The Miami Herald August 20, 1982 Friday FINAL EDITION TAKING A SLOW BOAT THROUGH S.

FLORIDA BYLINE: ERIC SHARP Herald Boating Writer SECTION: AMUSEMENTS; D; Pg. 1 LENGTH: 1980 words

Why not let the lawn grow in peace this weekend and spend your hard-earned leisure hours canoeing silently and smoothly among the birds, dolphins and other critters that make their living among the mangrove islands on lower Biscayne Bay. From the broad, sweeping rivers of the Panhandle to the postage-stamp islets of Florida Bay, the Sunshine State is a canoeist's year-round paradise. You won't find any whitewater activity here, but there's every other kind of canoeing, from wilderness creeks to urban tours. South Florida offers a tremendous range of canoe experiences. There are parts of the Everglades that are only a handful of miles from a road and yet so isolated it's like paddling back through 1,000 years of time. You might want to paddle the Miami River, slipping quietly past busy boatyards, bait shops and waterfront restaurants. Then there are the wonderful residential canals where the canoeist can get a back- yard view of some of the poshest homes in America. Canoeing is a wonderfully peaceful way to get around, especially if you're not in any hurry to get there. It is rewarding in that the more you do it, the better you get, and it also allows you to explore tiny creeks, lakes, sloughs and waterways you couldn't get into with other kinds of boats. Canoeing has become immensely popular in recent years, partly because people find that it's a way to get a rest from urban life, partly because it's a link to what they believe are their historical antecedents, and partly because it's just plain fun. It also has its drawbacks. The escape from civilization becomes meaningless when you find the wild and quiet waters populated by hundreds of other canoeists with the same idea, as has happened on many American rivers -- luckily, few in Florida. If you don't know your elbow from your J-stroke, the Metro- Dade County Parks and Recreation Department will teach you all you need to know to get started in a six-hour, basic canoe workshop held monthly at Greynolds Park.

Jim King, chief naturalist for the parks department, says that people who complete the basic course may then take part in guided half-day and full-day outings on the Oleta River and Old Cutler Hammock, Loxahatchee State Recreation Area in Palm Beach County, and to more exotic places in Everglades National Park such as Turner River, Noble Hammock and Hells Bay. These trips cost $8 for a half day, $10-12 for a full day and include the services of a naturalist guide and the use of a canoe and all required gear. Information is available by calling 9493134. Free, five-hour canoe trips are offered by Everglades National Park every weekend. The Shark Valley trips, at 10 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday, are booked solid through Sept. 19, the last day they will be run this year, but the Shark Valley ranger station will offer other trips when its winter recreational activities season gets under way in mid-December. The park rangers also offer guided trips out of Flamingo at 11:30 a.m. every Sunday morning. These trips take a maximum of 12 people in six canoes. If the waters of Florida Bay are flat, the ranger guide will lead the canoes through the bird nesting islands on the saltwater flats off Flamingo. If the ocean is rough, the canoes traverse the waters of Buttonwood Canal. Call 2532241 (ext. 182) for reservations. Some of the most popular canoe outings are offered by the Historical Association of South Florida through its "In Search of Old Florida Canoe Club." The club has two outings scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday. Participants meet at 9 each morning at the Suniland Theater on South Dixie Highway and travel by car to Black Point, where the canoes will be launched on Biscayne Bay. For a trip such as the Black Point excursion, participants should at least have basic canoeing skills down pat. Some trips are good places for beginners to learn to paddle a canoe, and others demand that paddlers be skilled and strong enough to keep up with a flotilla for several hours. Reservations and information about the difficulty of each trip may be had by telephoning the historical museum at 856-2933. As on any canoe trip, participants should wear, or have handy, long-sleeved shirts and long pants (mosquitos, remember?) and bring along sunscreen lotion or a hat, mosquito repellent and a lunch. Following the Black Point excursions, the historical canoe club plans trips along the Coral Gables Waterway Sept. 11 and 12 (good trip for beginning canoeists) and a tough trip for the more experienced out of Everglades City to Rabbit Key in the 10,000 Islands Sept. 25 and 26. One of the museum's most popular trips is the "moonlight gourmet," where the guide prepares a gourmet dinner for fellow canoeists on a one-burner stove, while paddling in Biscayne Bay. The next "moonlight" trip is scheduled on the full moon, Oct. 30 and 31.

