A Lower Keys Roundabout: Marvin Key and Snipe Point!

.

Part Two:

A Lower Keys Roundabout!

.

 (Continued from Part One: Exploring a Higher Ground!)

.

flex maslan kayakfari Snipe Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography

Satellite view of sandbar to Marvin, to Snipe Keys loop of about 8 miles.

.

The sandbar we beached on just south of the Barracuda Keys was an unexpected bonus because of it’s location near the edge of the Gulf. It made a great starting point for exploration of the nearby keys that are fairly closely clustered. For instance Marvin Key is only a mile, and Snipe Point just another couple of miles more! It made sense to check them both out in a big loop of about seven or eight miles.

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography chilling

This is just like living in paradise!
The only thing missing here is a loving mermaid and some cold beer.

.

Preface: This is Island time! 🙂

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography Turquoise

Setting off in the crystal clear waters of the Lower Keys.

.

My cruising kayak, the “Banana Boat” is a long boat at almost 20 feet. I’ve been using the same Greenland stick to propel her for about 20 years. At 6’2″, my body happens to be the perfect interface between my 20 foot boat and the 97 inch Greenland stick. Is it a paddle or a blade? It is both at the same time! One of the best things about this particular stick is the nice “spring” or “kick” I can get out of it when paddling. It’s very comfortable to hold without gloves and is also very lightweight and self-buoyant. Sometimes though under certain types of sea conditions, it’s good to be able to get more of a “bite” in the water. Consequently I nearly always pair up this stick with my wing paddle for longer trips. The wing provides a strong bite with lots of instant power on tap when needed. Because it’s quite a bit shorter, it also ups my cadence for a literal change of pace. The extra power isn’t free however, as it takes a lot more energy to drive the wing!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography greenland stick Turquoise

“A Greenland stick in the tropics!”
This is my favorite Greenland stick. It has been providing me with excellent motive force for about 20 years now!
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography!

.

The Greenland stick and the wing paddle both work on the same principle and pretty much in the same way by “flying” through the water and creating lift to propel forward. I’ve learned to like this characteristic so much that I almost never use a euro-blade paddle anymore, unless I’m forced to for some reason.

The simple beauty and smooth paddling style of the stick is really hard to beat. While it may look like a piece of 2×4, the simplicity is deceptive as the shape and motion embodies some advanced mathematical and fluid dynamics concepts. The Inuit natives who developed and refined it didn’t have to understand any of that. Out of necessity they used the sparse materials available to them to create this tool. It really is among those few inventions that can’t hardly be improved upon, even after thousands of years.

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography sombrero

Nothing but praise and thankfulness! It’s a beaut of a day – BLESS! 🙂

.

Mind you I am not claiming to be a “traditional” style paddler. But in recent years all over the world, there has been a growing resurgence and interest in “native” or “traditional” style kayaking within the sea kayaking community. Organizations like Qajaq USA promote a style of paddling where being upright in your boat is just a small part of kayaking! There are dozens of exercises, yoga-like positions and roll techniques to be practiced continuously. It’s a beautiful thing and I would call it both a sport and an art form. The skin on frame kayaks used move organically and with ease in the sea, and are usually half-submerged most of the time. This is the purest form of sea kayaking! It may be poetic to us, but to the Inuits it was also their most important practical survival tool. They hunted sea mammals and made the boats with the skins and bones of these creatures, their only renewable resource! Let’s not forget that the word kayak means “hunter’s boat” and is what enabled Arctic peoples to survive and develop a culture in the far north for thousands of years.

I mention all this here because a lot of people aren’t familiar with the stick and always ask me about it. Often, the lead up is something like “you need a bigger paddle!” or “how can you move with that thing?”. The answer is always “it’s in the way that you use it”! 😉

Personally I just really enjoy and prefer to paddle with the stick (or a wing paddle) and love to spread the word. That’s not to say it’s for everybody or every boat, but when you find the right combo, well as they say “you never go back”!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography satellite

Satellite closeup of the Marvin Keys. The northernmost is Marvin Key and is only about a mile from the Barracuda Keys across a large shoal.

.

The northernmost Marvin Key is just a mile away due west from this sandbar. Getting there requires going over another sandbar, a very large shoal that stretches almost the entire distance, so it’s good to do this on a rising tide! The other option could be to swing wide to either the north or south and go around it if the tide is low.

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography

Paddling in from black & white to color en route to Marvin Key.

.

flex maslan kayakfari Marvin Keys sandbar kayak beach paddle sugarloaf backcountry bay coral reef photography camping

This is the little cove and beach on the northwestern tip of Marvin Key and the best access point via kayak.

.

Marvin Key has at least a couple of good entry points for kayakers, with the best and nicest one on the northwestern tip. There is a small sheltered cove or lagoon there that’s perfect for paddlers. The island itself has a trail running through it with small vestibules or cul-de-sacs on either side. These look like camp spots, but in all honesty the use that a particular piece of land had been subjected to was a little bit hard to discern!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Marvin Keys sandbar kayak beach paddle sugarloaf backcountry bay coral reef photography camping

Interior path on Marvin Key with “multiple use?” cul-de-sacs on either side.

.

flex maslan kayakfari Marvin Keys sandbar kayak beach paddle sugarloaf backcountry bay coral reef photography camping dogs

A large dog print from a recent canine visitor!

.

