Summertime

And the livin' is easy

Fish are jumpin’

This classic Gershwin lyric offers a glimpse of a day floating in a kayak on the outflow of DeLeon Springs. Now, getting in the water has been made easier with the installation of a new kayak launcher at DeLeon Springs State Park.

About two weeks ago, an EZ Dock kayak launcher was installed along a dock near the boat ramp at the state park. It’s just downstream from the springs spillway, which leads to Spring Garden Creek and Spring Garden Lake.

The $2,584 cost was donated by the DeLeon Springs Community Association.

“We were excited to be able to donate this kayak launcher to the state park for the public to use and enjoy,” DSCA President Amy Munizzi said. “Already we've had many positive comments on it, how easy it is to use, and how much safer it is than trying to launch from a typical kayak area.”

Getting into a kayak can sometimes be an iffy proposition, especially for those who struggle with balance. The new device holds the kayak stable while its occupants board.

The DeLeon Springs Community Association heard about the trouble.

“Because DeLeon Springs is unincorporated, the DSCA functions like a town council, where community members are able to come voice their needs or concerns,” Munizzi said. “We, as an all-volunteer organization, will use our time, talents, funds and connections to act on what we can.”

This writer recently joined a small group of community members, members of the news media, and park staff to see the kayak launcher demonstrated. It works well, especially for those challenged by riverbank terrain, and by the nature of shifting your body into a low-lying watercraft on a muddy, slippery, or rough shoreline.

“This is good for people not so comfortable getting into a kayak,” David Grisham of EZ Dock said.

Several of those present tried the system, Including West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority Executive Director Georgia Turner.

“The hardest part for me has always been getting in and out,” said Turner, an admitted novice kayaker. “It took out the fear of falling.”

I encountered a flotilla of three tandem kayaks as they were departing the docks. The group from Indianapolis included small children, and they had used the kayak launcher.

The launcher is made of polyethylene plastic, and has a footprint of approximately 5 feet by 14 feet.

According to Grisham, the only moving part is the hinging that attaches the launch to the dock.

The product’s brochure also mentions the launcher’s safety and durability, adding that the device should require no paint or ongoing maintenance.

Place your kayak into the trough in the EZ Dock, and you have a dry, stable platform to use to get seated in the craft.

The notched sidewalls of the launcher look a little like the spine of a stegosaurus.

Once seated in the kayak, you reach forward, and place your paddle across the launcher, one end of the paddle secured in the notch in the left, and the other end in the notch in the right side.

The kayaker then pulls on the paddle to move the kayak out of the trough and into the water.

Once you're in the water, there are hundreds of miles of backwater to explore, along with, of course, the St. Johns River itself.

After my easy launch, I explored the east shore of Spring Garden Lake, which stretches from the docks at DeLeon Springs State Park south toward Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge.

And indeed, it was summertime, sunny and hot. My advice to any would-be kayakers is to bring your SPF 50. Canoe and kayak rentals are available at the park.

The living was easy — the empty hammock on a shady bluff was so tempting, and the fish were jumping. Fingerling mullet, I’m pretty sure.

A01 hammock riverside.JPG

RIVERSIDE RELAXATION — An empty hammock hangs between two trees upon a shady bluff near DeLeon Springs State Park. An EZ Dock device was installed recently at the park, making it easier for novice kayakers and those with balance issues to launch the long, skinny boats and enjoy some of the best nature West Volusia has to offer.