Archive for the ‘Giving Back’ Category

Watching and Waiting

Posted: May 9, 2010 by Sean Fitzgibbon in Florida Kayaking, Giving Back, In the News

Some who read and follow our site may wonder why Jeff and I have not mentioned the Oil Spill here in the Gulf of Mexico. “Those boys are usually right on top of breaking news that affects the water or kayakers?” or “Do they not know about it, surely they must! ” or possibly “Could it be they are just so wrapped up in their own little paddling world, they just don ‘t care!!!”

Well, the truth of the matter is that I have been monitoring the situation from the beginning or shall we say initial explosion on the rig. First and foremost, I am deeply sorry for the loss of life and missing workers that are still unaccounted for. I believe initial reports stated 11 missing. Have not heard anything to update or change that info. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends.

Now for the next issue at hand; the Oil Spill is located off the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi and is still 300 miles north of the Pinellas County peninsula and Tampa Bay area. This does not mean that we are not being affected by the crisis, or that it is still too far away for us to care! As a paddler and Waterman I am deeply sadden and distressed by this situation. We could all point fingers at BP, the owners of the rig- would that actually do any good? Might make us feel better to have someone to blame. Now is not the time.

It is my thought that we as Kayakers, Surfers, Mariners, Fisherman/woman, Sailors, Marine Scientists, Water Lovers, Wildlife Warriors, and the list goes on; should all be coming together right now to defend our marine wildlife and shorelines. This seems to be exactly what is happening at this very moment 300 miles north of where I sit writing this posting. HOORAH! Thank You to all those already on the frontlines coastlines!!!! We Salute Your Efforts.

I will close this posting by letting all who know Jeff and I, know that WE are  keeping a close eye and ear on the news. We are hoping and praying that they get this thing sealed off and can continue with clean-up so that the oil does not make it into the Loop Current and send it heading towards us, the Keys, and eventually the Atlantic Ocean where it could be strewn to all-over-God-knows-where! There has already been enough damage to the environment, but if the spill does make it into the Loop Current and eventually towards the Suncoast of Florida- rest assured that Jeff and Sean will be doing their part to help with any clean-up efforts that we can. Including but not limited to wildlife washing or helping to place booms along our coasts, even supporting the clean-up crews with water/and food.

We will keep our readers updated as soon as we know more on the situation!

Till then watching & waiting, Sean

PS. Below is a Letter from Tampa Bay Watch

Hello Paddlers,

It is with a renewed spirit and heavy heart that I am writing this blog. Very conflicting statement I know, but you MUST read on to understand what chain of events has led to the previous statement! On Friday night, Sept. 4th at 11:00 p.m.- Jeff and I set out on a late night paddle and possible camp out on one of our local intra-coastal islands in Boca Ciega Bay. We paddled from the causeway at Madeira Beach out to Johns’ Pass(3 miles), through the pass to the gulf. We stopped on the beach to stretch and relax- listening to Reggae music playing in the distance at Gators on the Pass(local watering hole).

We were approached by a Police truck on the beach, the officer asked “what are we doing tonight?” To me this was kinda a silly question as Jeff and I were standing there next to 2 Kayaks and were in full paddling gear. I was half tempted to say we were out for a game of late night Beach Golf–“Here’s your SIGN”!

But decided to be polite and explained we were out enjoying the moonlight to paddle in. He informed us that the beach closes from 1 a.m. till 5 a.m.- couldn’t help but wonder what the local Indians would have said to that statement back 100 years ago…

Jeff and I left the beach (1:15 a.m.) and quickly paddled over to Archie’s Island(1-1/4 miles), back in the Intra-coastal waterway. We pitched the tent and drifted swiftly to sleep (2:45 a.m.) with the sounds of the water lapping at the shore and wind moving through the islands trees and sea grasses.

Archies-Island

My Mountain Hardwear “Skylight” tent is more than a decade old. And it still looks new after heavy use!

We awoke to a beautiful sunrise and nice gentle sea breeze(7:15 a.m). We got up and packed up our gear and I made Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal for Jeff and I for breakfast.

oatmeal

We were eating breakfast and reflecting on a wonderful nights paddle and how refreshed we were even though we only had about 4 hrs. sleep.

That’s when we heard the engine of a small seaplane buzzing around!

seaplan island hopping

We finished breakfast and got into our yaks and started to head back to the causeway, as we paddled along we were watching the seaplane skim across the water, then fly through the air. At one point the plane flew directly over us! I rolled with a paddle float and Jeff thought that they waved at us.  Jeff and I both remarked how cool it was.

