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The Bridge Too Far: A kayaking trek to Blind Pass

Sometimes, being an adventurer means one-upping oneself.

Instead of a friendly tennis match, it’s a grueling five-setter. Rather than a relaxing bike ride, it’s a 15-mile trek along narrow streets in the midday sun. And in the place of just stretching and limbering one’s muscles on the beach, it’s trying those very same tasks atop a water-borne paddleboard.

Naturally, then, when the idea of piloting a candy-apple red kayak amid the mangroves to the east of the Tween Waters Inn was pitched as a viable mid-February endeavor, I had some work to do.

Though latching on to a leisurely group tour alongside the resort’s marina is a worthwhile, enjoyable and even educational way to spend a few hours, the adventurer in me knew that simply playing lieutenant to someone else’s general wouldn’t provide a true enough indication of my genuine oar-toting pluck.

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It was time to go it alone.

Well… sort of.

Upon dialing up fellow wannabe buccaneer Michael Korb, I hatched a plan that would involve us commandeering a 13-foot tandem kayak, eschewing the tour option and heading toward Roosevelt Channel with designs on completing the circuit from the resort to the bridge at Blind Pass and back – covering four miles of manatee, dolphin and who-knows-what-else populated waters – in record time.

We set off on our Sunday quest with all the essentials for modern daredeviling (bottled water, granola bars, translucent plastic bags that allowed for cell phone pictures) and sped into the open water full of confidence that we’d be back before our amiable garcon, Brian Houston of Adventure Sea Kayak Wildlife Tours (www.kayak-captiva.com), finished his morning coffee.

Until, that is, the current interjected.

Think what you will about the loveliness of whitecaps as they break onto sand across from the resort on Captiva Drive, but when anything resembling a ripple heads toward the bow of a kayak powered by two guys whose athletic peaks were in the Clinton administration, one reality remains unchallenged: That kayak is headed nowhere fast.

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Realizing what we were up against, our objective quickly turned from supersonic to survival for the outward leg of the trip. And, because by the time we actually got to the bridge we’d spent most of the energy we’d arrived with, the decision was made to forego the Olympics, bust out the cameras and actually enjoy the view as we grimaced and gasped our way back toward civilization.

We turned into Braynerd Bayou to catch breath for the homestretch, then floated through eerily silent passages only a body-disposer could love before returning to open water near Buck Key’s northern tip.

Once there, a mere half-mile paddle back to home base was all that remained, providing more than enough time to get heart rates back to normal and concoct a Brian Williams-level story that it was indeed our intrepid spirit, and certainly not our advancing age, that led to our obvious tardiness.

I’m not entirely sure anyone bought it. But one thing’s for sure.

Next time around, I’ve got dibs on the kayak with the Evinrude.

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