Scott Keyes ~ November 2012

Posted at 1:39 am on 06/30/2014
​Scott Keyes

1) Where are you from?  Your profession (or former one, if retired)?  I was born in Connecticut and moved to southwest Florida--Naples--in the mid 1950's.  After graduating from the University of Florida, I joined the US Air Force.  Starting in 1976, I spent 40 years as a commercial airline pilot for several airlines.  In 2007, I hit the mandatory retirement age of 60 and have been goofing off ever since.

2) When did you become interested in paddling?  I have been very fortunate to always have access to water.  Early in Naples, during its pre-development era, my water sports were fishing and water skiing.  During the past 20 years, I've done a lot of kayaking in the local area and longer kayak camping trips.

3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  I enjoy the local Naples area.  We can kayak the Gulf for fishing and beaches.  We also do a lot of "tunnel tours."  The miles of mangrove tunnels offer great kayaking and wildlife viewing. 

4) What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip?  The most interesting/scary/funny experience would probably be one of our mangrove tours.  During the paddle a friend and I had an extended conversation about alligators and crocodiles.  There is a croc colony nearby and we have seen several gators in our saltwater bays.  With eight kayaks behind us, the water suddenly exploded around and over me.  My friends later suggested it looked like my kayak came out of the water.  As the water and mud rained down, I could only think I'm going to get my name in the newspaper.  After about a lifetime, two large manatees surfaced just ahead.  Then it was funny.

5) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  Paddle Florida staff have suggested 14 trips, but I have not yet visited all the locations.  I'm missing the St. Johns, which I hope to remedy later this month.  I'm planning to go on all five trips for the 2012-13 season and am looking forward to the new trip on the Withlacoochee River next February.  (Editor's note: Scott has more Paddle Florida miles under his lifejacket than any other paddler.  He should become a 1000-miler this season!)

6) What keeps you coming back?  Each trip is unique.  Even repeated trips are different.  For example, paddling the Suwannee River at low water allows you to ride some rapids and explore some beautiful springs.  Paddle that same river near flood stage, 25 feet higher and with a current of 5 knots, and you could literally be paddling through forests.

7) What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  All the trips have been terrific and easy to finish.  Paddle Florida staff will do all the heavy just have to paddle and enjoy.  As for my advice, show up with some camping gear, a boat, a paddle, and a big smile.  By the end of the trip, you will have had a great adventure, made new friends, and collected some great stories. 

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