Kayak Canoe Alabama

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXXV

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

The skies were dark and threatening with rain visibly falling off in the northwest, as I drove up to Riverdocs for an afternoon workout. At 5:15 PM, the wind was light out of the south, very cloudy with 82 degrees, and a low but rising tide.

A couple of fishermen were on the shore, pointing out a gator out about 25 meters. I told them he was my buddy, just here to greet me. I took off heading east into the rising tide and made the turn at the Apalachee in 9:00. As I slowed, I noticed cold water in the bottom of my boat and found out the cap came off of my water bottle and was empty. So, I went over to the house along the south shore at the east end of Pass Picada. The people were gracious enough to refill my bottle, so I was able to continue.

As I started out in the other direction, there were two more gators crossing the pass. It was much easier heading west with the following current, as I passed the parking lot in 15:45. With the water level still low, I made sure I stayed away from the shallows as I headed toward the Causeway and the Interstate bridges. I made the next turn in 31:55, which was evident as I counted strokes and knew I had taken fewer than normal.

After a short break, I started back as fast as I could go, knowing it would be difficult into the breeze and rising tide. I was able to keep my time respectable with a total finish in 50:43.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXXIV

Thursday, May 26, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

The heat broke a little today, so when Roland and I arrived at 5:00 PM at Riverdocs, the temperature was only 82 degrees with the same westerly breeze, high water and a falling tide. With Roland along for extra incentive and the lower temperature, we started off at a very good pace, arriving at the Apalachee River in 6:20.

On the way back , I tucked in along the south bank, trying to stay out of the current, while Roland was out in the middle steadily falling behind. Once he figured it out, Roland came over and followed behind me, as we passed the parking lot in 15:45. We continued to stay fairly close to the south shore along the Causeway, although it was getting a little too shallow for me. I ended up making the bridges turn in 33:00 (2:09 faster than Tuesday) with Roland about 30 seconds back.

After a very short break, Roland started back, but with the water level high, he cut north away from the bridge, and straight back across the middle of the bay, rather than south along the shore. I stayed south, thinking I could still get a straight line and not lose too much time. Well, Roland was obviously feeling better today, pushed it very hard and when I passed the drainage culverts and we started to come closer to the same line, he was still slightly ahead. As we hit the homestretch at full speed, Roland actually started to pull a little further ahead of me, which was a little surprising. I finished in a total of 49:35, with Roland about five seconds ahead on the last leg. It was a great workout on a great afternoon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXXIII

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

I started out somewhat reluctant to even venture outside today with an afternoon high temperature of 98 degrees. When I arrived at Riverdocs at 5:15 PM it was still 96 degrees with a slight westerly breeze, fairly full pool and a falling tide.

I warmed up quickly even though I had almost downhill water conditions to start out. I was able to track straight down the middle of Pass Picada with the falling tide and breeze to my back, arriving at the Apalachee River turnaround in 6:35.

Obviously, on the return I had to work much harder and passed the parking lot in 16:07 on the way to the Causeway. There was nothing much out of the ordinary the rest of the way down to the Interstate bridges turnaround, which I made in 35:03. I thought the slow time was due mainly to the heat, but I tried to convince myself I could still salvage a decent time since the water conditions were still good.

So, I pushed hard on the return to see if the west breeze might help bring me in alot quicker. Despite the heat, I was able to finish in 51:25, which I was happy with under the extreme conditions.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Hurricane Creek

Sunday, May 22, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

A willing group of seven paddlers and one peddler drove to Hurricane Landing and put in at around 2:15 PM. It started out pretty hot in the high 80's, but we were able to find shade most of the way up Hurricane Creek. The water was pretty high, so we were able to get way back into the woods as far as I have ever gone, where it was much cooler.

Along the way we saw spider lilies and cow lilies and scared up an occasional egret and heron. On the way back, we decided to take the cut out to the Tensaw and followed down under the railroad bridge to the lower cut around the sliver of an island with all of the waterfront homes. On the way back up to the landing, we saw a green heron up-close, sitting on a branch eating a large hunk of something. He stretched out his long neck like an anhinga to let the lump slide down his throat.

