Posts Tagged ‘Paddle for the Cure’

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 РJeff

WooHoo, I Love warm weather!!!!

With late Spring/early Summer at hand it is a great time to be a paddler! For those who follow Jeff & I through our paddling adventures it has been a long time since I posted anything, that is because we have both been so busy paddling since the weather got better we have not had much time to write. Jeff has been adding some postings as he has time and I much appreciate it! So now it is my turn to contribute. Read on and I hope you enjoy the story of my most recent trip and how I played hookie on Saturday:

sporting a Kavu Chillba Hat!

Saturday (05/07/11)¬†morning began bright and early at 6:00 a.m with loading paddling gear into my SUV then heading for Peggy’s house to meet up with Kevin, Lee, & Caroline (paddling friends from our local FLOAT meetup group)¬†to head for Nobleton,Fl. to paddle a new section of the Withlacoochee River. Nobleton is a spec on the map, but what they do have is access to the river at a nice little boat ramp.

The 5 of¬†us left the¬†house about 7:00 a.m. in Kevin’s truck, and as we headed out¬†on the Howard Franklin Bridge, the sun was just peaking over the city of Tampa and the sparkling blue waters of Tampa Bay. We went through the city and its concrete jungle on our way to our paddling paradise- even if only for a few hours of solitude and paddling companionship. We stopped¬†on Interstate 75 in¬†Wesley Chapel,Fl. for a sit down breakfast at Cracker Barrel. YUM!! I highly recommend the Smokehouse Breakfast- yes, Lee that was for you. Inside Joke- the waitress kept telling Lee it was cheaper to get that particular breakfast instead of just eggs and sausage, which was actually cheaper than smokehouse option. Anyways……………….

Breakfast was delicious just the same and we were soon on our way again. We arrived at the launch just as the rest of the group did; around 9:30 a.m. The temp. was around 75 degrees and just beautiful with the sun shining bright as we all unloaded our kayaks and gear. Some people went to drop vehicles off at the landing site and soon returned so we could begin our paddle.

We headed out 12 strong down the Withlacoochee river for our little adventure. The river here is a little wider than other sections of the river I have paddled, but none the less awesome. The sides of the river are¬†hardwood forest¬†trees with lots of green, makes sense with the Withlacoochee Forest on both sides. The water is tannin stained brown/black which makes for perfect reflections on the water of the sky and surrounding trees! I felt numerous times like I was up north paddling in North Carolina or Tennessee somewhere. The water temp was cool and refreshing as there are springs that feed the river along its “crooked” path, which by the way is what Withlacoochee means in Native American.

We saw many forms of wildlife on the river including: an alligator, great blue heron, lesser blue heron, numerous limpkins, ibis, a brown-banded water snake(non-poisonous), snowy egret, many freshwater turtles, endangered sandhill cranes, hawks, wood storks and a partridge in a pear tree- OK, I made that last one up, but we saw lots and I am sure I missed something. The paddling was lazy with the conversations flowing naturally just like the river. We stopped along the bank and had a 30 minute lunch break that everyone enjoyed by the sounds of chewing that replaced the earlier conversations. I forgot to mention that there were also areas of clogged water lily pads and hydrilla along the way which added to the rivers charm and change in scenery- where you almost felt like you were on the Amazon somewhere.

¬† We did 9 miles & 4 hours total paddling and ended our trip at the takeout ramp on Hwy. 48. As Kevin went back to get the truck, several of us played with side-by-side eskimo assisted rescues and I did a forward paddle float roll to demo how you could cool off with a roll and come up using just your paddle float on the front or back deck of the kayak. Then Kevin called and it was time to paddle in and load gear and boats for the journey back home- DARN! foiled again & I would have gotten to paddle longer if it hadn ‘t been for that meddling Kevin!!! ( Thanks various bad guys from Scooby Doo).

Oh Yeah- Did I mention that Sweetwater Kayaks– the shop I work for- ¬†was having their 3rd annual Paddle for the Cure!!! Yes I probably should have been there helping Russell & Jeff out to make sure things went well behind the scenes…………………….. but I was playing “Hookie” in the warm Florida sunshine & the cool Withlacoochee water! OOOPS!!!( Can You Blame Me?)¬†Hopefully Russell & Jeff will forgive me. I heard they had lots of help and volunteers so maybe I was not missed so much. I HOPE………… but I here a good time was had by all who attended & things went smoothly. Who knows maybe Jeff will do a post on it in the future.

On it , In it, Under it – Sea Turtle Sean