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Friday, April 29, 2011

Haulover Canal

Dolphin at Haulover Canal

The most recent time we visited Haulover Canal it was mentioned that we were going to be back in two weeks and that meant today. Back to Haulover Canal to see the last launch of  Space Shuttle Endeavour. We arrived early, got a parking spot near the put in, and were ready for this special moment. Guess what...You probably already know that it was scrubbed. Strike two for us. Second time it happens in two tries. No space problem. Plenty to do at this place. The wind? That was a bit of a problem.

Put In\Take Out: Check our previous post from April 15th for this and also for information about Haulover Canal. We put in in the exact same place, which is also the take out. We arrived at 9:40AM and were at the water at 9:45AM.

There were more than one outfitter with kayaks for rent along the unpaved road at Haulover Canal. But there was nobody on the water. As soon as we put in we decided to skip the usual Mullet Head Island trip. The reason was the strong wind coming from the north east. The wind was blowing at 15 knots( that is 17 miles per hour...give and take) and there was no way in the blue, in this case gray cloudy sky, that we were going to face that on the open waters of the Indian River. So we decided to stay close to the shore, where we got some protection from the wind. A few minutes after we started my wife spotted a dolphin and we spent a few minutes trying to get a decent pic. It was a tough thing to do with the wind blowing the way it was. Trying to keep a yak steady under these conditions was a challenge. There were not too many wading birds to see but lots of pelicans. An osprey flew, or better said, glided over us taking advantage of the strong wind. It was like watching it dance in slow motion, without moving the wings.

Brown Pelican

Manatee at Bair's Cove
After the dolphin got tired of us we moved into the canal, well...not exactly like that. We used an alternate canal a bit to the south because the current was coming very strong from the east. Once in the canal we paddled as soon as we could to Bair's Cove, a manatee gathering spot. Several manatees shared this location   today. Two weeks ago some were busy preserving the species. Today was the same thing. Do they do something else than that? I do not know. We stayed away from the passionate couple and their splashes. Believe me...You do not want to be in the middle of that mess. A few manatees came checking but none of them stayed to get to know us. We have had manatees hugging our kayak on previous trips. Not this time maybe because we kept moving all the time due, again, the strong wind. Have you seen a pinball? That is how we looked. I paddled to the middle of the cove and in no time would be against the new pier or the rocks. It gets annoying after the tenth time so we moved away from Bair's Cove.

Manatee upside down

Snowy Egret
It was close to noon at the time we started paddling out of the manatee area. The current on the canal was coming from the east, Mosquito Lagoon, and it was hard. At the bridge area it was tough. The flow is stronger between the columns of the bridge. My wife asked for a break after passing the bridge area so we stopped near the Manatee Observation deck, which is on the north east side of it. About four manatees were entertaining the people observing from the deck. Do not want to brag but wifey and I had the better seats in town. I can only guess but if I have to observe a manatee from a deck it will not be the same feeling. This kayaking thing has changed the way I think and see nature. Have gained respect and have learned to appreciate the wildlife that is around us. You must be thinking that I am full of it...Do not you? But I am not.

Back to the paddle, we looked for an area in the south side of the canal to beach the kayak and watch the launch. Last year we did that at the very east point of the canal but since then I have heard that it is not allowed to do that. My photographer decided that it was time to find out so we beached the yak and came to the ground as a Coast Guard patrol boat came from the lagoon. They waved us and kept going without a problem so looks like you can do that. Another Coast Guard boat was at the side where you can see the launch towers and its occupants did the same so we had to be OK. Now, no boat was allowed to pass south of the entrance of the canal.
Coast Guard Patrol Boat

Launch Towers. The one to the right is where the Endeavour is
We had lunch, tried to get some pics of a couple of Scrub Jays that came to visit and also from the launch towers at the distance. Nobody else was in the area with us at the time. It was passed 1PM when another couple showed up. Were having lunch when realized that my bottle of water was still in the yak. Nothing like a sandwich in your throat to make you think about water. As I went to where we left the yak to get my bottle the lady from the other couple let a CRAP!!!!! escape. That caught my attention since she was loud. I was close to them and she said that the launch was scrubbed due a power issue on an auxiliary unit. She has some kind of application and NASA sends updates to her phone via text messages. I have to get me one of those!!!! They explained to me that it was the second time that it happens to them. No kidding. I waited until wifey finished her sandwich and told her the bad news. She was upset and asked me to call my son to confirm. My son did corroborate the information and just like that we started packing to return home.

Red-Breasted Merganser

Great Egret
Our paddle back to the put in was easy. With the current and the wind in our backs wifey did not paddle and I had it easy. We stopped at Bair's Cove for more manatee pics but left quickly after Haulover Canal navy of kayaks came into the cove. At the put in there was no room to come out since several kayaks were covering the take out area. One of the outfitters had good business today. We decided to wait for the fleet to leave for us to come out. The wait was nice because we spotted a dolphin and spent the next 10 or 15 minutes watching it while it hunt. We have seen that more than once and are never tired of it; It is very cool. The fleet left( wifey counted 22 kayaks) and we finally were able to beach the yak. The yak was on top of the minivan by 2:30PM. We wanted to go to the Scrub Jay Trail but found that it is close on launch days. The officers were very nice and explained that to us.

There was no launch and did not see the big bird we came to see. But if after you look at the pics you say that it was a bad day, we will have to agree to disagree on that one. Here are more pics of what we saw:

Brown Pelican and Dolphin

Laughing Gull
Scrub Jay
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret

Little Blue Heron





Brown Pelicans

Brown Pelican

Ruddy Turnstone

Snowy Egret

Pelican and a Little Blue Heron



The fleet and the dolphin


Cutting edge

Now that we are with the dolphins it is time for Did You Know That?

Did You Know That?: Dolphins have to be concious to breath. That means that they cannot go into full sleep because then they would suffocate. How did the dolphins solve this problem? Really "easy". They let only one half of their brain sleep at a time. Someone with more time on his/her hand than I have did a study on dolphins and performed an EEG and found that dolphins spent 8 hours a day sleeping this way. Their behavior while they are sleeping will vary depending on individual preferences. Some will swim slowly and surface every now and then for a breath. Others will rest at the surface with their breathing hole exposed. Others will rest at the bottom of a shallow water area and will come up just to breath and then back to the bottom. Did you know that? I had no idea but some people I know seemed like they tried this and never woke up.

So that is it for this Views From Our Kayak. Click on this link to view more pics of this and past trips to Haulover Canal: Haulover Canal Slide show

Thanks for reading. See you soon.


  1. Great pictures, as always. Poetic, if you ask me. Scrubbed launch and scrub jays.

  2. The photo with the boat labled "Everglades" on the side, is a photo of my Flotilla's Boat Crew, just before I joined! We are the Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 17-09 out of Titusville FL.