I didn't post yesterday, but I have a good excuse.
Her name is Emma, she is 20 years old, and she is my baby girl.
It's her fault there was no post yesterday.
Here is why ...
Yesterday morning I got up and loaded the kayak on to the JEEP's trailer. I planned a short, couple hour jaunt somewhere nearby ... maybe the Suwannee or the Waccasassa.
I thought everybody had things to do and it seemed to be true as I went in and out of the house loading camera, sunscreen, etc.
Junior had plans in town, Mrs.FC was heading south to visit her brother who had some surgery, and Emma ... what was Emma up to?
I asked her what her plans were as I was walking out the door.
"Oh, nothing until later this evening."
"Ok, I'll see you later."
I closed the door and walked out to the JEEP, started it up, and headed down the sandy driveway out of PFHQ, bugged by the thought of ME going on the water and my fish of a daughter hanging out at home.
The kayak is a one person vessel, but at home was a 3 seat canoe resting under the oaks.
It would only take a few minutes to swap out ...
I got about 100 yards down the road while I mentally beat myself up for leaving her at home.
The cool thing about a JEEP Wrangler is they are short and turn on a dime. You can do a U-turn in a flash.
In a few minutes I was back at the house, Emma was changing into some water clothes, and we were offloading the kayak and strapping the canoe onto the trailer.
In no time we were on our way. With Emma aboard, I felt we should go for it, so we headed north to Hagen's Cove, just north of Steinhatchee.
It's scallop season and Hagen's Cove is smack in the middle of a popular scalloping stretch of the coast, so we had packed the dive flag and some masks and snorkels.
Emma in the Gulf of Florida. We are waaaay off shore, but she could easily stand up where she is in the picture above. In fact, our biggest challenge to scalloping was finding water deep enough to actually swim above the vigorous seagrass beds.
You really need to be above the grass peering down into it, rather than at the same level and pushing your way through it. As the tide ebbed, we moved farther and farther out to sea, but there's no slope to the seafloor here and it was thigh deep forever.
We did manage to find a few scallops before the tide dropped so much that the grass was laying over with the current, concealing any scallops that might lie beneath.
It takes ALOT of bay scallops to make a decent meal, so we always keep them alive by letting the captives ride in a mesh bag hung in the water, just in case we don't capture enough for a meal.
That way, they get released and live to spawn or be part of a better haul another day.
On this day, the lucky 6 scallops we gathered were released before we began our paddle back to the mainland.
Emma was snorkeling with a regular mask, but I chose to skip the snorkel and just use a SEAL mask which covers the eyes, but not the nose. I love these masks for just swimming or poking around.
It's just so nice to have your head under in such an interesting place ... I found myself forgetting to breathe.
Most of the bottom is covered in a mix of different seagrass species and some really cool nonvascular seaweeds. Each type of seagrass and seaweed have their "favorite" zones, so you pass through all kinds of different minihabitats as you move farther out to sea.
There were lots of forage fish crinkling and dimpling the water's surface as we cruised around seeking scallops. The pinfish and killifish (mudminnow) populations were really impressive ... which makes me think this would be a pretty seatroutyredfishyfloundery place to cast a line.
Not today though. Today we were fellow sea creatures on the hunt.
Of course, that fellow marine predator thing fell flat with the ebbing tide and the emergence of the seafloor, so we regressed back to bipedal land dwellers for the sloshy walk back through the shallows.
The walk back through shallow clear water alive with critters was possibly, more fun than the scallop hunting. We picked up a wild mix of crawling, scrabbling, slipslidin' sea beasties. They all agreed to pose for a quick pic or video clip and then back they went.
The sheer productivity of an estuary like this is amazing. The variety and abundance of life in a healthy marsh like this one is mind boggling. In fact, when I post the fiddler crab pics and video from this walk, you will find yourself quite boggled at the sight.
I will be sharing that and more, in the next post or two.
Emma dangling off the edge of the continent.
So, now you know why it's Emma's fault that there was no Friday post.
If she had not weighed on my Dad conscience and caused me to pull that U-turn, I would have had time to post yesterday instead of spending the ENTIRE day at sea with my wonderful, grown up too fast dammit, beautiful baby girl.
She is so bad that way.