Ocklawaha River: Poker Run review

National Safe Boating week is May 16-27, 2009
National Safe Boating week is May 16-27, 2009

On Saturday, May 16, 2009, the Marion County Aquaholics Paddlers Group sponsored their 10th Annual Paddlers PokerRun.  They had a record attendance this year.  There were more than 206 paddlers on the water for this eight-mile paddle starting at Gore’s Landing and running down the Ocklawaha River.  There was a line of registering paddlers behind Sean and me.

It was great to see all of the paddlers joining together to support the Ocala Outdoor Adventure Club.  The club is a non-profit group that teaches outdoor skills to children and youth.

I only have a few safety concerns for the planers and volunteers to reflect on.  I saw many people of varying skill levels on the water and many people did not have a life jacket.  There were a few canoes and kayaks that flipped over and got entangled in strainers.  And I think the club should require people to have a life jacket.

Ocklawaha RiverThis event is also not handicap friendly.  The put in, take out, and the way it is organized in how the participant get their cards at each station along the bank is could cause a serious accident.  I saw a few older paddlers slip and fall scrambling up a bank to get their playing card.

This is another safety issue.

What would work is if each station had a tandem kayak anchored in the middle of a wide part of the river.  That would speed up the delivery of playing cards. And paddlers would not feel deprived due to limited flexibility, or disability.

Every year this event grows.  I and thank and recognize the hard work put into the event by the organizers and volunteers.  They do a great job in getting out and working with the community

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