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Sea Kayaking

Monday, January 18, 2010

Top 5 Adventures in Florida, Sea Kayaking the Great Calusa Blueway

This past month, temperatures in Florida have been unseasonably cold. Yet, mid-January is the time of year when the weather heats up and so does the outdoor activity. This week, I’m focusing on the Sunshine State, divulging my favorite adventures in the state. First up is sea kayaking the Great Calusa Blueway on Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast. Whether you’re an advanced paddler or a novice, you’ll savor the sheltered bays, remote islands, and hidden beaches on this 190-mile wet and wild corridor outside of Fort Myers. Choose to spend the day kayaking around Estero Bay or spend a night camping at the tip of Pine Island just north of Captiva Island. There are also inn-to-inn options. The highlight is the abundant sealife, including sightings of manatees, dolphins, and turtles. 
 

(Photo credit Cythia Gilbert from Kayak SW Florida)


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/18/10 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Pat yourself on the back for the walk you took around the neighborhood today, as you should. Then go to the web and cheer on Leo Rosette, 59, who’s currently in a 24-by-6-foot boat desperately trying to become the oldest American to cross an ocean in a rowboat. He started January 4th off the coast of the Canary Islands and has already battled 25-foot waves, a freighter that was about to crush him if Rosette didn’t radio the ship and tell them there’s a boat the size of Whoville directly in front of him, and numerous whales and dolphins. This is Rosette’s second attempt to cross the Atlantic, having quit after three days because of stomach pains in December 2008. But now the former deputy marshal is almost halfway to his goal of rowing 2,038 nautical miles to the shores of Antigua.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/12/10 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, June 11, 2010

Sea Kayak God’s Pocket Marine Provincial Park, British Colombia

Those of you who’ve had the good fortune to sea kayak the Gulf Islands accompanied by seals, sea lions, and the occasional whale know the sheer exuberance of paddling in British Colombia. But the word has certainly spread, with more and more sea kayaking and whale watching outfitters joining the fray and dotting the waters of Johnstone Strait. That’s why Sea Kayak Adventures has decided to venture farther north this August to paddle in Canada’s newest marine park, . Starting in the North Vancouver Island town of Port Hardy, the six-day jaunt takes you through the remote waters of Queen Charlotte Strait to spot humpback, minke, and orca whales, porpoises, seals, and sea otters. You’ll camp on the quiet island shores, hike into the lush rain forest, and explore tidal pools for colorful sea stars. Cost is $1595 per person Canadian and includes guides, all meals, camping, and kayaking gear. Dates are August 9-14 and August 16-21.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/11/10 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, June 21, 2010

Top 5 Beaches in New England to Be Active: Sea Kayak Mile Beach, Georgetown, Maine

There are two types of New England beach lover. The first heads to his favorite stretch of sand, squeezes his towel in between the masses, layers on the lotion, and kisses away the day. The second thinks of the beach as a welcome mat to that great expanse of ocean that lies ahead—a starting point to a slew of activities like sea kayaking, surfing, or sailing.  Even if you prefer to stay on terra firma, there are New England beaches that cater to the mountain biker or walker. This week, I’m delving into my favorite beaches in New England to be active.  First up is Mile Beach in Georgetown, Maine.

Shrouded in an early morning mist, the fog recedes and you’re treated to a view of Maine’s coastline few have seen since Winslow Homer captured it on his canvases over a century ago. This is why one heads to Georgetown’s Reid State Park to sea kayak along the shores of Sheepscot Bay. The sand at Mile Beach soon gives way to the boulder strewn coastline where the Northern Atlantic pounds the rocks, spewing foam high into the air. Juniper pines, dwarfed by forceful gales, refuse to budge from the land above.  You’ll no doubt be joined by seals that pop their heads out of the water like periscopes to look around.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/21/10 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Wet, Wild & Wallet-Friendly: Sea Kayak the San Juan Islands

Whether you crave the salt of the ocean, a rapid river through canyon walls, or a lake to get lost on, there’s more than enough activity to be had on America’s greatest bodies of water. This summer, you can sea kayak in the San Juan Islands, surf the Pacific, even learn to scull on a hidden lake in Vermont. And, of course, like most outdoor adventures, you can do it on a budget. This week, I describe five of the best ways to get wet throughout the country. So stop sweating and go jump in a lake. 

