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HomeNL-2011-05 Pelican Island
Pelican Island Circumnavigation
April 3, 2011
Dave Kitson

This day was partly cloud and very pleasant; however, the winds were blowing from the SSE at 15 to 20 mph so the run down the east side of the island was into the wind with good sized chop and white caps. The first half of the run down the channel was also against the wind so this was not a trip for the faint of heart. Fortunately the paddlers included Joe Coker, Natalie Wiest and myself so at least we were experienced enough to know what we were getting into, having all done this trip before. We all had the spray skirts on and at least I needed mine having shipped water over the bow a half dozen times. The skirt worked well so there was only a little water in the boat at the end. Due to the conditions I kept the non-waterproof camera in the dry bag for most of the day so the pictures are from Joe and Natalie.

The first leg up the west side of the island was an easy downwind leg so we made quick time. There is significant dredging being conducted on the north side of Pelican Island and the land is being built up and reclaimed. There is actually a 20’ or 30’ tall hill on the north side now; it might be the highest point on the island. We guessed this is for the rumored container port.

There was a pelican buffet going on so we were treated to many crash dives by the big birds.  I only saw one that was successful but it is quite a site to see birds that large crashing into the water.  The terns were also feeding so there must have been a lot of fish close to the surface.  The water was very clear, you could see your paddle clearly for most of the day but I did not see any of the fish the birds were eating.  We also had one roseate spoonbill flyover.

Natalie Wiest by the "Cape Gibson"
Photo by Dave Kitson

We made the leg out to the concrete ship (As much to get out of the wind and chop for a while as anything) and then went around the point to the little beach just west of Sea Wolf Park.   The beach has a new very sad-looking sunken sailboat.

Just after we left the beach the dolphins finally found us.  We counted 5 but suspect a lot more.  They were actually pretty close; maybe 40’ or 50’ so we were able to get a good look at them.  As always there are interesting ships, dry docks, stiff leg oil platforms, dredges, tugs, and many more things to see on the channel which make this leg a very interesting part of the trip.  There were 2 cruise ships in port; one was playing welcome music for the incoming passengers so we had a free concert of island music for a while.

The trip ended up 10 miles and 5 hours.  This is the forth time I have done this trip and have had a great time every time.  It is completely different from the usual cypress forest trip with all kinds of things to see plus the smell of salt water and all the sea birds, especially the brown pelicans.

Trip photos by Joe Coker are HERE.  Click on the first photo in the album, and then use the arrow button to scroll through the other photos.