Archive for the ‘Kayak Festival’ Category

imperial-river-boat-ramp-jeff-fabiszewski-sean-fitzgibbon-sweetwater-kayaksIts official November 1 Р3, 2013 Sean Fitzgibbon and Jeff Fabiszewski are guest speakers at the 2013 Calusa Blueways Paddling Festival.  The teaching line up is: Cutting Through the Hype, Thru-Paddling the Calusa Blueway, Practical First Aid, and Risk Management For All Paddlers. Join Sean, Jeff, and other notable coaches in Fort Myers-Sanibel for a rocking good time.

calusa blueway logoActivities are planned throughout Lee County from Friday through Sunday.¬† Come try a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard for free courtesy of Florida Paddle Sports and Gulf Coast Kayak, which are offering kayak and paddleboard demos and lessons. Food will be served noon to 2:30 p.m. It‚Äôs free to attend; food tickets available for purchase at event.¬† Evening events are at the Residence Inn by Marriott Fort Myers-Sanibel. Join with fellow travelers as we gather both evenings for a full evening of sharing paddling stories, networking, reviewing trail maps, drinks & dinner, live music, and “meet the authors” special programming from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.¬† You‚Äôll find the most demos, instruction and speakers on the Sanibel Causeway.

  • Friday November 1st
    • 2:00 to 3:00pm Cutting Through the Hype, on the Sanibel Causeway
    • 4:00 to 5:00pm Risk Management For All Paddlers, on the Sanibel Causeway
  • Saturday November 2nd
    • 10:00 to 11:00am Thru-Paddling the Calusa Blueway, on the Sanibel Causeway
    • 1:30 to 2:45pm Practical First Aid, on the water
  • Sunday November 3rd
    • 1:30 to 2:15pm Practical First Aid, on the water
  • Cutting Through the Hype: A boat, paddle, and PFD will get a kayaker started.¬† But there are other gear, materials, designs, and gadgetry; how does one decide what to buy, what/when to use, and what to wear when kayaking?!¬† This is a great opportunity to understand products: their development, the slick marketing, and the practical financial function.
  • Risk Management For All Paddlers: This session provides people with a lens to help identify and manage risk on and off the water.¬† The best safety is identifying problems before they happen.¬† The second best safety action is how to react when problems occur.
  • Thru-Paddling the Calusa Blueway: Tampa Bay, Fla.-area paddlers Sean Fitzgibbon and Jeff Fabiszewski, aka ‚ÄúTeam Sweetwater,‚ÄĚ departed on Oct. 19 for a 12-day, 190-mile paddle along the southwest coast of Florida, following the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail. The pair did the trip to raise awareness and funds for the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail ‚ÄĒ one of the best marked paddling routes in the world ‚ÄĒ as well as for the Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Sanibel Island.
  • Practical First Aid: Minimal preparation prevents massive maintenance.¬† This intro on the water class provides commonsense tools to make critical medical and evacuation decisions after a health problem occurs.¬† The demonstrations combined with realistic scenarios and mock patients are the next step in learning how to react.

This post is to inform our readers on the final updates before Jeff and Sean leave for the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail Expedition as TEAM Sweetwater on Monday Sept. 19th, 2011. I will also touch base on a few of the “Lost” minute thoughts that Jeff and I are having before we finish packing and loading of gear.

So we have most everything ready to go food wise and possibly even more than we will need. Dinners will be Mountain House and some fresh local fair along the way. Lunches – well lets just say we will be getting more than enough calories. Breakfasts will be fruit and oatmeal.

Lets not forget the coffee- Jeff has hoity-toity Starbucks Viva instant and Sean has made homemade Coffee BOMBs, yes coffee bombs (you will just have to check back regularly to see what those are).


As far as recent happenings we have sent out the Official Media Press Release as of 09/12/11 and it was sent to the local media in Pinellas County(where we are from) as well as media down in the Cultural/Paradise Coast area that encompasses the Lee County area where Jeff and I will be paddling.

We have been given the opportunity to stay at the Rock Lake Resort Cottages on Billys Creek, the Sun & Moon Inn in Matlacha , the Jug Creek Cottages on Bokeelia, the Castaways Beach and Bay Cottages on Sanibel Island, and have also been given complimentary campsites at Cayo Costa State Park, San Carlos Bay Campground, and last but not least Koreshan State Park. We will also be doing about 3-4 nights primitive camping on spoil islands along the way over the 13-14 day period. We will be taking advantage of these lodging partners as a way to promote the many options along the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail.

The kayaks are ready & watertight and we have done the pre-packing game. We have all the necessary safety gear and have gone over our “pre-paddle” checklist. We are cleared for Paddle-Off!! I must say though that I still need to go get a “true proper chart” as we have done all the planning off the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail foldout maps. Jeff and I would just feel safer with true water depth and obstruction charts to paddle with as a safety precaution.

The Liquid Rhythm Kayaking Blog will be updated hopefully daily or as much as we can get KayakKev to write a quick days description of what we did and where we are. So check back regularly.

