Friday Firesmith – The Nerodia Express

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I am now aquatic. I bought a kayak, and even though I’ve only had a chance to use it once, I’m really going to like this watercraft. This is a two part Friday Firesmith with more questions than answers, and as we float along, you’ll understand where we’re headed in this. 

My kayak is the  Weber 132, and as I will be doing a lot of solo paddling, it’s a little on the heavy side, but I got a great deal on it. All I want is a boat that is sturdy, stable, and had a place for a small cooler, which this one does on all counts. Part One! If you have a kayak, what kind and why do you love it? I have named her, “The Nerodia Express” 

Nerodia, pronounced Ne-Ro-dia, not Nero-dia, like I pronounced it before I heard someone say it correctly, covers all the water snakes around this part of the world. Invariably, anyone who sees a snake in the water starts screaming, “MOCCASIN!” so I’ll be out in the swamps and lakes taking photos of trees, sunrises, and water snakes. And Cottonmouths, too, yes. 

Which brings us to the question of cell phones with cameras. Part Two! What kind do you have, and it is worth what you paid for it? Waterproof, it has to be waterproof. 

So while we’re talking watercraft, and cameras, my first few trips will be local lakes, and rivers, if there’s enough water. Banks Lake, in Lakeland Georgia, is going to be my first stop early next week, barring taking Mom to the doctor or something like that. The cypress trees reflecting in the water are beautiful. I hope to get in early enough so the fisher folk won’t make too much noise, and it will be warm enough for snakes to be sunning themselves. Then to Grassy Pond, a small lake in Lowndes County. Then off to one of the river landings for a short trip or two. After I get my fins under me, I will be hitting the Okefenokee Swamp. Several blue springs in Florida are close enough to be a good day trip, or overnight on a weekday. 

After all that, who knows? 

It would be nice to travel a bit, go to some different lakes around the states, and see the world a little. I’m open to suggestions as to place to paddle, and if you have one, sing it out! 

I like being on the water. I like the way floating feels, and how the wind shifts me around ever so slightly. A turtle came up to investigate me on Sunday, my first trip in, and he seemed amazed at what he was seeing. I was. 

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Take Care,

Mike

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

14 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – The Nerodia Express”

  1. It looks like if you really screw up and tip it over it won’t sink no matter what.
    So if you stay with it you won’t sink either. That’s a good thing.

    But while you’re in the water the sneaky slimy slithery snakes will probably eat you anyway. Tearing off big chunks to feed the little ones. Schnauzer snakes chew the bones.

    What are the two rows on the bottom?

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  2. I went out on banks lake a few times back in the early 80s but it was usually on one of my coworkers trawler; I don’t think I ever took a kayak in that lake; the fishing was great; the mosquitos were… not. lots of wildlife sightings; and more snakes, frogs and gators than you can stick a shake at.

    ages ago when I lived in the florida panhandle we used to kayak on the Ochlockonee/Crooked River down near Sopchoppy/Carrabelle a lot – When the tide is coming in the river flows inland for several miles then you can ride out when the tide is ebbing so you benefit from the current in both directions. That entire area is surrounded by swampland (aka “Tate’s Hell” and the “Apalachicola National Forest”). The St. Marks river is also a good spot.

    We have two kayaks currently but they are more for whitewater kayaking which tend to be shorter (ours are both 6′ long) and have thicker fiberglass shells (since they have rough encounters with rocks more frequently than your typical lake/touring kayak). the one I mostly use is a Jackson “Nirvana” and my wife mostly uses the Pyranha “Scorch”. We spend a lot more time in the northern part of the state and frequently Kayak on various rivers up here (The Etowah, Oconee, Chatooga and Upper Chattahoochee) – all of which have rapids and tend to run shallower than the rivers south of the fall line. we take them out on lakes as well but the design of the kayak makes a huge difference in how it performs; the tradeoffs that make this ideal for whitewater make it less ideal for lakes.

    if you are mostly on lakes or smooth running rivers you would typically want a longer kayak (sometimes called a ‘flat water’ kayak or ‘touring’ kayak) which is more stable – they also would tend to have a deeper ‘v’ (the wedge in the bottom) which stabilizes and helps keep you floating in a straight line (whitewater kayaks usually have a smoother bottom and they are much easier to turn quickly which you do a lot on rapid rivers but not so much on smoother rivers/lakes. We occasionally rent longer kayaks when we are at the coast; most often from Jennies on St. George Island but we also rented some when we were at Acadia in Maine a few years ago and from some place in Biscayne Bay and in Key West when we paddled out to the Tortugas.

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      • maybe; i called my coworkers boat a ‘trawler’ but that’s the wrong name – it’s more like a jon boat with a small electric motor (i was thinking of the motor which is a ‘trawling motor’ but that doesn’t make it a ‘trawler’)

        The Banks Lake Wildlife Refuge basically extended almost all the way to Moody; we had more than a few instances where we had gators wandering around on the flightline while we were trying to fix planes at 3AM… that’s always fun…

        Pretty sure most of the senior management there was made up of guys that intentionally asked to be assigned there so they could spend more time fishing; it was ALL they ever seemed to talk about :))

        I never looked into the Withlacoochee but it’s pretty close to you so if you ever run that river would love to hear about it.

        I also went Canoeing (sometime around 1977) in the Ichetucknee and at Manatee Springs (Same trip). I think those are both within about an hours drive from where you live.

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        • on a related note: my cousin has a boat launch on the etowah river named after her – she was an avid kayaker for decades and kayaked most of the major rivers in the state. she’s the one that used to take me kayaking on the etowah river starting when I was ~10; we did that chattahoochee from just south of Helen all the way to Lake Lanier with a group of her friends when I was ~14..

          I have mentioned her before; she was the daughter of my aunt/uncle that had the farm up in Hickory Flat (Cherokee County) where I used to spend parts of my summer every year.

          She passed on (cancer) a few years ago and her kayaking group arranged to have the boat launch renamed in her honor.

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        • Keith, you’re thinking about a trolling motor, I believe. The springs in Florida are certainly going to get some attention from me, but I’m staying out of salt water for a while. I’m glad your cousin got some recognition after living the life she did.

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  3. No they’re not, they’re along the bottom on the outside. Maybe for the snakes to hitch a ride so they’ll be there when you let your guard down so they can sneak in through the scupper holes.

    The question section at their website says calm marinas and bays are ok, but ocean waves will easily roll it over. On the upside there’s less snakes in the ocean.

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    • Martha; we had a houseboat for 4 days and took kayaks out to Bush Key, Marquessas and Loggerhead Key from the boat; most of the waters around Bush Key are too shallow for the house boat to get in that close and we paddled around, did some snorkeling and went shelling; we also did some snorkeling around the reefs north and west of Key west

      taking the kayaks was because we can get right up to shore and paddle around in areas the larger boat couldn’t reach.

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  4. I have an Elie Sound 100. Since I have problems with balance, the short and wide ones work best for me. My favorite place to kayak is the Weeki Wachee River near Spring Hill, Florida.

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