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2015 Guide

KAYAKING Florida 3













Photo taken on Crystal Lake

How Can I Try Before I Buy?

to the sport should consider a recreational boat, which is the least expensive option, or a day touring boat, which costs a few hundred dollars more but offers several advantages in the long run. Once you have the basic gear, the sport of kayaking becomes quite inexpensive.

Ask your local REI if there are any upcoming “demo days” where you can try several kayaks out on the water. You also might consider renting a kayak for a test run. At a minimum, sit inside and adjust the cockpit to make sure it is comfortable for you.

Why Does Boat Weight Matter?

Isn’t Kayaking Expensive?

Less weight has several advantages: It makes a boat easier to transport, easier to turn and less affected by the wind. Weather is important.

The most expensive part is the kayak itself. Those new

How Do I Carry A Kayak?

Kayak Or A Canoe?

Ideally you would have someone to help you by each carrying an end. However, it’s possible to carry a kayak yourself.

How Likely Is it That My Boat Will Roll Over? There is always chance of tipping. The rougher the water, the more your chance increases. The wider your boat, the more stable.

It depends. In a kayak, you sit lower and use a double bladed paddle for more efficient propulsion. They’re generally fast, easy-turning and fun. Canoes hold more people and gear and can be ideal on flat-water lakes in calm conditions. Canoes are wider and flatter than kayaks, so they tend to have more contact with the water and sit deeper. See more on page 4


efore heading to the water, be prepared and make sure you know what you are doing. This is especially important in open-water situations. Go with an experienced paddler or local paddling club. Take



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a kayaking class with the REI Outdoor School or other reputable outfitter. Or go on an excursion with a kayak-guiding company such as REI Adventures to learn the basics. In any event, you should always

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wear a personal flotation device (PFD), check weather conditions and, if going in open water, have a map and compass and be aware of tides and currents. Kayaking is an intricate dance of strokes,

maneuvers and balance between person, boat and paddle. Although it requires a certain degree of arm and core strength, it’s a sport that almost anyone can master with a bit of practice.

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NO NEED TO PADDLE SOLO There’s a network you can tap into. •


e have all had an experience with those times when we’ve wanted to go kayaking but could rustle up some buddies to join in on the fun. Here are some suggestions to help you find some new kayaking partners and keep you from making a go of it solo on your next kayaking trip.

a few days before you plan on going kayaking, you can leave your phone number with the kayaking outfitter to give out to others who might want to paddle. Some shops even have bulletin boards in their shops for this very purpose.

Or, they often know where others are going to paddle and you might be able to revise your plans to join another kayaking trip. If you have

Kayaking Florida

• •

post a message of where you want to paddle and what you are looking for in a paddling partner. Some forums might let you contact members directly.

Join A Local Kayaking Club This option also requires some foresight on your part and it might only pay dividends in the future. Local paddling clubs will link you up to other paddlers in your area. It never hurts to know more people to paddle with.

Call Your Local Kayaking Outfitter When you’ve exhausted all of your options of people you know to kayak with a great resource to tap into the kayaking community is your local kayaking outfitter. Kayak shops are always owned by paddlers who are thoroughly piped into the paddling community. They have friends and customers who paddle and may have heard something or know someone who is also looking to get out on the water.

Photo taken on Crystal Lake.

Post On A Local Kayaking Message Board Similar to above, if you have time before your trip you can post a message on a local paddling forum or discussion board. Of course, you’ll have to create one first. Just do an internet search for the city or town where you live or near where you will be paddling in your kayak. Search local forums to get a feel for the group. Then

They also usually have a trip calendar and discussion boards to help you link up with people to paddle with. You can find local kayaking clubs through internet searches. Check out these sites: American Canoe Association American Whitewater or even on

Selecting A Kayak You can choose from a sit-on kayak or a sit-in kayak. It really is your preference. If you are kayaking rivers, lakes or springs, a smaller, sit-in kayak is ok. If you are treading the ocean you may want to select a sit on kayak. If you were to fall out, the sit-on kayak is a much easier way to reload.

Dress For The Water Not The Weather Although appropriate clothing choices depend on the location, take into consideration the water temperature rather than the air temperature. If your kayak tips over, you’ll learn very quickly how important it is to plan for water temperature. Layering of quick-dry clothing are ideal, and hats, sunglasses and sunscreen are highly recommended. Then, for footwear, wear sturdy, strap-on sandals or water shoes.