The afternoon and the five-mile paddle turned out to be gorgeous, as we arrived back around 4:45.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Full Moon over Bay Minette Basin

Saturday, May 21, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Bob Andrews gathered the usual cadre of old faces with a smattering of new, to lead about 15 paddlers from Buzbee's, out into the beauty of Bay Minette Basin at dusk. We took off around 6:45 PM with ideal conditions, no wind and the temperature coming off the sweltering high of earlier in the afternoon. Once out to the basin, we kept heading west and turned north into Yancey Bay.

Bob decided to see how far up we could go, but we did not get as far as we did last November. So, we turned around and cut over to the Blakeley River in time to see the sunset. It was very calm and comfortable as we watched a gator off in the distance slowly make his way across the wide river.

The return by bright moonlight was very nice, with the shine off the glass-like water guiding us back to Buzbee's.

Causeway to Mobile River 2005 I

Saturday, May 21, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Roland and I arrived at the Causeway Exxon parking lot at 5:30 AM and pushed off at 5:38 under clear skies, 72 degrees, a breeze out of the northeast and a rising tide. We headed toward the Interstate bridges, turned west between them and then turned north up Delvan Bay. The water was still a little low, so we stayed clear of a few shallow spots and then up along the west side. There were still a number of osprey nests in the tops of dead trees along the way. We were headed into a small chop which was not too bothersome, knowing we had the tide pushing behind us.

As the sun came up beautifully over Spanish Fort around 6:00, a few fishing boats passed us on their way north up the Tensaw River. We made the turn left into Spanish River, and out of the chop, towards our first drink stop and time check at the Pontoon Saloon. I was glad to see the rough two-story houseboat return, following Hurricane Ivan. Our arrival time was 1:02:20.

We continued up the Spanish among a number of flying mullet, to the high electrical towers at the entrance into the Mobile River. Our time there was 1:18, as we made the turn south, heading towards downtown Mobile. We followed the east shoreline down towards the highrise bridge, where we started to encounter quite a bit of river traffic, from fishing and pleasure boats to tugboats with their barges. Almost down to the highrise bridge, there was a large grouping of barges parked along the east shore, with two tugs working together to tie another barge to the group.

I made it to the bridge in 1:45 with Roland coming in about two minutes behind. He complained of "hitting the wall" and slowing down somewhat. But, I know how sly and tough he is, and after eating a snack bar, he was back ready to go again. As we came near the State Docks, there was a huge cargo ship coming upriver very slowly, in front of us. I crossed over in front of him and he must have taken exception, as he let out a couple of seven blast bellows of his horn. We stayed along the west side of the river past downtown, the new RSA tower under construction, the cruise ship terminal (Holiday not in port today), Centennial Park and then cut back across to the east side next to the Alabama Shipyards.

We stopped for a drink at the 2:20 mark, before continuing down to the cut-through east over to Mobile Bay. I showed Roland the spot where I fell off the gator-bucking ride last year, at the next time check of 2:31. We noticed about ten fishing boats lined up in a row just off the point out in the bay. Fortunately, we still had good conditions heading back north near the USS Alabama and the Causeway bridge. I hit it pretty hard, making it to the bridge in 2:49, with Roland just back. There were several old fishermen along the water under the bridge, just shaking their heads, as we gathered for our last push.

The water was still fairly low, so we had to pick our way carefully up to the Interstate bridges, to avoid the grassy shallows. Once under the bridge and out of the sun, I picked up the pace another notch and back to the parking lot in a total time of 2:58:55. Although we had very favorable conditions, it was still very gratifying to break 3 hours on the first Mobile River training run this year. The overall distance is around 18 to 18.5 miles, so we maintained a good pace the whole trip. The best thing for me, was Roland said he enjoyed it and was ready to give it a try again!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXXII

Thursday, May 19, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

I arrived at Riverdocs at 4:45 PM, put-in and started to ease out about 25 meters offshore, when I heard a frantic horn blaring behind me on the highway. It was Roland arriving right at 5:00, so I turned around and waited for him to get ready. The weather was pretty good, with clear skies, 84 degrees, a southerly breeze and slowly falling tide.

