Paddling and protecting Florida's waterways.

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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:

Contacts:
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.

Whitney Sanford ~ December 2014

(11/26/2014) Where are you from?  Your profession?  I was born in Savannah, Georgia, and I now live in Gainesville, Florida. I'm faculty in the Religion Department at the University of Florida, in the area of religion and nature. When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I first became interested in paddling when I was a camp counselor in North Carolina, but I didn't really start until I was in Iowa. My friends were into whitewater paddling, and I got hooked. Today, I especially love coastal kayaking because it blends the thrill of whitewater with the fun of multi-day camping trips.   Tell us about your kayak teaching experience.  I helped the outdoor rec program at Iowa State University when I was on the faculty there, and then I taught at Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) during my first (I hope of many) midlife crises. I loved teaching there, but when I moved to Florida, I switched to coastal and sea kayaking. My husband Kevin and I have been training under both ACA and BCU systems for kayak instruction, rescue, and leadership. It's fun to watch people gain confidence on lumpy water.   Kayaks or SUPs…what’s your favorite and why?  Tough question because they offer different things. I love the view from my paddleboard, especially on the springs. Great views of the manatees. I recently bought a SUP just for surf, and I'm having a blast in the waves. Surfing and paddling in my kayak is also wonderful, and Kevin and I have camped out of our boats in the Keys, the Bahamas, and Chile. The kayak offers more possibilities for expeditions, although I'm hoping to do a self-supported camping trip on the SUP this winter. Where is your favorite place to paddle?  Another tough question, but I'd have to say Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia. We can surf in the Triangle, then go up the back river and see dolphins and rays. There's great camping on Little Tybee as well.   What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  A much easier question ... Kevin and I got engaged on Christmas Eve when we were paddling off the coast of Chile. We were in a remote area and had been picking mussels for our dinner. I can't imagine a more romantic time or place.   How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  I've only done the Keys Challenge so far. Kevin and I helped Bill scout this trip, so I've gotten to know the Keys pretty well. [Whitney is also signed up for this December’s Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble.] What keeps you coming back?  Of course, I enjoy the paddling and the beautiful places, but I really love meeting other paddlers. It's always fun to hear about other peoples' lives and their paddling stories. I have great memories of sitting around the campfire at night, just shooting the breeze.   Can you describe a particular Paddle Florida trip highlight?  One year the Seven Mile Bridge crossing in the Keys had some waves, and some paddlers weren't confident of their skills. I spoke to them about technique. As they did the crossing, I watched them transform from tentative to confident paddlers, even surfing the small waves. That made the teacher in me very happy. Many of the Paddle Florida paddlers are highly skilled, so these trips are a good time to test your limits and try new things. What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  Just do it. It's a great way to paddle in different parts of Florida and to meet other paddlers.

Al Ogden ~ November 2014

(10/31/2014) Where are you from?  Your profession?   I spent most of my young life traveling between my many brothers and sisters homes with my mother. Hot Springs, South Dakota is where I spent high school.  I joined the Army and continued moving around. I have lived in Gainesville since 1982. I am a staff engineer with the Nano-Scale Research Facility at the University of Florida. When and how did you become interested in paddling?  About five years ago, I got into a try “something different mood” and kayaking met so many other needs as well, as a photography and fishing platform. Where is your favorite place to paddle?   Lakes or rivers with wildlife and good fishing. I suppose that my favorite is the Ocklawaha River between the Silver River and Eureka.   What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  That’s tough, since it’s always interesting.  But if I had to choose one, it would be finding out that my boat floats and maneuvers even when completely filled with water.   How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  Six with Paddle Florida, but hundreds of day trips on the lakes, rivers, and inland waterways of Florida and South Georgia. What keeps you coming back?   It is good exercise for the mind, body, and soul. I can think of no better way chill the stresses of life.   Can you describe a particular Paddle Florida trip highlight?   I have never met a more wonderful group of people than I meet on these trips. They are from all over and many walks of life and I can honestly say that there has not been a one that I have not liked.  Even the weird ones.  ;)   What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  Don’t be intimidated.  The support is the best and there is always someone who will help if needed. If you have bitten off more than you can chew, then take a break and assist the support crew for a day and then jump back into the fray. These are not just paddling trips.  They are an adventure in discovery, limits and potential, friendship and camaraderie, nature and the human condition. On these trips you will meet friends that will become lifelong and there is nothing better than that.

