Brian Wyllie ~ May 2018

Posted at 6:26 pm on 04/26/2018

Where are you from? Your profession?  I am originally from Riverton, New Jersey, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.  I was a general contractor in Brigantine (one island north of Atlantic City) as well as the owner of Brigantine Sailboards, until my wife and I moved to Florida in 1990. I currently live in Fort Myers. My wife died 10 years ago.


When and how did you become interested in paddling?  I grew up racing sailboats on the Delaware from about age 8 on. My friend had a lake in his backyard and I learned to paddle a canoe at the age of 5. We spent a lot of time chasing turtles and fish in canoes and got very good at paddling.

The town that I grew up in had a world famous boat building company that built wooden racing sailboats (Lippincott Boatworks). My brother and I built our first boat at age 10. I have been building boats ever since. After moving to Florida, I helped a friend build a Chesapeake Light Craft kayak and decided to build one for myself. My wife wanted one also and to date I think I’ve built eight kayaks.


Where is your favorite place to paddle? We usually paddle in the mangroves of the Calusa Blueway and the small rivers in the area. Also down in the 10,000 Islands area. I think that my favorite river is the short Silver River at Silver Springs. It is beautiful, clear, and has monkeys!


What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  I enjoy being lifted out of the water by manatees as they surface for air.  I have had it happen often.  The most recent incident was on the Loxahatchee over near Johnathan Dickinson State Park on the east coast.


Which Paddle Florida trips have you taken?   I have been on this year’s Choctawhatchee Challenge and last year's Dam to the Bay trip on the Ochlocknee River.


Can you describe a Paddle Florida trip highlight?  I prefer the narrower rivers, so my highlight would be seeing the environment along the Ochlocknee River.


What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  Based on our recent Choctawhatchee trip, my advice is to start with one of the easier trips to see if you have the skills to handle more challenging waterways. Paddling on lakes or without current is not the same as a 5-knot current with hairpin river bends!  

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