Point Washington, July 7 2011
by Nick Watson
(Santa Rosa Beach, FL)
Thanks to the TDC for the new dock and ramp
An almost windless morning made paddling irresistible. Coming back from Panama City Beach yesterday I saw the signs for Point Washington and Eden State Gardens at the corner of County Road 395 and U. S. 98. Remembering that, today seemed like a great opportunity to visit the Point Washington boat launch and paddle Tucker Bayou, the Intra Coastal and the southeast corner of Choctawhatchee Bay.
I was delighted to see the new docks and ramp that the TDC has put in along with some great new parking. This has made it much easier to get a boat in with a proper ramp in place.
The bayou offers plenty of room to paddle a kayak or run a fishing boat but you do need to watch out as there are quite a few pilings showing above the water and there are some hidden ones too.
I paddled up the bayou about as far as I could go, only having to get off a stump one time. With the water quite high it was completely hidden in the slightly murky water. It is just like many of the bayous round here, getting narrower and narrower, but in this case the water is pretty deep so there are some quite biggish boats at private docks even after the channel gets quite narrow. The only disadvantage to the Ultimate 14 ½ that I paddle is that it can be tricky to turn when you get to the end but I got her round and then paddled out to the Intra Coastal.
On the way three dolphins escorted me. As usual trying to get pictures of them is just about impossible. They were
clearly ‘herding fish’, catching their breakfast and having a wonderful time.
I got out into the Waterway and, not to be outdone by the dolphins, an Osprey stooped right in front of me and came up with a fish. To me it is always amazing that they can hit the water that hard and still catch the fish. I have been off a high diving board into a pool and I can’t imagine trying to grab a fish as you enter the water. I was a little annoyed that I didn’t have the camera out at that moment and thought that would be it but after I had paddled out into the bay, another osprey kindly showed up and stooped quite close to me and I really got a good look at him and his fish.
On this route, there are two or three creeks to get back into. One, just along the southern bay shore from the bay entrance to Tucker Bayou, actually circles a small grass island and is hidden back in behind the trees. Another runs along the back of several houses and is just a canal protected from the bay by a narrow strip of land, with a few docks for the homeowners.
Having paddled those two, watched the Osprey fishing some more and eaten my breakfast while enjoying the incredibly peaceful view of the bay (it is a pity you can almost always hear the sound of the traffic on the 331 bridge), I paddled back to the landing, passing Eden Gardens which is in just such a beautiful spot. All in all it was a very pleasant couple of hours of paddling and relaxing.