Marvin Key is one a few undeveloped and privately owned keys inside the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge. As such, it has a history of public use and is actually a very popular “locals” spot for lower Keys boaters. On low tide the surrounding exposed sandbars stretch for miles around and invite people to enjoy themselves for a day out in this tropical paradise. Marvin Key is also sometimes mentioned as a backcountry campsite, though being private this should theoretically have the owner’s blessings. In practice this key has a well established record of public usage and is also kept pretty clean. This is impressive since the key and the surrounding areas receive regular use by the general boating public!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys shoal sandbar kayak marvin paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography aerial panorama camp

Aerial birds-eye view panorama of kayakers on the cove beach at Marvin Key in the lower Florida Keys backcountry.
CLICK for interactive panorama!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography water Turquoise

The water really is crystal clear here off Marvin Key!

.

The little cove is beautiful and a great place for snorkeling. As long as you don’t stir up the sand and sediment too much the visibility is really good underwater. In the near distance you will possibly hear crashing surf to the north along the ledge where the Gulf of Mexico starts. If you do venture out snorkeling on the Gulf side, it’s probably a good idea to drift together with your kayak in tow. The currents do run strong here, and this applies to snorkeling too!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography fisheye

“Wish you were here”
180×360 circular panorama – a summer postcard from Marvin Key!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography underwater Turquoise mangrove

“Above the green, below the blue”
Mangrove seedling growing in the shallows off Marvin Key.
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography!

.

Spending some time underwater is a great way to cool off and study the fascinating mangrove root formations!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography underwater Turquoise mangrove

Red mangrove root under the surface.

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography aqua colors

Mangrove roots provide the framework for all life in the Keys waters!

.

Do enjoy some:

ART of Darkness – Kayaking the final frontier of imaging and photography!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography psychedelic colors

A “Psychedelic foray” into Keys colors!
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography!

.

Moving on, we had the tides in our favor and paddled effortlessly on top of a foot of crystal clear water. We made the two mile crossing from Marvin Key to Snipe Point in no time. As previously noted, you may have to venture out into the open waters of the Gulf if the tide is low.

.

flex maslan kayakfari Snipe Keys marvin shoal mangrove kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography

Satellite closeup view of Snipe Point and some of the mangrove islets of the Snipe Keys.

.

This is definitely some of the finest tropical paddling!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Snipe Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography panorama

Tropical paddling: Closing in on Snipe Point in the Lower Keys backcountry.
CLICK for interactive panorama!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Snipe Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography

Snipe Point offers a thin strip of beach and crystal clear water all around!

.

Just like the Marvin Key flats, the shallows and sandbars around Snipe Point are a favorite local boating hangout. Expect a crowd to build up, especially on weekends and holidays!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography snipe point Turquoise mangrove

Remains of Black mangroves dot the shallow pristine waters off Snipe Point.

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography aqua colors

“Hand in the Keys”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Snipe point Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography

Landing near Snipe Point.

.

The lower keys present an interesting mix of features found in the Keys, Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Here are the sandy shoals of the Keys, the mangrove islands of the ‘Bay, and the likes of Horseshoe Crabs which are very common on the Gulf side of Florida, for example.

.

flex maslan kayakfari Snipe Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography horseshoe crab

Horseshoe Crab molt detail at Snipe Key.

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography aqua colors

Mangrove roots underwater in the tidal Snipe Keys finger channels.

.

Southwest of Snipe Point is an area known for some amazing mangrove creeks. We decided to get out and snorkel in one for a bit. Because of the wind block from all the mangrove foliage, this was actually the only spot where we encountered mosquitoes. But this was easily solved just by staying underwater! 😉

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography mangrove roots

A sunbeam peeks under the mangrove roots in a Snipe Keys tidal creek!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography snorkel

Snorkeling in the mangrove tidal creeks of the Snipe Keys.

.

flex maslan kayakfari Snipe Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf underwater beach bay snorkel reef photography

Above and under-water composite of a Snipe Keys mangrove creek.
Mats of filamentous algae cover parts of the seagrass beds in the tidal creeks.

.

The Snipe Keys offer a lot of beauty and deserve several repeat visits. I’ll be looking forward to more adventures and exploration of this area in the winter season!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Snipe Keys aerial shoal snorkel kayak mangrove paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography snipe keys mangroves

Aerial Cormorant’s- eye view panorama of kayakers snorkeling in the mangrove tidal creeks of the Snipe Keys, Florida Keys backcountry.
CLICK for interactive panorama!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Snipe Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography

“Paddling the blue-green world of the Snipe Keys”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography!

.

Paddling back due northeast we kayaked through a vivid blue-green world of mangroves, water and sky. Somehow on this segment I felt that I had spent more time underwater snorkeling than in the boat kayaking. But that’s ok, it was a treat spending some quality time in the clear waters of the lower Keys!

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef photography conch republic colors

Layers of blue-green colors in the clear waters of the Lower Keys!

.

Exploring a Higher Ground in the Lower Keys! 🙂

.

flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle sugarloaf backcountry beach bay coral reef satellite

Satellite view of approximate 20 mile total route paddling through a part of the Great White Heron Wildlife Refuge in the lower Keys.

.

.

.

Continue to

Part Three:

Temporary space and Faith in Numbers! 

.

.

Go back to

← Part One:

Exploring a Higher Ground!

.

.

.

Available as high quality archival prints for sale directly to you in various sizes for all your collecting, decorating and viewing pleasures and needs!

Images are also available to license for your print or  digital editorial uses!

E-mail me for a price list or for a quote

.

.

rasta happy kayakfari kayak canoe paddle photography adventure

.

.

.

© 2015 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!

🙂

One comment on “A Lower Keys Roundabout: Marvin Key and Snipe Point!

  1. Pingback: Seeking Higher ground in the Lower Keys and Faith in Numbers! | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s