Orleans at 8 am with the hopes of snorkeling the Fort Pickens jetty. Since we stopped for food at the Hip Pocket Deli, we kinda missed the slack tide hour(which is necessary for snorkeling Florida jetties).

Instead, we busted out the kayaks and explored the park, which is choked with military fort ruins. With the outgoing current bedamned, we saddled up the yaks with snorkeling gear and supplies and got ready to paddle to what we thought at the time was Alabama. It wasn’t.

In the photo below, you can see the jetty rocks where we would normally snorkel in the right conditions. The 1906 wreck of the tugboat Sport, is 0.9 miles east of the Fort Pickens Ranger Station on the bayside.

The island we paddled to was actually Perdido Key, which is between Pensacola and Orange Beach, Alabama, but still technically in Florida. Good to know.

Map of our voyage from Ft. Pickens, across the bay to Fort McRee on Perdido Key.

The trip was a short but challenging paddle because that pesky current was trying to suck us out into the sea, but in this Man vs Nature battle, man persevered and won. We beached the kayaks on the east end of Perdido Key and began our exploration of Fort McRee.

Too bad we didn’t bring our shoes; the fort was covered in thorny brambles. After summiting the peak of the sand dune-covered ruin and seeing the gulf, we painfully made our way back down to the beach. Man vs Nature score: men still winning at 2-0, but nature got some good jabs in.

We strolled to the north side of the island where several boats were docked. On the way, we saw this pelican floating with his head tucked down. Couldn’t tell if he was dead or just “resting.”

We continued our ramble on down past about a thousand massive jellyfish that were fighting the harsh tidal drop. Through bold experimentation, Pearce dispelled the belief that ANY jellyfish contact would result in a a sting. You can safely handle and poke the dome of the jelly worry-free.

We finally reached the calming shores of north Perdido Key. Snorkeling possibilities? I think so.

Yep, that pelican is definitely fucking dead.

Alright. Time to head back to Fort Pickens. We anticipated a serious fight with the tidal current dropping so rapidly, but it was easy. Man: 3 Nature: 0. Kinda pathetic actually.

We investigated the jetty tide pools and surrounding wildlife. Put some reef or rock structure in the salty gulf and it will be brimming with sea life in no time.

I think all the beach mega stores like Alvin’s Island and Wings send a dude out to the jetties once a week to poach hermit crabs to keep in the store cages. A caged bird sings; a caged hermit crab does absolutely nothing.

Hot crab action.

If I was desperate for a meal out here, I could boil up some hermit crabs and blue crabs with a quickness. The hermits probably wouldn’t be worth my time, but they’re definitely easier to catch.

Blue crabs are all over these rocks also, but as usual, they are pissed. It’s funny that calling someone is “crabby” is such an accurate animal-like description. Of course, the noble crab is usually provoked when he gets aggro on your shit, and he will usually flee if he can. When you back a crab into a corner, watch out.

In his den, already looking as pissed as ever.

I attempted to take a picture of Pearce’s head underwater looking at the ornery crab. The framing up of the shot was a guess from the surface; I failed. Here’s the result:

Shall we piss off that crab more? Yes, we shall.

He’s coming right for us!

Claws open, ready to fuck me up at all costs. He knows no restraint when his turf is threatened.

This NOadventure would normally end here, but this was actually the tamest little mini adventure of the weekend. Sadly, I have no photos or video of what happened later in the evening/night, but I’ll continue with the story anyway and you can visualize it however you like.

Pearce and I met up with the other guys at 5 or so in the afternoon at the rented house we had on Pensacola Bay. The place was great – a nice private beach on the bay with a limp windsock hung from a flagpole next to several small sailboats awaiting our use. I’d never been sailing before and I was intrigued by the idea of taking these little 2 man boats out the next day.

After a dinner of blue crabs(purchased not poached) and a shitload of beer and blended drinks, we kept raging on into the night. Thoroughly bombed, we partied on the back porch talking, drinking, and listening to music. Around 2 am, the windsock perked up and the wind was upon us.

Ryan, the experienced sailor among us, and myself took to the sea in a Dolphin(see photo).

The two of us were comfortable, but a bit tippy in this small ocean craft. Being wasted didn’t help our sailing skills as we ripped across the bay.

The awesome wind roared. The glowing moon shined. The tiny boat capsized.

Instinctually, Ryan flipped us back over without hesitation. That first taste of saltwater sobered me up a bit. I, of course, was wearing a life jacket on our pitch-dark drunken sail across the bay(what do you think I am – an idiot?).

The boat flipped 2 more times as we tacked back to the shore and ran aground on the private beach in front of our rented vacation house.

The wind-only experience got me hooked. I’m no purist, but I like the simplicity of small crafts. Sometimes a bicycle is more fun than a motorcycle. Know what I mean?

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