Sunday, May 31, 2015

Kayaking in Carolina (Nothing could be Finer)

Kayaking in Carolina (Nothing could be Finer)

We did a little “while on vacation” escape adventure today. My kayak partner and I joined the nice people at Charleston Outdoor Adventure (COA) for a restful little paddle down Folly Creek in a South Carolina Tidal Estuary. COA is situated down at the end of Bowen's Island, right next to Bowen's Island Restaurant. Strangely enough, this is where we ate dinner just last night. All of the fried seafood you can eat and you just pay money !!.

Views from the Restaurant

COA Headquarters

Our two lovely COA trip guides conducted a leisurely little eco-tour like paddle giving us plenty of information about the life and times of a tidal creek.

Have you ever visited the Charleston low country? They call it that for a good reason, you know. Everything is flat here. You can see the tall structures (of which there are few) from miles around. The new Cooper river bridge, which is this beautiful new style suspension bridge, can be seen from 10 miles in any direction. Yes, you can see everything all of the way around you unless you find yourself really really low down. Like you were in a kayak. On the water. At low tide. In that case, you are just going to be seeing the lovely marsh grass, pluff mud, and (mostly flying) wild life. Sort of like ducking down into the wild.

We went for a walk on the beach the day before the paddle.

That is a the bridge way over in Charleston


We didn't bring our kayaks with us on this trip. Haven't gotten a pair of the Oru origami kayaks yet, and even if we did, it would have cost more to put those puppies on the plane than to rent a couple of boats from COA. The nice COA crew put us in a couple of Carolina 14 kayaks from Perception. They were pretty nice boats. Certainly something to consider for a new paddler. The only thing I didn't care for much about them was the rudder. I just don't like rudders much, though that may be the right way to go with new kayakers that haven't learned how to go straight yet. I remember one of the first times I went out paddling I was always going right and I was not capable of going straight until I deployed the rudder. So, there you have it. I have also heard that if you are in high wind and being pushed hard to one side, it helps a lot to be able to use the rudder to steer while paddling hard on both sides for power.

The COA guides were very well informed and pleasant, but they didn't know how to get people with bad knees into their boats. “Just put you paddle across the stern here and sit on the paddle like this”, she said.

“I can't sit like that,” I said. “I can't bend my knees that far”.

“I am just barely bending my knees,” She said.

Ah, youth.

I showed her how I sit with my legs across the boat and then just ease in. By far the easiest way to get in, especially if one of your knees won't bend far enough to get into the cockpit of the boats with small cockpit openings.

Then we started our 3 hour tour. (our 3 hour tour). Yes. Those jokes were told.

An early word of warning, the southern youngsters seem to just shake it off and enjoy getting a better tan (I guess like I did when I worked the waterways at 18) but for the older crowd, and ANYONE FROM OREGON, don't forget a sunshirt, sunhat, and Sun Screen, and water. The guides will remind  you to stay hydrated. Hell, the guides will teach you all manner of things. For instance...

Did you know:

About Estuaries
  1. An estuary is a place where fresh water from rivers mixes with the salt water of the ocean.
  2. The density of the saltwater is such that it actually rides below the fresh water.
  3. The salt water in the estuary is actually more salty than the ocean because the marsh grass is extracting freshwater from the salt and excreting the salt back into the water at high tide.
  4. The fresh water comes from the Ashley, Cooper, and Stono Rivers.  "But.... we aren't connected to those rivers here" (Shut up).
Fiddler Crabs
  1. They have one large crab that the males use to attract a mate.
  2. They are called Fiddlers because when they are raising and lowering their one big claw they look like someone playing a fiddle.
  3. They make great bait for fishing for Sheep Head.


Snowy Egrets
  1. They have red feet and black legs.
  2. The red feet, coming out of the mud, look like worms and attract fish.
  3. The black legs look like reeds and don't scare the fish.
  4. The white body looks like clouds above the water
  5. Yum, Fish!

The Skimmer
  1. They feed by flying along the ocean and lowering their bottom beak to skim the water.
  2. The lower beak part is longer than the upper to facilitate this effort.
    Note that this is a borrowed image. These guys were too fast for me

Brown Pelicans
  1. Brown Pelicans feed using a method called impact feeding.
  2. They drop from the air, sometimes from 40 feet, and hit the water hard.
  3. The impact can stun their prey.
  4. The birds have only 2 eyelids (we have 4) and the continuing impact can cause eye problems and cataracts.
  5. When the birds go blind, they starve to death.

    This is a borrowed image also, but it was borrowed from my Editor.

    OK, so she took all of the good pelican pictures.

  1. Oysters usually grow on the outside of curves of the river because that is where they get deposited by the current during their free floating phase.
  2. Oysters are important to the ecology of the estuary as they filter the water and take out many impurities including bacteria.
  3. In the summer, the bacteria count is high, which is why you shouldn't eat the oysters in months that don't have a R.
  4. Pirates only eat oysters in months that have an AAAAAARRRR.
Oyster Bed

    Loggerhead Turtles
    1. They are an endangered species.
    2. Their biggest predator is the raccoon.
    3. Now why do we think there are so many Racoons in the Turtles nesting place? Could it be the increasing numbers of humans with their houses and garbage cans?
    4. Loggerhead turles can weigh 300 pounds. When the female is laying eggs, she may come to the beach on 3 or 4 occasions to lay a different clutch of eggs.
    5. Turtle eggs are best prepared scrambled with a little dill.
    Pluff Mud
    1. Pluff mud is called that from the sound a rock makes when it lands in the mud.
    2. It is created by the decomposition of the marsh grass (which is an annual).
    3. Enslaved farm workers used the mud for sun screen and insect replellent.
    4. The mud is high in N P K (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) and was once exported as fertilizer.
    5. It is currently illegal to package pluff mud in any form. It is considered too essential to the wellfare of the coastal barrier islands and estuaries.
    6. Perhaps it is spelled Plough Mud. Who knows? Nope, your editor checked, and you were right the first time.
    Birds can walk on the pluff mud, but not us.
    Well, they can walk on us, but we can't walk on ...... never mind

    Pluff !! And why does the guide get a Fathom but I don't?

    1. The Dolphins hid all day and we didn't get to see them (sad face).
      This is a picture of every dolphin we saw.
    The Marsh Islands
    1. There are a lot of places where there is enough dirt and sand for a little island to appear in the marsh grass.
    2. The trees on these islands are all 26 years old.
    3. Because of Hurricane Hugo.
    4. Which was 26 years ago.
    5. The islands we were paddling around were too small and isolated to have dwellings, but you could camp there as long as you didn't build anything.
    6. The larger ones (at least) are privately owned.

    And one was for sale.

    Hey, want to buy your own island?
    Charleston Outdoor Adventures.
    1. Here is a link
    2. $55 for a 3 hour tour (a 3 hour tour)
    3. $35 for a 4 hour rental.
    4. Tell them Jon sent you.
    5. if that doesn't work, try "Joe" or perhaps "Sir"

        The water was warm, the sky was blue, the sun was hot. We would have flipped over and played around some except that it was very low tide and we had been warned about razor sharp oysters.
        Nah, it was just because we didn't we want to cause problems for the guides. I did a lot of hanging out in the tidal creeks back in boy scout camp Ho-Non-Wah some 40 years ago. It was sort of fun to do a little more of it. I would like to come back during high tide and just glide through the marsh grass. Now that we know we can rent boats anytime we want to, we will have to consider doing that. Certainly it is easier to work off some of that extra fried fish and Carolina bar-b-que weight we gain when visiting.


        1. Great pics! And some interesting and funny stuff!

          1. Thank you, Lisa,
            I always enjoy comments from my readers !!
            that reminds me. I need to send you a message.