Temporary tidal space and Faith in Numbers!

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Part Three:

Temporary space and Faith in Numbers!

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 (Continued from Part Two:  A Lower Keys Roundabout!)

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flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys shoal mangrove kayak camp paddle sugarloaf backcountry bay sandbar satellite

Satellite close up view of the sandbar south of the Barracuda Keys.

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Returning back to the little sandbar “base” described in Part One: Exploring a Higher Ground!, it was nice to kick back and enjoy the late afternoon. After hours of paddling and snorkeling, we came back as a matter of choice, rather than camp on Marvin Key. I’m sure we could’ve found a nice spot there, but there would no doubt be lots and lots of bugs, especially noseeums! On the sandbar the situation was completely the opposite and a lot more interesting. With no vegetation and a steady breeze we were assured of bug-free living. Looking at the daytime high and my tide tables, I was 99% confident we’d stay dry through the night. This is what I mean by Faith in Numbers!

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

My giant Sombrero hard at work providing me with the maximum shade!
CLICK for story!

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Publicly owned islands inside the National Wildlife Refuges of the Keys are off limits to campers. The possible exceptions would be a few privately owned islands like Marvin Key that have an established history of some limited use and access. Technically the owner’s permission should be acquired in that case. Now I’m not a lawyer, so I could be completely wrong, but since we were on a temporary tidal space above the mean high water mark, we were just outside of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. More importantly, since we were also not on any island, I was reasonably sure that we would not be in violation of any camping restrictions. We were able to exist on the tiniest sliver of space both in the physical sense and in a very narrow legalese regulatory sense!

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

The “living room” as it were, on top of the sandbar shoal.

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As the hot afternoon wore on, I started to think about dinner. Usually I cook a fresh prepared meal with lots of veggies and a seafood protein on my little cast iron skillet. You can read about my culinary style in:

Tasty and Quick Cooking!

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

What’s for dinner? Zucchini with potatoes and mussels in Escabeche sauce!
CLICK for story!

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

A crab’s eye view panorama from ground level on a sandbar shoal in the Florida Keys backcountry.
CLICK for interactive panorama!

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

“On a sandbar mountain”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
Sun glasses style 180 panoramic sandbar view.

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Enjoy more photographic exploration of a higher ground on this temporary tidal space in the lower Keys backcountry!

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

A Whelk washed up high and dry on the tidal sandbar.

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

The “Sponge monster” of the shoal!

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

Small Conch waits out the low tide cycle in the lower Keys flats.

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

” Tidal flat space”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
Late afternoon 180×360 circular shoal panorama with Marvin Key.

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Settling into the sunset with the tide draining the lower Keys flats, it was a good time for contemplation. The big sky and the immense scale of the flatness surrounding us suddenly made me feel tiny and fragilely exposed in the grand scheme of things. A lot of us live out most of our busy modern lives indoors, so spending at least a 24 hour cycle like this in the middle of nowhere really helps to put everything in perspective. The psychological comfort crutches we reaffirm on a daily basis seem somewhat silly and naive as the illusion of any control fades away. We are all living fully vulnerable and fragilely exposed on our little planet in the vast interstellar wilderness of the cosmos. For some this may seem disturbing, but I take comfort in the odds, the numbers as it were. In the short term, those odds are with us at least.

Mathematics is the language of the universe and so it makes sense to have faith in numbers!

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

“Shimmering flats”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
North Marvin Key about a mile away across the shimmering flats.

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

Half sky, half shoal. The tide is dropping!

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

The “Banana Boat” high and dry on the shoal nearing sunset.

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

“Back to the roots”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
Mangrove roots frame the sunset in the lower Keys backcountry.

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

“Keys Gold”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
A hazy sunset over the Keys sandbar flats.

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In the inter-tidal zone, between the sunset and the moonrise, the low tide had bottomed out for the night. Looking at my tide table notes, I realized that the night time high tide was predicted to be only about half of the daytime high. Now I could see where the daytime high had topped out and so this meant that we would stay nicely dry at the very “top” of the sandbar. At least this is what the tide prediction model called for and it’s what I mean by “Faith in Numbers” you see! The night was very still with a light sweet easterly breeze and flat seas. Of course, had there been any significant wave action the sandbar would probably have flooded over!

