It can be cold up north this time of year, maybe frozen. It’s a good time of year to think about warm water paddling, getting a little Vitamin D from sunshine, and relaxing! And it’s a time of year when you can get inexpensive flights to Florida.
|Spring-fed rivers have 72 degree crystal clear water|
Florida is a big state well served by international airports, so if you’re thinking of flying there, check out the paddling possibilities close to the airports. For the warmest water and warmest weather, the Gulf Coast and the south tends to be warmer than the Atlantic Coast and the north. There’s a reason why the mangroves are in the south. They don’t like frost.
|On Florida Gulf Coast you often see dolphins|
Winter is a good time for seeing manatees when the Ocean and the Gulf are cooler than the warm spring fed rivers and close to power plants with their warm water outflows. Manatees like to hang out in the 72-degree-year-round temperatures of the springs, and there the water is clear enough to see every detail looking down from a kayak. But they'll often approach you, even when the water is less clear.
|Manatees hang around kayaks and love the warm water|
It is easy to rent kayaks to tour these rivers. Some companies offer guided tours, others launch you at the top so you drift and explore on your own to a pick-up downstream.
If you have seen enough of manatees, then there are the birds, and of course on some rivers you might be lucky and spot alligators.
|Sandhill cranes find a place to nest by a river|
The open coast may require more paddling than a downstream drift, but white shell-sand islands, mangrove tunnels' ancient native shell mounds, Civil War era fortifications and dolphins make the effort worthwhile.
|The freedom of a sandy beach on an offshore island|
The last weekend of February every year is the Florida Gulf CoastSea Kayak Symposium, (canoes too!) offering trips and instruction, lectures and social events in the Tampa Bay area. That’s a really good event for getting to know the paddling environment, meeting up with like-minded paddlers and picking up some extra skills in the warm water from a host of good coaches from all over the world.
|New guide book "Paddling Southern Florida" offers great trip plans|
And you can plan your trips from the comfort of your home. Anticipate the fun. Thumb through a copy of Nigel Foster's new Paddling Southern Florida Guide Book from Falcon Guides for ideas. You can buy a signed copy at store.nigelkayaks.com. (Select "signed copy" option) You'll find...
|Order a signed copy from store.nigelkayaks.com|
each of the 50 and more trips described is shown with maps, directions to the launch, step-by step route directions, places to eat and places to stay, as well as a wealth of information about the creatures you’ll see, the environment and enticing tidbits. All in color!
|Ready for a leisurely downstream river drift?|
Tempted? See you there last weekend in February at the Florida Gulf Coast Symposium?