THE RACE IS ON Kayak Vs. Canoe

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The short, sporty kayaks, are made to turn and cut, not travel fast. Sea kayaks are long, lean and fast. Kaya k an dC an oe

from lightweight fiberglass and even lighter Kevlar or carbon-fiber. Kayaks will hit the edge in this case again because they’re narrower and as a result, lighter. at

With our own kayaking padding experience, expertise, as well as our extensive researches have shown us that most our kayaks have generally been proven to become much faster than the canoes in almost every area. But all this hinges on one thing, that is whether or not you are a skilled kayaker. Even if two novice paddlers were to race a kayak and a canoe. ow inb

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Canoes are wider and flatter than kayaks, so they tend to have more contact with the water and sit deeper. This means the canoe will have to cut through the water, while the kayak floats on top.

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hen it comes to speed, the kayaks have the advantage for several reasons. They sit lower in the water, so there’s less wind resistance, which means more speed. It’s also clear that the double bladed paddle is more efficient, also sitting low translates into much less time and as well as much less movement reaching out for the water. And because both of the kayak paddles are double bladed you don’t have to move them from one side to the other like a canoe’s single bladed paddles.

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Knowing the general and also the overall weight of your boat is also an-issue, the material used to make the boat has a significant impact on the speed. Both canoes and kayaks are most always manufactured

Kayaks are much more difficult for a beginner to keep on a straight line. They’re a bit unstable and because they’re so light, every time you dig on the right, your boat will dart left.


LEARNING TO PADDLE Kayaking also includes an intricate and precise detailed representation of important as well as specific strokes of the paddle, in addition to calculated maneuvers and balance between the person, boat and the paddles. Although kayaking requires a certain degree of arm, as well as a solid core strength, it’s a sport that almost anyone can honestly master with a little bit of training and practice. Before entering the water, it’s helpful for a beginner to know a few things. REI has a number of great, useful as well as helpful kayak boat resources available that will easily help paddlers of all skill levels, while Discovery and Livestrong offer kayaking tips for every beginner.


Check the hull for cracks or gauges that you may not have noticed.

Drain Plug:

Make sure it is in the boat, is attached to the boat by a cord or other mechanism, and that the o-ring is present between the screw and the hull to close up any leaks.

Foot and Thigh Support:

Make sure that the foot supports and thigh braces operate correctly.


Kayaking Florida




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A) Strength training helps to build the muscle tissues needed to give you more power in your strokes. Paddling is a real workout!


This will aid in several ways:

Kayaking is equally also a beneficial-cardio-vascular workout, which can aid in strengthening the heart and increasing blood flow, it also can help keep the body tone and fit while enjoying nature

and the outdoors. But, like any other sport, there are precautions. Kayaking is a sport that will require repeated motion over an extended period of time. But there’s more.

he general and overall sport of touring a kayak is an excellent form of exercise. The disciplines it develops are strength, endurance, with flexibility and balance.

1. Environmental Education

B) Kayak touring also helps to build endurance for those long trips. Endurance is so important. C) Strength training also aids in developing muscle coordination, balance and “body awareness”.

Through a grant by the Elizabeth Ordwell Dunn Foundation, we have created an environmental education program called, “Paddler’s Environmental Toolkit Training”. This teaches paddlers to identify environmental & wildlife problems, to solve the small problems and report the large ones. Click here to learn more. If you would like to take a quiz on the some of the elements in the Toolkit Training click here. Contact your Regional Director to learn where and when classes are scheduled in your area.

“Body awareness” simply means that you know what your body is doing at all times. Once you can “feel” which muscle groups are being used for a specific stroke, you can call those muscles into action for better coordination through out the maneuver.

All of these points are needed to stay in Contact us with your control of your kayak information and training while paddling in any goals. conditions but it’s the body awareness.

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he Florida Paddling Trails Association is committed to protecting the environment along all water trails.

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2. Monitoring & Cleanup

A. Local Waterway Cleanups: We work with many different government and volunteer agencies to do cleanups on local waterways. B. Ocean Conservancy Partnership: We work with Ocean Conservancy on their annual Coastal Cleanup Program. C. N.O.A.A. Plankton Monitoring: We have partnered with N.O.A.A. on their plankton monitoring program. Volunteers will be trained by the N.O.A.A. These volunteers will be capable of taking water samples every two weeks, identifying plankton.

KNOW HOW TO RESCUE YOURSELF AND OTHERS If you or someone you are with flips a sit-in kayak. Keep your kayak paddle in front of you, lean to one side and flip over. Some people like to wear ear plugs while practicing flipping over, wet-exiting, or rolling their kayak. The goal is to be as close to the kayak as you can. This will help you roll the kayak back over.

