Sunday, June 26, 2005

On The Wild Waccasassa River With Katie-Bug

I did finally get out on water for a shake-down cruise of the boat. Daughter Kate and I chose the lower Waccasassa River for our cruise. The Waccasassa (hereafter abbreviated "WACA")flows from the east side of Levy county to the Gulf on the west coast and drains about 900 square miles. The upper WACA is narrow and twists like snake through cypress river swamp. As it approaches the tiny community of Gulf Hammock, it cuts through limerock and begins to widen and slow.
Katie-Bug and I put the boat in at a free county ramp called Waccasassa Park. This is a concrete ramp in great shape with nice tie-up docks on either side.
We left the ramp and cruised slowly through the narrow forested river banks. The river is still mostly fresh near the ramp, so the forest is made of cypress, bay, pine, cabbage palm, maples, etc. As you travel west from the ramp, the Gulf marine influence takes over and instead of forest, the shore becomes vast open marshes of spartina and juncus punctuated with islands of palm and cedar.
Katie drove the boat like a pro and took us down to the mouth of the river. The WACA opens up into the Gulf at Waccasassa Bay State Preserve. This is 30,000+ acres of protected wild shoreline. You will not see a condo, motel, or even a house on this entire trip. Beautiful.
We did see a gator hanging out beneath a rope swing over the river back by the ramp. What a picture...I didn't get it of course.
I had not been on the WACA since last year's hurricanes and one big change was a large shrimp boat that had been moored upriver semi-permanently was now downriver, heeled over, and flooded.
We cruised back up river past the boat ramp and into the Wekiva, a tributary that flows into the WACA. We put-putted slowly until the Wekiva got too narrow for our 19 foot skiff to turn around in.
What a gorgeous river. There aren't many left like this.

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