We took off down Pass Picada, past the typical fishermen and early diners at the restaurants, making it to the Apalachee in 7:13. Roland was pretty well recovered from his sinuitis and beat me to the turn. On the way back, we passed the parking lot in 15:07 and on to the Causeway. Roland wasn't real aware of the shallow spots when the water level is low, so he got off into a few areas where he touched bottom and lost a little time. He tried to catch up by cutting inside a couple of buoys, got into some more shallow water, slowing him down even more. By the time I reached the turnaround under the Interstate bridges in 32:56, Roland came in around 30 seconds later.

We started back with me between the bridges in deeper water and Roland on the north side, again mired in the grassy shallow water. The water was not bad with only a slight chop, so I was able to make pretty good time, getting back to the parking lot in 50:47. Roland came in around 15 seconds later, so all in all, he ended up very close behind and well on his way back into shape. While we took our boats out, our same gator friend came out to say good-bye.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXXI

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Tony Dockery was the mystery man I saw last Tuesday, who read my post and decided to give it a try tonight. We met at the usual Riverdocs parking lot and put in around 5:10 PM on a beautiful, sunny afternoon with a southerly breeze and 82 degrees. The water was about medium height and rising. We headed east to Apalachee River, passing an airboat taking sightseers from Blue Gill's dock. I arrived in 7:46 and waited a couple of minutes for Tony to catch up.

We started out again heading west and along the north bank of Pass Picada, cutting over to the Causeway and on to the Interstate bridges. A couple of fishermen were watching me intently as I was heading for a gator who was crossing in front of me. When I got too close, he ducked under as I passed over his wake. I made the turn in 32:56 and took a short drink break.

Tony made it past the culverts and over to where the Interstate on-ramp starts and turned around, probably about 1200 meters short of where I turned. I hit it pretty hard on the way back, focusing on Tony, to see if I could catch up. It turned out he was not pushing real hard at that point, and I passed him with about 200 meters to go, finishing in 50:38.

As we put up our kayaks, Tony spotted another gator just offshore heading towards the bank just to the west of us. These were the first two gators I have seen so far this spring/summer along the course, which was surprising to me.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXX

Thursday, May 12, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

I met Roland at the old Riverdocs parking lot at 5:00 PM for a spirited workout session. The temperature was starting to cool off, but still around 83 degrees, with a breeze coming out of the south. The tide was falling, but there was still pretty high water when we put in. The chop was very mild and not a factor along the whole course.

Although he hasn't been able to train much, Roland is still tough as nails, as we finished together at the first turnaround at the Apalachee River in 7:07. Along the way, we passed several fishermen along the bank, as well as others gathering on the Blue Gill's outer deck for live music.
On the way back, we passed the parking lot in 15:30, on the way to the Causeway and on to the Interstate bridges. Roland backed off slightly and came in about 30 seconds behind me at the second turnaround, as I arrived in 33:04. As we pulled in under the bridge for a drink, there were about 6-8 fast fishing boats coming back in to the public launch area by the Exxon station, causing some quite large wakes. We got out of there, back out into the bay and on our way back before more boats came in from the west. My total time was 50:13, with Roland about 15 seconds back.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXIX

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

The wind and water conditions were about opposite what they were last week, as I put in at 4:45 PM at the old Riverdocs parking lot on the Causeway. The conditions were sunny, 82 degrees with a 10 mph breeze coming out of the south. The tide was falling, but the water level was high, as I started out east down Pass Picada. Interesting to me, were the low rollers coming west toward me, which were the residuals of rollers coming north up the Apalachee, that came all the way west along Pass Picada. They were not an issue as I passed several fishermen along the shore and a band setting up on Blue Gill's back deck. I made the Apalachee turn in 6:45.

The way back, was of course, slower going into the falling current, but with the rollers to my back. I passed the parking lot in 15:50 and headed straight across the mud flats towards the Interstate bridges. The chop out in the open bay wasn't very high, since the wind was coming out of the south, although it did push me further north than I intended. I made the bridges turnaround in 34:01 and stopped for a drink.

I also took the northerly route away from the Causeway on the way back, this time into the wind and waves. My overall finish time was 51:37.

