1) Where are you from? Your profession? I am from Wilbur by the Sea, FL, a quaint little seaside community in Volusia County nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. I am a full-time real estate broker who has been successfully selling the benefits of enjoying the Florida waterfront lifestyle.
2) When and how did you become interested in paddling? I became obsessed with stand-up paddleboarding from the moment I hopped on top of a board! That was about two and a half years ago at Disappearing Island in Ponce Inlet, FL. A local SUP company had put out a few demo boards at a sky diving event I was attending on the island. It was love at first paddle! My SUP pup Kiwi and I have been paddling ever since.
3) Where is your favorite place to paddle? That's easy: EVERYWHERE in Florida! In addition to the 2013 Paddle Florida Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble, I have paddled my SUP along the shores of Florida's coastal waterways, springs, rivers, and lakes. So far, I have paddled sections of the Intracoastal Waterway, Suwannee River, Tomoka River, Crystal River, St. Johns River, Wekiva River, Dead River, Snake Creek, Spruce Creek, Salt Creek, Silver River, Juniper Springs Run (backwards), and circumnavigated Hontoon Island.
4) What's the most interesting thing that ever happened to you on a paddling trip? It's all been fascinating! I have dodged many a gator, spotted deer, talked to turtles, danced with great blue herons, helped rescue a HUGE white egret getting his foot munched on by a snapping turtle, had my SUP kissed by manatees, cruised with sharks, was stalked by turkey vultures, swung from rope swings into crisp clear waters, spotted wild turkeys, snorted at wild boar, rallied rays, and on one occasion dressed up as Jane for a paddle on the Silver River to look for Tarzan and found monkeys instead!
5) How many Paddle Florida trips have you gone on and to where? The recent Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble was my first trip with Paddle Florida. The whole experience was perfect. The Paddle Florida team did an outstanding job to ensure that all participants had a great time. It's a well-oiled machine! They have thought of everything so that paddlers can enjoy their adventure. I am looking forward to more trips.
6) You're one of a handful of stand-up paddlerboarders to come on a Paddle Florida trip. What was it like to experience a multi-day paddling trip on a SUP? It was an exceptional experience! I had dreamed of doing a multi-day trip on my SUP, but just couldn't get it together on my own. I am thankful that I found Paddle Florida and that they welcomed me as a participant on my SUP. I chose the Wekiva/St. Johns River Ramble as my first PF trip because I had already done two-thirds of the trip before on my own and knew that I had the expertise and experience to hop on my SUP for three days and paddle the 30 miles.
7) Can you describe a particular Paddle Florida trip highlight? I loved the camaraderie among the paddlers. I could paddle up alongside fellow participants and enjoy their stories. These guys and gals have lots of knowledge and experience to share. It was awesome watching fellow paddlers interact with nature and share with each other. The food was great, too!
8) What advice do you have for folks considering a Paddle Florida trip? I can only give SUP advice since that's all I know. I would advise other SUP'ers to make sure they have the skill set, stamina, and balance to complete a multi-day trip. I occasionally got into some pretty narrow, shallow sections of water with submerged vegetation that grabbed at my skegs and tree limbs that made me limbo...which just made it all the more fun and adventurous!