Internal combustion or electric trolling motors are prohibited
"NMZ", no not the DMZ, the NO motor zone of Kennedy Space Center.
The official name of the NMZ is: Banana River Manatee Sanctuary, however others call it..........
“Jurassic Park!” said the excited paddler who was gliding into the Banana River launch point as I was heading out to paddle some miles for race training.
“19 tarpon I hooked today! I did not even count the reds and trout!” exclaimed the paddler unloading his fly rod.
I was catching his enthusiasm, sadly however I had omitted bringing a fishing pole because I needed to practice for the MR340 kayak race.
Dawn & Ten Thousand acres of water to yourself!
The "No Motor Zone" of Kennedy Space Center: You might have heard the fishing stories already- Voracious redfish. Rolling tarpon, killer jacks, schooling seatrout. Silver Snook on the mangrove edges and monster tailing black drum.
On the horizon of the NMZ: multiple rocket launch complexes and in the air above the Banana River; Magnificent Frigate birds and hovering osprey. Pink Spoonbills, feasting terns & migratory waterfowl.
And so it was as I pushed into the “No Motor Zone” or “NMZ” The southern boundary water of Kennedy Space Center that has been closed to as motorized vessels since 1990 and my favorite place to paddle on the Florida East coast.
In this 10,600 acres of open water,-roughly 35 square miles of solitude and silence- a busy day might be a dozen kayaks or canoes, a sail boat and an athletic paddle boarder or two. Most week days—we are the sole users-which is utterly amazing.
Escape to a silent Florida!
My sole companion for 10,000 acres!
Nearly all of the Banana River north of Port Canaveral and
the Beach Line Highway (SR 528) is reserved for sail or human powered water craft
only. “No Motor Zone”–and the silence is stunning!
Internal combustion or electric trolling motor are
prohibited- consequently you might hear a manatee exhale two hundred or more
yards away. The NMZ often has one of the highest concentrations of manatees in
In the summer you can hear jacks hitting the bait fish from a half a mile away!
In the winter the noise of migratory ducks lifting from the water is so majestic it is only rivaled by the launch of rockets in the NMZ or the sonic booms of SpaceX boosters returning to CCAFS.
A KSC airboat or security boat might be the only motorized vehicle seen in the sanctuary.--If you step ashore in the prohibited areas -KSC security will find you
Prohibited to touch Native American Indian Artifacts
And of course, as this is Federal property, you are not allowed to pick up either Native American Indian Artifacts or the odd Spanish gold coins - once collected from ship wrecks as a curiosity by the Ais Indians of the Space Coast
Small warning: Do not paddle north of the bridge or the SWAT team will find you. Photo: a NASA barges pushes towards the KSC Turn Basin. Photo Credit: NASA
Let me repeat: If you foolishly paddle north of the NASA causeway under the bridge---The SWAT team will.....very quickly escort you out the restricted area. Very impressive sight!
The Shoreline on the north, east, and west side of the lagoon is within the “Security Area” of the NASA, Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
How to launch a canoe or Kayak in the No Motor Zone?
Access to the NMZ is from the 528 Beachline, KARS Park or if you happen to possess an ID badge you can launch from NASA causeway to the north.
If you do not possess a KSC or CCAFS badge, the quickest way into the Banana River Manatee Sanctuary is via KARS Park.
Directions to KARS Park, exit the Beachline (State Road 528) at State Road 3 and turn north to Hall Road. Take Hall Road east until it dead ends into KARS Park.Note: KARS park is a private Membership only park. However "Non-members" can pay a $5.00 per boat launch fee to use the primitive kayak/canoe launch area. -Best five dollars ever spent! For five dollars you get reduced paddle time, KARS park security from vehicle vandalism and an available bathroom.
Simple warning about the KARS Park canoe/Kayak launch areas. Both the Members launch area and the $5.00 guest launch areas are MUCKY AND MUDDY. Not a problem going out-except if you lose a shoe in the muck.
However I try to keep a spare half gallon of water to wash off before getting into my truck.
With all the open water, east coast sea breezes and Florida Summer storms one should always use caution in the NMZ-Know your paddle abilities. Have a plan! I always check the wind forecast before launching into the north Banana River.
While on the water: Keep an eye out for black (lightning) clouds on the horizon.
We have had the misfortune to get caught in at least two violent thunderstorms while paddling the NMZ. "Exciting to type about-terrible to experience"
I dwell upon summer storms in the NMZ in my Safety on the IRL page
Finally found another companion in the NMZ
Map of the No Motor Zone, North Banana River.
(I omitted the 528 Beachline and the power poles that mark most of the southern boundary of the NMZ)
If fishing in the No Motor Zone, you must print and sign the FREE Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge Fishing Permit
Depending upon which area you launch from, cell phones are mandatory safety equipment. That might suggest that dry bags for your phone is a good idea.
Port Canaveral in the distance to the south. The just visible power lines are a good marker for the southern boundary of the NMZ
Final note on the No Motor Zone. The protected waters serve both as a conservation area and a security area. Consequently there are rocket launch days when the NMZ is closed north of KARS park. Launching north in a canoe or kayak is prohibited. A security vessel parks at the entrance as an extra reminder the area is closed.
The fact that the NMZ is closed may not be public knowledge. So please be aware that any rocket launch from the south area of CCAFS might temporarily close the zone.
If not watching the launch: the closed days are my Econ river paddle days!
Have to admit I do not keep up my rocket launch schedule page.
Been real busy at the center. The word is out: Astronauts on the moon in four years
Never forget you are guest in a wildlife sanctuary! (navigates away from this page to my other website)
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