Paddling across Florida Bay from Flamingo to Long Key is the local bay long distance route. Observing winter weather patterns with NOAA, Canadian weather bearing down on South Florida bringing a west, NW, north, NE, east and south east winds cycles gives a south wind headed from Flamingo to Long Key and a south east or best a south wind from Long to Flamingo. Last week I saw tides from the Gulf for Flamingo and tides from the Atlantic at Long Key were opposite for last weekend 19-24 with Saturday dead on. Winter storms fade now with spring coming in so pack it up…! My first kayak camping trip. Preparation is intensive. 20 hours went into organization from finding to packing to load hatches on the CD Solstice Titan. All equipment and freeze dried food in stock. Flamingo is a 2.5 hour drive from home base. A visit with Jim Taylor at the Flamingo Visitors Center gave Johnson’s Chickee as open and reservable. Wind from the south at the Visitors Center strong at 15+ mph no mosquitoes programming the GPS with a laptop at the Center’s bayside deck. Concern if that wind stayed I could not go. Reserving Johnsons for the trip back from Long is done over the phone from Long. Wind speed dropped next morning n shifted to the NW. The route was learned. Catch wind out of the Gulf, paddle west past the campground toward Cape Sable then turn toward Johnsons Key before or after Clive Key. Paddling west in the land shadow then onto the main boat channel west of Clive then turning down to Johnsons is faster if tides are low n wind is high. Looking at the map now, I have a Blue Charts equipped GPS, you will see a direct route to Long Key from Man O’War Key Channel west of Johnsons onto a waypoint at N24 57.351 W80 56.232. Then to N24 52.277 W80 53.097. N24 51.294 W80 46.906 west of the Channel 5 bridge at Long Key to N24 52.277 is called Yacht Channel, a staked route. Yacht Channel maybe findable on your chart. Also possible a chart showing the Everglades boundary as the yacht channel to Yacht Channel as marked at the circled buoy markers. http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/11449.shtml does not show Yacht Channel nor does the channel show on Garmin Blue Charts when transferred from GPS chip to laptop Homeports but on the GPS screen. All channels carry more tidal flow than routes over banks. Heading west from Long Key, surface is glassy away from the bow toward the destination. The basin below Man O’War flowed at our time of crossing, see tide predicitions, with incoming Atlantic tide to that ebb with a rising Gulf tide to the south west of Man O’War Channel. On our trip, a fresh north front came over this basin with tall cumular pillars on mainland’s perimeter. We paddled on a misty green surface under a thin sky stratus. Surface clouds 12’ high flowed across the bow front like giant tadpoles. Silence. Approaching Man O’War at 4 miles sky cleared to a deep blue, brilliant sunlight, green water. Gulf current and a stronger South to SE wind from a clear fetch below. I arrived at Johnsons 7.5 hours from Long Key Point at abt 3.4 mph with a top speed of 12 mph. On the route south from Johnsons. I planned on crossing bars with wind and tide astern. The route was west of Rabbit Basin at 6 hrs 38 minutes ! We flew past Rabbit basins outer banks, overe the phallic southern Rabbit bank then over to N24 57.351 W80 56.232. Plan was to go thru the lower exit from Rabbit basin. We were flying downwind with an out going tide at 8mph. Movement to Keys on the horizon below Rabbit clearly showed a probablility for running aground so we paddled a strong 60 degree ferry over the Phallic bank and continued ferrying to N24 57.351 W80 56.232. Zoooom. Going with the mist. N24 54.516 W80 52.351 are the Pontoon Keys. Worth a visit. At low tide one of those wondrous small dam ripples drops into the seaward side on an outgoing. The wind below Arseknicker shifted into a NE blow. Total speed down to that point is very quick as paddling across to Long from Pontoon was arduous taking 2.5 hours. I stopped short of the Bridge staying at Fiesta Key. Tired from crossing the Long Key bay, short of daylight with an off course paddle into Jewfish Hole where I had planned to cross under a small bridge that was moved to Tom’s Harbor while I was on the West Coast. Florida’s kayak waterway instructions tell us call Long Key State Park before arrival. There are super kayak tenting platforms but in a buggy area. There are primitive beach spaces around the point. We use a Kelty Gunnison screen tent over a Walmart painters tarp used if possible once. Call from Flamingo. A Verizon cell phone does not work at Flamingo but would on Pontoon. I tried no bag sleeping with night temps predicted in the 70’s saving hatch space, learning a down bag with added Gore bag is necessary saving 2x space over polyester. Long underwear, a polyester blanket and nylon sleeping bag liner was warm. The liner from Campmor doubled heat retention over the blanket. A space blanket was available but unused at 70 degrees. The trip was my first extended use of freeze dried food, breakfast lunch and dinner. Polynesian chicken for distance, chicken n noodles for carbos with ranchos huevos thrown in at breakfast, I forgot loading Cliff Bars, an ongoing snack food here and a plastic jug of small soup pasts for added carbo. No problem. Nutrition and power was on and available…with enough Cranberry Red Bull, Full Throttle. A stay at Long Key for low tide flats cruising, wildlife observation and a shower are highly recommended. A water outlet stands halfway up the beach. Rangers are AAA, clientele international. The first German we saw said he wanted to punch me in the face. The Hungarians were pleasant. Quick Stop around the corner in Layton has water, Red Bull and basics but is not a grocery store. No cliff Bars. A Publix supermarket in Marathon is bus or taxi. Paddle down to Curry Hammock State Park above Marathon. Call first. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/paddling ... t%2015.htm Parks in the Keys are excellent. We have no experience with Bahia Honda as spaces are completely reserved ahead in advance. There are open kayak spaces. Curry Hammock is outstanding. Careful with rolling. From before WW2, concrete rounds lay on the bottom for mooring anchors. Parking on Flamingo’s lot in the staff area is statistically safe. My truck has a burglar alarm. Fiesta Key, a marina south of the Channel 5 Bridge has expensive camping if necessary but avoid if possible. If there, do not leave equipment alone unguarded, do not feed the animals. http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/noaati ... id=8723644 http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/noaati ... id=8723872 http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.ph ... zDYEJVOXm4 Zip code for NOAA is 33001. Move NOAA’s Long Key map to Rabbit Basin for an accurate prediction on winds. Link winds to tides and NOAA at http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/basicwx/day0-7loop.html South Florida’s late winter weather is fantastic. Bring the kayak. GPS is highly recommended and a deck compass. Speed over ground to the next waypoint is evaluated onscreen against a ferry angle taken and ‘held’ using the deck compass. For example, a 270 heading from N24 52.277 W80 53.097 held for 6 miles to the area west of Rabbit basin’s south side.