Paddle Florida
(352) 377-8342

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.

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! 

Debra Akin ~ June 2014

(06/30/2014) ​Debra Akin1) Where are you from?  Your profession?  I was born and raised in south Florida, but have lived in the Gainesville area on and off since 1973.  I'm a researcher at UF's Medical School studying cancer cell biology and drug discovery.2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I started paddling as a teenager in North Carolina when I was visiting my brother, a raft guide, for the summer.  He gave me a purple Dancer so beat up it was lavender, a PFD and a helmet, five minutes worth of instruction, and let me go.  At the end of the run, I would pull my boat out of the river, hitch a ride with a raft bus back to the top and start over, every day, all summer long.  My mother would have killed him if she knew.3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  North Florida's Ichetucknee, Silver, and Santa Fe Rivers in the winter and Boundary Waters, MN in the summer.4) What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  I guide inner city Chicago youth on 9-day canoe trips in the Boundary Waters each summer.  They pick up paddling really fast.  The most interesting and amazing even I've seen on a trip--and I'm lucky because I get to see it happen each time--is the enjoyment and empowerment they get by becoming proficient at a new activity.5) Tell us about the beautiful wood kayaks you build.  I come from a long line of shipwrights--my father built wood cabin cruisers and open fishermen as a hobby when I was little.  We built my first kayak together, a CLC Shearwater 17, and I've been building ever since.  Right now I'm refinishing a strip-built canoe, putting a graphite/epoxy resin coating on a Chesapeake 18 hull, finishing a Duckling, and starting on a Night Heron stripper kayak.6) You're involved in the Florida Paddling Trails Association.  What is your role and what should paddlers know about FPTA?  I'm the Membership Coordinator and director of Region N.  I coordinate activities in Marion County and the Ocklawaha River basin. FPTA originally began as a support organization and steward for the Circumnavigational Trail.  Its mission has expanded to include developing water trails, protecting the environment, and being a resource for paddlers.  I strongly encourage paddlers to join FPTA.  The more voices we have, the stronger our organization.7) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  Two and a half so far: two Suwannee River Paddling Festivals and part of the fall Suwannee River Wilderness Trail trip.8) What keeps you coming back?  The paddling, the camaraderie, and the food.  I love sitting at different tables during meals and meeting new people who also love paddling.9) Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?  On the Withlacoochee North, I paddled up a tiny clogged stream to a beautiful spring.  So peaceful--I had it all to myself.10) What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  Bring a sense of adventure and try something new--most trips are amenable to new paddlers.

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