There’s no better way to explore the myriad of San Juan Islands and its abundant marine life than from the comfortable confines of a sea kayak. During the summer months, the San Juans are home to pods of Orca (killer) whales in search of Pacific salmon.  Who needs to see Shamu at Sea World when you can kayak beside him? At any given time, you might also be accompanied by minke whales, pacific white-sided dolphins, porpoises, harbour seals, and sea lions. Birding is also exemplary with more than 300 species of birds found in the region, including bald eagles, great blue herons, and loons.  Paddle on a 3 or 4-day jaunt with Tim Thomsen, owner of San Juan Kayak Expeditions, who’s been leading tours since 1980. Thomsen knows every nook and cranny of this region. The price starts at $520, including guide, kayaks, meals, tents, and other camping equipment.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/12/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Yoga and Whales in Baja this November

Sea Kayak Adventures, who’ve I’ve recommended in the past as one of the most renowned sea kayaking outfitters in Baja, has just announced two adventures geared to yoga lovers. The all-women November 4-9 trip and co-ed November 9-14 jaunt will feature daily yoga sessions led by certified instructor, Julie Zimmerman. Start your day with yoga on a deserted beach and then go kayaking with dolphins, sea lions, fin whales, and all the other marine life that call the Sea of Cortez home. Each evening begins with a restorative yoga session while guides prepare dinner. No prior kayaking experience is necessary and the $1095 cost includes two nights in a Loreto hotel, three nights camping, four days of guided paddling, all meals while camping, and daily yoga sessions.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/24/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Sea Kayaking with My 80 Year-Old Dad on Lake George

When I tell people that I find Lake George more exquisite than Lake Tahoe, Lake Powell, or even that wondrous lake to the north, Champlain, they often look at me bewildered.  They equate the lake with the honky-tonk village on the southern tip, packed with T-shirt and fudge shops, video arcades, hokey haunted houses, a requisite water park, and my personal favorite, Goony Golf, a miniature golf course crowded with huge fairy tale characters. All folks have to do is drive about ten miles north on Route 9N to find the far more charming town of Bolton Landing. This section of the 31-mile long lake is more like a river, narrow and hemmed in by the peaks, offering vintage Adirondack beauty that once inspired Hudson River School painters to grab their canvases and head north, followed by Georgia O’Keeffe and her camera-toting husband Alfred Stieglitz.

Growing up in Schenectady, New York, we would make the hour-drive to Bolton Landing on a regular basis to reach our sailboat docked just out of town. Now I return on an annual basis with my family to visit my father and his wife who summer here, and treat my kids to a good dose of natural adventure. One of my favorite things to do is rent sea kayaks on Green Island and paddle around the classic Adirondack resort, the Sagamore, a large wedding cake of a hotel that’s been the lake’s premier address for over a century. This past weekend, I persuaded my dad and his wife, Ginny, to join me. I put my father in the front of a double kayak that I steered while Ginny paddled alongside us in a single kayak. The wind was strong and the waves choppy as we approached the sloping grounds of the Sagamore, but soon we were around the island singing sea shanties. Whether you sail, sea kayak, or prefer a motor boat, get out on this lake and make some memories.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/07/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Sea Kayaking Saguenay Fjord with H2Outfitters

Writer Walt Whitman described the waters of Quebec’s Saguenay Fjord as “dark as ink, exquisitely polished and sheeny under the August sun.”  That’s exactly the time of year you’ll be headed to Saguenay on a weeklong camping trip with the highly reputable sea kayaking outfitter, H2Outfitters. From August 13-20, you'll kayak the length of the fjord as you slice through this St. Lawrence estuary, a Marine Park in Canada, alongside walls of ash colored rock that rise some 1,150 feet.  An added bonus is that this sheltered cove is a rich feeding ground for whales. Humpbacks, smaller minkes, and the cuddly white belugas have all been spotted on past trips. The put-in is located 2 ½ hours northeast of Quebec City and cost is $975 per person, including camping fees, guides, kayaks, and all meals.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/18/11 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Chasing Icebergs in Newfoundland

