Archive for the ‘Open Water Crossings’ Category

Hello All, This is the long anticipated 2nd post in the Tribal Tides series. In this post I will discuss the actual route and “natural schedule” that Jeff & myself shall be attempting to paddle during our 2 weeks on the water. Why we chose the direction we are headed in on the route & possible opportunities that are arising.

The schedule as it sits right now of course is subject to change at any given moment depending on weather conditions, paddler safety/health issues, and available lodging/safe places to camp. At this time we are choosing to take full advantage of any local Bed & Breakfasts, inns, and local campgrounds (public or private) along the way; as well as some primitive beach/mangrove camping as available. Jeff & I have chosen not to go totally primitive every night for camping simply because the Great Calusa Blueway, along with Lee County Parks and Recreation & the Florida Paddling Trails Association have made it so easy for anyone to do all or some of the segments of the paddling trail. They have very detailed websites & links that get paddlers/mariners to safe and secure places to bed down for the night.

Also in the works is the possibility of doing an informative/teaching speaking session at the Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival  November third through the sixth.  And hopefully the chance to write some reviews about the local lodging & amenities, history of the area, fishing, cooking, and gear as we promote the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail!!




Jeff & I will launch the expedition on Monday September 19th at the Caloosahatchee Regional Park; near the town of Alva. We will then head down river to Hickey Creek and do some exploring up the creek for 4-5 miles. Paddling back down the creek and headed down river for Telegraph Creek, up & back. Some may know that the Orange River is also here but Jeff and I have done this river many times before when we were guiding trips so we are skipping it. We will then be heading down river to camp and on Day 2 to begin exploring the remainder of the river and a few more of its tributaries. Eventually leaving the mouth of the river and primitive camping on Picnic Island.

Day 3 will find us heading north for Matlacha and threw the Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve. Lodging may be there for the night. We will then be paddling out again up the mangrove lined coast on Day 4 headed towards the most northern point of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail and Charlotte Harbour Preserve State Park for some exploring and then across 4-5 miles of open water to Bokeelia/Jugg Creek/Back Bay areas to bed down.

Day 5 we are headed from Bokeelia over to Cayo Costa Island, a crossing of about 8 miles. We will be primitive camping/exploring on the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico for a day or two if time /weather allow. On Day 6 or 7, Jeff & I will be heading south down the outer islands of North Captiva, Captiva and Sanibel Island and threw the Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve towards J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Possible stay on Sanibel or primitive camping on a spoil island in Pine Island Sound. We will be doing some exploring of the wildlife refuge then crossing along Sanibel Causeway and threw Matanzas Pass to San Marcos Island for a possible nights stay.

Day 8 or 9 will find us headed threw Hurricane Bay towards Hell Peckney Bay and into the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve; then across to the Estero River mouth and upriver to Koreshan State Historic Site & Park. Jeff and I will be staying a night or two at Koreshan, primitive camping and exploring Mound Key– site of the capitol city of the once great Calusa Indian Nation!!!

From there it is on Day 11 or 12 that we will head to Lovers Key and Big Hickory Island for a possible nights stay on one of either of the islands. Then on Day 13 we will start to make our way threw the Imperial River Preserve towards our final destination which will bring us up the Imperial River, possibly camping again somewhere along the river. Day 14 which will see us paddling to the Imperial River Boat ramp on U.S. 41 to end our paddling expedition and meet our shuttle vehicle to pick-up our boats and gear and whisk us home to our families & friends!!!!


If one were to look at the segments of the paddling trail you would see we chose to do section 3 which is also the unmarked section first, then section 2 and finishing on section 1. Yes, Jeff and Sean can count and we do know 1 comes before 2 and 3. If you look carefully though there just seems to be a “Natural Flow” to the direction we chose, not to mention logistically being able to complete the most of the trail without having to double back much on anything to get the most out of the paddle/trail itself. Also lets not forget its “OUR” trip and WE CAN DO WHAT WE WANT as most people with teenagers will tell you. (That is my 16 year old sons favorite saying- “I do what I want!” – or so HE thinks!)
Also it is possible that Russell Farrow owner of Sweetwater Kayaks and one of the nations best paddlers and kayaking coaches will be joining & paddling with us for a few days!!(also our boss if you want to call him that- we just call him friend!) Well we hope everyone enjoys the most recent post and the third post in the series will be out in 3 weeks Tribal Tides 3: “Native Gear, well not quite”

– Jeff & Sean

slaying the water demon

Posted: December 23, 2010 by Jeff Fabiszewski in Holiday Season, Open Water Crossings
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The demon is dead.

