Posts Tagged ‘sea kayak with no weathercocking’

 September 18, 2011 РLet the Journey Begin!!

LEE COUNTY- Two men are to begin their expedition tomorrow to raise money for the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail and Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife.


Sean Fitzgibbon and Jeff Fabiszewski are experienced kayakers from the Tampa Bay area who have formed Team Sweetwater. The two plans on paddling the 190-mile marked and unmarked paddling trail in Lee County.

The Team is paddling to raise awareness for the Paddling Trail and the Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) which is on Sanibel Island. The public is encouraged to visit to make a donation to both organizations. The expedition blog will be updated daily.

Team Sweetwater will return to Lee County on November 4-6 to teach a rescue class and speak about the expedition during the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival and Symposium.

The expedition starts tomorrow, September 19th at 8 a.m. and goes until October 2nd.

Check back for updates on their paddle.

(Posted 22:00)

September 19, 2011 – They’re Off

Today is the offical first day of the trip and everything went well. The overnight pre-departure camping went without incident and they launched from Caloosahatchee Regional Park, which is located near Alva. Their first planned detour from the Caloosahatchee River was the Hickey Creek. Hickey Creek is actually a mitigation park implemented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission (FWC). This mitigation area gives developers an alternative solution to creating mitigation areas on their development site. For additional information and a map of the area check out the Hickey_Creek_Information brochure.

WP Franklin Lock

After completing the creek and finding their way back to the Caloosahatchee, the journey continued downstream until they reached their first obstacle, the WP Franklin Lock and Dam. These locks were constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1965 and are located approximately 33 miles from the Intercoastal Waterway. Their primary purpose is for flood control, water control, prevention of saltwater intrusion, and for navigational purposes. This is one of five locks the Corps constructed and maintains along the 152 mile Okeechobee Waterway.  Unfortunately they were not able (allowed) to pass through these locks, so this became the first portage of the trip. Camping at Rock Creek Resort.

Trip details: Day 1: Caloosahatchee Regional Park to¬†Rock Creek Resort via Hickey Creek. ¬†Miles covered –¬† 20.1

September 20, 2011 ‚Äď Downstream and Into Open Water

Picnic Island

The journey continues by heading downstream to the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River and beyond. The destination for today is Picnic Island. Picnic Island located about three miles southwest of the mouth of the Caloosahatchee and about 1.5 miles southeast of Saint James City on Pine Island. If you are tracking their progress on Google Earth, it can be found at latitude 26¬į29‚Äô23.46‚ÄĚN, longitude 82¬į02‚Äô57.20‚ÄĚW.

For the most part it was a very uneventful day on the water, although their paddle was interrupted by an afternoon Florida rain shower. Both Jeff and Sean were surprised by the variety of marine life they encountered today and hopefully photos will follow when they return.

Trip details: Day 2: Rock Creek Resort to Picnic Island. Miles covered 19.1

September 21, 2011 ‚Äď Heading North

A highlight of today’s¬†trip was the¬†bald eagle they saw during today‚Äôs northerly trip. Otherwise the trip was uneventful except they had to perform some minor repairs to the boats. According to Jeff, the skeg on his kayak was sticking and would¬†not function properly.¬†The skeg on his kayak is rope operated and its¬†mechanism¬†is a¬†combination of rope and bungee cords. So to resolve this issue he exited the kayak, flipped it over, pulled the skeg mechanism apart, washed it, and then reassembled it. ¬†He also said Sean‚Äôs boat, being a custom two piece design, needed to have the bolts tightened that connected the two sections together. Since this was not critical and since they did not have tools for this repair, they opted to delay repair until the end of today‚Äôs paddle.