Jeff & I will also be volunteering for a half day at the Clinic for Rehabilitation Of Wildlife(CROW) on Sanibel Island so please do not forget they are our charity of choice and they desperately need donations and to please help them out if you can either with donations of money or supplies or by volunteering at the clinic. Visit the site from our link at the top of the page. HELP SPREAD THE WORD!

Jeff & I will be returning to the Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival & Symposium on Nov. 4-6th to do a lecture on our 2 week paddling expedition and to teach a course on safety titled: Minimal Preparation prevents Massive Maintenance. Hope to see some of our readers there.

And now for Sean’s and Jeff’s Lost Thoughts:


  • Did we pack everything we needed?
  • Did we pack to much?
  • Where in the world is my tooth brush and did the Calusas brush their teeth?
  • When do I get to PET the American salt water crocodiles & do I have to wait till Estero Bay?
  • How many Bullsharks do you think there are in the Caloosahatchee River & can I PET them?
  • Do you think we will see any ghosts of Native Calusa Indians- I sure hope so.


  • ūüėČ less is more,…
  • I have a Power Point presentation.¬† I hope everything stays dry.
  • Mosquitoes…where is my DEET!?
  • I think…therefore we are ready to rock and row!

In closing we would like to acknowledge the following people & Sponsors who have worked hard behind the scenes to make the trip possible so far: GOD, Betsy Clayton- Lee County Parks & Rec., Nancy Macphee-FPTA, Russell Farrow – Sweetwater Kayaks, CROW of Sanibel, Jim Swope- Swope Public Relat., St. Petersburg Limb & Brace, All of our lodging partners, College Park Prosthetic feet & ALPS South, Kayak-Kevin Thompson & Peggy, and our Families & Friends who continue to support our paddling adventures. And our readers and supporters of LRK’s Journal. If we left anyone out let us know and we will add you to follow up posts.

Well we hope that our readers stay tuned and that you enjoy following along with us on our little adventure. Thank You for reading and as always: E’ Komo Mai’= You are Welcome Here!

– Jeff & Sean

As promised paddlers/readers post #1 in the series Tribal Tides, and now on with the post.

Whats a Calusa? Pronounced “kah-LOO-sah”, and sometimes spelled¬†Caloosa; as in Caloosahatchee River (which means “river of the Caloosa”) ¬†The term Calusa refers to a Native American Indian tribe¬†of Southwest, Florida. The Calusa are also famous for their other name the “Shell Indians”. The word Calusa is said to have one of two origins, one being from the tribal village of Calos and the second origin being that calusa meant “Fierce People” in their native language. There are no historical records to prove this second origin. At one time,¬†there were believed to have been up to 50,000 in the Calusa Indian Nation.

The Calusa were not hunters/ farmers like a lot of North American Indians, but instead were expert fisherman, seaman/sailors, and gatherers/ hunters who lived off the Florida Gulfcoast. They were known as a very fierce and war-like tribe, and had political control over many other tribes¬†living in Florida at the time¬†such as the Ais, Jeaga, Jobe,¬†Tequesta, and Matacumbe tribes. Although some think it was a federation of tribes- this is still disputed as the Calusa were thought to have been in absolute power!! They had 1 King Chief with many smaller village Chiefs who had local power. The last Calusa King died in the early 1700’s. The Calusa were thought to have practiced human sacrifice and possibly cannabilism. This is believed to have existed in the more early stages of tribal life in the Calusa tribe.¬†It is also said they were¬†known to have mutilated enemies so they would not be “whole” in the spirit world!! They were also successful in attacking and driving off the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. In their later years the Calusa turned to salvaging riches and gold from shipwrecks all along Florida’s southwest coast and were thought to have been regarded as wealthy, although by this time they were now fighting European diseases as well as the Creek Indians who had come south into Florida.

The Calusa Indians made heavy, long canoes out of cypress wood that were equipped with both paddles and sails that they used to fish, gather, and hunt from. The Calusa ate fish such as mullet ,¬†crab, conchs, clams, oysters, and lobsters that they would either gather or fish for using nets, weirs (corral type pin ), or bow and arrow¬†and spears with shell heads. The tribe also hunted turtles, eels, birds, and small game with blow guns with darts dipped in poison from sting ray slime. Only 20% of their diet was believed to have consisted of fruits, nuts, berries, and everybody’s favorite……..roots!! Because of the abundant supply of food available they were able to become detailed wood carvers & elaborate mask makers, as well as build artificial islands, docks, seawalls out of – yep you guessed it – SHELLS!! There have been many items found, made by the Calusa using seashells and sharkteeth – such as tools for survival and living, weapons, utensils, jewelry,¬†and mask¬†& temple ornaments! I wonder if that has any reasoning for why the Calusa were called the SHELL INDIANS (ya think)??

