So Where are the Animals?

So Where are the Animals?

I had an interesting discussion with a visitor to Florida the other day. He was wondering where the dangerous animals were, especially snakes. In Florida we have rattlesnakes and cottonmouth (water moccasins, whatever you want to call them). And gators of course, and bears, and wild cats. I gave him the best explanation I could, based on my experience with the wildlife of the region.

Animals, I explained, are where you find them. I can go out in my kayak and try to get wildlife photos for hours and get nothing, and come home and find a snake hanging off a tree in my back yard (yes snakes climb trees). Of course just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there. Pygmy rattlesnakes, a Florida native, hide like expert snipers. They are the one snake that I’m the most worried about, since you can’t see them until you disturb them. And when they get disturbed, you don’t want to be around them.

Alligators are just about anywhere. You’d think they’d stay in the swamps, mangroves and marshes, but no, they go walkabout quite frequently. They cross highways, lounge in swimming pools, and (my personal favorite) make life difficult for golfers, among other typical things they just do. They stake out territory, and once you find them you can relocate them rather easily. But a lot of them just seem to be random wanderers. I’ve never found them overly aggressive, but sometime they’ll try to crawl into your canoe or kayak. Maybe they think it’s some kind of floating log, maybe a floating log with lunch on it. Snake will do this too, by the way.

Bears and wild cats I have yet to encounter in Florida. I treat them with great respect. They will mess you up. For most people, the best bet for seeing a bear is just driving through central Florida. Seeing a wild cat is pretty rare, since they’ve been pretty much wiped out.

So if you visit Florida, just be aware of your surroundings. It’s not a scary place infested with deadly reptiles. The worst thing in Florida, as in much of the rest of the world, is the people. Be more sacred of them.


Work on the Scow has Begun!

I’m joking of course. I call her a scow because she’s quite a dirty little girl. It took 3 years of disuse to put lichen and scum all over my sailboat, but I’m thankful to say that now I’m cleaning the poor little thing up. And she needs it.

My father (bless his 92 year old soul) has been “working” on it for months, of course. This really bothers me for couple of reasons. The first one concerns his well being. The floating dock where my boat rests is connected to the shore by a very broken-down walkway that could break or fail in some way whenever anyone walks on it. (Yes fixing this is yet another project around the house – that’s the subject of another post.) There is a real possibility of a plank breaking underfoot or the attachment at the shore breaking free. But I’ve had no luck in trying to get him to stay off the dock. What can you tell a 92 year old man? And even if he is listening to me when I warn him, chances are by the next morning he’s forgotten everything we talked about the day before.

The other reason I don’t like him working on the sailboat is practical. I want to keep the interior clean and safe, as well as the exterior. Shortly after we got the boat, he drilled holes through the cabin wall to mount a compass on a crude piece of aluminum. I’m just glad the holes in the cabin aren’t too big, but the placement of the compass makes it hazardous to anyone scrambling around on the boat during operation. A slip next to this kluge could cause a serious injury. I keep thinking about him mounting something inside the cabin and drilling a hole through the hull under the water line. If you had seen his last attempt at fixing plumbing in the house (resulting in $500 plumber’s bill) you’d know why this worries me.

At any rate, over the last few days I’ve been out their scrubbing the dirty scow down, getting here sharp and clean enough to take out for a shakedown cruise. Just take a glance at the grime I’m dealing with!



So stay tuned friends! Soon I’ll have it out on the Gulf, and that should be some great fun!