If you are interested in tracking their journey you can go to Google Earth and download their software. Once you have the program running Lee County Parks and Recreation offers a free KML plug-in that overlays Google Earth with the all of sign posts on the trip. You can either access the Lee County Parks and Recreation site and look for the KML files or click here to download them directly. Trip details: Day 3: Picnic Island (54) to Sun and Moon Inn (83). Miles covered 11.2


September 22, 2011 ‚Äď Heading North

Heading off around 9:30 a.m. this morning from the Sun and Moon Inn, Jeff and Sean were headed for their next destination, Bokeelia Island by way of marker 99 in Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park. Marker 99 is the northern most point of the Calusa Blueway Trail and is located in the southeast corner of Charlotte Harbor on the mainland. Just a note about the park itself, it is not simply one land mass but rather multiple land masses that encompasses some 42,000 acres in Lee and Charlotte Counties. Unfortunately with weather moving in the northern¬†leg of today’s¬†journey¬†was cut short when¬†a decision was made, somewhere between markers 96 and 97, to head directly for Bokeelia Island. If you are following the journey on Google Earth and have downloaded the plugin from the September 21st posting,¬†there is no actual sign post number¬†giving you the location of Bokeelia Island. Bokeelia Island is located at the¬†northern most tip of¬†Pine Island, which is at the south end of Charlotte Harbor.

Arriving around 5:00 p.m. all is well and they will be staying at the¬†Jug Creek Cottages for this evening. The next leg of the journey is to be to Cayo Casta; however, with the forecasted weather there is some discussion about making the trip tomorrow or whether a ‚Äúweather day‚ÄĚ would be in order. As of this blog no decision has been made. So at this point they are on schedule and where they should be. All of the boat repairs have been made and everyone is safe.

Trip details: Day 4: Sun and Moon Inn (83) in Matlacha to Jug Creek Cottages on Bokeelia Island. Miles covered 8+.

¬†September 23, 2011 ‚Äď Off to Cayo Costa

They left Jug Creek Cottages on Bokeelia Island and have traveled west to Cayo Costa State Park. During their trip they saw dolphins and a variety of other marine life. When they arrived on Cayo Costa they came ashore on the northeast corner of the island. The park service was gracious enough to provide ground transport for them to the Gulf side of the island. So for the next couple of days they will be enjoying the sun and fun of Cayo Costa.

Trip details: Day 5: Jug Creek Cottages to Cayo Costa State Park: Miles covered 10

¬†September 24, 2011 ‚Äď Day Off

Today was a planned day of rest with an extra day on Cayo Costa. This is their fifth day on the water and of promoting the Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) and the Great Calusa Blueway Trail to all they have met. Overall the response to those they have spoken has been excellent with many wanting additional information. In case you don’t know about CROW, they rely 100% on your charitable support. Their mission is to save wildlife through compassion, care and education. Donations and more information about CROW can be found at

It rained last night and much to their amazement they found that Jeff’s tent leaks around the skylight. However since there was no mention of how bad the leak was or if they were going to try and repair it, it’s probably not bad but rather an inconvenience. When I spoke with Sean he was quick to point out that his hammock and tarp combination were dry but he also had a concern for this accommodations. It appears a nest of bees has appeared relativity close to the entrance to his hammock, so he is being very careful when he enters and exits his hammock so as not to disturb his new neighbors.

During the day they have met some of the other tourists and campers on the island. One couple was kayaking around the island geocaching. ‚ÄúGeocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online.‚ÄĚ If you want to find out more on geocaching, click here. ¬†Another group of five individuals was celebrating one of their members birthday. Being tourist to the island and festive, they extended an offer to Jeff and Sean to partake of their hospitality and libations.

Jeff is teaching Sean how to play a game called Hive. Not quite sure if this is a board game or a card game. Check back on tomorrow’s blog for an answer and maybe how it’s played.

While not a long or particularity treacherous trip thus far, they are finding that day six away from family brings with it thoughts of missing kids and family members.

Tomorrow’s float plan is to break camp in the morning and head for the northern end of Sanibel.

Trip details: Day 6: Staying put.

September 25, 2011 ‚Äď Turning South and on to Sanibel Island

They are on the move again and heading south. A special thanks to the park service on Cayo Costa for transporting Team Sweetwater (Jeff and Sean) back to their boats on the east side of the island. Heading south their destination is Sanibel Island. Along the way they will also pass North Captiva Island and Captiva Island. A brief history of the islands states ‚Äú‚Ķ these barrier islands were dominated by the fierce Calusa Indians.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúThe [Spanish] conquistadors nearly wiped out the entire Calusa population in a series of battles and enslaved the remaining few in Cuban prison camps, where they eventually died.‚ÄĚ Jose Gaspar also used these islands¬†for the repairing of his ships.¬†It is¬†rumored that Jose¬†may have¬†buried his treasure on Sanibel Island.

