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Long Key - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Extended Trip Report
Trip Dates: December 11-16, 2006
Nearest City: Marathon, FL
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

Description:

Long Key SP & Florida Keys

Monday I drove down to the Long Key SP campground and set up my tent and nine foot parawing. This was my first time camping at this State Park. My campsite #4 was a couple of feet from the Atlantic Ocean shoreline. The site was quite small but adequate for one tent and small parawing. The wind was blowing at 20 mph, which made setting up my tent a challenge but with every tie down staked I was set for the week.

Tuesday I slid my sea kayak into the ocean from my campsite and proceeded to paddle around the circumference of Long Key. With a strong wind I did not have to paddle much for the first couple of miles but after rounding the southern point I found myself paddling against the tide and the wind for the next five miles.

This proved to be a good workout. The most challenging was when I started to line up to go under the bridge at the north end of the Key. The bridge structure is such that much of the water trying to pass from the Florida Bay into the Atlantic is thrown back which results in currents flowing both directions at the same time.

My first attempt was aborted, as I was likely to tip my kayak. I then paddled out and landed my kayak on the Florida Bay side of the Key. I got out and climbed up to the road to decide if I could carry my kayak over the highway and avoid paddling under the bridge. When I walked up on the road I noticed that the speed limit is 55mph as this is Hwy 1, the only highway through the Keys. So now I had two ideas, one was to reverse my trip as the bridge on the west end of Long Key is built differently and does not cause the same problem with currents, or I could paddle to the middle of the bridge, which is a different structural design and might not kick back the tide as much.

I went with option two, but as I was paddling east to line up to paddle through the middle of the bridge, I noticed that there was less current action on the sea wall so I made my move and had a rough but successful passage under the bridge. Then it was another five miles rounding the upper end of the Key and back to my campsite.

In total it is 12.5 miles.


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