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Deer Island - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Day Trip Report
Trip Dates: October 17, 2009
Nearest City: Biloxi, MS
Difficulty: Difficult
Submitted by: Tim

Description:

I don't know where to start on this one. Ok a solo trip and it all goes as follows. First half, one of the best kayak trips I have done so far, second half, the single worse. I launched on Biloxi Beach, then paddled west to Beau Rivage, the back east through the rock barrier to land on the gulf side of Deer Island. I was surprised at the beauty of this island, really secluded too especially considering it is less then a mile from the mainland beach. I walked along the beach, sand as white as can be. I never seen any wildlife other then pelicans and seagulls. Sea oats around and some type of trees, not sure what kind they were. Very pretty place though. At first I was planning to just paddle to it and back. Then I got the wild idea to explore the entire coastline.

This is where things get ugly, really ugly. First off, I underestimated the size of this island. I thought 2 or 3 miles at the most on each coast side. Well, turns out I was very wrong, I want to say it is double that or more, easy. Well three times it appeared the land twas the end when it continued on. Then it got to a point where I just said, I should just keep going now, I went this far.

Little did I know, that north side of the island would be absolute hell. When I made that north turn around the southeast tip of the island, the wind and waves were aggressive and looked pretty mean. I did not think they were too big, but they just looked violent. That was until I got closer, those were surf waves. I realized the water was very shallow, lucky if it was 3ft in many places. I stood about 50-100ft off the shore the entire trip. On the north side though, the waves looked bad as far as I could see and the wind was powerful, very powerful. So I kept about 50ft from shore.

I ended up running aground on the sand bars many times, it was becoming a big problem and I was getting worried. Eventually, my kayak ended up taking on water, quite a bit. I tried to hold out until I landed on the beach halfway, but next thing I knew, I was sinking. It started taking water quick and I had to hop out. Yep first time my kayak has ever sunk and it was in 3ft of water. The water was filled to the top of my kayak, I could not even move it an inch. I was in trouble, big trouble. I bilge pumped it and it filled up as fast as it came out. I had to get it closer to shore. So I pumped and moved it at the same time. Was able to get just enough water out to bring it close enough to shore to keep water from continuously getting in. I pumped, and pumped and pumped. I also sponged it out. At this point, I was exhausted, completely. I thought I was stranded and did not think I could make it back. I was attempting to call the coast guard but my VHF radio was out, flooded with water even though it was waterproof. It could not be submerged and it was so all I had was a cell, it was working but I decided to head back. Worst part, I was halfway down the north half and had to turn back to back track the entire southside. The wind and waves were just far too much on the north side. Very hard to paddle and I had to keep a steady strong pace, would have overexcerted myself. A few times I felt dizzy and thought I was going to pass out. If that would have happened I would not be here now. I would have been found dead 100 miles out in the gulf or washed up on the shore on the island somewhere. The wind and waves would have took me as soon as that paddle stopped and quick too. Trust me on this one.

Once on the south side, which faces the gulf. The waves and wind were much better and easier. Now it gets ugly again and I can't help but wonder when it will end, sun goes down. I had a spotlight but it was not enough to allow me to see the shallow sand bars. It is very dark, so dark I could not see a thing. I ended up hitting sand bars 4 times before finally finding the way out of the barrier rocks back to the main beach.

There you go, for the first time I experienced the dark side of kayaking. It was downright terrifying! I feel I faced a near life and death experience here. At many points I was unsure I would able to keep paddling to get back. I was about to pass out. When I mean there were no boats or nothing out there, there was nothing! Nothing on the island or around it.

At last, I learned a few major lessons on this one. Always know the area you will paddle in before going solo, always. Then never underestimate the range of a trip or your ability to paddle. Then as always respect the water no matter how weak it looks or how shallow it maybe. It can and will sink you, even if its only 3ft deep. Also, do not exceed the ability of your type of kayak. I used my old town vapor 10 kayak. Great yak and if I had any lesser of a yak I would still be stranded on that island. Although I do think a sit on top would have kept me out of some trouble, it still would have hit the sand bars. Any boat, no matter what kind even a motor boat, would have got in touble out there today. Could be why I never seen ANY boats other then sail boats.

Nice scenic trip to take if you want to explore a remote gulf barrier island that is close by. Just please do not make the mistakes I have made or you will face a terrifying experience. Be very careful of the shallow waters, especially on the northside of the island. There are plenty beaches to land on all along the islands coast. If you do this one, have fun and remember the things I say here. They may can save your life. The gulf is nothing to play with, respect it and you can enjoy it and will stay safe. At last, thanks to god I am home safe on this one, I owe it to him.

In the end, I thought I could called myself and experienced kayaker, but this tells me I am an intermediate at most. Oh, I never mentioned, I am from N.O. LA and this was my first time kayaking in Biloxi. Well, we live and learn. Thank god I can still live to learn after this.

Accommodations:

Plenty of things near the launch area. Casinos have buffets and a nearby McDonalds and anything else you want. Nothing on the island.

Fees:

No

Directions:

I-10 to I-110, 90 east a few blocks to the beach, park and launch.

Resources:

mapquest.com and a few pics and deer island info


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