Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer School Shakedown Cruise

Our skiff, "Summer School" received a tune up for Father's Day. This was long overdue, but there were college educations to pay for and, well, parents know how money priorities can shift like a spring tide.

She just returned home from the boat shop last week. When I walked in the shop to pick her up, the mechanic on site said, "Mr. FC, ... you don't remember me do you?"

(He didn't look like anyone I remember arresting, so I figured he was an exstudent of mine)

"Uh, give me a hint."

He said his name ... "Class of '92"

Well, okay then ... he was at least 34 years old now, balding, and needed a shave. They do change you know ... and there have been SO many of them.
Funny, though, after he said his name I could see him the way he was back then.

"Your boat's running great" he said as he wiped the grease from his hands.

I shook his greasy hands and thanked him for fixing the boat and for letting me know he was one of my exstudents.

Summer School had to sit all last week with stormy weather each day and she needed a good ship shaping anyway, but Thursday the weather was promising.

She really needed a shakedown cruise after fresh repairs.
It was the only prudent thing to do.

I hooked her up to the JEEP and headed for the Gulf Hammock boat ramp on the Waccasassa River.

In a few minutes I was slipping out towards the Gulf of Florida.

If you look in my sunglasses, you can see how I took this photo on a solo boat ride.

The forest that the Waccasassa flows through is a wild mix of cedars,cypress, pines, and palms. Trees grow tenuously on thin soil over barely buried limerock.
This is land that only plays at being "land".

The elevation can be measured in inches and large dieing pines and cypress may be signaling a seachange.

This is a man lunch ... not a girl lunch, and definitely not a teenager lunch.

The bubba keg full of ice water and a good banana ... just perfect.

If my usual crew had been along, there would be a huge ice chest full of fried chicken, drinks, pickles, and a water melon ... plus a boat bag full of towels, books, etc.

Nothing wrong with all of that, but it was nice to travel light for a change.

The dead palm trunks last a long time after the palm has died and many were loaded with woodpecker cavities. The swallowtailed kite hovered over me a few times, but each time I was busy driving instead of being camera ready.

As the river approaches the Gulf, the forest thins out and saltmarsh grasses like spartina and juncus dominate. They stretch on and on, and the word, "vast" seems appropriate. This is all part of the Waccasassa Bay State Preserve ... about 30,000 acres you and I own together.

Well, here's the Gulf. This portion of the Gulf is called Waccasassa Bay. Waccasassa is a native American word that means, " Bay of propeller destroying rocks, serves you right white devils".

Pretty accurate name by the way. It may look broad and inviting, but stray out of the channel on the wrong tide and you may be wishing you had brought that extra prop along or better yet, an airboat.

The Gulf is not on the float plan for this voyage.

With any luck, it will be on Friday ... when YOU are reading this.

My plan is to be somewhere under this osprey between Cedar Key and Texas shortly after this posts Friday morning.

If you see him, ... look down to find me.


Mark said...

My plan Friday is to be at work. Actually, that's not a plan, it's a necessity. But have fun, take pictures, and tell us about it later. You darned kids and your summer vacations.

Anonymous said...

FC, I'd sure likemto be there with you. I've been land locked for way to long. I could use some open water ahead of me. As for a website, I'm more a man with few words most of the time. So it would be hard to keep up with interesting post at this time. But, I'd be glad to share some of my shots with you if you'd like. Just have Thunder or Lightnin let me know where. Bro J

Susan said...

Just beautiful..... Now, you can't say any more about your "unpaid vacation." You're being compensated with the priceless currency of freedom... beauty... wide-open spaces.

caroline said...

You must not be fishing, on all the boats my husband has been out fishing on when we were at Sanibel, bananas were verbotten. Bad fishing luck, apparently.
Happy vacation. There are some benefits to working in public education, time with your kids during the off school months. We're headed to Minnesota next week.
Caroline in South Dakota

Anonymous said...

Bananas! My light lunch might be a Philly cheesesteak, a few Cliff Bars, a few liters of juice and water, some cruciferous critters, some nuts, a handful of sliced sourdough and cheese, and a snack. Olive that little tour, Skipper!! That ride would put anyone in a cherry mood. Admittedly, I am a little chicken of the sea but lime sure I'd squash my fears if I could eggplant my pear shaped rear into a boat. I just need to convince someone I'd berry my anxiety and that I'd carrot my apple share of the work. I ignore them when they the crew here say "Only mango on this boat". Grrrrrrr. Those witty little rhubarbs don't help. Orange you gonna be out there alot this summer? Dang, that looks nice!!!

Sharon said...

Sigh, what a way to spend the day :) Hope you're out enjoying it right now. (I'm all for fried chicken though - you can have your banana LOL)

Anonymous said...

Hey Cracker, don't nod off from boredom while you're out there.


pablo said...

Such blue eyes you have!

Deb said...

You get to have way too much fun with your boat! The only times I've been on a boat lately have been doing vegetation surveys and inspecting for aquatic plant control permits. I guess as far as jobs go, it's not bad if you get to be on a boat.

Floridacracker said...

Somebody has to do this kind of work.

Bro J,
You should guest post at your Bro's site!

Ever try and buy groceries with that?
But, I get what you are saying.

Bananas are bad fishing mojo?
Now that explains a lot of fish that got away ...

Today was cinematic. More tomorrow.

Me too on the fried chicken thing.
My weakness.

Yawn, ... what?


Had just a little more boat fun today too.

Alan said...

Waccasassa is a native American word that means, " Bay of propeller destroying rocks, serves you right white devils".

Haha, you had me laughing out loud at that one. Enjoy the trip!

pablo said...

I think you could have improved that lunch a bit if you had carried iced tea (unsweetened, of course) in that thermos rather than water.

Dr. Know said...

The Waccasassa definition is a definite truism. Reminds me of what boat actually stands for... Break Out Another Thousand.
As for the river you are navigating, I haven't been in any waters that pristine, nor a boat for that matter, since 2000. I really hate being land-locked in this hellcity.

cedrorum said...

I like the photos with the storm clouds gathering. That is exactly the scene I missed while living in L.A. Land.

Anonymous said...

That's an idea. Had a little red fox visit late Thurs night in the back yard. Unfortunitely the four legged kind, and the camera was in the house. Hope you enjoyed your shake down.
Bro J

Anonymous said...

I remember the Summer School much fun!

Joe said...

Beautiful pictures. It look so peaceful!

Floridacracker said...

It actually means "place of cows", but poetic license and all ...

It's always unsweetened in my glass too.

It's definitely a glimpse into the past ... very pristine for 2008 Florida.

They stayed East as it turned out so I made it home with no storm.

I have zero fox pics myself.

Same cruise path on Friday.

Very. No condos and only two other boats.

Joe said...

I have a hard time gotta good shots without power lines!

Suzanne said...

Hey F.C., I've missed you. I had a creative meltdown or morph of sorts. This post makes me sick, sick, sick....cause I want to be there so bad. Cypress sap must run in my veins. I love this post so much. The last week I've been secretly plotting a family vacation on the Gulf. Somewhere around Panama City where my people are from. Any suggestions? Mexico Beach perhaps?