Another beautiful place, but the winds howled! After one day confined to boat, we braved the high winds and lowered the kayak to explore. To get out of the fetch (even on the bayside, the waters were rough) we went through some of the neighborhood canals and enjoyed seeing mangroves again. And, surprising us, lots of spiky orange iguanas perched in the branches, that we hadn't seen while on the mainland. Bright orange sponges clung to the mangrove roots along with oysters. And pelicans clustered above in the pines. Very soothing to see all this. There is a channel through the mangroves on the north side of the bight, so we paddled through there too, surprising a ray that was dug into the sand.
One day we had a big adventure. Splashing the kayak again, we paddled through the mangrove channel and headed out to Lignumvitae Key, a botanical state park where a park ranger provides a tour of the hardwood hammock. This kayak expedition took us over some shallow turtle grass which helped damp down the rough ocean waters coming through the bridges. But, we got completely drenched anyway by the time we landed. Luckily for us, the park had a hose so that we could wash off the salt water before walking the forest trails. The ranger, Marty, provided an incredible amount of information about the native trees of the hammock, pointing out specimens of the Lignumvitae, poisonwood, strangler fig, mastic, gumbo limbo, and ironwood, among others. We learned quite a bit, not only about the trees, but the insects and land snails, and the osprey pair (Lucy and Desi) that has been coming to the island for 11 years. This was a terrific visit and would recommend it to anyone coming to the Keys.
The adventure came with our paddle back to the Bight. The winds were down a bit, which was welcome, but so was the tide. The turtle grass areas were quite a bit shallower than they had been 3 hours earlier, providing a good view of pretty large rays feeding. But, at one point, we grounded the kayak. John, our hero, decided to get out of the kayak and pull Patti across the flat for the short distance to the channel. Not such a simple maneuver -- John gets up, steps out of the boat, and is down! He sunk in quicksand, and fell out of his shoe in the process. We searched for the shoe, but it was gone -- swallowed up by the sand. Oh well. Back through the mangrove channel we paddled, again seeing a ray, and glad we didn't have to fight the wind to get back to Anhinga.
Finally, a break in the howling winds was forecast! We left Matecumbe on Tuesday for Bahia Honda Key.