I grew up in FL. My dad had power boats as long as I can remember. Lived 1 mile from the Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf Stream just a mile off shore. Had Coconut trees in our yard. Fished for blues, kings, sailfish, etc. in the Gulf Stream with my Dad. Also fished for bass and bream in fresh water canals, and Lake Okeechobee. Learned to swim and water ski when very young. As a kid we swam so much my Mom would check to see if we grew gills!
When I was 13 we moved to Tampa Bay area and lived on a lake. Canoed in Boy Scouts and rentals at various spring runs. I had a small Laser like sailboat I sailed on the lake, and an aluminum john boat we rowed and sometimes used a small 5 hp outboard. Dads fishing boat we skied behind on the lake and fished Tampa Bay. Would visit friends back on the east coast and do a bit of surfing with them once I could drive.
The family moved to SC right out of high school and went to college at USC. The boats were sold before the move. Studying, dating, backpacking, and hunting were my then major passions at that time. Family moved back to FL and I stayed at college. Met my wife and married my senior year. Ended up in FL again working for the fish and wildlife commission in fisheries. Worked from power boats much of the time. Bought a fiberglass Mohawk Blazer 16 in Longwood where they were located at that time. It now stays at our 3 acre pond in the woods in SC. I also would go to the east coast and free dive collecting marine tropical fish I sold to retailers.
Went to grad school in fisheries at UF next. Did my masters on Orange Lake. Ended up working for UF for several years after grad school in Welaka. Often on boats to gather various samples, and collect water data. Did lots of canoeing in the tandem on various spring runs, and the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers. Even played in the surf with it learned very quickly not to be between the canoe and shore after a capsize. I also did some WW trips on the Chattooga using rental canoes with Carol’s brother and his friends in SC.
Moved back to SC to the wife’s hometown started a beekeeping operation. A good friend gave me his Folboat Super a tandem kayak with a sail he no longer used once I move away from FL. Did some canoeing, and kayaking, but backpacking, archery and bowhunting were my major recreational activity at this time. Archery consumed me for many years, and I practiced almost daily.
Fast forward to 2009 we still live in SC. the kids were grown and living away from home. I acquired an inexpensive 10’ rec kayak after my son bought one. That summer paddled a couple of rivers, and took it to the coast and surfed with it though it wasn’t really made for that. Found paddel.net and started looking there and craigslist for a used sea kayak. Bought a used 17’ 4" fiberglass North Shore Buccaneer with a paddle for $650 that fall The next fall saw I saw a Shearwater Merganser 17 kit someone had bought but never built for $400. I bought and built it. Now I had two sea kayaks. I paddled lakes , and surfed, paddled and camped at the coast with them. As age was catching up with me I bought a used Mad River Kevlar Explorer 16 for $500 on Craigslist that Carol and I took to the everglades to paddle that winter.
Decided I needed a solo canoe and bought a Curtis Kevlar Vagabond, and for tripping a Curtis Kevlar Solo Tripper. Both were used on craigslist. Had $1500 invested in the 2 boats. Later sold the Vagabond for $900. Bought a used Winonah Tuffweaver Advantage which I later sold to String. Picked up a used Mad River Royalex Guide for $220 that I fixed up for WW. Did the Nantahala, Tuck and Green rivers with it in NC with yatipope a couple of times before he and his wife retired and sold their house and bought a big RV to travel and paddle the country. WE stay in touch, and I got to paddle with him this last fall when they were back in SC. We also bought a Paddleyak South African made tandem surfski style adventure racing kayak so Carol and I can do some kayak camping together. She likes it when we paddle tandem together.
Got the sailing bug to bite me while paddling and visiting in Maine and bought a Potter 19 (has a cabin with sink, stove, 4 bunks, and potty) when we came back home. I have since bought a Wayfarer 16 sailboat. Joined a sailing club last year. Hope to make it to the FL Keys or Thousand Islands this winter to do some sailing.
I am glad that the Pandamnit is winding down, and have started paddling again this year with other paddling friends.
A couple of links to paddling post I recently posted here this spring. You may have already seen them.
Lake Russel, spring kayak camping in SC and GA - Paddlers’ Place - Paddling.com
Winds, tides and sand…3 days on an undeveloped wild Atlantic coast kayak camping - Paddlers’ Place - Paddling.com