Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

Heron silently takes flight over Crane Creek as dusk descends into darkness.

MeetUp. Messed up. My bad. Fortunately my rough start was not an indication of how the rest of the evening would unfold for the last “supermoon” until February 2019. ….

Pelicans roosting on the island off Front Street Park, Melbourne Florida.

Our paddle was scheduled for 7 pm at Front Street Park. I arrived about 20 minutes prior, still dressed in my work garb, with my kayaking stuff scattered hither and yon in various and sundry places in my kayak-topped Prius. I set to rectifying that…. Presto chango into the restroom. Donned my headlamp for later use. Organized my waterproof sack with my camera, an extra clothing layer if needed, my camera and my wallet for safekeeping. Grabbed my life jacket (ak PFD or personal floatation device). 

But I still didn’t see Tom’s prominent truck with its tall kayak racks. Tom’s the usual organizer of Space Coast Paddling Society’s MeetUp events, and offers to rent kayaks for those of us who want them, which I didn’t need this time.

Sheryl, smiles as we round the Indian River Lagoon stretch between Front Street Park and Crane Creek’s entrance.

I messaged Sheryl. somewhat of a “regular” Space Coast kayaker with her husband Dave with a “Where are you?” She called, and I managed to drive further from where everyone else was waiting, rather than closer. Duh! If only I had simply stopped looking and driven exactly down to where we all launched together for the previous Space Coast full moon kayak. Enough of us brought our own kayaks that night Tom’s iconic “tower” was unnecessary – hence my difficulty in looking for something that was not there. 

Ande mugs for the camera as we pause in the Indian River Lagoon.
She and her partner Dorrie paddled in their nifty folding Oru Kayaks.

Within a few minutes, despite me, the seven of us (“regulars” Tom, Sheryl, Dave myself [we all paddled together to watch a rocket launch a week before], and three new to our group women paddlers) were off, entering Indian River Lagoon. 

As luck would have it, our timing couldn’t have been better.

Two days before, much water fell from the skies, nearly nonstop, one of the rainiest stretches we’ve had since arriving on the Space Coast six months prior. Technically, the Super Moon was full the night before, though it was cool, windy and too cloudy to light our passage.  We knew the moon would still look just as full to us this night, and we’d be able to see it!

Dave and Tom chatting on the Indian River Lagoon before we push off.
We practically glowed in the near luminescent light.

The rain wiped the skies clean. A few days past the vernal equinox, the new Spring air was warm, in the 70s with little humidity. A soft dusk was settling in, with peach and periwinkle brushing the edges of the horizon.  The water was flat and reflective, unruffled by the light breeze. Perfect conditions for gliding along in kayaks.

Manatees swirled gently around us, teasing us with breaths from the surface too short to snap photos. Dolphin fins broke the surface near a pelican-covered roosting spot.  The moon was still nowhere to be seen, so we were in no hurry. Eventually we rounded the corner past Chart House, and entered Crane Creek.  A handsome heron a stone’s throw from the restaurant posed for Sheryl and her iPad before gracefully taking flight. Then off to our left, we were rejoined by more dolphins…. 

Sunset over Crane Creek, Melbourne Florida.

The skies turned turned tangerine, the creek edge silhouetted by spiky palm fronds and and sprawling leafy oak branches.

Again we paused. becoming one with the evening, the moonrise yet to come. A shared sense of wonder and contentment flowed among us, connecting us as much as we were to the waters upon which we paddled on that enchanted eve.

Dorrie watching for more manatees and dolphins just off Front Street Park. Melbourne Florida.

Companionably. we got to know our newbies, Hilary and Ande and “like the fish” Dorrie and headed up the creek. Dave filled me in on one of his favorite stories — a sweetly romantic tale about how he and Sheryl got together after not seeing each other for twenty years. When we quieted, the cicadas rattling song crescendoed in a wave of sound, joined by the wash of our paddles, dipping and releasing as we made our way onward.

Darkness settled in.Our eyes adjusted to the dimness, (mostly!) taking care to duck from the encroaching trees and shrubs. There was still enough light to paddle. As Crane Creek meandered, we missed the moonrise from behind the treescape.  

Instead, we appreciated the glorious clarity of this starry Florida night sky. Fanning out from Orion’s belt, we took in the bright reddish star Betelgeuse, making our best guess at finding Taurus and Aries and the planets Mars and Uranus with the help a night sky mobile app.

Tom and Hilary chatting on Crane Creek, rudely illuminated by my flash.

Eventually, it was time to make our way back. Returning to the broad entry of Crane Creek approaching Indian RIver Lagoon, at last we saw the moon.

Moonlight over Indian River Lagoon marker 5 by Front Street Park.

Cynically, Tom quipped, “Is it a marketing thing? I’ve never heard of so many ‘super moons’ in my life until recently and we’ve had three in a row this year.” Tom may be onto something… the phrase “supermoon” wasn’t even coined until 1979. While there are typically about three “supermoons” a year (“increased size” due to closer proximity in their rotation), it does seem to get a lot more press. As well, our perception of the moon’s size is a bit of an illusion.  Maybe here on “The Space Coast” it’s natural that we make a bigger deal of the celestial, especially since it’s often warm and clear enough to enjoy it. 

I mused aloud to Tom… “Was a good salt flats area?  Broome Australia unabashedly promoted their “Staircase to the Moon” where the moon clambered its way across the flats.” Perhaps we could copy — errr — claim our very own “Staircase to the Moon” here on The Space Coast. It might even be better as the skies were too cloudy for me to see the Broome “Staircase to the Moon” when I was there. If so. I would hope that Space Coast could resist following suit on Oz’s annoying overpricing of “pearl meat” aka oysters in Broome.

Train trestle on the way into Crane Creek.
My camera was too slow to capture the train racing past in the darkness on our way back.

Just before leaving Crane Creek, as a final soundscape salute, a train roared across the trestle bridge above us.  Again, we paused and took it all in.

“That. Was. Magical!” I declared as we neared the end of our paddle. “Have you ever encountered that much wildlife in a single paddle?” I asked Tom.

“It was ok,” he deadpanned, then admitted he didn’t recall seeing that much variety in one spot in such a short span of time before. I couldn’t see him smiling in the darkness, yet knew he was.

This antenna at Front Street Park makes for an easy return marker. It’s all lit up at night.

We helped each other get our kayaks ready for the road, including a dis-assembly demo of Ande and Dorie’s fascinating origami-inspired Oru kayaks.  They’re  about 12′ long, made of a plasticized version of corrugated cardboard, weigh roughly 25 pounds and compact into a very carry-able valise-like carrying case.

While we munched the honey containing energy balls I brought for post-paddle, recipe courtesy of another newfound Florida friend, Dave,  a former beekeeper, waxed about bees.  

“C’mon, Dave, we’re all freezing!” urged, Sheryl.  Goosebumped and shivering (temps dropped into Florida-“chilling-cold” 60s at 10-something pm), we gave our goodbyes. Tomorrow awaited with another all-too-early weekday work morning.  All good things must eventually come to an end, though moments like these, nestle in our memory banks for many happy returns.

Thanks Space Coast Paddling Society, and especially Tom, Sheryl and Dave.

Moonlight over Indian River Lagoon and my kayak loaner from West Marine, Melbourne.