Easter 4/20 exploratory coastal fitness paddling a K1 trainer on Florida Bay.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB satellite

My “start of Easter weekend” coastal fitness route on Florida Bay – 4/20 2019.

.

On 4/20,

I introduced my K1 trainer kayak “RGB” to the Everglades and Florida Bay!

.

Flamingo aerial kayakfari Florida Everglades Bay kayak boat launch ramp canoe Chickees Keys camping

Boat lauch ramps at Flamingo – the gateway to Florida Bay.
Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

.

Saturday, April 20th 2019 coincided with the Easter weekend and also the start of National Park Week. I took advantage of free entry into Everglades National Park and decided to do an extended solo day trip on Florida Bay. As with most of my own trips there is always an “experimental” factor involved, whether it be new paddling or camping gear, photographic lens, etc. On this trip the experiment as it were would be the boat itself! I recently acquired an old Kirton Tercel K1 trainer kayak from local paddler David C., one of the founders of the new South Florida Paddlers group of active local kayakers. After refinishing it and painting it all white, I dubbed her “RGB” (I am a photographer – get it?!). Nominal dimensions are 17 feet by 19.5 inches wide, all Kevlar, weighing in at about 25 lbs! This type of kayak is called a K1 trainer – presumably to prepare a paddler for an actual K1 Olympic level type kayak for sprint racing on flat water. I am not going in that direction myself, but it turns out that she’s a fantastic paddling boat – as long as one stays within the limits of this type of design!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB flamingo

RGB is a Kirton Tercel K1 trainer kayak which I have adapted for touring and fitness coastal paddling.

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB rudder

The rudder on the RGB K1 trainer is one of the qualities that makes this boat better suited to the very shallow waters of Florida Bay. This design has minimal draft, does not snag weeds and is protected as compared to a typical surfski used for fitness paddling!

.

RGB has a large open cockpit with tiller steering working an understern rudder. This is meant to enable excellent leg drive and proper paddling technique with a suitable wing paddle. It’s most definitely not a beginner kayak, but I would rate the stability as ‘great’ on flat water since I am now used to paddling a 16.4″ wide surfski – the Stellar SES aka Grey Ghost. Of course stability is a relative term, and I think RGB would rate close to intermediate surskis, not unlike my old Findeisen Shearwater aka One Way. She’s a very quick kayak, only limited by the LOA 17 foot length when compared to skis.

I like this boat a lot – something about the very light weight and the nice paddling manners. For use in coastal open waters, I’ve adapted her with the addition of extra foam in the bow and a foam bulkhead in the stern for safety! I’ve found that RGB makes a great day tripping boat in protected waters and maybe even up to 2 – 3 foot seas with the addition of a half or full skirt. On this trip I could really test her out over a longer distance in actual coastal conditions!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB

RGB on Florida Bay with Murray and Oyster Keys in the distance.

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB rudder

Ducking behind a clutch of mangroves to get out of the brisk headwind for a hydration break!
RGB uses a tiller style rudder setup like most K1 kayaks. It works good and holds a course well – except when surfing downwind, as we shall see later.

.

My initial plan was for a 29 mile paddling triangle from Flamingo out to East Cape, then south to round Sandy Key and back to Flamingo. However the winds were a steady 15 – 18 knots with gusts to 20 from W/NW. This meant paddling the 11 miles to East Cape directly into the wind. Because the area is very shallow close to shore I really only had to deal with the headwind. I hugged to shoreline as close as possible to give me some limited shelter from the winds!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB

Photo-op break at East Clubhouse Beach.

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB

I am the man who hides behind a mask. (from the sun) 😉
The End (of sunburn) – my total UV block solution!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB wing

The low-end of the high – my carbon wing paddle, an excellent match for RGB!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB

RGB parked on the prairie marl mud at East Clubhouse Beach. Note the many holes in the mud!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB fiddler crab

Each one of the holes in the mud is the home of a Fiddler crab like this one.

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB

The coastal marl mud prairie is covered with a carpet of Saltworts and other low vegetation.

.