Kayaking Florida



Florida Cypress



he clear crystalline Ichetucknee River slowly flows six miles through shaded hammocks and wetlands before it joins the Santa Fe River.

Visit Florida’s Natural Springs

In 1972, the head spring of the river was declared a National Natural Landmark by the U. S. Department of the Interior. From the end of May until early September, tubing down the river is the premier activity in the area. In addition to tubing, visitors can enjoy picnicking, and snorkeling, canoing, and swimming, hiking, and wildlife viewing.

ainbow Springs has served as an important natural resource for humans and animals for many years. At one time, mastodon and mammoth fossils were found in the Rainbow River, along with relics of the American Indians who used the river for transportation and fishing.


Turtles sunbathing


October through March scuba diving is available in the Blue Hole only (you must be cave certified). White-tailed wild deer, raccoons, wild turkeys, wood ducks and great blue herons can be seen from the river. A full-service concession offers food, refreshments, and outdoor products from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Tubes plus snorkeling and diving equipment can be rented from vendors outside the park.


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Hard to spell. Fun to visit. •

ilver Springs State Park combines the charm of a historic Florida attraction with the crystal clear beauty of one of the last uninhabited spring runs in the state. Silver Springs Park has 3 sides. On the Spring Side: Enjoy the head-spring from a viewing deck, walk along the river on paved trails, see the ornamental gardens, and enjoy an easy stroll through the Real Florida. Paddle down the crystal clear river (there is no fee to launch on this side but there is a ½ mile hike to launch area), hike or bike along one of the nature trails, or just sit and watch the wide variety of birds and wildlife.

Much later, in the early 20th century, men began mining the surrounding areas for phosphate. The new industry brought a boom and the towns of Juliette and Dunnellon were founded. Juliette, once located on what is now park property, no longer exists. Rainbow Springs is one of the most popular natural Florida Springs. Rainbow Springs

Kayaking Florida


any of the various fun techniques and variations that are used in the sport of kayak fishing are essentially the same as those used on other fishing boats.

Ichetucknee Springs

However, the new discovery that fish could be taken at much lesser speeds has increased the popularity of kayak fishing. Some anglers launch small kayaks from larger boats well offshore so they can play game fish from the kayak.

Contemporary kayaks can be equipped with after market fishing accessories such as their rod holders, electronic fish-finders and live-bait containers.

Kayak fishing has started to move inland to freshwater lakes and rivers, where anglers target game fish.

Kayak anglers target highly prized game fish like snook red drum, sea trout, tarpon, halibut and cod and also pelagics including amber jacks, tuna as well as sailfish, wahoo, king and mackerel.

Kayaks Are Comfortable: Today’s modern fishing

kayaks have comfortable seats that make you feel like you’re fishing out of an easy chair all day long. more fun in a kayak.

More Fun When Fish Aren’t Bitting:

Kayaks allow you to fish where other boats cannot get and that’s pretty cool.

Florida’s freshwater fisheries comprise 3 million acres of lakes, ponds and reservoirs, and approximately 12,000 miles of fish-able rivers, streams and canals-with no closed seasons. The recreational fishery resources alone in these waters provide entertainment for more than 1.4 million anglers annually, who enjoyed 24.4 million days fishing recreationally in Florida’s fresh waters.

Freshwater Recreational And Commercial Regulations:

Rainbow Springs

Read the rules pertaining to fishing in Florida.



Fish Identification:

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ayaks Are Stealthy: No matter how you

slice it, a kayak is quieter and less noticeable

to fish than any boat. Not having a trolling motor makes you kayak quieter.

Kayaks Offer Better Casting Angles:

When fishing from a motor boat, most of your casts are perpendicular to the bank and your lure swims from shallow water to deep. With a kayak you can gain a major advantage on marsh grass.

Kayaking Florida

Learn how to identify freshwater fish found in Florida. You’ll find a list of Florida freshwater fish (with photos) and info on nonnative, threatened and prohibited species.

Local Fishing Sites and Forecasts:

Describes many premier fishing areas in Florida, by region, species, or alpha-order, with quarterly fishing forecasts and interactive maps.

Fishing Tips:

Beginning and intermediate tips on fishing for some of Florida’s premier freshwater fish as information on how to measure fish, how to tie fishing knots, and fishing seasons.


