Back at it

I’m getting back into canoeing and kayaking with the family. It’s been over a decade since I kayaked and just started canoeing again about a month ago.

I’m open to any advice.

I have a Garmin instinct (GPS watch) I use for tracking hikes I’m planning on using to track my waterborne adventures. Id appreciate Tips or tricks for plotting and tracking if anyone does this.

I bought a submersible “snorkeling” camera to document our trips so tips for good photos on the water will be appreciated.

I would love to hear anything you wish you knew when you started. I used to kayak a lot including the long island sound and some swift rivers. But I probably forgot more than I currently know.

I live just north of Jacksonville FL so I’ve got plenty of small lakes and slow moving rivers nearby to hone my skills on.

Thanks for having me

Welcome back! Wear your PFD and teach your family to also. Lots of great paddling within 1.5 hrs of Jax. You have lots of clear springs, slow flow rivers, and coastal kayaking (watch for tides/currents). Also great kayak fishing too. Have fun! Wish I still lived there.

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Thank you

I would take lessons. It took me too long to do this, and once I did it really increased my enjoyment of kayaking.

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I didn’t even know kayaking lessons were a thing outside of boyscouts.

I didn’t either until I took them. Then a whole world of more fun stuff to do opened out for me. My spouse thought it was nuts to take a lesson when we “knew” how to paddle. But being a good sport he came along. Biggest smile ever on his face the whole time. “You were right, Honey,” later uttered. Now all he wants to do is practice edging and bracing and various rescue methods. (Note: I’m talking sea kayaking in boats with 2 sealed bulkheads of at least 14 feet long.)

You are relatively close to some great paddling in SC, if you like swamps and black water rivers.
Look up ACE Basin and the Edisto River.
You can paddle a lifetime within 50 miles of where you are.

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@Doggy_Paddler I’ll look into it. See what’s offered locally

@string we canoed today at a local lake my son (5) was way more comfortable today than last week. Tomorrow kayak in the pool and hopefully this summer he’ll be comfortable enough on his kayak (pelican solo) that I won’t be worried traveling with him will be wasting gas.

I wasn’t paddling when my son was that age but I took our oldest grandson canoeing at that age. He sat in the bow seat backwards and paddled towards me. Now he has his own sea kayak, and job, and girlfriend. And is in college. Don’t see him often, so enjoy it while you can.

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Second the lessons from above. When you have been away from something, anything, it is normal to start out with imperfect habits. As you go back with older joints, those imperfect habits can make what should be a good experience into a far less pleasant one.

go out and have fun! Buy a comfortable pfd and do dress for the water temps so you can go year around. You mentioned tracking or plotting- I figure distance (usually via map or guidebook but sometimes gps) and at least write down the name of river or area that I went to- as I got older I started forgetting so I started writing them down on a calendar with mileage.

The great thing about paddle sports is you get to make your own goals. my own goals change a bit from year to year- usually there is a mileage goal, paddling in some “new” states or areas, and become more proficient at some skill like rolling for example,

If you decide to run rivers having a group a friends is helpful for setting shuttles- one of the things I enjoy most about paddling is all the great friends I have made. Lessons are great but often folks are drawn to paddling because they see it as something they can enjoy figuring out themselves. So ultimately it as all about what you want and your mindset. Different skills are required for different environments- but that keeps it interesting. Now just get Back At It!

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Since you said canoe I suggest you look into this group.
You can search the trips past and present and tell where to paddle. These paddlers maintain a rather relaxed pace. They have a facility in the Ortega Farms area of Jacksonville. There are some real paddlers there…and some that like the social aspects better. But the trips are real.

Kayaking is done with the Seminole Canoe and Kayak club but kayaking is the main purpose of this club hence it is named, Florida Sea Kayak Association. They largely are 14 ft and longer and maintain a 3 to 3.5 average for a trip. You might want to use the trip lists for locations and suggestions. We focus on safety at least once a year with some self rescues sessions.

You might want to take lessons for you or the family. It is a lot easier to train in controlled atmosphere than when the wind is blowing, the boats are waking by, the waves are breaking and it is raining.

The camera … I keep mine on a lanyard in a pocket on my pfd. That way I can pull it out quickly. Or drop it to paddle or handle some thing and it doesn’t sink away. Waterproof does not always float or float near by.

The gps watch will keep track fine. Exceptt they often track by how much time per mile instead of MPH. Which can be interesting when you want to figure out how long it will take to get to the end of the paddle. I use a Garmin 78c . One of the FSKA guys can tell you how to get pretty maps out of it.

We often use Google Maps to plan trips, locate boat ramps, and measure distances. Use it wisely and look at the map and at the sattiletie (sp?) (photo)

October through April are the best months for paddling in NE Florida. I know it is backwards. But summer is just too hot. Think early in summer. You want to be on the water by 0830 and off by noon. The jet skis, ski boats and boat riders will be out at 10am. Stay away from Fort George Island sand bar noon to five. Especially after 3pm. Too much traffic and impatience.

Look at the Four Creeks area. See FSKA trips for Four Creeks.

Kayak Amelia at Big Talbot island…aka Long Island… is a good facility and outfitter. YOu can , allowing for tides, kayak/canoe either out to the marsh or out to the Nassau sound. They have rentals. They have launch fees, was $1. They also have good information. They used to arrange for lessons.

Do not under estimate paddles to Cumberland island. It can be difficult. Tides are aggressive. Weather changes. It is not for beginners. One of our Cumberland island paddles last year included a water spout.

Look into St Mary’s river Scotts landing at Hwy 1 up about five miles or so and return. Mild current and pictures. There is a park for turning around 5 or 6 miles up.

You might find some information here…

Okefenokee… get the family a little experienced before going up there. Sometimes you don’t see a single gator. Some times you don’t see a single gator…cause they come in groups of five. Stephen Foster State Park, at Fargo, is the western gate to the swamp. Several good trails there. Don’t take dogs. The “canal” at Folkston is the main eastern entrance. Nice trails. Canoe rentals both places. Has a museum like display. Both places have entrance fees…and ice cream.

Mayport…tides can be moving 8 mph there. Don’t take the family there.


Glad to read FSKA is active again. I was a member in the mid 90s when I lived at the Beaches.

Cumberland island is on my to do list. Training, practice and a better suited kayak are both coming first. Launching from St Mary’s (I worked on king’s Bay submarine base) doesn’t seem unreasonable if I work the tides. Head out slack, hang out and come back with it. Cumberland island is beautiful and the only reason I don’t go more often is the ferry ride cost about $100 for my family of three. I hike it once a year solo

Raisins is the Cumberland expert.

The club often launch from Crooked Island SP. …or Ferndina.