Thursday, July 3, 2008

May I Make a Recommendation?

This is not for everyone. But even if you're part of the "over the hill" gang, don't rule it out. (I didn't.) And if you know a youngster who is tyring to tell you, "there's nothing fun to do here," here's a great, relatively inexpensive sport. It's good for mind, body (sunscreen or a long-sleeved shirt are a good idea, too) and spirit, and it's something that you can do for your whole life: kayaking (or canoeing) in the Keys.

It's true that popular perception relegates the sport to Eskimos and Boy Scouts, but with the coming increase in fuel prices, paddlesports and sailing will soon be seen in a new light.

The equipment needed is not overly expensive. (I built the kayak in the picture from a $50 set of plans, interrupted only by Hurricane Georges.) The only other items you need to make the venture legal are a life jacket, a whistle, and maybe a cell phone for emergencies.

The Keys have plenty of good launch sites. We've even paddled from Sugarloaf Marina to Snipe Point. (The trick is to plan your trip to coincide with low tide at your arrival point; that way you get a boost out and back.)

It's true that it's windy here for much of the year, but it's possible to find sheltered areas from many launch sites. There are a couple of good guide books available that suggest interesting trips, and give you an idea of the bird life and sea life you'll encounter.

And there's one other benefit. It's quiet. Paddling doesn't scare off the birds, fish, and other things that can make the experience so unique. On top of that, it's low impact on your body, on your wallet, and just as important, on the Keys.

The quiet places are still there, still beautiful. It's a way to remind yourself why you came here, and to renourish your soul. No, it is not for everyone (and that's a good thing). But if you try it and like it, you'll be glad that you did.

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