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, ...you 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.