Kayaking the St. Johns river and inter coastal waterways in Jacksonville, FL has its challenges and rewards.
You should plan your trip, always look at the tides, I use http://www.tides4fishing.com/us/florida-east-coast/little-pottsburg-creek
If your aware of the coming in or going out of the tide you can understand how to plan and your 3-4 hour trip won’t turn into a 6 hour exhausting fight. I like to plan on leaving 2 hours before high tide and go with the tide. Then about 2 and a half hours into the trip I turn around. There is an an hour of little current, half hour on both sides of the crest. So you will actually make better time heading home, because the 4th hour will be the fasted movement of the tidal waters. It will also good to understand that the flow is always stronger in the main channel, as you get closer to shore or in the marshes. This is good to know if you are fighting the tide, it works to your advantage to go against the tide close to shore. On the tides4fishing website they show you the wave length of the tide so you can see when the intense tidal flow will be. If your fortunate enough to live on the river its also fun to put the Kayak in at low tide quite a few hours either up or down stream and ride the tide home. Just have to get a ride back to your vehicle, or grab some lunch and then ride the tide back.
Weather is a vary important thing to consider especially here in FL. Storms can pop up pretty quick and there are few things worse than being on the open water far away from home in a thunder storm. Keep you eye on the horizon, know which way the clouds are moving, and watch for fast moving things coming in. Always check the weather, chance of rain doesn’t mean you should not go, just be aware of size and strength of the possibilities. If it does start raining and you here any thunder get off the water! Better safe then sorry, but if your a fisherman sometimes when the fronts and storms move through is the best time for fishing.
Bring a snack, I like to bring a breakfast bar. My fiance has forced me to only bring one soda and a big water. Hydrate it will keep you from getting exhausted and fresh during the trip.
Bring bug spray, especially important during the warmer months. They are the worst when there is only light wind or pretty still, closer to shore, and in the evening. Usually when you go to more the center of the river there are less around to bite you.
Of course please use Sun Screen, the sun is more intense on the water just from the reflectiveness of the water. Reapply more often than if you were at the pool. I find myself looking for shade on a clear day, I take full advantage of all of the bridges in Jacksonville they make for a great spot for a shade break.
Bring your phone, its good to have a water proof case for it. I personally would be screwed being knocked over in my kayak, I generally have a camera around my neck, so I do not bother with water proofing, I concentrate on not getting wet. But you never know when you might need to call for help so its good to have one with you. Plus if you are venturing on the St. Johns river between March-August there is a good chance you might get the chance to get some pictures of manatee. The river dolphin travel the St. Johns all year long, but seem to be much more active during the summer months.
Hope this helps you to have a great and safe kayaking trip, go enjoy the waterways.
Living the Dream,