Posts Tagged ‘Turkey Creek Sanctuary’

At last, the sun graced Southeast Florida for a day, so I took off from work and headed to Palm Bay for a paddle on Turkey Creek.  This is an out-and-back paddle, with a put in on either end.  I put in at the Palm Bay Marina on U.S 1.  My destination: Turkey Creek Sanctuary, a nature reserve run by the Audubon Society.

Marsh Grasses on Turkey Creek

I paddled away, passing the boats docked at the marina and the Palm Bay Estates—a small modular residential area. I paddled under the railroad trestle and into a series of braided channels. “Take the middle waterway,” the man at the marina had told me—and about the time I cursed myself for leaving the map on my car seat, I saw an aqua blue sign directing me.   I believe this is called “Willow Swamp,” perhaps after the Carolina Willows which adorn the banks.

I paddled upstream (west) against a current and a breeze, feeling guiltless for missing my morning workout. I spied a great egret peeping out through the tall marshy grasses and an osprey keeping watch from a high tree. Homes dotted the banks on the outside of the channels.

Just over a mile into my trip, a dolphin dipped into the dark waters in front of me, marking my passage into the sanctuary. Shortly thereafter, I paddled under the Port Malabar Bridge where the scenery changed.  The creek became a winding stream, shaded by oaks, maples, elms, and palms and embraced by various wetland scrub plants including leather ferns and swamp lilies.  Sand pines clutched high bluffs on the right as I paddled around a bend in the creek.

Pathway Through Turkey Creek Sanctuary

Mullet jumped around me, cooling me with their splashes.  Suddenly, a huge (yes, huge!) fish surged from the water–an Aquaman wanna-be–directly in front of me.  He did a little squiggle, and went straight back down, tail first.   He was a few feet long with a wide girth—I would not have been able to put my hands around him.  I’ve asked four people what it was and got four different answers—the best being a large bass.

With my meandering and a bit of chatting with other yakkers, it took me over an hour and a half to reach the sanctuary.  I paused at the sandy beach, stretched my legs and snacked on nuts and fruit.  I didn’t take the time to walk along the board walks and nature trails, but I understand they are lovely.

Before heading back, I took a quick paddle to the dam—less than 15 minutes upstream. I realized that the water pouring from the four large sections accounted for the stronger current as I neared the sanctuary beach earlier.

My outing was just over 4 miles, and with my leisurely paddle, it took me three hours.

(Outfitters: Palm Bay Marina, 4350 Dixie Highway, Palm Bay, FL 32905. https://www.palmbaymarina.com/. (321) 723-0851)

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