Saturday, January 12, 2019

Kayaking Among the Manatees on Silver Springs


Our first stop in Florida was at Santos Trailhead State Park outside of Ocala. The Jordan’s turned us onto this spot while they were researching places to stay and this was one of few areas that had a site with multiple days together so we took advantage of it!

The highlight of this area for us was Silver Springs where we did some kayaking. This was the first test of the repair job I did since the mice got into our Sea Eagle and I am happy to report the patch held and we did not sink!
You can launch right in Silver Springs State Park. The river meanders through some very picturesque landscapes. In fact, this is where they filmed several of the Tarzan movies and many of the movie structures are still there. 


As cool as those were, we were not there to see the structures. We were hoping to get a glimpse of the ever elusive Florida Manatee that are said to reside in the larger Silver River! As we wound our way through Silver Springs we saw quite a bit of wildlife including turtles, various birds and gators. We were hoping that the gators did not know the difference between an inflatable and hard sided kayak! We were told that decedents of the monkeys used during filming are still swinging from the trees but we did not see any. 




We eventually made our way to the Silver River and were paddling along when Barb saw the hump of a manatee surface in front of her. We quietly made our way over to where we last saw them. They must have been as curious as we were as they surfaced within inches of our kayak! My camera somehow got on B&W for a few pictures......
Manatee fin ahead!


Peeking up to see what we are up to

They were right underneath us!

Hope the other one does not surface under us!
After 3 hours of paddling we went back to our campsite. We spent 3 days in site #20 at Santos Trailhead SP ($22/night W/E) which for us was probably the best site in the park. It was long enough that we were able to fit the entire rig into, it was one of the few sites that we could get satellite reception from and it had a large grassy area across the street for the dogs to run and play. 
Site #20 Santos Trailhead SP
We would take the dogs over to the grassy area and throw the frisbee and Dakota would go get it, on and on. One time Barb comes back and says "I got the frisbee stuck in a tree and need the broom". The thought crossed my mind to say something smart like "What are you going to do, fly up and get it?" Well, apparently as I was thinking it those words came out of my mouth and I got wacked with said broom!
When she could not reach it with the broom, she actually climbed the tree and eventually got it down. 
Maybe she is going to fly up there!

Up she goes!

If you look closely you can see Barb poking at the frisbee with a broom
She eventually got it down and life was good again. After spending 3 nights there it was time to move over to B's Marina and Campground in Yankeetown. It was only an hours drive down a 2 lane country road so we took our time. At one point there was a truck and 5th wheel approaching us from the other way and I commented to Barb that it looked like Jim and Brenda Jordan's rig (our neighbors from South Dakota). Sure enough as we passed they were waving at us. What are the odds of that?!?! Later that day they sent us this picture from their dash cam.

We arrived at B's and found out the site we reserved was not going to be available for a few days so we pulled into one of the other two open spots. Things are pretty tight here and we have to park our truck away from the rig but overall it is a quiet campground.

Two days later we moved to our reserved spot. 
We now have enough room to put our awnings out!

You can see our truck and rig on the right center

Again, our rig is on the right side in the center
Really nice catamaran 
This will be our home for the next month. Good friends Dan and Jeanie have a house in nearby Dunnellon so we have plans to get together with them often and do some sightseeing and fishing. In addition, we hope to get back over to Ocala and see Jim and Brenda as well as a few other friends who will be in the area in the next few weeks!

30 comments:

  1. How exciting to see the manatee's right under your kayak. Good luck fishing.

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    1. I was just glad they didn’t try and surface right under us. At 600#’s they would have had us outweighed!

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  2. I would have said that if you were better at frisbee it wouldn't be stuck in a tree. Can you tell her that for me. And don't harass the Manatees.

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    1. Ok, I will let you tell her that and she how it all works out for you.....

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  3. Kayaking with the manatee is so much fun. We rented kayaks (even though we have the same Sea Eagle) in Manatee Park near Fort Myers. They are so curious. We were thinking the same thing about them now surfacing while under us. Way to go, Barb, climbing that tree!

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    1. We are going to be in Fort Myers and might have to check out Manatee Park!

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  4. Gators can’t tell the difference between an inflatable kayak and a yummy bag of Stay-Puft marshmallows floating on the water, Jim. ;)

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    1. Oh boy, we should consider ourselves very lucky then! Notice we did not take either dog, the gators would have really been enticed if they saw a plump little puggle!

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  5. Great score on that first campsite! Awesome shots of the wildlife too. I bet the pucker factor kicked in just a little when the Manatees got so close.

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    1. It would have certainly been interesting had it surfaced under us. We would not have cared too much except for our cameras!

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  6. Hoping to get some great canoeing in when we're in FL, thanks for a preview of what's in store for us.

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    1. Lots of great places, we are going to do Crystal River at some point as well. We also hope to get out in the gulf to do some kayak fishing!

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  7. I would love to kayak with the manantees! We also have Sea Eagles...think I’d freak out seeing the gators!

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    1. We got within 10' of several of the gators. I think they could have cared less. They did not even move.

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  8. Ver cool pics of the manatees right there under the boat! I would have been a little leery of the gators while I'm in an inflatable but I have seen other pics of the same thing. Good idea leaving Daisy behind I think the gators would have more interest if she was peering over the side !!

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    1. Ya, plus she likes to walk the edge of the boat and usually falls in at least once per trip.

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  9. If you make it to the Crystal River area you can actually take tours to go floating with the Manatees. Kathy and I have done it twice. The second time she got a XXX rated show.
    Be Safe and Enjoy your time in the Southeast.

    It's about time.

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    1. That sounds like quite the show and story, we will have to hear it sometime!

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  10. Glad the manatees did you right and didn't force you out of your kayak....and glad those gators didn't get too close!!

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    1. Those were the gators we saw, it is the ones you don't see that you have to worry about!

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  11. Awesome wildlife pictures. Great that you got so up-close to the Manatees. They sure are cute.....in their own way.

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    1. They are cute and unique in their own way. We were lucky to see them!

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  12. Nice you got to see some Manatee up close. When we were there in January we barely saw any and it was from a distance. We didn't see any monkeys either.

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  13. Enjoy your time there and the wonderful scenery.

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    1. We hope to get out on a few more rivers while we are here so hopefully it is not the only encounter we have!

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  15. Some fantastic shots along the river. Very interesting to interact with the Manatees.
    How cool to meet the neighbours on the road. That is too funny.
    Enjoy your time there.

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    1. We knew they were headed that way but they were a couple days early and on a remote road.... sometimes it is truly a small world!

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