Paddle Florida
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Paddling and protecting Florida's waterways.

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Paddle Florida, ,



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Paddle Florida . . . and go with the flow.
Paddle Florida, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation organized to support canoeing and kayaking in Florida. Events in each of Florida's five water management districts expose paddlers to Florida's natural beauty and rich cultural heritage while promoting water conservation, wildlife preservation, springs restoration and waterways protection. Paddle Florida also seeks to promote Florida as an international destination for nature-based tourism. Trips feature Florida's most scenic rivers, canoe trails and coastal environments, including the Florida Keys and the Suwannee, Wekiva, St. Johns, Ochlockonee, Peace, Withlacoochee and Rainbow Rivers.

Paddle Florida staff members scout trips in advance to ensure waterway conditions and shoreline camping sites maximize comfort and showcase nature's best view. Meal plans and gear shuttling eliminate the need to weigh boats down with food and camping equipment. Florida-based entertainment or educational programming is provided each evening by artists, musicians and naturalists local to the region. Partnerships with local outfitters provide paddlers with canoes, kayaks and other gear to rent as needed. With this level of support, paddlers of all ages and skill levels can see and experience the REAL Florida.

Archived Happy Paddler Newsletters:

Paddle Florida, Inc. a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation
P.O. Box 5953, Gainesville, FL 32627
1710 SW 35th Place, Unit C
Gainesville, FL 32608

Board of Directors:
Nickie Kortus, President
Jill Lingard, Vice President
Robert Hutchinson, Secretary
Sharon (Ruby) Bienert, Treasurer
Debra Akin, Board Member
Lars Andersen, Board Member

Tax Return and 990 Documents

Refund Policy
Due to the financial outlay and costs incurred by Paddle Florida during event planning, any force majeure, which includes but is not limited to water levels, inclement weather and any other Acts of God not mentioned herein, shall not result in the refund of any fees paid to Paddle Florida. Absolutely no fees will be refunded after 15 days before the event begins. Any fees refunded by Paddle Florida will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

George Wilson ~ September 2014

(08/30/2014) 1)    Where are you from?  Your profession?   I grew up on Cape Cod, MA, but my wife, Renee, and I have lived on Marco Island for the last 30 years.  We retired to Gainesville a few years ago.  Renee is from Keystone Heights; we met at UF in 1969 and were married in the courthouse after graduation in 1971. Lots of great memories. I am a third generation carpenter by trade, general contractor by profession. 2)     When and how did you become interested in paddling?  My hometown was a maze of creeks, rivers, tidal rivers, cranberry bogs, mill ponds, bays, and beaches. I could walk out of my house and be on the water in a few minutes, or ride a bike to a beach in less than five. I've spent most of my life on the water--swimming, canning, surfing, snorkeling, sailing--but never really liked motor craft.  With our friends on Marco--Bill and Jo Hammond, Paul and Jory Westberry, Scott and Beth Keyes--Renee and I found that kayaks were probably the most fun way to be on the water in the Marco Island area. 3)     Where is your favorite place to paddle?  It's hard to name a favorite. I really liked the first two days on [Paddle Florida’s] Wekiva trip.  But we have a short paddle on Marco that leaves at sunset on the night of a full moon. We can ride an outgoing tide about thirty minutes to an island just north, land on the beach, watch the sun set into the gulf, start a fire, drink for about four hours, watch the moon rise, and then ride the incoming tide back to the launch site at around midnight under the full moon. It's pretty hard to beat that trip. 4)     What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  It was on a rafting trip on the Little Salmon River in Idaho. There were 12 people in two rafts. The guide in our raft had oars; Renee and I had paddles. While going through some rather steep rapids, the raft in front of us went straight up, out of the water, and threw everyone on board into the rapids.  The ensuing scenario was pretty exciting. 5)     How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  I’ve gone on the Peace River twice, the Keys trip, the Wekiva, and the Ochlockonee. 6)     What keeps you coming back?  I would have to say [director] Bill Richards. As you must know, it is rare to find such an inspirational leader. A true Renaissance man. A curmudgeon of the first order. 7)     Can you describe a particular trip ‘highlight’?  The first day of the Wekiva trip, when we were able to paddle up at the narrow but very clear stream flowing from the spring, was one of my favorite moments.  Paddling in any area that seems unspoiled, like the mangrove waterways around Marco or near a crystal clear spring, always makes me reflect on what the first explorers must have felt on seeing such natural wonders. 8)     What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  Make sure your tent is watertight, that your gear works, and that you are visible from outer space. Any time you go out on the water, it can be a survival experience.    

