This has been an exciting first year for me, with Everglades Area Tours. I’ve shared some great nature experiences with our guests, and have been host to different groups, ranging from fishing buddies, to old childhood friends, and families. I want to thank everyone for welcoming me into your circles.
Three weeks ago, I had a very special adventure, serving as the kayak team Captain for Diana Nyad, as a part of her “Xtreme Dream”. She finally did it! She overcame the obstacles of sharks, jellyfish, weather, and sleep deprivation, in order to swim the 110 miles from Havana Cuba, to Key West, in just a bit under 53 hours. I look forward to sharing my stories with you all. I have just finished writing an article for Sea Kayaker Magazine, telling about the kayaker’s perspective of this epic swim. It just went to the final edit and layout for an upcoming issue. As soon as I know the publishing date, I will send you an e-mail letting you know when it will hit the stands, so you can read the article, if you’d like.
We’ve shared some pretty spectacular adventures together on our trips with Everglades Area Tours, and I look forward to many more stories that we can all tell around a campfire. We have seen dolphins, manatees, sea turtles and sharks, and one guest even picked up a baby diamondback terrapin (turtle) out of the water, just a few yards away from the Smallwood Store! (It was released unharmed, after capturing the little cutie in pictures) One guest was lucky enough to have a large smalltooth sawfish swim directly under his kayak, when he was in only about 1 ½ feet of water. We have seen the millions-year-old ritual of the shoreline spawning groups of horseshoe crabs. One family group had the exciting pleasure of being able to do a night time paddle in the brightly lit phosphorescent-rich water, with schools of mullet appearing like skyrockets trailing sparks in the water… absolutely spectacular. We have wandered the tidal flats, beachcombing to see the shoreline treasures, like the starfish, the lightning whelks, king’s crown, fighting and horse conchs, tulip shells, the pretty little rose tellins and the sunray clams. Amongst the mangroves, we have seen the mangrove snails, oysters, fiddler crabs, and a female mangrove crab that held its cluster of tiny eggs close to its body, under its tail. One beachcomber even found a small octopus, not much bigger than a silver dollar. A pair of majestic bald eagles flew over our camp and landed in a tree, no more than 100 yards away. Magical moments.
The fishing was not without its occasional difficult conditions of winds & tides, but we’ve had some pretty spectacular catches as well. There have been several trophy size spotted sea trout, a few “Gulf Coast Slams” (snook, redfish and trout), and I even had three witnesses watch as I had a short but exciting battle with a HUGE tarpon, while using my lightweight trout rig. The giant fish put on quite a show, with three tail-walking, head-shaking leaps, before it spat out my lure and left me to catch my breath… just thrilling. One family group decided to do some shark fishing from shore, and we caught some sharks from shore, right at camp! The largest was a 6 ½ foot-long lemon shark. All were safely released alive.
If you are able to join me for more adventures, I would love to be able to spend some time with you again. If you aren’t able to do that, please share our adventures with your friends, family, and co-workers. If you could take a moment (if you haven’t already done this), please visit Trip Advisor at tripadvisor.com, and give an honest evaluation of our experience together. In case you haven’t copied your pictures from my photo albums at Picasa, be sure to follow the link below. Right-click on any pictures that you would like to save to your computer. You can follow adventures with other guests, and my own personal kayaking trips by choosing to “Follow” my new uploads. What does a kayak guide do on his days off of work? I don’t know about other guides, but THIS ONE goes kayaking. The adventures just keep coming. I still have many of the videos that we have talked about, on You Tube, and I will be adding more soon… so again, feel free to follow my adventures there, under my You Tube name of Woodkayaker.
Thanks again, for sharing your time with me. I look forward to seeing you on a future trip!
Don “Woodkayaker” McCumber
My Picasa albums:
Video from Diana Nyad, of me escorting her from Cuba to Florida:
My videos on You Tube: