CMCS

July 12th: the Alligator River

The Alligator Pungo Canal

The Alligator Pungo Canal

At some time we had to get a rainy day, and today was it. Fortunately, it was a light rain for about a third of the day, with light winds from behind. The day started with me searching for, and finding a secluded local boat ramp for Annie and I to take our morning stroll. The cruising guide said it was hard to find, and they were right.

With that project successfully accomplished, we pulled anchor and headed up the Pungo Alligator Canal. This is a straight 20-mile canal with just a slight dog-leg in the middle. It was dug back in the 1950’s to drain swamp land for agriculture. Many parts are now Federal Wildlife Preserve. In fact we saw a two deer – a doe and fawn, and one Black Bear. First time I’ve seen a Black Bear while sailing. Even though this is a major route for the ICW, we passed only one boat in the canal.

The canal comes out into the Alligator River. We had some interesting observations about the Alligator. They call it a river, but if you look on a map, it appears to be more like a long bay. On a nautical chart you will see that most the depth readings are in the 8′ to 10′ range. Not unusual if you’re from Southwest Florida. We also found that one wants to stay in the marked channel traveling the Alligator. Not because of the depth, but because the river is infested with crab pots out side the channel. There are no towns or settlements that we could find. There is one very small marina. There is one 2.25-mile bridge at the North end where the river narrows. You are in a real wilderness here. For our 18-mile run up the Alligator River we again passed only one other boat. I mean, there weren’t even people out fishing. Am I still in America? We’ve been in some secluded places on this trip, but I think this may just take first place.

We anchored at the very North end of the Alligator on what is called Broad Creek. Annie and I even found a very primitive boat ramp. It is a gravel road that just kind of dead ends down into the water. The marsh grass is very hardy here. From our boat, Paula could not see me walking Annie down the gravel road, which is 2-feet above the water level. The mash grass is too thick and too tall. Paula also made me take the air horn for our walk. She read in a cruising guide that this area has the largest population of Black Bears East of the Rockies. She was sure the air horn would save Annie and me if need be.

Many Suspicious Large Stumps Along Alligator Pungo Canal

Many Suspicious Large Stumps Along Alligator Pungo Canal (the deer and bear disappeared too fast for me to get a picture)

 

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