Kim Heiss ~ August 2014

(07/21/2014) 1) Where are you from?  Your profession? I grew up in Pennsylvania, but I have lived in Gainesville, Florida since 1998.  My graduate degree is from University of Florida in Landscape Architecture.   I'm a landscape designer at Cottage Gardens, Inc.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  My family used to camp in Maine in the summer and we had a canoe—that was my introduction to paddling.  Soon after I came to Gainesville, a friend of mine took me on one of Lars Andersen's Adventure Outpost trips and I've been hooked ever since.  I think it was on the Ichetucknee.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I love to paddle from Shell Mound, near Cedar Key on Florida’s west coast, out to Derrick Key.  I've had great times paddling around the Indian River Lagoon near Vero Beach.  Of course I love to paddle ALL the springs - Rock Springs Run, Ichetucknee, Juniper Springs.  I also love the high, eroded limestone banks along the Suwannee River.4) What’s the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to you on a paddling trip?   Every time I hear and see dolphins I'm thrilled.5) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  I've been on the Wekiva/St. John's River Ramble and the Suwannee River Paddling Festival.   Both were terrific! 6) What  keeps you coming back?  The live music at the end of the day, meeting other paddling enthusiasts, camping and being in nature, and not having to cook.   7) Can you describe a particular Paddle Florida trip highlight?   Seeing two young black bears at dusk on a secluded dock while paddling on the Wekiva River. 8) What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  Paddle Florida trips are both physically challenging and fun, you'll meet lots of interesting people, see lots of beautiful natural places, and have great food and music at the end of the day.  They even had a massage therapist at the end of the Suwannee River Paddling Festival!

Joe Devito ~ July 2014

(07/01/2014) 1)  Where are you from?  Your profession? (or former one, if retired)  I was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey.  I went on active duty with USA in 1968, retiring from the Pentagon in 1992 as an Aviation officer.  I now live in St. Cloud, Florida. 2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I moved to Florida full-time in 2000 to goof and golf.  Being an outdoor enthusiast, I enjoy fishing, diving, hiking, biking, and got into kayaking to explore all the lakes and waterways here in the Orlando area.  I started off with a small 9-foot kayak locally and then took it on my first trip with Paddle Florida on the Suwanee. Bill Richards looked at it and thought maybe I was a little nuts to try doing 123 miles in it, but I made it and he gave me a kayak calendar for my good effort. 3)  Where is your favorite place to paddle?  Hard to pick just one.  I have been on most of the Paddle Florida trips, some more than once, and enjoy them equally as they are always fun with great people, exciting scenery, and unexpected happenings, especially with Marcia and Mim along. Certainly the Keys trips are the most challenging.  I also enjoy kayaking the local lakes and waterways here in central Florida. 4)  What’s the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  Flipping on the Keys trip (Flagler Centennial) and having Scott Keys and the Coast Guard Reserve come to my rescue. Also the feeling you get when you see most of your kayaking buddies waiting for you on the nearby shore to make sure you’re okay. 5) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  11 total.  Suwanee-4; Dam-to-the-Bay-2; Keys-2; Peace-1; Withlacoochee-1; and the Wekiva-St Johns-1. 6) What keeps you coming back?  Bill, Mim, Marcia, Scott, Paul, Travis, and a host of others who make each trip special. 7) Can you describe a particular Paddle Florida trip highlight?  On one of the Dam-to-Bay trips we had a great bonfire on the last evening, good story telling, plenty of laughs, and several bushels of local oysters that were really, really good.  A night to remember. 8)  What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  Do it! 

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