March / April 2018 1st Edition
|Copyright ©2003 Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company All Rights Reserved
Paddle Tips Minimum Flotation
I've covered this before, but with spring here, and tons of cheap kayaks flooding our waterways, it's worth going over once
On my guided tours, I restrict the use of personally owned boats to those of appropriate length for the venue and more
importantly, to those who have "adequate minimal flotation". For non sit on top kayaks, I define adequate minimal
flotation as at least an intact stern bulkhead OR properly installed and inflated bow AND stern float bags. The reason being
is that I can empty and right a capsized kayak for recovery only if they have one of these combinations. For sit on tops, all
hull drains and hatches must be intact and properly sealed.
When a kayak capsizes and the paddler comes out of the kayak (know as a wet exit), the kayak will begin to fill with water.
The goal is to get the kayak turned right-side-up, with as little water in it as possible. If the kayak does not have watertight
bulkheads, the entire kayak can fill with water. It probably won't sink, but it will become impossible to paddle and would take
a very long time to pump enough water out to make it paddleable.
This is where the float bags come in. When the kayak is upside down, the float bags in the bow and stern will displace water
and not allow the entire kayak to fill up. When the kayak is flipped upright the kayak will only be partially full of water and will
be possible for the rescuer to dump the water in an assisted rescue. Without the bulkheads or bags, the only option is to
reach water shallow enough to stand. That may or may not be easily achievable as bottoms are often soft mud.
It is also important to realize that bulkheads and hatches often need maintenance to insure a watertight seal. Bulkheads,
especially in polyethylene kayaks, have a tendency to come loose over time. A monthly visual examination should be
performed on bulkheads and hatches should be checked prior to every launch.
Float bags can be fitted to most, but not all kayaks. They can be added to kayaks that have bulkheads as an added safety
margin, or as a work around for leaky bulkheads. In kayaks without bulkheads, it is important that they be secured in place
so that water cannot get behind and push them out. There are a few kayaks on the market that have seats that won't allow
access to the stern to mount a bag and have no rear hatches. (See below).
Paddlers and the Environment
This section is a holdover from the last newsletter as it bear repating. 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. (Update: Manatee tourism
in Citrus is down from 10%-30% while Florida sets a record despite Hurricane Irma. Is the prophecy coming true?)
|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.
As it stands now, we'll be closing our retail operation as of September 1, 2018 to focus on tours and instruction. Don't bother
to call about discounts or used rental boats until late August. We'll be running a full retail and tour operation until then.
There is no waiting list for used boats so save us all some time and don't ask to be put on a non-existent list. Once this gets
closer, the meetup paddles should increase significantly. For those of you who have bought the Guide Book, we'll be
focusing on doing every one of the paddles listed. Owning a copy of the book will be your ticket to participate in these
paddles. Haven't worked out all the details yet, but I'm thinking about an additional discount of some kind on rentals for those
who don't have their own boats. Maybe a bogo or something. Stay tuned and buy the book.