Kayaking for the clean! What happens when a young Farm Bureau Representative wants to make a difference in the environment? He, Logan Luse, candidate for Melbourne City Council, District 5, pulls together a group of like minded individuals, and together they enjoy a peaceful Fall evening on the water, de-cluttering Crane Creek.
The group consisted of several twenty-something college students, another terrific Melbourne City Council candidate, David Neuman, District 3, and me, the ancient mariner of the group.
While I supplied three kayaks of my own, Anthony and Douglas, of Rigg’s Outpost in downtown Melbourne, could not have been more kind or welcoming with the loan of kayaks, whistles, life jackets, and even litter grabbers and trash bags.
It was still Florida hot, at around 5:30 as blue skies began their golden decent into sunset, when eight of us launched onto almost perfect glass. Douglas assisted with the launch, guiding us one by one away from the bank at Rigg’s. I dipped my straw cowboy hat low over my eyes to block the yellow power globe.
At first glance the creek seemed to be pretty darn clean. Dare I say, we were almost disappointed. Three of us paddle battled, for the first tiny piece of trash spotted, before dispersing in various directions. We were soon joined by our sole SUP pilot, Garrett, and everyone got into the groove of the hunt.
It was along the sprawling tangle of spindly trees and scrub that make up an island in the center of Crane Creek, where we discovered most of the trash collected; for good reason. The dense mass made it challenging. Reaching the trash required getting right into the mix, sometimes shoving your kayak through stick arms that seemed as though they might grab you and not let you go.
Before committing to any foliage dive, I made a quick scan for snakes. The last thing I wanted was a snake dropping into my kayak, and me dropping into the alligator, Bull Shark laden creek. Several times I hovered hesitantly around a spot, spying a taunting piece of litter. I had to check out the branches and contemplate my angle of assault. There was a bleach bottle that I wrestled with, but gave up on. Logan got it. And a softball I charged at several times, but gave up on. Logan got that too.
I was, however, able to wrestle effectively enough to grab blocks of styrofoam, plastic bottles, and a slimy algae covered gallon jug, that dove several times before I was able to wrangle it from the dark waters onto my kayak.
With a fun competitive trash weigh-in looming at the end of our event, I hesitated, for just a moment, before returning the watery contents of the jug back into its natural habitat. Logan found a full sized, fully waterlogged comforter early on in our outing. We all joked that the competition had ended with that discovery. To attest to Logan’s fairness, he excluded the comforter from his collection at weigh-in, citing an unfair advantage. That’s integrity. Vote Luse!!
As golden sunset dissolved into twilight grey, the air had grown refreshingly cool for our return paddle to Rigg’s Outpost with our haul of trashy treasure. The quiet was broken by the prehistoric squawk of a Great Blue Heron voicing his annoyance at being startled from his fishing spot.
Our vessels fell into line, and one by one we landed and emptied, aided once again, by Douglas, who was happy to wade into thigh high water to steady us for the disembarking. I was slightly tentative before giving in and simply rolling out onto the grass with complete disregard for any sort of grace.
With smiles all around, we anticipated the weigh in. Anthony joined us on the dock for pictures, as Douglas weighed each trash bag separately, then together under the watchful eye of David Neuman, who kept record. Cassie won with thirteen pounds, I collected five, and there were varying amounts from less than a pound to three or four.
After roughly an hour and a half of paddling, we collected well over the 60 lb goal set by Logan. 76.2 lbs of trash was liberated from Crane Creek. As we all agreed the event was a success, and we planned future events, David realized he had to quickly recorded the total weight. The numbers on the digital scale were falling with the water that drained onto the dock from that wet blanket, that darned wet blanket.