Paddle Facts

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Description of Paddle Levels

Level 1 - This is the easiest level paddle. Expect little wind and current. The distance will be 4 miles or less. This paddle is suitable for beginners with shorter (under 12 ft. long) kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks.

Level 2 - A little more difficult paddle of 6 miles or less. We might encounter light winds and current. The paddle may last up to 4 hours. In order to participate you must have demonstrated to a trip leader that you can successfully do a wet exit from your kayak.

Level 3 - This paddle will be 12 miles or less. We may experience moderate wind and current. This can be an open water paddle. Good boat handling skills are recommended, as well as a demonstrated ability to wet exit from your kayak. This paddle could last all day.

Level 4 - For this paddle sea kayaks 16.5 feet or longer are required. Towlines and other safety gear are required. Spray skirts are recommended. This level paddle will be an all day event. Open water and difficult currents and wind may be encountered.

Level 5 - Sea kayaks 16.5 feet or longer are required. Spray skirts and safety gear (tow lines, paddle floats, etc.) are required. You must have demonstrated rescue skills. Expect open water, strong currents and strong winds.

Please keep in mind that sudden changes in weather conditions can immediately raise the level of the easiest paddle. Always come prepared with food, plenty of water, and appropriate clothing, including a change of clothes. Always contact the trip leader to be sure that this paddle is appropriate for your paddling skill level.

Other Paddle Facts

Great information about our estuary, paddling, and nature.

Know the US Coast Guard Minimun Safety Regulations!

  • Kayaks have been popular watercraft in Florida for centuries. Our vast shallow waterways are ideal for these craft due to their ability to easily and quietly navigate the shallowest stretches of water. Those who use a canoe or kayak should be aware that the minimum safety requirements apply to them just like any other vessel.
  • A wearable life jacket for each person on board and some sort of efficient sound producing device (such as a plastic whistle) are required by both U.S. Coast Guard and state law. In addition, navigation between sunset and sunrise requires that a white light is available, and is to be displayed in sufficient time to avoid a collision.
  • The requirements for vessel registration will apply to any canoe or kayak that is propelled by mechanical means (electric or gas motors).
  • Know how to paddle or swim in tremendous currents and be an experienced swimmer. Never paddle alone.

Safety Equipment PFD/Spray Deck - The Coast Guard requires an approved personal flotation device (PFD) for each person in a boat. Spray skirts are another essential item. A spray skirt seals your cockpit, keeping water out, warmth in, and retaining the sea worthiness of a touring kayak. Recreational kayakers do not need spray skirts in most situations, but they are available.

Flotation - Maximum flotation at both ends of your kayak is a must. This could consist of large float bags, waterproof gear bags, truly watertight hatches and bulkheads, a waterproof cockpit sock, or better yet a combination of these.

Bailing Device - A means of removing water is a must. Your pump should be readily available and stored securely so it won't float (sink) away.

Towline - You can buy a ready-made towing system or make your own tow-line. Braided nylon line is strong and stretches to absorb shocks, but nylon tow-lines will sink, so they require an attached float.

First-Aid Kit - A first-aid kit adequate to your situation should be readily available from the cockpit.

Repair Kit - A roll of duct tape (stored in a dry, safe place in the kayak) can temporarily repair almost any damage to a kayak, paddle (with a splint), or even flotation and gear bags.

Spares of Critical Items - Bring extra paddles, charts, tide and current tables, timepieces, and compasses. Many of these spares could be shared among a group, but you would be wise to be the person who brings them.

Locating Devices - Equipment for signaling an emergency and your location should be kept handy, or, better yet, carried on your person. Locating devices have saved many kayakers. Consider flares (hand held and aerial), smoke canisters (day only), dye marker (day only), orange distress flag, foghorn, or air horn, whistle, signal mirror, and strobe light (night only). If you paddle at night the U.S. Coast Guard requires you to carry a white light. It must be visible for one mile and be shown in time to avoid a collision. They also require three flares or an emergency distress beacon that automatically flashes SOS for use on international waters. On inland waters, a high-intensity while light that flashes fifty to seventy times per minute can replace the SOS signal light.

Radio - Weather radios, which receive VHF weather channels, are inexpensive an very useful. Tour guides and group leaders might consider a hand-held VHF marine band radio; these allow you to contact potential resuers on the emergency channel (Channel 16) and then give a description of your situation. Be sure to keep it in a waterproof storage device. (from the book: Sea-Kayaker, Deep Trouble, True Stories and Their Lessons from Sea Kayaker Magazine, ed. Christopher Cunningham)

Lagoon Dolphin - There are 400 - 600 dolphin that live in our lagoon year round. Our lagoon dolphin do not go into the ocean, and ocean dolphin do not venture into the lagoon. Although they are seldom seen, there are bull sharks in the lagoon. Female shark lay live pups in the lagoon and then leave them to grow to about 250 pounds before these offspring leave for ocean waters.

Pelican Island - In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt signed an Executive Order proclaiming the tiny 5.5 acre Pelican Island as America's first National Wildlife Refuge. During the past 100 years the island has decreased to half its original size, but the Refuge has grown by almost 1,000 times to over 5,300 acres. Lucky for us paddlers, most of it is water. Check out the pelicans and 90 other species of birds at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.

About That Kayak - The first kayak was built by the Inuit tribe of the Arctic, otherwise know as Eskimos, thousands of years ago. The original kayak was made with caribou or sealskins over a wooden or sometimes whalebone frame. They were primarily used for fishing and hunting. The Eskimos had a version of the kayak used mostly by women called an umiak that was referred to as "the woman's boat." It was covered with caribou and sealskin like the kayak but, unlike the kayak, it was an open boat with a round or elongated shape. Kayaking was introduced as a competitive sport during the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin, Germany. (from: Daytona Beach News Journal, Tom Rabeno, June 7, 2004)