Castaways Beach and Bay Cottages

They arrived on the north end of Sanibel Island earlier today without any on water incidents. The only comment Jeff made was that it was HOT!! Temperature, according the Weather Underground, was in the high 80’s day.

Dinner was at the Lazy Flamingo Restaurant again. They have managed to stop at two of the four locations. Can they find the other two? Only time will tell. As for lodging, they will be at the Castaways Beach and Bay Cottages this evening. The Castaways is located just a stone‚Äôs throw from Blind Pass Bridge.The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)¬†was established on the island in 1968 and is towards the other end of the island from the Castaways. ‚ÄúIt is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of sick, orphaned and injured wildlife. C.R.O.W. has a complete wildlife hospital at the middle of its 12.5 acre sanctuary. The clinic focuses on education in an effort to prevent injuries to animals caused by human interference. Guided presentations are given year around.‚ÄĚ

Facts and Figures: Today‚Äôs travel was 16.2 miles and it took them about 5 ¬ľ hours. This amounts to an average of 3.1 mph, which has been about the average thus far for the trip.Trip details: Day 7: Cayo Costa State Park to the Castaways on Sanibel Island: Miles covered 16.2

September 26, 2011 ‚Äď Visiting CROW and Hitting the Road

Welcome to CROW

Most of today was spent visiting at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW). As mentioned previously CROW is located on 12.5 acres on Sanibel Island, south of the Castaways Beach and Bay Cottages, on Sanibel-Captive Road. While there Jeff and Sean were given a tour of the facility and met some of the current patients, which included raccoons, turtles, and birds.


The clinic is fortunate to receive donations of fruit and vegetables from the local markets. While this helps to reduce the cost of feeding their patients, they still need tax deductable donations to purchase the mice and fish protein that is needed. Some of the new arrivals included several seagulls. According to the staff the birds fell out of their nest and were brought to the center in a McDonalds’ happy meal box.

So hitting the road, not paddling, they find themselves on San Carlos Island this evening. Transportation was courtesy of a fellow kayaker who was kind enough to drive them off the island and shuttle them to the San Carlos RV Park and Island Resort (marker 44).

Once at the RV park and island resort the next major decision of the day was food. Do they head next door for the all you can eat blue crabs at Maria’s Backwater Bar and Grill or venture to the Nuauti Turtle. Just for those of who are were wondering, Team Sweetwater will not be visiting all of the Lazy Flamingo locations, they skipped the one on the southern tip of Sanibel.

Just a great thanks to the San Carlos RV Park and Island Resort for rescuing Jeff and Sean from the downpour last evening by upgrading them to a SUPER RV. They really enjoyed watching television while sitting on nice comfy (dry) furniture.

They are back on the water tomorrow and headed for Koreshan State Park. Koreshan is located upstream from Estero Bay.

Trip details: Day 8: Sightseeing and shuttle ride

September 27-28 2011 ‚Äď Koreshan State Park

Mound Key

They arrive at Koreshan State Park early this afternoon. The plans for tomorrow include staying at Koreshan State Park for second night. This does not mean a day off the water, but rather a chance to go and visit Mound Key Archeological State Park. Mound Key is located near the mouth of Estero River and is believed to have been the capitol for the Calusa tribe.  More on Mound Key tomorrow.

If you are tracking Team Sweetwater’s trek on Google Earth you can look for markers 24, 25, and 25a. Can’t find the markers, download the plug-in here. Thursday will have them moving to Big Hickory State Park.

Trip details: Day 9: San Carlos Island RV Park and Island Resort (44) to Koreshan State Park. Miles: 11.1 Averaged 3.1 mph.

September 28, 2011 ‚Äď Day Off

Team Sweetwater (Jeff and Sean) spent most of Wednesday the 28th, exploring the sights, sounds of Koreshan State Park.

