Cedar Key Trip Report

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Jerry Lester | VCKC
Published Tuesday, March 13, 2007

All 42 Club members who participated on this trip off Cedar Key commented about what a great day it was. The weather was perfect, and we had a very enjoyable paddle.

We departed The Villages Mulberry Recreation Center about 7:30 AM, and it took about 1 ¾ hrs to arrive at the Public Beach in Cedar Key for our boat launch.

Brack Barker of Wild Florida Adventures and Matt Clemons of Aardvark Florida Kayak Company, our outfitters, were ready for us with their great kayaks, and we able to launch at
9:49 AM. Prior to our launch, Brack and Matt gave us a briefing about what to expect on the paddle and introduced those new to kayaking proper paddling techniques.

The Gulf was calm with light winds, and the sky was clear. The temperature was in the mid 70's with little humidity.

The paddle from the beach to Atsena Otie Key was great. I stayed at the rear of the pack and enjoyed looking out at the mass of kayaks paddling the Gulf waters (pictures are on our club's website). The first leg was 1.2 miles and took 22 minutes, as recorded with my GPS. Some dolphins were seen but they didn't approach.

We beached at Atsena Otie and Brack gave us great information about this tiny island and its history. Atsena Otie Key was once home to a community that included a factory for making cedar pencil staves. Hurricanes in the 1800's wiped out the community, however.
After the briefing, we paddled to an old pier and beached again, where Brack pointed out the walking trail that leads to a small cemetery. It was interesting to note the very young ages of those resting there, giving wonder as to the difficult life they must have faced, (pictures are included on our website). My GPS didn't record this leg on the water, nor did it record the walk to the cemetery, which is disappointing. Normally it is more reliable.

Back on the water at 11:25 AM, we paddled around Atsena and through a channel that cuts the key in half. On this leg of the trip, we paddled single file, as Brack and Matt had warned of the many oyster beds, some in very shallow waters. We passed within viewing distance of an Osprey nest and saw a pair of Osprey at home.

We made our 3rd stop on the key at 12 Noon for a quick break and a chance to stroll along a powder soft white sand beach. After a head-count, we departing for the mainland launch site at 12:26 PM. We arrived back at the public beach at 12:47 PM, ending our 3 hour-32 minute trip.

I especially enjoyed this paddle for its short paddling legs and the three beach stops. The stops prevented the old body from getting too stiff, and the beach was inviting. It made me think of making the trip again with a cooler of beverages and food and spending time lying on the beach. It would be well to do this before it gets too hot, however!

As planned, we met for lunch at Frog's Landing, and I had their fried seafood platter for $10.99, a bargain. It was well prepared and tasty. We got our beverages at Happy Hour prices, a favor to the club.

I think most all drove directly home after the paddle and lunch. I priced the Dockside Motel across from Frog's Landing, ($55/night), which looked fine. [800-541-5432]. It might be a good idea to spend the night after the paddle if you have stretched your day too much. There are some neat places to eat and hang out in Cedar Key!

Jerry Lester

Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008

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