In the Spring of 2008 Sean and I were leading a group to Anclote Key.  It was an overcast day and the water conditions were mild.  I was doing some stupid things on land the day before and when we were on the Key I slipped and twisted the wrong way getting lunch out of my stern hatch.  Not thinking anything of it we left the Key and headed back to the park.

Then it happened…I thought a bolt of lightning entered my back, zipped down into my left testicle exploding it, then wrapped around my left gluteus maximus, and pierced through my left knee.¬† I could not paddle anymore.¬† All I could do was lay on the back deck.¬† Thankfully I was paddling with experienced friends. ¬†And they knew how to help me. The tow into land seemed to take forever (4+ miles). ¬†After we got to the beach my friends lifted me out of my kayak.

The cause was simple as my doctor later explained…the disk was just counting down like a ticking¬†time bomb¬†and could have bulged at any time¬†putting pressure on the nerve during a simple task like putting away laundry.¬† It was just a coincidence that the disk hit the nerve when I was in my kayak.

It has taken almost two years for me to work up the courage to paddle to Anclote Key.  And Sean and I did this past Tuesday.  Before we began the paddle we were greeted by an unexpected development.  As of the 22nd of November 2010 Pasco County is now charging a user parking fee!  It was only $2.  I have no problem with the fee as long as it is going to keep the park looking good.  And this park is always clean.

Some would say December in Florida is warm.  Well for us locals it is cold.  Look at how we were bundled up. LOL.

The paddle was great some small swells, and clear water.¬† The water has been cold, around 50’F.¬† And we saw the effects of the cold on some aquatic life.¬† We saw several dead catfish and one small shark.¬† I think it was a small hammer head, and Sean thinks it was a small Bonnethead shark.¬† It was about 3 feet long.

We got to the Key to see several raccoon tracks.  How they got on to this island is anyones guess because the mainland is about 4.5 miles away.   But the tracks were not the biggest interest for Sean he made a beeline for the one thing that is always welcoming.  The outhouse!  The Key gets a lot of use and to help keep the land clean the county put up this outhouse.   Surprisingly it does not have a pungent smell.

We had a good lunch and headed back to the park.  The last time I beached my kayak at the park I had to be picked up and carried into a car.  It was so nice to stand up and carry my kayak to the car.

Having a bad experience on the water always makes you respect your friends, gear, and training.  It is good to start the new year with a bad experience left dead on the beach.


Ahoy Matees,

   Just wanted to write a quick posting on our recent overnight trip to one of the spoil islands off Dunedin, Florida in St. Josephs Sound.  On Saturday, Jeff, Kayak Kev & Peggy, Tim & Debbie, and of course myself(Sean) decided to meet up and go for a paddle followed by an overnight campout! We all met at the Dunedin Marina launch site at around 1:00 p.m., after loading all our gear and getting everyone launched we began paddling over to the 2nd island south of the marina. We had 10 to 15 mph. winds coming at us from the port side with 1 ft. beam seas.  The paddle took us approximately 45 minutes to get over to the island and was pretty uneventful, with the exception of the occasional small wave breaking over the cockpit and spray skirt.

¬†¬† When we arrived at “OUR” island we found a fairly nice sand and pebble beach to land on and exit our kayaks. We found a great campsite that was very nice and extremely large. Also provided alot of shelter from the high winds. The only problem that we found was the trash and broken glass left behind by previous boaters/campers!! My guess is “They” were more of a partying type of crowd. Sad, not everyone subscribes to the Leave No Trace ideaology! Anyway, we all got our tents/hammocks up and proceeded to get a fire going and dinner on. Kayak Kev, Peggy, and Tim went for another short paddle until they got rained on by a brief passing shower. By the way Forecast: NO CHANCE OF RAIN ALL WEEKEND! Thats what happens when you go paddling with the bad weather trio: Kevin, Peggy, Sean.

¬† Dinner was great and very filling! Thank You Shelly(Seans’ wife) for making the Homemade Fried Chicken and Hobo Beans.¬†After dinner we watched a pair of Ospreys that kept flying around our camp as if to say “YOU ARE WELCOME HERE.” The rest of the night was spent talking and laughing around the campfire, and eating Jeffs’ Pistachios- those things are like CRACK!! Also Tim & Debbie: Thank You for the Rum & Coke, it hit the spot before bed!