*

< you can hear the plane pass over us in this video >

Then it happened; as the plane flew out towards Johns’ Pass, Jeff and I heard a loud “POP” sound and the plane looked like it just ran into a wall with an abrupt stop, followed by a rapid nose dive. It fell straight down from estimated height of about 225 feet, into about 7 feet of water. Jeff and I quickly paddled over to the site of impact and discovered a crowd of civilian rescuers all trying to free 2 people that were still strapped in and trapped under water.

seaplane crash pic 09-05-09

helping with rescue

Sean giving an account

Unfortunately in the end neither man survived the crash as they both sustained serious trauma from the impact. A retired fire fighter and I managed to recover one of them (within 20 min.) with the help of others and we turned him over to rescue officials that soon showed up on scene. The other person was eventually recovered by rescue officials within less than 1 hour from the time of impact.

What a tragic event and emotional roller coaster, we went from being on top of the world and fully refreshed to being totally somber and mentally/physically drained. I can’t speak for Jeff, but believe me as tragic as this event was. In my opinion it was a paddle I soon won’t forget and has taught me once again the preciousness of life and how fast it can end. We were some of the last people to see those 2 men alive, they sure looked like they were having fun. To their families God Bless You and Keep You through these tough times! Know God has a plan for all things that happen, even if we don’t understand the BIG picture!

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved with this event, especially the 2 men in the plane, and all those that took the time to call 911 or were in some way involved in the initial Rescue attempts and susequent recovery of the 2 men’s bodies.

Make sure You take the TIME to say I Love You, and HUG your wife,husband,partner,children,friends,family as often as you can!!!!!!!!! WE ARE NOT PROMISED TOMORROW!! LIVE AND LOVE LIFE!!

Thankful but still Reflecting,
-Sean

Bay News 9: “Families try to cope after two die in aircraft crash” Sept 9, 2009

Bay News 9: “Two killed in aircraft crash near John’s Pass” Sept 8, 2009

www_arlingtoncemetery_net

Picture from the Arlington National Cemetery Website

Memorial Day is Monday May 25.  For some people it is a day off from work to spend time with family.  Others use Memorial Day weekend as an excuse to go shopping.  Neither are reasons this time is set apart.  On May 30, 1868 Americans banded together to commemorate soldiers’ sacrifices and reflect on their commitment to defend this country with their lives, and we have continued this tradition.  It is a time to go to cemeteries and honor the men and women of this country who have died.  By remembering and reflecting on their actions, we can pay tribute to all soldiers killed in action.

We have the freedom of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.  Moreover, the blood of soldiers has contributed to protect the freedoms that so many people take for granted.

I recommend that parents use Memorial Day as a teaching tool for their kids.  Spend a little time adorning the graves of soldiers with flags or flowers at local cemeteries or memorials. Fly our flag at half-mast until noon.  Observer a moment of silence at 3pm.  Better-yet, contact the local VFW Post to see if a widow, widower, or orphan of a Vet needs a helping hand.  Maybe they need something done around their house or help getting to the grocery store.  Memorial Day is not a time to be self-absorbed.  Sacrifice a little time on Memorial Day to honor the memory of our fallen Veterans, because “the greatest causality is being forgotten”.

Wounded-Warrior-Project

Hey Everyone,
Just wanted to give a quick blog about an event that happened to me this past weekend. I decided Saturday that I needed to go Get Wet!! So I went for a paddle out at my favorite close to home spot- Veterans Park and Bay Pines Area!! I had absolutely wonderful weather on Sat. with what I like to call San Diego Day- for those of you who have been there you know what I’m talkin ’bout! For those that haven’t- Sunny/light breeze and 76 to 80 degree temps. Just about all year ’round!

Anyway, while I was on my way back in I noticed a SeaDoo, Yes a JET SKIER! Apparently having lost power being pushed across the sandbars by a couple. I turned around to see if I could offer them some help. When I paddled up the couple was very nice and said they had just purchased the water vehicle in question and could not get it to re-start after shutting down!

I asked them if they needed a tow to their boat, they said that was great. But was I sure I could pull a full size SeaDoo- & 2 ADULTS! NO PROBLEM. I said. I then pulled out my trusty Lotus Designs Tow Rope and clipped it to the Jet Ski; then tightened the belt around my waist. WE WERE OFF AND TOWING!!!! We were not going to win any races, (actually we were limping in.) but I was reminded of the story of The Tortoise and the Hare. For the sake of this story we will call it a Sea Turtle!! SLOW & STEADY wins the RACE.

I ended up pulling them 3/4 of the way until a nice young couple came by on another SeaDoo- and finished out the last 200 yards to their boat!! THANK YOU KIND PEOPLE!!!!

When I paddled up to get my tow line, the couple I had just helped wanted to pay me something for helping them out. Even though I really could use some money right now, COULDN’T WE ALL. I explained to them that this was just something I had to DO, There are times in life when JUST BEING NICE NEEDS TO BE DONE! So remember when your out on the water and you see someone who needs help-DO IT!! It just might be YOU the next time who NEEDS THE HELP!!

Glad I could be of SERVICE!!
Sea Turtle Seanmmag00441_0000_1_