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Back - To The Back Bay

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On: Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 11:07AM | By: Mel The Guide

Hi, all. Welcome back to the adventures at Gulf Coast Kayak in Pine Island and Matlacha, FL.

First I would like to say thanks to the many readers and their well wishes on my shoulder operation. A few months ago I found out that I had a torn rotor cuff in my shoulder. I don’t know if I got it from all the paddling I have done in the past years, or just plain old age.

Either way I had a good doctor and he went in with two probes: one a camera and the other a rod that he could sew me back up. They go in and put two screws in the bone, then grab the tendon and pull it to the bone, then wrap some line around it and secure it to the bone. Sounds easy enough!!!  Well, the operation was a piece of cake. It was the recovery time and rehab that was a bummer. But, that all said, it’s all behind me now.

We just returned from a nice visit in California with my daughter and her family of four girls. Some of the best paddling is on the California coast at Newport Beach and Balboa Island. If you have four or five million sitting around you can buy a nice little shack on the Back Bay, and have your neighbor only 3 feet away from your house. But it is just as nice to drive onto the ferry, and find a parking spot after your 5 minute ride, and rent a kayak at the amusement area, and see all the beautiful sail boats, kayakers, and paddle boards; and don’t forget to take a ride on a Duffy (electric boat with a surrey on top). The trip was good and the girls have grown up so much in just a few short years. We would have loved to stay longer and get some more paddling in, but we had to get back to sunny downtown Matlacha for the beginning of another season.

We are back on the water and giving guided tours for 2 to 3 hrs at a clip and feeling good.

It’s that time of year, again, when we start to spruce things up at the base camp. A little paint and we re-carpet the launch site. We fix up the old paddles and life jackets and move some of the boats that have not been used in a few months and clean them up.

I am passing this along to you because you should be doing the same thing should you have your yak stored outside. Look close at the boat, watch where you step, and look inside, over and under the seat, and in the front and back of the yak. Check all the compartments. Why? Well, you may have a few guests that moved in over the season.

If you live in a wooded area a possum or raccoon may have moved in and started to raise his family there. It’s funny how they don’t like it when you flip over the boat and they decide to jump out at you. Most times a few good thumps on the bottom of the boat will chase them out. Then, on the other hand, there may be a few snakes shedding or making a nest in there. Then you want to turn the boat over slowly and let them find their way out to another home. Yet, you still may have a few flying insects, like mud wasp, yellow jackets, or bees. In addition, if a mouse has a house in the yak and he has some old food in there, you may even have a fly problem.

By the way, here’s a cute story I heard the other day. A woman walked into her kitchen and found her husband stalking around the house with a fly swatter. “What are you doing?” she asked. “Hunting flies,” he responded. “Oh! Killing any?” she asked. “Yep. Three males and two females,” he replied. Intrigued, she asked, “How can you tell them apart?” He responded, “Three were on a empty beer can and two were on the phone.” Ok, girls, don’t get in a uproar; if you have some jokes about guys or kayaking, send them in. So, back to the yard where you could find just about anything has found a home in or around your boat.

One last little critter you may find with some of his family is the red ant or the fire ant. There are about eight species of red or fire ants. Fire ants sting, and this sure hurts should you get a mess of them on your feet or under your Crocs or sandals. They run fast and silent and can be up your leg in a heartbeat. I find that you can step on an ant mound and not even know it, then all at once there they are, all over you. Moreover, it seems like they all sting at the same time. Red ants and fire ants both leave a red, pimple on the surface of the skin. In addition, yes, they are very itchy. And will start to swell if you rub them hard enough.

My own experience with these little critters is I get stung and I itch, then I stop and then it starts to itch and I scratch and it swells all over again. This can go on for days. Then they form a little white pimple that swells and burst. It takes about five days for them to run the course and be gone (if you have not gone out and done it again in the five days).

You can try vinegar, ammonia, sting ease, or calamine lotion on the bumps to stop the itching and help with the healing. Remember, you now have an open wound, and this can become infected very easy. So treat it as such.

Well, have to go, got to spread some ant killer around and hope they move on. If you do ever get back on the water and recover from your bites, keep you eyes open for the manatees. It won’t be long before they are back and all over the place. This year we seem to have had some small pods stay around the old dam. I know some of you think it’s cute to lay out fresh water hose and let them drink, but they are not meant to drink chlorinated water. Sure, we drink it, but we are not manatees that swim in real fresh water, or salt, or brackish. This only makes them want to stay when they should be moving on.

Hope to see you on the water, and thanks for paddling with Mel, the Guide.


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