OCEAN KAYAKING odern sea kayaks come in a wide array of materials, designs, and sizes to suit a variety of intended uses. In sea kayaking, where the designs continue along primarily traditional lines, the primary distinction is between rigid kayaks and folding kayaks. Folding kayaks are in some ways more traditional boats, being similar in design to skin on frame kayaks used by native people.

and contemporary materials such as aluminum for the frame. Unlike native kayaks, folding kayaks can be easily disassembled and packed


IN RECENT YEARS, THERE HAS BEEN AN INCREASE IN PRODUCTION OF SIT ON TOP KAYAKS SUITABLE FOR SEA USE. for transport. Many folding kayaks include inflatables that improve the secondary stability of the vessel, helping to prevent capsize.

Modern folding kayaks use ash and birch or even new

More recently, a class of inflatable folding kayaks has finally emerged, combining a more limited rigid frame with a tightly inflated skin to produce greater rigidity than an inflatable boat alone. In recent years, there has been an increase in production of sit on top kayaks suitable for sea use. This has resulted in a new market for paddlers looking for the versatility of a sit on top, with seaworthy performance.



our new special kayak boat was designed with and for and built for minimal maintenance, and a little timely care.

Pensacola Beach


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Whenever you wash your boat use mild soap and water. Rinse your boat and hardware thoroughly after paddling in saltwater as well as brackish or polluted water. A quick rinse of the moving parts keeps them clean and operating smoothly. Give your hull and deck a thorough review annually. Tiny or light scratches and scrapes are part of the paddling experience, but deep scratches should be repaired.

If the hull on your boat is distorted due to an accident, improper storage or transportation, correction may be simple: brief exposure to the heat of the sun often restores a hull to its original shape. If that fails, hull shape can often be restored by applying a low heat source (such as a low wattage bulb or hair dryer) to the deformed area. To prevent unnecessary wear to your boat, do not drag the boat across rough surfaces.

GOOD TIPS Sit with a straight back and knees slightly bent. Most sea kayaks have “wells” or little pedals that the paddler can adjust to rest his feet on in order to maintain proper form. Adjust these foot wells, as well as the back rest, before putting the sea kayak in the water for optimal form and comfort. Grasp the paddle firmly with your hands shoulder-width apart. Dip one side of the paddle into the water, edge side down. Pull the paddle towards the stern of the kayak and up out of the water. Continue the paddling process as one fluid motion. Choose your paddle according to your own needs. Most paddles are offset to reduce wind resistance. With paddles that are not offset your trip range is reduced.

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St. Augustine Beach


CHECK LIST Be aware of changes in weather conditions and water temperature. Prepare for little changes in the weather and the possibility of a capsize. If paddling in cold water wear a wet suit or dry suit can keep you warm and comfortable. Beware of even offshore winds that make it difficult to return to shore. Never exceed the weight limit capacity of your boat and always check your equipment for wear and tear before you paddle. Seek out any qualified instruction to learn the proper rowing and proper paddling techniques,for water safety and basic first aid. Stay Hydrated. This is extremely important.

Kayaking Florida

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ne of the easier ways to transport your Ocean Kayak is to purchase a roof rack. This normally involves a set of bars that attach to the car via rain gutters or clips on the door.

damage. Place the kayak upside down (cockpit side down) on top of the rack. Ropes can then be strapped across the boat and tied to the bars. Saddles cradle the boat and often come with their own straps.

They come with a wide variety of attachments from kayak saddles to stackers. The racks can be used without the attachments; however, the racks should be padded. This will protect your vehicle form

Stackers allow multiple boats to be placed on their sides without falling over. An alternative from traditional rack systems are soft racks. They tend to be less expensive and will work with almost any car (i.e.,


without having to change clips for the “hard” rack style). These are pads that sit between the kayak and the roof of your car or truck. Some styles have a strap that wraps around the kayak and others strap the pad to the roof. To tie the boat to the car, straps are run through the car doors and the boat is tied to the roof as well as the bumpers. Avoid over tightening the straps which may cause dents in the roof of the car.


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njoy some great island hopping on fast moving sea kayaks through crystal clear water. Experience white sand beaches and exploding sunsets. We’ll snorkel reefs, swim with dolphins, and dine on local seafood. We’ll journey from Islamorada to Key West, stopping at Lignumvitae Key, the Dolphin Research Center, and Looe Key.

Keys his home for the same reasons we visit them: their

Enjoy a full day in Key West, Hemingway made these

serenity, isolation, tropical forests, pretty white and



sandy beaches, crystalline waters, adventure, tropical wildlife, as well as excellent local cuisine, and colorful sunsets. In all your travels you will never see a whole island shut down for half an hour to gather on the docks for no other reason that to toast and applaud the night’s arrival. Sea kayaking barrier islands is physically challenging. You should be in good shape to enjoy the trip.



