Today, I put on my somewhat adventurous hat and headed to the administration building, I was going to rent a boat and go out into the infamous Okefenokee swamp.
I rented a boat for $60.00 and that was for four hours. The boat was what’s called a “Jon boat” and included a 10 hp mercury outboard. I could have rented a canoe or kayak but as I mentioned, I was only somewhat adventurous.
The boat has a flat bottom so it’s not a very good choice for being on water that has any depth, which means waves, but since the swamp has virtually no waves and is relatively shallow (5-8‘), it’s a perfect choice.
Getting in the boat I just about went straight off the other side, luckily, I caught and righted myself and other than being really embarrassed, I was set to go. Off I went from the dock and through the man-made canal to the swamp. It’s a no wake zone through the canal so you have to go slow, the canoeists don’t’ like getting into a wake and getting tipped over.
The first part of the swamp explored was wide, it almost seemed like being on a river. I took this approx. 1.5 miles downstream.
Going further along I saw a couple more of Okefenokee’s finest, I continued down the swamp about as far as allowed in this direction, and then headed back upstream.
Headed back the same way I had just come, and it was just as scenic and enjoyable the second time as it was the first. Continued to head upstream for approx. 3 miles, and then it was turn around and head back.
The last branch that I took was also the longest, you could navigate back 9 miles into the swamp. It was getting on in the day and I knew I wasn’t going to make it all nine miles, I was going to go as far as I felt comfortable. This part of the swamp while being the longest stretch, was also the narrowest and most swamp-like, I gotta tell you, I was getting a little anxious about going into this part of the swamp.
Taking the ‘Jon’ boat back into the swamp was for me, a relearning experience. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a flat bottom boat, and just as long since I’ve run a boat sitting back by the motor. Had to get reacquainted to the throttle and steering. steering the boat reminded me of backing up the travel trailer, if you want to go left you turn right, and vica-versa (?). As time passed, sitting in the back of the boat my left arm always behind me operating the motor, oh baby, my back and especially my arm started getting stiff, to say nothing about my butt that was going to sleep. Why oh why didn’t I bring a pad to sit on?
I made it about 3.5 miles back in and everything was adding up for me to call it a day and head back. Part of me wanted to continue but it was getting late, and my body was saying, enough for today. OK, another factor was that I was a bit intimidated by the swamp, and was somewhat anxious about going further alone.
The further I went the more remote it became. The channel was getting narrower and now I was having to frequently navigate around cypress trees. I did pass one other couple, but other than them, I was all alone in the Okefenokee Swamp. It was a scary yet adventurous feeling, and yes, it was fun. Actually the fun part began when I got back to the dock and safely out of the swamp.
I had noticed when first taking out the boat, the front being banged up, in fact all of the ‘Jon’ boats (approx. 10) had banged up fronts, I wondered how that happened. I found out after running into two cypress trees myself while on the way out. I think being unfamiliar with the boat and motor, and being physically tired, along with the narrowness and current of the water, were factors behind it. I was little embarrassed until I realized, who was there to see me?
it was a good feeling when I came out of the last branch of the swamp and it open water. took it back to the dock, did a pretty good job bringing the boat in and then headed back to the trailer.
I was feeling good, I had gotten to spend time in the infamous Okefenokee Swamp.