January / February 2018 1st Edition
|Copyright ©2003 Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company All Rights Reserved
Paddle Tips Launch Site Etiquette
After a recent encounter at the Chassahowitzka River launch, I thought the New Year might be a good time to promote
some proactive advice. Christmas to New years are exceptionally busy times on our waterways so it's important to pay
attention to what is going on around you. In this case, a couple pulled to the head of the line to load their small Pelican
kayaks into their pickup. After 15 minutes or so of trying to figure out how to use a ratchet strap, cars were now backed up
5 deep in the parking lot waiting for them to finish. Finally someone asked them to move. To everyone's credit things
stayed civil. Moral of story, please understand that there are other people in the world besides you. Be considerate.
Paddlers and the Environment
As more and more people come to view manatees, it is increasingly important to practice passive observation. The USFWS
uses this term and describes it as observing from a distance. That is WIDELY ignored in Citrus County. The FWCC states it
more succinctly by saying "Look but don't touch." This is also widely ignored.
Much of the manatee centric advertising is misleading. You often see verbiage to the effect that Citrus County is the only
place where you can legally swim with manatees. That is not true. You can swim with manatees anywhere in the state. Only
because of lax enforcement in Citrus County is it "legal" to swim with manatees. The definition of legal being not getting
arrested or cited.
At some point the USFWS will have to stop recommending and start demanding better behavior. We are devolving back to a
petting zoo. An experiment with voluntary behavior modification by the industry was attempted with a program called the
Guardian Guides, similar to the Dolphin Smart program in the Florida Keys. The idea was to reward those who went beyond
the absolute minimum standard as weak as it is. Only two swim programs chose to participate. That pretty much sums up the
priorities of the industry as a whole.
Over the years people have advocated for the swim programs saying that close encounters with manatees will make people
want to support their protection. I now have to question whether that is really the case. Crystal River residents led the
charge that resulted in manatees losing their endangered designation. There was almost no opposition from the swim
program community as a whole. Manatee mortality numbers are also troubling. While boat kills remained relatively constant
on a statewide basis, in Citrus County they more than doubled, overall morality and infant mortality also increased
disproportionately in Citrus County. I would urge those looking for an environmentally friendly experience to look elsewhere.
Blue Springs State Park near Deland Fl is an example of manatee viewing done in a responsible and sustainable way.
Reward them with your tourist dollars. Maybe that will get our local businesses to be more aware.
|Note: Paddlers are not exempt from this criticism. I have seen just about every
rule violated by uncaring or clueless paddlers.
Stand By Paddlers List
We often have a few slots open during our guided outings for various paddle clubs so we are offering non-club or other club
paddlers to help fill in on a last minute basis. If at one week out from the trip date there are open slot we will announce it to
our Stand By Paddlers List via an e-mail blast. There will usually be only two or three slots open, so the first to call and
complete a reservation gets those spots. This is primarily for people who don't have their own kayaks. If you participate, you
get the club rate of $41 per person. For that you get a guide, a lightweight single kayak or standard tandem, paddle, pfd
and delivery/pickup of the kayak. You may sign up for the list if you want to use your own kayak, but the price is the same.
If you like to be placed on the list send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. In the Subject line, put "Add Me" and in
the body provide your name and a valid -email address. Stand By Paddler List
These trips are generally very easy but you should have a little bit of paddling experience or have taken a lesson from us.
Destinations are usually with an hours drive of Crystal River and the paddles last two to three hours.
New Paddle Guide Book by Aardvark's Matt Clemons
The first editions have arrived and are available at the shop for $20 plus tax.