Kayaking on Chotawhatchee Bay from Highway 393
by Nick Watson
(Santa Rosa Beach, FL)
A downed pine tree root system or is it a dinosaur skeleton.
Many people may not know there is a boat ramp at the north end of County Road 393 in Walton County. The ramp was in a bad state for a long time and practically unusable. It was also dangerous because tourists often mistake 393 for U.S. 331 and come barreling down the road looking for the bridge. However, I’ve never heard of anyone actually driving into the Bay.
The ramp itself was rebuilt in 2009 when 393 was paved from Nursery Road to the Bay so it is in pretty good condition. However, there is no real truck and trailer parking so all you can do is pull onto the shoulder. That’s ok right now because no one lives up there but it may become a problem in the future. If you’re dropping a canoe or kayak into the water, the spot is just about perfect.
When you go there, it is a good idea to make sure there isn’t a North wind. Anything South or East or West will do the trick. A north wind means that the water will be pretty rough there.
I dropped in on a day there was no wind at all and the Bay was glassy smooth. The water was very low as it often is in winter, and there was only about a foot of water at the end of the ramp and for quite a way out which for the kayak was perfect. Normally you can put in from the sandy beach on either side of the ramp but with the shallow water I didn’t try.
I paddled East because all the Exploring to the West, which can be a lot of fun
, is into canals and ponds back in the marsh and I knew there wouldn’t be enough water. After I rounded the point, the shore is pretty much built up all the way to the 331 bridge. I did find a small creek that I hadn’t seen before. It is hidden in a small bay about half a mile East of 393 and the entrance was too shallow to get in but in normal water it will be paddleable.
I paddled right close to the shore so that I could see all that was going on. Going under most of the docks was no problem due to the low water. It’s about a 45 minute paddle to the creek at the end of Adair Lane. I figure that is about halfway to 331 and that is where I like to turn around. Coming back I made it in about half an hour by paddling further out and working a bit harder.
All in all, it was a fun hour and a half paddle with a light breakfast on the water.