Jon Sairs ~ July 2012

Posted at 1:31 am on 06/30/2014
​Jon Sairs



1) Where are you from?  Your profession (or former one, if retired)?  I am from Vermont and have been self-employed in residential remodeling and building for 15 years and spent the last 12 years working in the craft shows circuit.

2) When and how did you become interested in paddling?  My parents were paddling a cedar canvas Thompson canoe on Lake Michigan when I was a newborn!  In the early 60's, my dad built an 18' sailing canoe in our backyard in San Diego.  We didn't have any toys with keys.  When we moved to Vermont in 1969 we joined the Green Mountain Club, an active hiking and boating group.  At 13 years old, I saved up for my first boat--a 60's Folbot Super.  The club led multi-day trips to the Rangely Lake region of Maine as well as the Temagami region of Ontario.  We camped as often as we could given Vermont's short summers.  I restored cedar canvas canoes for about five years in the 80's during winters when construction was slow.

3) Tell us about your SAILING kayaks....  I was building sail rigs for our canoes and for our cedar canvas customers, took a break for 15 years to get into windsurfing, and just started kayaking three years ago.  I knew the answer for sore shoulders was a sail, so we picked out Easy Rider kayaks that were set up for sailing in the factory.  The trouble with sailing kayaks is you stand out a bit.  So we asked to join a Folbot Flotilla which met in Florida Bay one winter, and we had so much fun we started selling the BSD sail kit.  As we got to know Florida better, we heard about Paddle Florida.  Now an icy winter in Vermont is a tough sell!

4) Where is your favorite place to paddle?  Open water warmer than 55 degrees?  Florida Bay and the Keys are tops on the list.  We also want to see more of the Panhandle, so we will definitely be trying a Paddle Florida river trip soon.

5) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where?  Our first was last year in the Keys on the 100th anniversary of Flagler's Overseas Railroad paddle...er, sail...trip.   We hope to go again this year in January and may squeeze in another trip on our way north.

6) Can you describe a particular Paddle Florida trip 'highlight?'  Just knowing that dinner was waiting and our gear was dry.  Actually, each day in the Keys was amazing.  When waters were calm, you could check out the turtles, fish, and wildlife as you paddled or visit with people from all over the U.S.  On windy days, I was sailing with a tail wind at 8 miles an hour.

7) What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip?  Be prepared for a great time!  Paddle Florida offers a unique way to go out on a trip.  No one else does it this way.  It suits us since we know our way around the water and want to see new terrain without reinventing the wheel.

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