Escorting the Betty K VIII out the Miami River and into Biscayne Bay!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak international airport

You may find yourself paddling next to MIA and you may ask yourself how did I get here?
River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Miami River Canal out to Biscayne Bay.

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I never planned to escort an ocean freighter out the river, but it proved to be an interesting experience!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

The way to get there is on the Miami River which effectively reaches an end at the SFWMD S26 barrier structure near Miami Int’l Airport.
Past this point it becomes the freshwater Miami Canal, fed directly from Lake Okeechobee!

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The S26 is basically a small dam on the Miami River Canal that separates the freshwater coming down from Lake Okeechobee from the brackish-salty waters of Biscayne Bay.

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This one goes out to the hardworking tugs on the Miami River!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari paddle Biscayne bay south florida photography scenic history shipyard urban satellite

From the S26 Water Control Structure it’s six miles out to the mouth of the Miami River on Biscayne Bay.
This trip however started and ended on Key Biscayne and covered about 15 miles in total.

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

Heavy METAL!    \../ \../
Metals recycling in action along the Miami River.

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

Recycling facility produces syncopated industrial quality noises that will need to be sampled one day!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

That look when distracted by machinery and ..

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

.. a giant freighter and two fuming tug boats suddenly overtake me on the Miami River!

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A freighter ship surprise riding out the tide on the Miami River!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

Why, it’s the Betty K Line – serving the Bahamas since 1920!

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The Betty K VIII was launched by the Betty K Line company in 2014 and makes regular runs between Miami and the Bahamas.

She’s about 250 ft long with a 43 ft beam, draws 13 ft and threads her way up and down the Miami River three times a week!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

The Betty K VIII and two hard working tugs start threading their way down the Miami River!
CLICK for 360 spin-around filmstrip!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

A somewhat closer than anticipated encounter with the “Betty K VIII“.

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

The powerful tug “ATLAS” steers the huge ship from the rear.

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

The tugs’ jobs were just getting started as they slipped right past me on this straight upper section of the salty Miami River (Canal).

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

The Miami River is pretty narrow especially near the S26 dam.
Obviously there is no point in passing, better to keep a safe distance from the rear!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

The “Miami Super” is another large freighter regularly seen on the river!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

One of the “anchors” on the Miami River Canal!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Everything under the Sun!
River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Miami River Canal out to Biscayne Bay.

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The front tug pulls the large freighter at kayak speed, while the rear tug does most of the steering and braking.

Two lines are used to rein in the ship and the tug constantly swings from one side to the other.

It’s really impressive to see the action firsthand!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

Mad skills, this tug operator has!
He constantly swings the tug from side to side, steering and braking the large freighter ship.

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

As it turns out, the tug and ship flotilla moves along at a kayaking pace, so it’s not hard to keep up.

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Another tug on the Miami River – one of the “Manati” triplets.
ART of the River – Hot Lips that kissed Miami Ships!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

Dry dock workers at Jones Boat Yard which has been on the Miami River since 1917!

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At times I actually had to slow down so as not to get caught up too close in the tug’s prop-wash and resultant eddies! The tug also produces a lot of diesel exhaust fumes revving it’s powerful engine.

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

It’s a tug’s life – tricky business threading a large freighter ship down the narrow Miami River corridor!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

The tug “Atlas” fuming hard as she uses her power and leverage to steer past other ships on the Miami River.

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

The Atlas zig-zagging the other way to keep the freighter moving in line.

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Flex Maslan Miami River night kayakfari paddle kayak canoe full moon shipyard history satellite

Kayak Miami: Full moon paddling on the historic Miami River!

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Just before the NW 27th Ave bridge, there were actual river rapids on the original Miami River as it flowed out of the Everglades! Unfortunately they were destroyed in 1909 when the Miami Canal was dredged. Since the 1930’s the Miami River (Canal) has existed the way we see it today as a salty-brackish navigable commercial waterway.

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

Going under NW 27th Ave bridge where the river rapids once spilled!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

The tugs and the Betty K VIII make their way past Curtis Park which is one of the put-ins for paddlers along the Miami River.

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

The NW 22nd Avenue bridge opening up on que!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

There are a lot of old rusty ships all along the Miami River!

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Large ships and powerful tugs work their way up and down the river several times a day. Don’t be fooled when it looks quiet – the Miami River is still a busy commercial waterway!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

Approaching Sewell Park and the Dolphin Expressway over the Miami River.

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Florida pompano kayak redrum kayakfari Flex Maslan kayakfari.com

I never get tired of paddling the REDRUM, RED RUM, R E D R U M ! 😉
She’s my Nigel Foster designed Silhouette sea kayak.

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Paddling my Silhouette sea kayak “Redrum” was an excellent choice!

She’s a very straight tracking boat with hard chines which makes it relatively easy for me to handle confused waters like those encountered behind the tugs. Also, she fits me like a glove and is truly a joy to paddle with my Greenland stick paddle!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

Entering downtown Miami under the NW 5th Street bridge.

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

Rounding the bend under the SW 2nd Avenue bridge in the heart of downtown Miami.

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Paddling through downtown on the Miami River has the feel of being at the bottom of a concrete canyon of very tall buildings!

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Flex Maslan Miami River art kayakfari photography kayak Everglades canoe paddle Grass florida canal okeechobee biscayne ships

ART of the Miami River – Perspectives of water and people on the move.

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

Blinding late afternoon sun reflects off the many windows downtown.

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

The Betty K VIII sneaks under the Metromover Brickell loop span over the Miami River!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

Finally – the last bridge to open up is the Brickell Avenue bridge.
The original bridge was build to connect US 1 over the river in 1929. The current draw bridge dates to 1995 and it’s opening is the cause of many downtown traffic jams~!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

Free at last!
The tugs have done their jobs well and the Betty K VIII can now sail out Government Cut into the Atlantic!

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People have lived along the shores of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay for thousands of years. When the river still flowed naturally out of the Everglades, there was so much hydrological head pressure that there were freshwater boils bubbling up in the middle of the salty ‘Bay!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari paddle Biscayne bay south florida photography scenic history shipyard urban tequesta

One of the bronze Tequesta themed sculptures created by Manuel Carbonell for the City of Miami stands overlooking Biscayne Bay!
River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014: Lake Okeechobee – Miami River Canal – Biscayne Bay.
“Follow the water”!

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Flex Maslan kayak Miami river kayakfari ship tug Biscayne bay paddle Betty K florida photography shipyard freighter

I am also free now!
Free at last to paddle on Biscayne Bay without being slowed down by giant freighter ships! 😉

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami river trash Biscayne garbage Everglades kayak litter dumping pollution environment water quality fireworks fourth july

Biscayne Bay is beautiful as always from a distance, but closer inspection often reveals a lot of trash ending up in the water and on the islands!
Scratching underneath that glossy Miami surface treatment!
All that trash – the ugly side of kayaking in Miami.

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Respect the water,

Respect the ships,

Respect the tugs!

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! Bless UP

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Rip current hydraulic – a cruise ship so big that it actually drains the water out of Port Everglades inlet!

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© 2017 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!

With that said..
Blessings friends!

:)

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