Trip details: Day 10: Explore Koreshan State Park.

September 29th, 2011 ‚Äď Onto Big Hickey Island and then Home

Today we find them back on the water and headed for Big Hickey Island with a planned detour to Mound Key Archeological State Park for some exploring.   The wildlife on and around the water was abundant with the sightings of manatees, dolphins, roseate spoon bills, night herons, and loons. Upon reaching Big Hickey Island they both commented on how new the campsite was as it was recently cleared and still contained piles of ashes from the clear cutting and burning.

Tomorrow will mark the end of the trip when they take out at Imperial River boat ramp. What to know more about the journey? Come to the Calusa Blueways Paddling Festival, November 3rd to the 6th off the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel. Check out the schedule of events and be part of the festivities.

Please don’t forget about Team Sweetwater’s sponsor of choice Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) and how desperately they need donations of either money or supplies. If you have the opportunity and have some spare time volunteer at the clinic.

Trip details: Day 11 Koreshan State Park to Big Hickey Island via Mound Key Archeological State Park. Miles: 8.44. Averaged 3.1 mph.

I love history, and I find comfort in nature.  That is why I backpack, camp, hike, kayak, and rock climb.  This blog is usually about kayaking.  And more and more people are asking and writing about kayaks from Greenland.

Most common misconceptions…

  • I thought all Greenland kayaks were the same.
  • Greenland style is the best type of kayak

I think these misconceptions come from romantic ideas about the history, use, or design of the qajaq.

The qajaq (kayak) in Greenland is a weapon, it’s main purpose was to safely assist the hunter in the easiest possible route to the largest amount of meat in the least amount of time.¬† Today, with the advent of motorized boats,¬†snowmobiles, and guns,¬† the new purpose of the qajaq is to make money off of tourists while keeping true to what it¬†means¬†to be a native Greenlander.

I have learned how to throw a traditional style harpoon from my kayak.  And doing so has helped me to better explore the mysteries of traditional hunting  (I will expand on this in a future post).  The kayak (and canoe) is a water craft that has been refined over generations to be a silent stalker of food.  And being in one does provide a paddler with an unparalleled intimacy with the water.  The boat and the paddle technology is very advanced and well thought out  (I will expand on the paddle in a future post).

All Greenland kayaks are not the same.

EAST: The East Greenland coastline is at times hemmed in by a lot of ice.  This makes the seas frequently calm.  To efficiently hunt on calm seas men made their boats with as low of a profile as possible.  The low deck profile (deck is almost level from bow to stern) has  strong sloped sides converging on a narrow almost flat bottom and has a minimal rocker.  These features combined makes it track well; there by, the design made it easier to closely approach and kill aquatic mammals. But this design does not excel in rough water.  The low bow allows a lot of water to come up on the deck and the straight keel along the bow gives it a tendency to spear into waves unlike the style of kayaks paddled on the west side of Greenland.  The features of the low deck and minimal rocker makes this design loved by modern paddlers who like to roll.  It is a style that makes it easy to explore the degrees of wetness and relax on the edge of the water.

Pictured above look at how close the deck (front and back) is to the water.  Below is a picture of me practicing a balance brace in an East Greenland style qajaq)

WEST: With the wind and¬†current on the west of ¬†Greenland, the coastline rarely experiences a calm day from Baffin Bay to Davis Strait. Consequently, speed and being safe in rough water was needed in the kayak to quickly harpoon dinner, and this is¬†evident¬†in the boat design. ¬†West Greenland qajaqs are¬†¬†characterized by a high front deck and flat low stern deck with up sweeping ends, hard chines, and a pronounced “v” bottom.¬† With the heavily rockered bow and stern this style of kayak will effortlessly aid the paddler to edge the bow into the wind.¬† This is an asset when it comes to stalking prey in rough water.¬† It puts the hunter down wind and makes him less visible to their prey.¬† For modern paddlers the heavily¬†rockered style and low volume makes it well suited design for playing in waves and carving in surf.¬† If there is too much rocker the design may not be efficient for modern paddlers needs during extended expeditions / trips .¬† This is dependent on the paddler’s weight and the amount of gear loaded in the kayak. Curiously, the hard chine¬† that helps to carve in waves¬† and into the wind also aids the paddler to effectively edge the¬† sea kayak, by shifting in their seat to the left or right, thereby experiencing¬† minor to no weathercocking problems.

