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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Stealth boat camping



Every spring my whole family and quite a few of our friends would go on a weekend canoe trip. We'd pick a weekend in May, soon after the ice left the local lakes. Often we'd camp at nice little place that we called Mosquito Island. It was a really great site, except that most of the year the mosquitoes were unbearable. However, there's a few special days between when the ice leaves and the bugs come out to play. During those few golden days the weather is often pleasant, the water clear, and campsites were all empty.

There's something else about our annual camping trip. It was technically illegal. The backcountry campsites were not officially open. Of course, rules only mean something if there is someone willing to enforce them. Our group never left a mess and once we were gone there was no evidence we were even there.

The whole point of stealth camping is to avoid confrontation with anyone who'd take offense. We did that by camping off season. Sometimes that means setting up camp after dark and leaving before dawn. Maybe it's just a matter of dragging one's boat deep into the bushes so as not to be seen. There's a reason my canoe is a dark green.

Last winter we had a great time coastal sailing down coast of Florida. Our boat was small and we were able to anchor into some out of the way places. We were surprisingly legal, as far as I could tell. However, there's a lot of talk in Florida right now about eliminating a lot of the free boat anchorages. The wealthy property owners are not happy with controlling their land, they also want to control everything that happens on the water. Law enforcement people know who pay their wages so they've been known to harass boaters, even when they are legal.

My first reaction is: now how do I get around the restrictions? I can't help it. That's how I react to unjust and stupid laws. We plan on taking down the little boat I'm building so that'll be an advantage. It'll be shallow draft. That will allow us to get off the main channels. Maybe I'll paint it in such a way as to blend in with the mangroves. I've got some ideas on how to make this work. After all, I've been stealth camping for years.

-Sixbears

10 comments:

  1. Florida the mosquito coast, Man they will eat you alive in mangroves. Offshore their is wind and they hate open water.Inland you are dead meat.You can plug in a fan the mosquito hates any kind of wind.Stay onyour sailboat unless you want to donate some blood to the locals on the mosquito coast.

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    Replies
    1. I was in the Everglades long enough to know what the mosquitoes there are like. Those little monsters land needle first. It's like getting hit by a spray of darts.

      I'm building very good bug screens into my boat.

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  2. Yeah, I'd definitely think about a helpful paint job.

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    Replies
    1. Muted colors go a long way towards hiding a boat.

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  3. If you don't leave any sign behind that you were there, the owners should not care, especially if they didn't know you were there.

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    Replies
    1. What they don't know can't hurt them.

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  4. Some rules were just made to invite folks to br4eak or bend them a smudge, ya know? Heck, that's half the fun!

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    Replies
    1. Indeed it is, Hermit Jim. Indeed it is. What's life without a little adventure?

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  5. The wealthy are jealous of people who can enjoy the same stars, wind and moon as they do when they buy 'prime real estate'.

    Its the slobs that make it harder for all participants of sports. All hunters get blamed for shot up roadway signage, cut fencing and left open gates. All campers are blamed for trashed up camping sites, and carved up trees.

    As long as you do no harm to the land and treat it respectfully, I see no problem with your approach.

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  6. a friend of mine awile back got a sixpack of "jungle off" and a large skitter net befor going to the glades

    left the silly gifts at home; came back looking like hell

    Wildflower

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