When I passed the parking lot heading west, I saw someone I did not recognize, unloading a fiberglass kayak off of a pickup truck. When I finished up, he was already out in the water somewhere, maybe off to Whiskey Ditch. I checked his license plate which was from North Carolina, so I am not sure if he is a new transplant or someone just visiting.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXVIII

Thursday, May 5, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Spring is great in Lower Alabama! I put in at around 5:00 PM under clear skies and 82 degrees with a northwesterly breeze and falling tide. The water level was still very low due to continued north winds. The current was flowing as it was about halfway between high and low tide. As I started out heading east, I had the wind to my back and the benefit of a following current. Tonight, there were quite a few people fishing along Pass Picada, as well as people watching from Blue Gill's deck. I made it to the Apalachee River turnaround in 6:50, and back past the parking lot in 15:50.

There were more fishermen along the Causeway, as I paddled past the drainage culvert and on to the Interstate bridges. I made the turnaround in 34:10 and stopped for a quick drink. The breeze did not kick up as high waves as on Tuesday, so I was able to maintain a pretty good stroke rhythm. My final time back to the parking lot was similar though, finishing in 50:45.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Apalachee River to Causeway 2005 XXVII

Tuesday, May 3, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

It was another beautiful day with partly cloudy skies, 75 degrees at 5:00 PM and a brisk breeze coming down from the northwest. This time out, the water level was low, due mainly to a few days of northerly winds blowing water out of the bay. The tide was rising and close to the high point, which for today was not going to be very high.

I started out eastward down Pass Picada, against the tide flow, but with the wind to my back and made it to the Apalachee River in 7:50. On the return, I passed the parking lot in 15:30 and headed for the Causeway. The wind kicked up some one foot rollers, which I had to cross diagonally. With the water level so low, I had to stay within the channel buoys or risk getting into the mud flats. I made the Interstate Bridge turnaround in 32:52.

After a water break out of the wind, I pushed hard on the return, trying to use the waves to my advantage. It worked pretty well, as I finished up in 50:29, which was good considering the conditions.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Bayou La Batre - Blessing of the Fleet

Sunday, May 1, 2005 brint.adams@us.army.mil

Sunday's weather turned out to be gorgeous, as Linda and I met Rob and Roland for today's paddle. We drove west on I-10 from Mobile to exit 15 and turned south on Hwy 90, passing through Theodore. We turned left on CR 23 and right on Padgett to take us into Bayou La Batre. After driving over the draw bridge into the small downtown, we turned right at the light and followed the street along the bayou on out to the mouth where it empties into the gulf.

We put in at the public boat ramp, right next to a blood-red decent-sized diesel fuel slick. The wind was blowing pretty hard downstream as we tried to make headway upstream against the outgoing tide. So, we had a double-whammy to contend with on the early part of the paddle. We tried to stay out of the wind and falling tide by staying close to the shrimp boats lined up all along the docks.

We waved to a few workmen cleaning and painting, while others were preparing nets on the 100-200 colorful boats we passed along the way. There were also many rusting away with foreclosure stickers warning to stay off. The closer we got to the downtown area, the more boats we passed which were decorated with flags, religious signs and banners. These were the boats to take part in the parade later in the afternoon. In addition to all of the boats along the docks, we passed many repair yards and seafood company docks.

We finally made it up to the downtown area, where many more decorated boats were docked along the grounds of the Catholic Church and School, where the festivities were taking place. We decided to continue upriver, past more shrimp boats and yachts. Eventually, we got out of the business district and into a beautiful wooded, residential area, where the bayou narrowed considerably. After 1.75 hours of hard paddling upriver, we decided to make the easy return trip back down. We found some of the locals decorating their pleasure boats for entry into the parade as well.

Although we paddled much more leisurely, we made it all of the way back in one hour, due to both the following current and wind. We stopped along the way to take some pictures of the decorated boats of all sizes, which were beginning to congregate in anticipation of the parade. With more powerboat traffic starting to kick up some more chop in the narrow channel, we decided to keep moving and get off the water as soon as we could.

After we arived at the boat launch, we spoke with some USCG people, who were cleaning up the diesel spill and starting to investigate where it was coming from.

Our next goal accomplished was to partake of the festivities, especially the seafood dinner spread of boiled shrimp, fried oysters and fish, gumbo and all of the fixin's. After a little browsing around the grounds, craft booths and boat dock area, Linda and I decided to forgo the parade and head on back.

Bayou La Batre is an interesting and beautiful place, well worth paddling to see both the hustle of the shrimp docks and the serenity of the upper bayou.