With a moderately strenuous pace it took me a little over three actual paddling hours to make it to East Cape. I elected to beach just before the point of rounding to stay out of the NW wind and current. I took some time out to checkout and photograph Cape Sable, a year and a half after Hurricane Irma passed nearly overhead!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB rasta

Sand under my feet. Arrival at East Cape – BLESS!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB

Healthy Gumbo-limbo tree growing on East Cape.

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB beach

East Cape on 4/20 2019 looking due north.
Much of the beach has washed away since Hurricane Irma in 2017! 😦

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB 2009

This is what East Cape used to look like back in 2009 – was truly great beach camping.
Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

.

Flex Maslan East Cape kayakfari Sable Everglades kayak aerial beach panorama camp gulf florida bay fish eye

The tip of East Cape in 2012 in this fun low altitude aerial view.
Florida Bay & Keys Aerial VR Panoramas.

.

If you haven’t been to “The Cape” (Cape Sable – East Cape) recently, it has changed a lot in the last 10, 5 or even 2 years since before the hurricane. The beach is now reduced by a half to a third in spots of it’s former plaja glory. Hurricane Irma initiated severe beach erosion that appears to be continuing. Gone is the large, almost limitless wide sandy beach that we’ve come to know and love, although the further up towards Middle Cape, the nicer it gets. Sadly I also noticed a LOT of beach trash washed up. Most predominant are fishing kit (rope, crab pots, styrofoam floats, line, etc..), but also lots of plastic bottles and misc junk. All this combined with the ongoing decline in the health of Florida Bay and lack of bird life does not present a happy picture! 😦

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB

RGB at East Cape, 4/20 2019 Easter weekend!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB

RGB loaded with a minimum of safety, paddling and photo gear still weighs 20 lbs less than a typical empty sea kayak!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB skirt

My crappy old Seals spray skirt sized 2.2 is a perfect fit for RGB and worked well .. with slight leaks!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB

There are lots of shells and other marine life washed up on Cape Sable beach.
NOT shown – LOTS of fisheries and plastic trash! 😦

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB

Hurricane Irma and subsequent erosion has left many dead trees along the shoreline of East Cape.

.

As previously mentioned, I had initially planned to run down due SE to Sandy Key, about 7 miles away. After launching from the Cape I was quickly swept out about a mile offshore by the brisk winds and current. Not surprisingly, this is where the limits of the K1 design really became apparent – a sea kayak she is NOT! The very low volume bow that cuts the water so nicely at speed was now pearling and hindering progress. More importantly, the open cockpit (although covered) meant there was no effective way to brace into waves other than with the hips. Additionally, the rudder is too small and the wrong shape for surfing and the steering becomes largely ineffective. All this added up to the boat getting tossed about in the waves and I made the call to return back north towards the lee of the shoreline. The safest way forward was to actually paddle slightly back into the wind to maintain some measure of control!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB

Sandy Key and Carl Ross Key duo, seven miles away across First National Bank on Florida Bay.
But first, you have to cross about 2.5 miles of deeper rough water!

.

The wind alone I could have dealt with, but the combination with the waves was asking too much of this boat and being solo it was not prudent to continue, although I really wanted to. These kinds of conditions are where a surfski or sea kayak would have been a better choice. There was about 2.5 miles of deep water with whitecaps and breaking waves before reaching a flats zone called First National Bank where the waves would subside. The bank is actually one of the larger features of Florida Bay and needs to be crossed near high tide, else one can get literally stuck for hours and hours!

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari.com digital029art.com First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades mud flats low tide canoe turtle grass Carl Ross Key

The hold up at First National Bank in Florida Bay!

.

Once I got back into the protected lee of the shoreline I decided to paddle up the East Cape Canal to check out the salt water “plug” or dam that was installed there less than ten years ago. I knew it had also been damaged during Hurricane Irma but had not seen it personally. Actually the last time I did see it was in 2014 on a trip to East Cape via an interior route – Go West to East Cape – an interior route via “Spoonbill Pass” and Raulerson Prairie.

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB wing

Entering the East Cape Canal.

.

Flex Maslan East Cape Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Retracing a similar to path up the East Cape Canal as in this previous trip in 2014.
Go West to East Cape – an interior route via “Spoonbill Pass” and Raulerson Prairie.