The Calusa built and lived in chickee-type houses. A chickee is 4 posts with a roof.¬† The roof is made with support beams covered in palm leaves usually, but could have been solid beams. Sometimes with a raised platform/deck floor. It has no walls to allow good ventilation and cooling sea breezes to blow through¬†in hot humid climates. As far as clothing it was pretty basic breech/loin cloth for the males & palm/moss skirts for females- no shirt, no shoes- No Service! Oh wait thats something entirely different!! The Calusa were a tall people and had long hair that they wore “topknot” on their heads occasionally with feathers. The Calusa warriors often painted their faces and bodies before battles & dances!

Unfortunately, the Calusa culture was decimated by European diseases & the Creek Indian tribe who would later become the Seminoles. (Go Miami Canes- sorry had to represent). Some survivors were thought to have been sent to Cuba while others blended and mixed into the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes. One thing is for sure the Calusa language and culture is lost.

WHEW!! So now that you know what a Calusa is lets see why we picked this location as our next paddling expedition. Jeff and I have been tossing this paddling location around for about 3 years now- we have not done an extended paddling trip since December of 2009 and wanted to do this sometime this year. I ran into Betsy Clayton who is the Public Relations person for The Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail while in Charleston, S.C. at the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival this year. She asked me when I was coming down to paddle as I have been getting info from her on the trail. I said some time this year. I spoke with Jeff shortly after and we decided why not September just before the Calusa Blueways Paddling Festival that will be from November 4th through 6th. We are now back in touch with Betsy and working out all the details. The planets are hopefully aligning and there are things in the works behind the scenes- Stay Tuned!!

As for why we are so interested in this area here goes nothing:

Jeff’s reasons:

  • Because ITS There!
  • Because I Love To Paddle!
  • to get out and paddle an area with various paddling environments and different types of water!

Sean’s reasons:

  • the ability to get to paddle through many different eco-environments and wildlife (saltwater crocs)viewing.
  • a much needed break from the “RAT RACE”!!
  • a great way to get in touch with your¬†“inner¬†paddler” so to speak¬†and actually feel the¬†environment of the Calusa, spiritual paddling in the land of the lost Calusa Indians.

The Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail just seems to be a special place where paddlers can follow in the paddle strokes of a once Great Indian Nation. Jeff and I think it will be neat to go paddle a place that is trying to find a balance between the new world of prosperity and growth and still manages to blend the beliefs of a past civilization and natural wild outdoors. Not to mention caters to a sea fairing community and paddlers. I believe we will take much more away than we know and can even begin to imagine. Jeff and I would also like to try some native survival practices such as water desalination and practice fire by friction techniques.


The next post in the Tribal Tides series will be out in a week or so and will cover some of the planning we are doing to get ready and some more details and arrangements that have hopefully been made! I think it will probably be the finalized route we are taking over the 2 week time period.

— Jeff¬† and¬† Sean

References : Shell People by Kimberly Ripley

Native Languages of the Americas by Laura Reddish & Orrin Lewis

USF Education Web Site “Exploring Florida Website”

Wikipedia- Calusa Indians

Raatatatat-Rata-Tatat-Ratatat-Ratatatat-Tatatatat-Ratatatat-Tatatatat-Tatatatatat- (drum roll) РJeff & Sean are proud to announce an upcoming 2 week paddling expedition to the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail in Lee County, Florida. The trail consists of 190 miles of marked and unmarked canoe/kayak trails located in semi-tropical southwest Florida along the Gulf Coast. Our trip will take us through inland freshwater tributaries, moving down river to a brackish water tidal zone, then out through salt marshes and along mangrove forest lined coasts, on to a fishing village/major watercraft pass. Out to open saltwater and some offshore islands. Along the way we will go through a state aquatic marine preserve, a couple state parks, a national wildlife refuge, a state park preserve, and a few county and regional parks. Then back into fresh water and up a different river to our ending takeout spot.

The trip will take place in September 2011¬†from the 19th through the¬†30th, with Oct 1 & 2 as extra paddling/weather days if needed. We will be doing an upcoming series of posts about the expedition and hope our readers will stay tuned as things fall into place and the paddling begins. We have waited on releasing this news due to the fact that there are some really cool things happening behind the scenes: 1. Such as we might have a very well respected paddler & coach possibly joining us for some of the paddle! 2. We might get to tie this into something much bigger- i.e. a teaching opportunity! 3. There just might be a “GOOD” story to come out of all this & MORE!!¬† DEFINITELY CHECK BACK SOON- for further developments!!!!!!!!!!

Jeff & I will release the first post in the series: Tribal Tides- “Whats a Calusa?” on Wednesday 06/22/11. This post will discuss what and who the Calusa were & why Jeff & I feel so passionate about paddling in their waters. Oh, and how we came to choosing this as our next long distance paddling expedition.

For a little teaser of what the series will cover please check out the previous expedition series: Expedition Planning- there should be 6 posts about the Suwannee River Expedition we did Christmas time of 2009.  Just check under Expeditions or Suwannee River in the side bar categories on the right!

Thanks for reading and following along,

Jeff & Sean