Saturday, July 18, 2009

Turn Around ... You Won't Be Sorry

I know.
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.

The water in the cove is wonderfully clear.
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.


kathy a. said...

you got me all teary-eyed over here. not about the scallops.

Joey B said...

You're a lucky man.

I'd say I can't wait until my little girl is old enough to go scalloping with me, but to tell you the truth...

...I like her just the way she is right now.

edifice rex said...

Well, I can forgive you...since you put it that way! ;)
You're very fortunate to have such a family.

robin andrea said...

What a great way to spend a day with your beautiful Emma. It's incredibly lush and grand there, fc. I was just telling Roger the other day how much I need to live by water-- a marsh, an estuary, a slough-- all those places just teeming with life. Easy to be entranced by such sights.

Sandcastle Momma said...

A day with Emma and a day poking around the cove sounds wonderful!
My favorite part of scalloping is seeing their blue eyes before they snap shut. I can't wait to see more pics from your adventure.

Lynn said...

You are what's called a daddy. She is lucky to have more than just a father.

Glad you guys had a great day!!!

Deb said...

What a sweet story...wish I could turn around and go scalloping with one of mine! Scallops...yummm...


Man dies after being hit by boat while snorkeling off Steinhatchee

By Jeff Burlew • Assistant Metro Editor • July 18, 2009 [Tallahassee Democrat Newspaper]

A man was killed early Friday afternoon after he was hit by a boat while snorkeling off the coast of Steinhatchee, said Karen Parker, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Charles David Sheppard, 60, of Cross City, died after he was hit by the boat, Parker said.

Sheppard was looking for scallops in the Gulf off the southwest Taylor County coast. Another man was with him and onboard a 15-foot boat at the time. A divers-down flag was in use.

Meanwhile, 21-foot pontoon boat with 12 people onboard was leaving the area. It struck the man in the water, Parker said. The people onboard the pontoon boat pulled Sheppard inside the vessel, performed first aid and took him to shore, Parker said.

They called 911. Emergency-medical workers arrived and pronounced Sheppard dead at the scene.

No charges have been filed, and the investigation continues.

Fish and Wildlife officers were at the scene Saturday, and witnesses were being interviewed, Parker said.

Information about Sheppard’s proximity to his boat at the time and the type of divers-down flag that was in use was not immediately available.
Florida flag regulations

Divers must make reasonable efforts to stay within 300 feet of a divers-down flag on open waters and within 100 feet of a flag within rivers, inlets or navigation channels.

Vessel operators must make a reasonable effort to maintain a distance of at least 300 feet from divers-down flags on open waters and at least 100 feet from flags on rivers.

Vessels approaching divers-down flags closer than 300 feet in open water and 100 feet in rivers must slow to idle speed.

The size of divers-down flags displayed on vessels must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches, and a stiffener is required to keep them unfurled.

Dive flags carried on floats must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches. Divers-down flags on vessels must be displayed above the vessel’s highest point so the flag’s visibility is not obstructed in any direction.

Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

This comment has been removed by the author.
cinbad122 said...

Yummmm....I had scallops for dinner tonight!

Kittikity said...

I'm going to have to stop reading your blog.. I am so jealous of all the wonderful pics and all the fun you have in your little photo taking adventures..

amarkonmywall said...

Excellent. You're excused. Sounds as though the two of you had a lovely time and you can never have too many of those with a daughter! Makes me miss mine- she's south of the border doing research.

Kimberlee said...

That sounds like such a great day! Good for you!

Dani said...

Happy Belated Birthday Emma!

David said...

Hagen's Cove is a wonderful spot! I spent quite a bit of time down there in my previous job working on fixing up that picnic area. It's nice to see a familiar haunt.

If you've never been, take the road down to Dallas Creek sometime. The road is on the right just a few minutes east down the coastal highway towards Steinhatchee. You'll see a hunter check station at the entrance to the road. There's a good little boat ramp and a nice bend in the creek that's been known to hold trout and redfish. :)

(Watch out for rattlesnakes down at Hagens Cove too).

Miz S said...

Dammit, I left you a mushy comment about how wonderful you are but blogger ate it. It's just as well. With all this comment love your ego might get so big that you wouldn't fit in your kayak.

Floridacracker said...

Kathy A,
That's okay, Emma has that effect on me too.

Joey B,
I understand exactly what you mean. Enjoy and savor the time.

I am. They are something!

Lush is the word. Life abundant.

I have a little video of their clapping shut. I'll try to upload it this week.

My favorite title! :)

Pretty fun even if you don't get to eat scallops every time!

Thanks, that occurred while we were there.

Betcha didn't grab them from the sea!

It's out there waiting.

Thanks! I hope she leaves the tropical diseases south of the border this time!!

It was a lot of fun and NO mosquitoes!! Can't believe how abundant your Arctic ones are!

Thank you on her behalf!

Thanks for the tips! Been to the Dallas Creek ramp, but not with vessel yet!

Miz S,
I am SOOOO not wonderful, but thank you for the thought. Not much headroom in a kayak ...

elpbulls said...

Muh ha ha! lol Thanks for pickin me up! Love ya! Thanks for the birthday wishes Dani!