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

The full moon rising over the shoal in the lower Keys.

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

Chilling in the moonlight on the sandbar “camp” at low tide.

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It wasn’t really necessary to put up tents, but it was nice to have a wind break throughout the entire night. Believe it or not, hours later, that same sweet breeze can really chill you down come 4 or 5 am, even in the middle of a Florida summer’s night. The moonlight was just as sweet and delicious as you see in these pics!

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

Looking due west with the Marvin Keys behind my tent. Note the piled up vegetation line from the most recent high tides!

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You take the blue tent, the story ends here. You wake up on your thermarest and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red tent, you stay in wonderland, and we’ll just see how deep that rabbit hole goes.

This is your last chance!

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

Red tent, Blue tent
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
Sandbar camping under a full moon in the lower Keys backcountry.

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

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This is Faith in Numbers!

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

Sandbar camping surrounded by water in the darkness.
Past midnight and the full moon has nearly finished pulling up the water for the night!

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Spending a night on a sandbar like this completely surrounded by rising waters is an interesting experience! Tidal forces are of course unstoppable, so past observation of the high tide combined with trust or faith in the tide tables is paramount. Even so, as the water rises and closes in on this tiny bit of ground, it’s only natural to get a little anxious about the whole situation. I was pretty confident that we’d stay dry, and I had the faith in the numbers. Still, I did have my things about 90% all packed up, ready for a quick getaway. Just in case!

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It’s past midnight, do you know where the high tide is?

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Check out more photography from the darkness at:

NIGHT LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY and DIGITAL ART: CAMPING with the STARS!

(click pic to enter)

Flex Maslan kayakfari photographer kayak camping stars night Everglades landscape pano print art Florida Bay slough shark camping with the stars

ART of Darkness – Camping with the Stars! Part I
“A Trip to the Moon”

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Sleeping in when camping means getting up at dawn, as I personally can’t sleep past sunrise in the outback. This is ok, because seeing the sunset and sunrise should be a part of any good camping experience! It is a chance to re-connect with the natural cycles of our earth and the true rhythms of the universe. Another reminder that we were outside the artificial time constructs of the world of people!

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

“July morning”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
Sunrise among mangrove seedlings in the Keys tidal flats.

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

Mangrove seedlings near one of the Barracuda Keys.

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

Low tide perspective of our sandbar “camp” on this very temporary high ground!

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

Hitchhiker zombie crab!

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The sun shone bright and clear in the morning, though it would be hours before we could depart on the rising tide!

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

The tide fills in the water slowly but surely. Vegetation is always the first to move.

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

Ready to launch, just waiting for the tide to add more water!

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

“High Tide over the sandbar”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
Nearly flooded over, the high tide bathes the sandbar with the Barracuda Keys in the distance.

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flex maslan kayakfari pistolero lower Keys kayak paddle sombrero sugarloaf backcountry beach bay bandit reef photography camp

Thumbs up or shoot ’em up?
Depends where you’re going! 😉

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The roughly six mile return trip to the launch spot was uneventful. Of course we couldn’t see that far ahead, but there are enough radio towers in the Keys to set a compass bearing by. Actually it was pretty much a general SE direction across Turkey Basin until Dreguez Key. There are at least four channels, any of which will cut around the key and empty out into upper Sugarloaf Sound. From there Sugarloaf Marina can be seen due south. Slightly to the west you may notice a wooden tower just above the mangroves which is the Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower and worth seeing if you have time.

Remember that the currents do run strong through said channels, so it’s important to work with the tides!

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

Safely back on the takeout beach at Sugarloaf Marina off US 1.

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To help paddlers plan Keys kayaking excursions, the State of Florida maintains a site on the Florida Keys Overseas Paddling Trail.  An excellent book resource is the Florida Keys Paddling Atlas (link excerpt). It’s not the first nor the only book on Keys paddling, but it is the most visually appealing and really well put together. It provides a great starting point for further, more in-depth reading in other Keys paddling guide books and for your own research. Enjoy!

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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.

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The End!

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Go back to

← Part Two:

A Lower Keys Roundabout!

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Select images 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

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rasta happy kayakfari kayak canoe paddle photography adventure

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© 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!

🙂

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2 comments on “Temporary tidal space and Faith in Numbers!

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

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