Scott & Erin Smith ~ October 2014

(09/30/2014) Wh      Where are you from?  Your professions? Erin and I currently reside in Palatka. She works as a construction law attorney in St. Augustine and handles cases throughout Florida. I run my own business as a professional photographer and serve a variety of clients such as magazines, advertising agencies, and designers regionally as well as internationally. When and how did you become interested in paddling? I grew up on a sailboat, so I have been on the water since I can remember. I have always enjoyed the freedoms that exploring on my own craft offered. When I was about 15, I was invited to race kayaks in the St. Augustine Maritime Festival.  While I had rowed many a rowboat, I had never kayaked.  I grabbed a loaner kayak and raced; I was hooked!  A few years later I convinced a friend that we should build our own wood kayaks. Erin grew up in Fort Pierce and enjoyed paddling canoes and exploring the various spoil islands along the Intercostal Waterway with friends as a teenager. When I met Erin our mutual love of water and exploring combined and we started enjoying adventures, kayaking together as much as we could.  For Christmas in 2012, I found a 17-foot touring kayak on Craigslist that needed a lot of TLC.  Once Erin had her own kayak, we started spending every weekend exploring the waterways of Florida. Where is your favorite place to paddle? Erin and I both absolutely adore the crystal clear waters of the many amazing freshwater springs that Florida offers. I can't say I have a favorite spring because they are all so special and unique. I love that we as Floridians have such magical places! I should also mention that we talk about our kayak expedition in the Discovery Islands of British Columbia all the time. Taking a week and kayaking in pristine nature was a life altering experience! What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? I'd have to say getting married to the love of my life and my best friend Erin while in our kayaks!  Tell us more about this unique, paddling-themed wedding. When Erin and I first visited Crystal River and experienced the magic of swimming with the manatees in Three Sisters Springs, we knew it was a very special place…so special in fact that a few months later we nixed our backyard wedding plans and decided to get married in our kayaks amongst the manatees! Three Sisters Springs are only accessible by kayak, canoe, or swimming because of the narrow channel and forested surroundings. The water is as clear as any pool; with a sandy white bottom, the water almost seems to glow. In the winter the entire place fills with manatees seeking the 72-degree spring water. At first light of dawn on December 22, 2013, our guests were swimming in the water with the manatees while Erin and I exchanged vows "high and dry" in our kayaks.  It was truly special to see Erin looking beautiful as ever in her wedding dress paddling toward me in the homemade kayak my friend and I built together.  After our exchange of vows, we paddled to The Plantation on Crystal River for a wonderful brunch and quality time with our friends on dry land.  It was perfect!What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? I'd have to say getting married to the love of my life and my best friend Erin while in our kayaks!Tell us about the adventures of Elvis the Paddling Wonder Dog. Elvis is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi... a little dog with a big attitude!  Elvis is more of a navigator than a paddler.  He loves sitting in the back hatch of Erin's kayak and taking a nap or enjoying the passing sights. He is amazingly calm in the boat and really gets excited when he sees us pulling out the boats and paddles. In May we rescued another Pembroke Welsh Corgi from a no-kill shelter in St. Augustine, a senior (12) female named Snuggles. Snuggles has also taken to the kayak, but she prefers to stay in Erin's lap or hang out in the cockpit between Erin's legs.  Maybe corgis are natural kayakers? How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?We came to The Suwannee River Paddling Festival unsure of what to expect from a Paddle Florida trip, but we had a blast and made some great friends.  While at this point that is the only "official" trip we have done, we have joined some of the fantastic folks we met at the paddle festival for adventures in a variety of areas.  We are really excited to do the Florida Keys Challenge this coming January!Can you describe a particular trip highlight? One the best things about Paddle Florida are the people you meet while on the trips.  One of our biggest highlights was meeting Dr. Bob Knight and learning about the Florida Springs Institute and the incredible work that they are doing to protect the Floridan aquifer. What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? I find myself telling folks all the time how great the experience of joining a Paddle Florida trip was. It’s worthwhile not only because of the trip, but because of the amazing people you will meet and share adventures with. I love that on just one trip we met a whole network of interesting, passionate paddlers that are "doers.”  So I say don't hesitate…go!

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