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HIKE IN A GROUP Always have at least one other person with you if you are going on low-traffic trails or be accepting of the risk you take in having no one able to aid you. Some of the benefits of hiking in a group: Be sure to learn from experienced or sound hikers or pass on your knowledge to others. First-Aid for injuries Distributing loads for common group gear. Meet new people or deepen relationships Drink often to stay hydrated. Also carry enough water for the day and your pack will get lighter as the day wears on. Small snacks often will keep your energy level up rather than waiting for a big lunch meal after you have emptied your body’s reserves.


Photo taken on Crystal Lake.

he 1,400-mile Florida Trail, our National Scenic Trail in Florida, is Florida’s best destination for backpacking. Looking for a weekend getaway or several weeks on the trail? You’ll find it here. It offers places to day hike throughout Florida as well. As the authors of The Florida Trail Guide, we’re pleased to present our combined 45 years of knowledge on our favorite long-distance hiking trail. The Florida Trail Guide is our comprehensive guidebook to planning section and thru-hikes.


Planning Your Florida Trail Hike

Unhook any waist straps on backpacks so you are not dragged down by their weight if you do fall.


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The Florida Trail is so unique among America’s national scenic trails: It is entirely within one state It crosses two time zones It includes both tropical habitats and beach walking It circles the second largest lake entirely within the United States

It makes a fabulous winter hiking destination Planing a hike? Grab a copy of The Florida Trail Guide to help you with logistics. The Florida Trail Data Book and the most current thru-trail maps are also a must, available from the Florida Trail Association (FTA). There are some places you can navigate using data. In most places, knowing how the trail follows the landscape is crucial. You must be an FTA member to hike through a handful of private lands that the trail crosses. When you’re ready to give back to the trail, get involved with an FTA trail crew.

Whenever you cross water, keep these tips in mind: Seal electronics in zip-loc bags.

Cross high altitude streams in the morning if possible. As the day wears on, sun and warmer temperatures melt more ice which makes water levels rise. They tend to be lighter in the morning after a cold night. Fast moving water should stay below the knee. It’s like having someone kicking at your shin trying to trip you with every step.

Kayaking Florida


here are even a plethora of things that can and will mean the difference between a disgruntled outdoors man and a happy camper. Modern outdoor gear makes inclement weather almost irrelevant when it comes to camping. If you’re prepared, you can still enjoy your outing come rain or shine.

Here are a few things to carry just in case: Bring A Rain Jacket: It’s lightweight, waterproof and something you should carry even if rain isn’t in the forecast. Mother nature can turn any second, so always, always be prepared. Florida is known for it’s random rain patterns.

Photo taken on Crystal Lake.

Extra Socks:


A warm camper is a happy camper. In fact, it’s more important to stay warm than it is to stay dry. If you suspect you’ll be camping in the rain or cold, bring extra layers with the right material to keep your body temperature up. Good base layers top and bottom wick moisture away from the skin and work with your body to regulate your core temperature. Shop: Cold Weather Apparel

Stay Well Fed

Unless you’re backpacking, there’s no reason to skimp on good food. Be sure to bring full meals, hearty snacks and plenty of campfire beverages to fuel all of your outdoor adventures.

Tarp & Bungee Cords:

Always bring extra socks so you can slip on a dry pair at the end of a wet hike or a wet day. Extra shoes or boots: If one pair gets wet you’ll have a backup pair for hanging out at camp.

To sling up over the main area of camp so you have a dry place to hang out.

Trash Bags: To cover your backpack or use as rain ponchos.

Photo taken on Crystal Lake.

CAMPING WITH KIDS Fun Stuff To Bring •


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rowse our on-line toys and games department to get all sorts of clever ideas for campground fun. Some of our current favorites:

Paddle ball Set: At one of our photo shoots, the kids accompanying our crew couldn’t put this game down. Marshmallow Launcher: Traditionally you toast them. Now you can shoot them at one other, too. Imagine: The common marshmallow, transformed into a summertime snowball. Make Ice Cream: Have some low-tech fun (with delicious results) with a boot-around plastic ball that doubles as an ice cream maker. Water Fun: Camping in warm weather? If you can tolerate a little flying water, these water toys are a great to cool off.

Devil’s Millhopper

Kayaking Florida

The Glowing, Multicolor Flying Disc: it’s psychedelic, man. Illuminated with LEDs, this disc changes colors while you play.


Get Out There

Photo taken on Rainbow River

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