Posts Tagged ‘Hillsborough River’

At 5 am Saturday May 7, 2011I woke up, not because my son was calling me, nor for any emergency.  I woke up before the sun started to shine to meet Russell in down town Tampa Florida.  It was the morning of the Third Annual Sweetwater Paddle For the Cure.

The paddling event was set against the skyline of downtown Tampa. For the event all paddlecraft and standup paddleboard participants chose to either race five miles or enjoy a family fun two mile paddle to raise money for cancer research.


We began set up at the scenic Riverfront Park , downtown, on the Hillsborough River. There was a lot of volunteers helping move boats and paddle boards to the dock.  I took a moment to scope out the trophies for the winners of the five mile race.   And chat with Brody Welte owner of Stand up Fitness.  He supplying several SUP’s and gear for this event.  I think a few of his Paddle Fit students placed during the race.

Before 8am Ron, Chad, a few others, and I left the dock and headed down River to our assigned locations for the race.  I was at the marker next to Tampa General Hospital.  And I had the Jose’ Gasparilla Pirate ship to the east.

While I waited for the event to begin I did my normal on the water warm up and then enjoyed my breakfast.  I prefer to paddle backwards to warm and lengthen my back.

This morning I skipped my 60 grams of whey fruit smoothie.  It was too early to start up the blender.  And to wake my son…  I instead chose to not make a disturbance in the kitchen and eat a standard on the water kayaking dawn breakfast.   It consists of water, carrots, citrus, and beef jerky.  This time I tried a new beef jerky “Jeff’s Gourmet Jerky“.  In a single word YUM.

I will be writing a post about this new Jerky soon…

At 8:30am the five mile race downriver and into Seddon Channel and back.

The two paddle craft that were in front were an Epic and a carbon tandem kayak (I could not make out either model).  All but one participant went around the marker.  What I also noticed was how some people struggled with making an one-hundred-eighty degree turn.  Several paddlers in expensive kayaks would just kill them selves with short port side strokes.  Some people did use a sweep combined with edging.  It was the leaders of the heats used either a low-brace on the outside (port side) or a high-brace (on their starboard side) to turn.  Turning in a race like this made all the difference.

The 2 mile family fun paddle began at 10:00.  I saw more people on paddle boards during the family paddle than kayaks.  The attraction to using an SUP is easy for me to see.  A person can see more by giving a new dimension above the water.  SUP’s are light weight, easy to transport, and easy to store in and apartment or garage.  Granted I still prefer camping and paddling during small craft advisory days.  So I am not going to convert to the SUP just yet.

From what I saw on and off the water everyone had fun.  Everyone was a welcomed participant.  See, in a means to encourage everyone to sign up for the race and come out have fun and help BEAT CANCER WITH A PADDLE, the organizers offered the event to everyone.  No paddle experience was required for either event and rental kayaks and standup paddleboards were available.  If you get a chance mark you calender for next years event.  And maybe I will see you on the water – Jeff

There are several river in Florida that quickly transports you into the past.  Hillsborough River is one local river in Tampa Florida that can quickly erases the stress of living in a city.

This time Toni and I gained access to the river at the Hillsborough River State Park.  At the time of this post the admission fee was $4.  The park rangers have always been helpful to me and my guests with information about the depth and speed of the water.

At the time of this winter paddle the water was two feet below the normal river level.  Knowing this we did not paddle up stream to see the rapids.  We chose to paddle down stream to the “Seventeen-Runs”.

The air temperature was in the mid 70s Fahrenheit.  With the water being low we got to see more of the rustic environment.  It was if we were seeing this river for the first time.

Tony is a professional fisherman who excels in paddling.  He has placed in several competitions and he has earned the support of several sponsors.  Ocean Kayak is one of his sponsors.

Tony Lai

As Tony looked around we saw many things.  Below is an image I rarely get a chance to see.  On two fallen trees were an alligator and turtle warming themselves.  The last time I saw an alligator and turtle together the turtle was an evening snack.





Wild Oranges

Tony and I both had the same idea, yum.  Since he was in a sit-on-top he hillsborough-river-wild-orangesquickly scrambled up the side of the bank and up the tree.  It was like an old Tarzan movie, or something you would see on Survivor Man.  With one hand on the tree he started throwing oranges at me.

I guess you had to be there.  They looked and smelled perfect.  Free of pesticides, these oranges were totally organic.  I was aware that farmers usually graft oranges to improve their quality.

Well pealing into the first one was clear that this tree needed no human intervention to make it a great orange.  We were both intoxicated by the smell.  And the taste, wow, what a taste.

It was a cross between a lime and a grapefruit.  It was so strong that it made our lips tingle.  I successfully enjoyed half of the juice on one wild orange.  My mouth was numb for an hour.

After that bit we continued to paddle to “Seventeen-Runs”.  This is the most rustic point.  On any given paddle a kayaker may come across a tree blocking their path.  There are also a lot of meandering switchback river trails.  So a person needs to get to this point early in the day.  You do not want to be paddling this at night.  That could be why there is a sign that reads “abandon all hope ye who enter here”.  We explored this part a little bit.  Then we turned around and headed back.

It was a great day.  If you do not have a kayak you can also rent a canoe at the state park.  I do not know the cost. but I know the staff will give you the info over the phone.