Since we signed up to go on a canoeing camping trip at the end of the summer in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) in Minnesota and Canada, we picked up an old (like vintage old 1987)fiberglass canoe for a few bucks on Craigslist. We figured we needed to practice our paddling skills and portaging and handling a 70 lb canoe before the trip.
We've had the thing for a couple weeks getting it cleaned up, registered and outfitted; there was lots of mold and scuzz that we washed off only to find a small crack in the side. So of course we had to patch it up with a fiberglass repair kit and make another Youtube video in hopes of making a few bucks off the Amazon part sales. Then we had to replace the front seat and get some paddles and lifejackets. We had all that stuff in our boating days but we got rid of it in the last few years.
Anyway, our maiden voyage was this past Saturday on the Hillsborough River at Riverhills park a mile from our house. We threw the canoe up on the Camry and strapped it down, then heaved it off into the water. We thought we would paddle for about an hour up the river. Around the first bend we encountered the swamp green life that chokes the life out of rivers, and for a block or so we canoed through black green sludge to break out on the other side. There really wasn't much current since the river is dammed up a couple miles down, and the wind was quiet in the morning. We finally figured out a good stride with Scotty in the back steering and me plodding along in the front. After about an hour, we rounded a bend and saw a bridge which we hoped was Fowler, but it was actually Bullard. So we kept paddling and paddling past all the beautiful backyards of all those fabulous waterfront homes in Temple Terrace. Not much wildlife out that day, just some birds.
We finally reached our destination the Fowler Ave Fisherman's Landing Park after 90 minutes. We had no idea how far we'd rowed but decided to track on my GPS on my phone using my Cardio Trainer app. We took a short break and headed back downstream for another 90 minutes, getting totally sunburned except where we were covered up in our Columbia Omni-Shade 50 spf shirts. They saved the day. Anyway, when we finished we checked the GPS and it was 5 miles each way, for a total 10 mile canoe trip in 3 hours. That would be a full day in the BWCA, so we're confident we'll be able to hang up North.
Sunday, we took the canoe out with some friends in a kayak and went to St Pete for the 8th annual Sand Bar Concert in the P Channel by Weedon Preserve. It was a lot shorter trip but we had a blast listening to the live music, drinking a few beers and enjoying people watching the hundreds of people and boats there. People can get pretty creative with water sport activities and contraptions to carry stuff on overloaded water vehicles. We had another day of coverup clothing to avoid any more sun!
So our goal now is to canoe 100 miles this summer in preparation for our trip. Its so easy to transport the canoe we'll probably get a little brave and get in the water all over Florida! Enjoy your summer too!