Don Yackel ~ March 2013

Posted at 1:48 am on 06/30/2014
​Don Yackel

1) Where are you from?  Your profession (or former one, if retired)?  I was born and raised in Syracuse, NY.  I lived and worked in Rochester, NY for 28 years and the Albany/Troy area for 17 years.  I've been in Sebastian, FL now for three years. I worked as a public school educator for 42 years, including positions as elementary school teacher and principal, science and technology magnet school instructional coordinator, supervisor of PK-12 mathematics, and college professor at Nazareth College Graduate School of Education.

2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  My wife Lisa and I took a three-day wilderness trip off the coast of Maine in 1994. Neither one of us had ever been in a kayak before, but we were immediately hooked.  Our story can be found under the trip reports on

3) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  That's a hard question. These are some of my favorites: Forked Lake in the Adirondack Mountains, the Sangenay Fjord in Quebec, and Georgian Bay in Ontario.  In Florida: the Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail, the Peace, Wekiva, Upper Suwannee, and Withlacoochee Rivers, Arbuckle Creek, and the 10,000 Islands.  What they all have in common is a wild remoteness that I find very appealing. 

4) Tell us about your '' web site.  I started my web site in 2007.  A guy named Bill Quick ( was my inspiration.  I have always enjoyed playing with photography and technology.  Joining those interests with my paddling adventures seemed like a natural thing to do.  Changes in web hosting and web site development tools prompted me to archive the pre-2012 reports on while developing a refreshed site at the original URL.

5) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  I've been on five trips so far: Peace River, Florida Keys Challenges 1 and 2, the Wekiva/St. Johns, and the (northern) Withlacoochee/Suwannee Rivers.

6) What keeps you coming back?  The relaxed organization, great paddling destinations, and the wonderful people you meet and get to know.

7) Can you describe a particular trip 'highlight?'  I found the Peace to be wild, remote, even prehistoric in its feel.  I paddled much of the river alone, which I love to do.  I seemed to find a new surprise or adventure around every bend.

8) What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  Just do it!  I have come on most of these trips alone.  After the first trip, I began to know some of the folks who are 'frequent flyers.'  This helped a lot.  So don't be shy if you can't find anyone to tag along.  Sign up and you'll have a good time.  And compared to outfitter-supported trips, Paddle Florida trips are inexpensive.

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