If you don't belong to the museum canoe club, the cost of these trips is $15. If you do belong and have your own canoe, you can take 12 trips a year free and pay $10 each for the rest. If you belong to the club and don't have a canoe, each trip costs $10. If you belong to both the club and the historical society, the trip costs $9. One of the best ways to learn about canoeing and canoes is through the Miami Canoe and Kayak Club, an organization whose members take jaunts everywhere from Snapper Creek to Canada. Annual dues are $10, and the club has eight canoes that members and nonmembers alike can rent for $10 per trip. Member Joe Podgor says one of the advantages of a canoe club is that novices get a chance to see and paddle different types of canoes, from workaday aluminum craft to super-sophisticated models made of wood-on-canvas or carbon-graphite fibers. Among the events planned for this fall is a series of canoe races on the Miami River Canal in Miami Springs, beginning in mid-September, and a moonlight cruise and cookout to MCKC (Miami Canoe and Kayak Club) Island, a spoil island in Biscayne Bay near Pelican Harbor, on Oct. 2. The group will sponsor a trip to Fish Eating Creek in Central Florida Oct. 9 and a fishing and canoeing exploration of the Everglades in Broward County Oct. 24. They even have planned an evening of Christmas caroling from canoes on Kendall Lakes Dec. 18. Information about joining the club or taking part in its outings may be obtained from Peg Gendron at 271-5248. A couple of Dade County canoe liveries in Dade County offer extended wilderness trips that will let you bore your friends with slide shows for years to come. Bardy Jones of Mangrove Wilderness Outfitters in South Miami sells canoeing and camping gear and offers five-to-seven-day back country trips through the Everglades' 10,000 Islands and to upstate rivers such as the Alafia (for some reason pronounced "Ah'-la-fie"), Withlacootchee and Hillsborough. Jones will guide the truly ambitious along the 105-mile Wilderness Waterway, which twists and winds through the mangroves, sloughs and sawgrass of Everglades National Park from Everglades City to Flamingo. The cost of these guided trips is about $90 per person per day and includes all food and gear. Everglades Canoe Outfitters, run by Sherry Leach just outside the gate of Everglades National Park near Florida City, also offers long-term guided trips and everything in between from doit-yourself, three-day weekends in the glades to a hour of paddling on a canal in front of the livery. Everglades Canoe Outfitters' nine-day Wilderness Waterway trip, which includes a night in a motel at the start and end, costs $495 per person. The firm is also offering for the first time a

nine-day trip that includes canoeing in the Everglades, hiking in the Big Cypress Swamp and a trip on a large powerboat to the Dry Tortugas, 60 miles west of Key West, for $625. Each night on this trip is spent in a hotel, with the exception of a night aboard the boat in the Tortugas. If you want to take a shorter trip on your own, Everglades Outfitters will rent you a canoe for $9 per person for a half day, $13 per person for a full day, including the services of a van to take you and the canoe to the put-in point of your choice and pick you up at the end of your trip. Canoes for three-day trips rent for $10 per person per day ($19 per person per day if you want them to supply tents, sleeping bags, stove and other necessary camping gear). Everglades National Park is a superb canoeing area. The Wilderness Waterway trip is the park's most ambitious route, but there are dozens of others that range from an exploration of the Shark and Turner Rivers (about five days) to the winding Hells Bay Trail (two-three days) to a jaunt around Nine Mile Pond (three-five hours). Back country canoeing is best from October or November through March or April, depending on when the mosquitos begin to taper off. The best advice for canoeists is to stay away from the back country in summer and ply their paddles on the open waters of Florida Bay, if the weather allows. Back country fishermen can crank up the engine of a boat and run away from mosquitos in minutes. Back country canoeists don't have that luxury, and a horde of Everglades skeeters descending on a canoe can turn a pleasurable trip into seemingly unending torment. The park has a marina at Flamingo that rents canoes for $8.50 for a half day and $13 for a full day (each canoe can carry up to three people). There are no reservations, so it's a good idea to arrive early if you want to rent a canoe from the park marina on a winter weekend. Broward Countians can rent canoes on an hourly or daily basis at C.B. Smith, Topekeegee Yugnee and Markham parks. All three have a basic rate of $4 per hour for canoes that can be paddled on park lakes. Canoeing also will be offered soon at the new Westlake Park in Broward. In Palm Beach County, paddlers have their choice of a number of liveries that offer canoes for use on several waterways. Rentals at John Prince Park are $5 an hour, $15 for a half day and $30 for a full day. At Jonathan Dickinson State Park, the prices are $4 for the first hour and $2 per hour after, with maximum charges of $8 for a half day (four hours) and $14 for a full day (eight hours). This facility is on the Loxahatchee River and is very busy on weekends, and it is common for all 71 canoes to be rented at one time. The most popular trip is upriver to Trapper Nelson's, an old homestead where a park ranger gives guided tours. Near the headwaters of the Loxahatchee, on Indiantown Road a mile west of Florida's Turnpike, a firm called Canoe Outfitters rents canoes for $15.75 per day, which includes a ride back to the livery from the takeout point for canoeists and canoe on the company's bus.

Beyond South Florida, the canoeist has his choice of some wonderful country (or water). Fish Eating Creek, which flows into Lake Okeechobee, and the Peace River, which flows from the center of the state to the Gulf of Mexico near Punta Gorda, are marvelously scenic rivers well worth two or more days of exploration. But they are so popular with canoe liveries that on busy weekends they resemble a freeway. The Alafia and Hillsborough rivers near Tampa, the Withlacootchee in North Central Florida, the upper St. Johns in Northeast Florida and Juniper Springs in the Ocala National Forest are also among the better canoeing streams. The Alafai above Tampa is stained a deep, ruby color by tannic acid from cypress trees and other streamside growth, and one of the eeriest swimming experiences to be found is to snorkel from the still, gin-clear waters of Lithia Spring out through a narrow creek and suddenly find yourself swimming in what looks like thin blood. Juniper Springs is a shallow, crystal clear stream that flows at about 75 degrees year round. This is a waterway that positively insists that paddlers stop every few minutes to pull the canoe onto the riverbank while they plunge into yet another ideal swimming hole.

Copyright 1982 The Miami Herald All Rights Reserved

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