Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Ten Thousand Islands, Florida


The Ten Thousand Islands
are a chain of islands and mangrove islets off the coast of Southwest Florida. Despite the name, the number of islets in the chain only number in the hundreds. Marco Island is the largest and northernmost island in the chain.
The 99-mile long Wilderness Waterway begins at Everglades City and ends at Flamingo at the southern tip of the Florida peninsula. Administrative control of the islands is split between Collier County and Monroe County.
Most of the Ten Thousand Islands are too small for human habitation to be practical, but some are suitable for overnight visits, as dictated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Since this is a wilderness area where wind, weather and lack of fresh water can become threatening, the Wildlife Service recommends only seasoned canoeists and sea kayakers attempt the trip. The southern tip has become a prime destination for snorkeling and water sports vacations. Some of the southeastern islands in the chain are included in the area of Everglades National Park.

Navigation skills are a "must."
Top-notch navigation skills are a must for this trip. Within this mangrove wilderness lies a web of bays, creeks, and channels in which it is all too easy to lose your way. Carry a proper marine chart, based on NOAA charts. Don't consider carrying anything other than a waterproof chart. The regular paper charts tend to fall apart when they get wet. Also, you'll need a reliable compass. Plus, I would highly recommend taking a (waterproof) GPS receiver. Naturally, you should know how to use all these navigational tools.

Other things to prepare for :
The powerful sub-tropical sun can cause severe sunburn. Be sure to take sunscreen and have protective clothing (hat, long pants, and long-sleeved shirt) available when you need it.
This is a salt-water environment. No fresh water is available at your destination, so you'll have to take it with you—at least 1 gallon of freshwater per person per day. Protect your water supplies from the raccoons. They will chew a hole through a plastic water container to get at the freshwater inside.
Now, about the bugs. Mosquitoes and sand flies are bad here, except in winter. After all, this is the Everglades. So, take lots of insect repellant. And be sure your mosquito netting bars the tiny sand flies as well as mosquitoes.

The Trip

The Shark


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