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Old 04-26-2019, 06:49 PM
cdavisdb cdavisdb is offline
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As most everybody knows, I use my Seafari primarily for diving the Bahamas. So, just to be perverse, lets go some place where there isn’t any, or at least, not much, like the Everglades. It would be a total explore, since I've never been there, or even close. Decided to do it solo since none of my diving buddies was interested and my wife hates the area. Spring is the time to do this trip, nice steady east winds off the beach, no lee shores. Yeah, right.

Boat launched out of Goodland (near Marco) on April 11th, having waited two days to avoid a rainy front. First to Panther Key, decent isolated beach. Lo and behold it had oyster beds along the shore. Had to hunt for legals, and I ate’em almost as fast as they were shucked, hard to save enough for chowder.

Next day, checked out some more spots in the 10,000 island area. One gorgeous lonely beach, thinking its was just me, until I walked around the corner and found. . . two porta-potties?? Must be more traffic here than it looks like. Next, offshore to dive(hey, I gotta at least try) some artificial reefs. Did not count on the vis being the same as inshore, about 6 inches. Oh well, next. Down to Plover Key, which seemed higher than other islands. Turned out to be an old indian shell mound, being washed away fast. On to Highland Beach quartering into a strong SE breeze. Deserted, but not so nice, muddy. Spent the night in a tiny nook just north of North Cape Sable. That sundown the Green Flash appeared for me.

Heading south, it was obvious that the land had retreated 200-600 ft. Either that, or the charts were way off to start with. Most of the charts are based on some pretty old surveys, so I was guessing erosion. Also, it was deeper close to shore than charted. Something else, there were several little nooks that were either poorly charted or not at all, some of those offered 360 degree protection for boats our size. Anybody considering this trip should go to Google Earth for up to date detail. Bugs would be impossible in summer, but this time of year, no problem.


Checked out North Cape. Deserted, very nice beach. Great shells if anybody’s wife is into that sort of thing. Funny tracks on the beach. Looked like big heavy snakes that a bear was walking beside. VERY fresh. I was baffled. Cruised down to Middle Cape and figured out what the tracks were- - - Crocodiles— BIG ones. I saw 6 or 7, all headed down the beach into the water. Most in the 5-6 ft range, but one was more like 12 ft, bloody huge! Walked the beach and lost count at about 40 tracks. Crocs go under as soon as they hit the water and don’t come back up. Given all the tracks, you couldn’t swim without swimming near a croc that you could not see. Kind of kills the desire for a dip. Decided I’d rather go see Flamingo, which wasn’t all that interesting. The marina has been fully repaired since the hurricanes, fairly well stocked, gas(including rec 90) and ice available. Food truck serving what looked pretty good. Buttonwood canal is closed, good boat ramps on either side of the dam, but you can't go through. The Park Service Center was still badly damaged and a temp facility was small and minimal. The whole trip, I was surprised at how many flats boat type fishing boats I saw, even a very long way from any possible launch point. Almost always you could hear engines off in the distance. Popular line fishing area.

Back to the entrance of Lake Ingram for the night. I intended to get well inside in the lake, but the wind was picking up, blowing straight up the lake and not comfortable to sleep in, so back to the entrance. This was the only time the bugs were challenging. Horse flies, yellow flies and lots of’em. A few mosquitos at night. Coils and mosquito repellant did their job.

Next morning was supposed to be South Cape, but the south wind was screaming and I wasn’t comfortable leaving the boat anchored on a lee shore. So up to Shark River. This is a hard place to describe. Deep rivers winding inland, tall mangroves growing straight up 50-75 feet, huge lakes way inland. Very odd vibe. I went inland to Oyster Bay, thinking I could find some oysters, no luck, just a weirdly beautiful place. Rained buckets that night.

Monday was back north, quartering into a stiff NW, cold front wind. Yeah for trim tabs, but am I doing something wrong? Bumped all the way to Pavilion Key, no crocs, nice swim and a beach walk, but I had not adjusted to a much higher tidal range than my home area and the boat was aground when I got back. Pretty soon it was REALLY aground, as in dry.

Now, when the Seafari is “dry” , it lays over about 45 degrees, not too comfortable inside the boat, especially for a wait of several hours. I had to think of something. I’d brought some wax and put it too good use. The parts of the boat that were in the shade are now a good bit shinier than they were before. Met some good-ol-boys from Deland who come down and camp for a week every year. They fed me. Nice folks. In the meantime the sun went down and I got to see the Green Flash again. Thats twice in 3 days, more times than I’d ever seen it in my life. By 9:00 pm , we were afloat once more, and got out of there to some deeper water.

Next day was perfect, light wind behind me and comfy temps. Of course it was time to go home.



A very unusual and interesting trip.
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Last edited by cdavisdb; 04-27-2019 at 08:37 PM.
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2019, 09:59 PM
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NoBones NoBones is offline
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Yo Connor,

I used to fish Goodland, Faka Union, and Chokoloskee for Snook back in the day !! The green flash has been going on a LONG time there...

The only green flash now at Area 442 is the gazillion lightning bugs
we get up here every spring !!

That means the Mosquito spraying program does not exist in my neck of the woods....

Glad you had a good time in the 10,000 Islands !!

Please post some pics...
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Old 04-26-2019, 10:09 PM
Rybones Rybones is offline
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I've been trying for years and haven't gotten anybody to commit to do that trip with me. I think you just made me realize I'm going to do it by myself and probably even enjoyed more because of that. Thank you very much for sharing that.

All the flats boats at Flamingo run they're from Largo, Islamorada and even Marathon. I've done it several times myself. It's a really nice ride and quicker than you may think. As everyone knows, the red fishing there is outstanding but quite accidentally we found a spot very close to Flamingo that must be a grouper Estuary / Nursery of some sort. It's shallow and you have to get your bait straight to the bottom but as soon as you do you're actually hooked up with a nice yet small grouper that you can play on light tackle and they're stubborn little runs to get back into the mangrove once they realize they are hooked up always makes you think that you're snagged on a mangrove root. It reminds me of Spike, the Bulldog pup from the old Tom and Jerry cartoons.
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Old 04-26-2019, 10:40 PM
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bumpdraft bumpdraft is offline
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Enjoyed reading your post, good story. It reminded me of the old days, when I took my wife and two kids on my 17’ Mako and spent the night in the shark river. We did the loop from Flamingo to lake Ingram and up the shark, returning to starting place from the back country. Back then, there was no dam. It was a bit unnerving hearing boats in the middle of the night, moving about with no lights and we were out by ourselves, but still a great memory.

Last edited by bumpdraft; 04-26-2019 at 10:42 PM.
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Old 04-27-2019, 08:02 PM
cdavisdb cdavisdb is offline
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Nobones, the fishing must be pretty good, or at least lots of fishermen think so. As windy as it was, open water was square chop. Did not seem to slow'em down.
Those little flat bottom boats must be full of guys with better kidneys than mine.

Rybones, definitely go! Solo's good. This was the first long solo trip I have done. Wasn't sure it would work, but I liked it. Planning more in the future.

Bumpdraft, did you get into Lake Ingram from the south? When was that? Chart shows a tiny canal, but I did not try it
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Old 04-27-2019, 11:26 PM
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bumpdraft bumpdraft is offline
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That was probably in 1979 or 80, but as I remember, we came in from the south and went about a third of the way in. The water on either side of the channel wouldn't float the boat and I was concerned that I might get stuck. That and I wanted to see what the cape looked like, so I came back out and went around. All I had to go by was a paper chart and compass then.
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