Pictured above is a NDK Greenlander Pro.  Pictured below, Sean is sitting in a CLC Shearwater 17 West Greenland inspired style kayak

Then there is the additional variables to design.  Hunters always modify their kit according to what they perceive as what is innovative.  And that is why the picture below has so many variations of traditional qajaqs from Greenland to Alaska.

A Greenland kayak is simply a kayak made to fit the water conditions, to fit the body of the paddler, and satisfy the needs of the person in Greenland.

Greenland style is not necessarily the best type nor the only type of kayak

What? ¬†Yes you read it correctly… The best type of kayak is the one that fits the water, fits the body, and fits the purpose of why the paddler is on the water. ¬† ¬† ¬†– Jeff

PS.¬†¬† Check out the Crowhurst’s website CNC Kayaks on some plans and advice on building your own kayak.¬† Nick and Christopher are enthusiastic and passionate about Greenland design and philosophy.¬†¬†

Sunday was one of those days that most Florida residents would say “it is a bad day to go on the water”¬† because…

  • we had 15 knot winds out of the west
  • seas 2 to 4 feet, with a mild chop
  • water temperature 62’F
  • overcast with light rain
  • air temperature in the low 70’s but w/ wind felt like low 60’s
  • 9:18am low tide
  • 3:31pm high tide

…even Sean was not up to the idea of paddling Sunday.¬† But I wanted to play with that NDK Greenlander Pro.¬† I took Russell’s kayak out on the water to see if his modifications to the cockpit would hinder my comfort.¬† The factory did not install the foot pegs.¬† Instead of foot pegs the bulkhead was moved in closer and padded with thick water repellent foam.¬† The boat also has the NDK high performance seat.¬† Russell also removed a part of the back band support to make it easier to assemble the kayak (it is a two piece kayak).¬† So, to give me a little support I placed my first aid kit behind the seat and placed my sleeping pad on top of it.

I was on the water for about five hours sprinting and edging all over the inter-coastal waterway.  I have been feeling a little rusty with my edging and the days weather was a great way to erase my rust.  Also as of late, I have just focused on endurance.  Slow and steady is good but I wanted to develop and challenge my muscles by maintaining a higher than normal speed.

Russell had the bulkhead moved closer and with the added padding on the bulkhead made for a fun experience.  I could shifting my weight and position my foot anywhere and remain in contact with the boat.  My feet were very happy with the lack of foot pegs.  I did several 20 to 30 minute sprints in an attempt to maintain a speed of 5.5 too 6 miles per hour.  I found it easy to maintain that speed.  Moreover, there was no discomfort pressing into the foam with my feet.  Foot pegs sometimes cause discomfort on the ball of my foot during dynamic movements.  And my body felt great and flowed unrestricted with in the cockpit.

I knew that nearby was a kayak trail hidden in a cluster of mangroves.  So I took the opportunity to explore my ability of boat control.  Mangrove tunnels are the Florida equivalent to a slalom course.  Granted a paddler may end up with more than a two-second time penalty for touching a mangrove pole.  The trees could actually take your paddle, that is why some people use a canoe paddle within mangroves.  Beyond that, the hard chine of that NDK boat carved the water like it was soft butter.

The water was low and slow as I paddled in the mangroves.¬† I even took a moment to pose for a picture.¬† It was a challenge to tie my camera to a tree limb and paddled backwards before the camera’s timer went off.¬† But most notably it was very quiet.¬† No sounds from birds, insects, crabs, water, or even the wind.¬† This was unsettling in a way for in the inter coastal water way the wind howled and the water spat.

Inside the dense mangroves I did come across several birds.   I only got a picture of one.  And it was statue like.  I took a few pictures then paddled out into the wind.

