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Everglades USA Exped – Day 4

Wednesday, November 16th
USA Expedition blog: Arrival in Key Largo and kayak adventure departure
by Theresa Kaiser

Tuesday night was pretty special because it was the first night outside on the ocean. After sailing all day from Fort Lauderdale to Key Largo PANGAEA was fixed in one place with the anchor dropped for the night. Every young explorer was responsible for a one-hour anchor watch throughout the evening. What we “watch” for is any movement of the boat or drifting as there is always a chance that strong winds could dislodge the anchor or alter our position or the anchor’s chain could break.  We take watch to make sure that we are always secure even while all is quiet and asleep.  Livio woke me up at 5:30 AM and for the next hour I had responsibility for PANGAEA making sure that everyone aboard was safe. I felt a little nervous at the beginning because I realized how important this responsibility really is.

Everything went well on watch and after breakfast I had to pack all the gear which I needed for the next seven days because we have the amazing opportunity for a 6-day kayak trip of more than 100 miles through the Everglades National Park.

After we packed our gear we went with Tristan on the dingy for a twenty minute boat ride through mangroves and harbors to Key Largo where we had to pick up our kayaks from Florida Bay Outfitters. We are all super excited about this trip and couldn’t wait to go out on the water and start paddling! But first we all ate a big lunch together — staff and young explorers — to give us energy for the adventure ahead.

We finally hit the water at about 3 PM. Everybody shared a tandem kayak except for Mike who was in a single boat by himself. I was paired together with Mary, Mike’s PR director.  In the beginning we had some difficulties and some laughs trying to figure out how to synch up our strokes and get that kayak to go straight! But after a while, we got used to the boat, the finesse of the rudder and to each other and we really got to enjoy this trip

After a two-hour paddle, the sun set bright in the sky and night fell and we arrived at our campsite with the light of headlamps. It was a small beach at North Nest Key –- one of the beautiful, tiny islands of the thousands and thousands in the Everglades. We set up our tents, made a campfire and I ate for the first but not the last time Trek’n Eat. I didn’t expect it to taste so good!

This is going to be the first time outside in the Everglades and I am super excited for the next few days, looking forward to exploring and to learning about this unique environment and all the animals in there!

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