Weeki Wachee River Trip Report

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Ted and Joanne Wendel | VCKC
Published Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Date: March 2, 2004

Location: Weeki Wachee River

Number of Paddlers: 45

Boats: 19 Canoes, 3 (single) kayaks, and  4 private kayaks

Reference Used:  Paddlers Guide to the Sunshine State, Sandy Huff

Travel Time From Hacienda Hills:  Approx  1 1/2 hrs

Trip Length: 7 miles.  Put in water at approx 0945

Boat Rentals

Weeki Wachee Canoe Rental (352) 597-0360 and website www.floridacanoe.com has sufficient number of canoes and kayaks (single and tandem) for our club.  Their base rental for our trip was (with tax)  $33.15 per canoe and included shuttle service from take-out (Christain Landing).  They charged private boat owners $5 for Put-In and $10 for shuttle service.  They had Old Towne canoes that were in excellent condition and included back supports.   It was a very efficient, clean and courteous operation.   Their shuttle van held about 10 to 12 passengers and was a five-minute trip.   I was told, word of mouth, that one of our club members complained about the charge for private boats and that had they know, they may not have made the trip.  These charges were identified during the club meeting and included in the club president's email about the trip.

Air Temperature and Weather Conditions

It should be noted that this trip was scheduled for the previous Tuesday but cancelled that morning because of weather conditions.  It was 70 degrees and mostly clear skies when we put in and I did not notice any wind problems.  Being a spring, the water was crystal clear with a strong (3 mile an hour) current throughout most of the trip.  Water depth was between a few inches to perhaps 20 feet for most of the run with a clearly defined channel and current.    The temperature climbed to near 80 degrees at the end of the trip with more cloud cover and slightly higher humidity.  In summary the weather and water conditions were great.

Water and Terrain

We traveled with the current with Put-In at the Rental site and Take-out at Christian Camp Grounds.  Doing this route, the river is rated for beginners.  It is rated for intermediates going against the current, if someone had the energy to want to do that.   There were no obstructions below or hanging near the water level.  However, there were some sharper turns which, combined with the strong and diverging current required good paddling skills (more on this later).  Immediately at Put-In, the bird life and scenery combined with the clarity of the water was very impressive.  The boats appeared to be floating on air.

The river was not overly wide and there were few channels.  Our instructions were always, expect at the end, to stay left.  At about the half waypoint, there were two put-ins for lunch/swim stops.  We were told that the State operated one and charged  $3 per person and payment was on an honor system.  We stopped briefly at the second stop which appeared to be free. 

After this stop, we passed more and more homes on the river.   The sign for the Take Out was as explained by the livery, it was clearly visible and following their instructions for the first and only right turn, we arrived and the shuttle van was waiting for us.

Wildlife Sightings

At the start of the trip, there was much bird life, it really was an impressive view:   Pelicans, Wood Storks, Blue Herrings, Snow Egerts, Florida Gallmudes (sp?) and Red Winged Blood Bird (?).  Unfortunately, we did not see Manatees but there were some fish, mostly Gars in the water.  It was explained that because  Jack Cravells, an aggressive salt-water game fish, had migrated inland and much of the fish normally seen were either eaten or frightened away. 

Difficulty Rating

The swift and diverging current coupled with sharp turns make this a  3 rating.   

Other Issues

A continuing problem exists that some of us simple do not possess the paddling skills needed and expected of club members.  The rivers we visit are mostly rated for beginners or those with intermediate skills.  Lately, we have seen some that seem not to have those abilities.   This requires that our more experienced paddlers  to “sweep” the river to not just account for everyone but also to provide assistance.  This creates a growing anxiety level and can really ruin their day on the water as everyone of us, look forward to each trip.  We are a club because each of us want the company and safety of being in a group esp those of us who are constantly improving our paddling skills.  In doing so, we also accept a certain level of responsibility that includes being with and staying with the group.  Nothing is scarier for a leader than to realize that someone is missing either during or after a trip.  We all would love to explore and lay back from the group but that is not fair to others.  Each of us are free to visit some of the rivers on our own time or with others who share those feelings.  Remember, our club's goal  is to provide great paddling experiences in a somewhat controlled group environment.  So, please be realistic in accepting your paddling skills and please keep up with “the group”.  

Live  breathe  paddle.

Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008

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