  I awoke the next morning to the rest of the camp already up and moving about. We slowly broke camp and packed our things up. Peggy made eggs and we wrapped them in tortillas with Mexican Cheese blend, Tim provided some awesome Teriyaki Beef Jerky to finish it all off- OH YEAH and COFFEE!!!!! A BIG THANK YOU to Peggy for cooking & dishes.

  We then hopped in our yaks and headed into the wind for the first quarter of the paddle back- the winds had increased to about 17 mph. steady with 20 mph. gusts. When we got close enough to shore we then turned north and headed for the marina and our cars using the treeline and shore as a natural wind break. Also a pretty uneventful paddle back, with the exception of a few waves breaking over the bows of the kayaks. To all who went: Kevin, Peggy, Tim, Debbie & Jeff-  THANK YOU MY FRIENDS for a WICKED FUN little getaway this past weekend! We will have to do it again soon.

                                               -Sea Turtle Sean

Tampa Bay Crossing- Paradise Found!

Posted: December 6, 2009 by Sean Fitzgibbon in Florida Kayaking, Kayak, Open Water Crossings

Hi All,

A couple weekends ago  ( Nov. 21st)   Jeff and I decided to do a bit of paddling and training for the up coming Expedition we are taking on the  Suwannee River. We decided to meet at Sweetwater Kayaks which is owned by a friend of ours Russell Farrow.  We met each other at around 10:00 a.m. at the shop which is located on the southwest side of the Gandy Bridge in St. Petersburg, Fl.  This bridge is 1 of 3 that crosses the Tampa Bay waters, and is probably about 6- 7  miles across.

We spent almost an hour talking to Russell’s brother¬†Steve at the shop about our upcoming trip and the fun of paddling.¬†¬†Jeff and I finally got¬†on the water around 11:oo a.m. and began to paddle towards¬†the city of Tampa, across the Tampa Bay; along the south side of the Gandy Bridge.¬† As we paddled we started to see some large Sting Rays, and I know¬†Jeff and I ¬†saw at least 2 seperate species- Atlantic Southern Stingray and ¬†Spotted Eagle Ray.¬† The tide was about to change so we hoped for really clear and clean water on the paddle back to view some more of the marine life.

Jeff and I reached the Tampa side in about 2 1/2 hours and stopped to have lunch on the northeast side of the bridge, on a nice sand beach that was among old bridge supports and some mangroves.¬† There were 2 types of the 3 species of mangroves on this beach- red and black.¬† After investigating the mangroves a little closer we found a VERY LARGE Paper Wasp Nest with¬†ALOT of wasps¬†on it!! Glad we didn’ t grab that branch to check what type of mangrove it was.¬† Jeff and I then shared an MRE for lunch and thanked each other for a fun paddle over.

After lunch we decided to flip a few rocks over to see what we could find that our inner child would enjoy.¬† We managed to find alot of juvenile Stone Crabs and a couple of small Lobsters or Crawfish of some sort.¬† I tried to find the species but could not, it had a large claw which it could “POP”; I assume to stun prey.¬† It had the most vivid teal markings on its tail too!¬†¬†Also many varying sizes of Hermit Crabs were everywhere.


We then climbed back in our kayaks and began our paddle back along the bridge headed back to St. Petersburg.  The tide was now coming in and was creating a strong current along the bridge and we actually had to adjust our course.  Jeff and I paddled out off of the bridge to keep from being swept into it!!  As we paddled the water clarity was perfect, and the visibility was so good into the water we could see to the bottom, around 10-15 feet.  There were numerous fish species seen and they include- Sheepshead, Angel Fish, Puffer Fish, Cobia and Redfish.  We also saw a few dolphin and I believe I saw a couple of  Spotted Sea Trout.  

We finished our day by talking with Russell once we arrived back at the shop.  What a great training paddle and FUN day it was!!  Amazing the amount of wildlife we saw and the workout we got just from a short 10-12 mile paddle in waters that are right in the middle of two large cities!! The Paradise found was not in a certain destination or place but was in the entire paddle and the moments and discoveries that lie within it!  Well hope you enjoyed the reading and can find the time to get outdoors and discover your own little Paradise!!!!

-Sea Turtle Sean