From there I paddled to an island to stretch my legs and put on a shell.¬† The wind was 90′ to my port side. With a little edging I paddled this sea kayak with no weathercocking.¬† I did not even need the skeg.¬† For a West Greenland design the chine of the kayak makes it a rock solid expedition kayak.

I got to the island in record time.¬† But before I got out of the kayak I discovered a horseshoe.¬† I have seen several horseshoe crabs but never a horseshoe!¬† How it got there is anyone’s guess.¬† I thought it was a lucky omen for the Steelers.¬† But I guess the team played like they were soaking their heals in saltwater.¬† Rust. Rust. Rust.

Never the less, it was a great day to be on the water.  And the Steelers will shine next year РJeff

We are getting in shape for an interesting paddle and we are testing out some new pieces of kit.  The most dramatic change will be the type of kayaks we are using.   I have logged in many miles in a Necky Chatham 17.  And Sunday I paddled a NDK Greenlander Pro that has a keyhole cockpit and rear rope skeg.  There are several differences but the most obvious was the rocker.  The Chatham 17 is like an Eastern Greenland design; where as, the Greenlander Pro is modeled after a West Greenland design.

NDK Greenlander Pro with a Greenlander sticker

My float plan was to leave from Dunedin Marina with 30 pounds of gear and paddle north to Anclote Key then paddle back to the marina.¬† Sunday was a cold (37’F at sunrise) morning with 10-15 knots north-easterly winds, and seas 2 to 4 feet with mild chop.¬† I started just after sunrise.¬† It was low tide and I chose to paddled north into the wind and against the incoming tide.

The wind and water gave me the opportunity to play with the edging of this kayak.  Compared to the Chatham it was a very dry ride with no need to use the skeg.  In the Chatham with the same load, wind, and seas, I would have had a wet ride.  The Greenlander effortlessly glided up over the seas.  Looking at my GPS I was also surprised at my speed.  I maintained an average of 4.5 miles per hour with no change in my cadence.  That is a mile faster than my Chatham.

For those who are curious I used a Scottish made 215cm modified crank Lendal Paddle with Nordkapp blades.

With little effort I was getting great speed, but I was getting worn out.¬† I was overheating.¬† My current spray jacket is worn out and did not breath.¬† It is time to make the investment in a gor-tex jacket.¬† There are several types of touring shells and all of them are going to cost me money. But they will work better than the alternative.¬† It was 37′ F at sun rise and the temperature peaked at 52F.¬† But the wind made the feel like temperature hover in the low 40’s.¬† And with no cloud cover + physical activity I actually found myself sweating.¬† I took off my fleece, I took off my wool, I was left with just a thin wool t-shirt with the shell and I was still sweating.¬† This was the first time I had this type of gear failure.

If I was paddling with a partner I would have forgone the shell.¬† But because the water temperature was also in the low 50’s I did the next most practical thing.¬† I stopped at an island ate, rehydrated, and took a nap.¬† I only rested for 90 minutes because I figured that it would take three hours to get back to the marina.¬† And I wanted to get back around 6pm because the Pittsburgh Steelers were playing.

At 3pm the tide was still coming in.  The wind had not changed and the seas remained the same.  And the sun was not so intense.  It was time to play with the rope skeg.  With a wire skeg I know just how much is in contact with the water.  The rope required me to be more aware to the feel of the boat.  It took about 45 minutes to get the feel.  I could have easily paddled the kayak without the skeg, but I wanted to play. And I will say that I am now closer to being a rope lover.  I also traveled faster that I expected I averaged 5.5 miles per hour.

NDK Greenlander Pro with a Greenlander sticker

I got back to the beach and loaded this kayak in plenty of time to see the Steelers play.¬† It was a win win type of day.¬† I had a good time with the NDK Greenlander, and the Steelers won!¬† I am also replacing that spray jacket with a mango Kokatat¬†GORE-TEX¬ģ TecTOUR Anorak. ¬†The one I have just is no longer safe in the day’s direct sunlight. – Jeff

PS. There is only one thing I would change about the kayak.  I want it with a melon-yellow deck. РJ