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Enjoy Florida scenery by kayak

By Staff | Apr 19, 2010

Since Florida is surrounded by water, kayaking has become an activity that allows many to enjoy the beautiful scenery firsthand.

Lucy Crook, a Florida native, began kayaking 39 years ago and soon started competing. She said kayaking added an exciting dimension to her and her husband’s camping trips.

“Kayaking is a fun way to strengthen the abdomen, back, arms and legs and what better way than in the Florida coast and rivers?” she said.

Kayaking is more than just taking in the scenery from the water, Crook said. Kayaking is “the ability to travel under your own power and maneuver as though you and the kayak are one.”

Kayaking brings paddlers closer to the flora and fauna, along with providing the experience of seeing water creatures and birds on a more intimate level, she said.

“It allows quiet time and soul rejuvenation,” Crook said. “When paddling in very shallow water, one can become part of the shoreline and unobtrusively enjoy the wildlife in their habitat.”

The freedom, remoteness and exposure to weather, along with having fun with friends and family while simultaneously improving personal fitness, all ties into her ongoing passion for kayaking.

Crook has explored various Florida locations by kayak including Boca Grande; Cock Roach Bay; Brush Key in the Everglades; Myakka, Hillsborough, Suwanee and Peace rivers; Sanibel; Cayo Costa; and the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.

Out of more than two dozen different locations, she said the place that stands out is the Barrier Islands in the Everglades out of Goodland because it is an adventure away from civilization.

“Typically it is sparsely populated and remote with an atmosphere of a tropical island,” she said. “People you might meet are usually like-minded who are respectful of nature and the environment.”

For those looking to try a new adventure, having the correct attire and equipment is important in exploring the endless Florida coast and rivers. Crook said individuals should wear lightweight, quick-drying long pants with zip-off legs, paddling gloves, a hat, water and at least 35 SPF sunscreen when kayaking.

Crook said she always wears a brightly colored bandana loosely tied around her neck, which is used for a head-cover or neck protection from the sun and cold, along with a clean place to sit and something to wash and dry her face and hands with. The bandana is also used for a carrying case for special goodies she may find when she is out and about enjoying the peaceful surroundings while kayaking.

Proper shoes also play an important role in kayaking. Crook said Teva sandals or Neoprene dive booties are great to have when wading in muck or over oyster shells.

“Fast-drying synthetic stretch, lightweight materials allow ease of entering and exiting the kayak,” she said. During the winter months, cold weather hydro-skin pants are ideal.

Crook said she also carries a waterproof deck bag and fanny pack along with a lightweight camel hydration bag, which keep hands free for re-hydrating while kayaking.

Another important piece of clothing is a comfortable personal flotation device designed specifically for women.

“A paddle leash is another safety measure in case you capsize,” she said.

She said she also likes to have a waterproof hand-held marine VHF radio for emergency contact.

“It is very easy to become lost when paddling in islands of mangroves, so a GPS or at least a compass and charts covering the water you are paddling is a must,” she said.