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB canal plug

Post-full moon high tide (4.06 ft), I am shocked to see the East Cape Canal Plug underwater!

.

What I saw next literally shocked me – the salt water from the Gulf and Florida Bay was rushing over the dam into the Everglades interior! Obviously the tide was very high (4.06 feet) but not atypical near the full moon for this area. Granted storm surge from the hurricane washed away the dirt fill and rocks, but the corrugated seawall steel was still in place. This kinda left me gaping at the mouth, looking over the mess. This newest dam plug was constructed not even ten years ago to replace a previous failed plug! I’m not a civil engineer, but it seems to me that the plug should’ve been built much taller and more resilient. Was it designed in the last century? I am not impressed with the quality of the design, engineering nor construction and hope the Park has something better and longer lasting planned – especially in light of global sea level rise!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB canal plug

East Cape Canal Plug underwater on 4/20 2019 at high tide!

.

Flex Maslan East Cape Interior kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Similar view of the East Cape Canal Plug in 2014, not long after it was completed.
Go West to East Cape – an interior route via “Spoonbill Pass” and Raulerson Prairie.

.

Flex Maslan East Cape canal plug dam kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Aerial view of the East Cape Canal Plug in 2014 showing what it’s supposed to look like!.
Go West to East Cape – an interior route via “Spoonbill Pass” and Raulerson Prairie.

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB canal plug

A waterfall of salt water rushing in past the East Cape Canal Plug at high tide!
Had I been in a plastic boat I could have gone through.

.

Flex Maslan East Cape canal plug dam kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

The East Cape Canal Plug, aerial view due south from 2014.
Go West to East Cape – an interior route via “Spoonbill Pass” and Raulerson Prairie.

.

Compare the before and after photos of the East Cape Canal Plug. About 12 million dollars were reportedly spent on this poor dam and how many more will now be spent to rectify the situation? IMO the hurricane alone is not to blame. This is supposed to be one of the pieces of the Everglades restoration plan to keep salt water intrusion out of the Glades interior!!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB canal plug

Damaged East Cape Canal Plug, Easter weekend 2019.

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB canal plug

RGB parked alongside the floating dock on the East Cape Canal Plug.

.

Shaking my head in disbelief at what a waste I had just witnessed, I actually made excellent time paddling back towards Flamingo with the weather! RGB will plane up nicely with following seas, but the speed drops as the nose pearls. The steering was vague as the rudder is just too small. Admittedly I had really pushed the usability limits for this type of kayak, but it’s good to know how a boat will respond! Still, it was a fun ride back to Flamingo in about 2 hours and 20 minutes. 🙂

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB easter

Looking back at the big sky over Florida Bay!

.

I am glad I was able to do this coastal fitness loop run with minimal kit and a minimal kayak. If you get the chance, try out a K1 trainer kayak. They are lightweight and fun to paddle. They can also be surprisingly versatile as long as you keep their design limitations in mind!

.

More on paddling Florida Bay:

Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

.

flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB easter

Packing it up back in Flamingo. Minimal kit and lightweight 25 lb boat make for a quick getaway!

.

Enjoy!

.

.

Flex Maslan kayakfari.com rasta 420 happy kayakfari kayak canoe paddle photography adventure fitness awakenthegrass everglades florida

! BLESS – Feel Irie

.

.

.

© 2019 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / awakenthegrass.com . All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

All rights reserved!

DISCLAIMER:

The maps and images on this site are not intended for navigation, I am not a guide; use any and all information at your own risk! Your mileage may vary .. so use good judgement before venturing out!

I hereby disclaim any sponsorship, endorsement, nor association with any product or service described herein. The photographs, depictions, products, and ideas presented on this site are for informational purposes only. Your results may vary, and I do not imply nor guarantee the effectiveness, suitability, design or operation to adhere to any standard. I assume no legal responsibility for the implementation of anything herein presented! Use any and all information at your own risk! By using any and all information from this website, you accept the final liability for any use or possible associated misuse!

.

With that said..
Blessings friends!

🙂