Some of us chase after the morning train to get to work. The more indulgent will chase down that shot of bourbon with a pint of Guinness. And the truly intrepid? They follow Ed English as he chases icebergs. Come May, it’s not unusual for villages on the east coast of Newfoundland to wake up to a mountain of electric blue ice the size of a 15-story building.  The icebergs calve from the glaciers of western Greenland and begin a slow 1900-mile journey south with the Labrador Current on a route dubbed Iceberg Alley. English, co-owner of Explore Newfoundland, takes sea kayakers up to Quirpoon Island, the northernmost point of Newfoundland, to get as close as possible to the huge crystalline structures before they float away. An added bonus are the pods of humpback, minke, and occasional beluga whales who feed in Iceberg Alley as they make their way north. 
 



Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/18/11 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Acadia National Park Week: Sea Kayaking Frenchman Bay

The first time I ever stepped into a sea skirt and tried a sport I now cherish called sea kayaking, I was in Bar Harbor researching my first book, Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England. Learning to sea kayak at Acadia National Park is like learning to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef. Give it a try here and you’ll be hooked for life like I was. One of the finest ways to see Acadia’s mountains is from a distance, with your head and feet only inches away from the water line. 20 years later, I returned to the same outfitter, Coastal Kayaking, for another paddle on Frenchman Bay. 
 
Our guide, Jared, fit us for life jackets and sea skirts at their store on Cottage Street and then drove us to the bar of Bar Harbor, a sand spit that juts out of town and connects to an adjacent island, Bar Island, at low tide. When we returned after our 4-hour paddle, people were actually driving on that spit of sand all the way over to the island. Jared unloaded the kayaks and passed out paddles, teaching us some basic strokes. We then got acclimated to our cubby holes, threw on our gear, and set off on the wild blue yonder. In a double kayak, Jeff and I found our rhythm as we made our way around the northern shores of Bar Island on soft rolling swells. As we continued around the rock ledges of Sheep Porcupine Island, we spotted the unmistakable white head of a bald eagle atop a tall pine. Minutes later we would find a seal in the wake of a lobster boat picking up traps and then porpoises gliding through the unusually calm waters of the bay.  
 
We stopped for a 20-minute break on a sandy section of Long Porcupine Island, just enough time to eat the incredibly addictive kale salad from our favorite pitstop in town, A&B Naturals. On our return trip, we would spot loons and black guillemots, a cross between a puffin and a duck, divebombing their plump bodies into the waters around us.  Jared pointed to a speck of an island called Rum Key and told us how Canadian rum runners provided the Rockefellers and their affluent friends with scotch and rum during prohibition and used this island as their holdout. The ridge of mountains—Champlain, Dorr, and Cadillac—rose above the town of Bar Harbor, inspiring awe. Yes, the paddle was just as memorable as the first time. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/10/15 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

St. Lucia Week: A Magical Day Sea Kayaking and Snorkeling Ti Kaye

Take it from a travel writer who’s been penning stories since 1990—rarely is a day on the road seamless. I wouldn’t say I’m jaded, just realistic. There always seems to be some problem, whether it’s traffic congestion, the lodging not living up to those over-hyped TripAdvisor reviews, the adventure a bit too touristy and not feeling authentic. Then there’s days like yesterday where everything is perfect and this job is sheer bliss. 

My driver Vaughn is a delight, passionate about the history and people of this island. So much, in fact, that he left Brooklyn after 6 years and returned to St. Lucia to make his mark. He picked me up and drove me to the lush western side of the island, home to the largest banana plantation on the island, a rum distillery, and fishing villages like Anse La Raye, known for its seafood street festival held every Friday. At an overlook peering down at picturesque Marigot Bay, where Mick Jagger and Oprah both own homes along the waterfront, we walked into a nearby store to sample banana ketchup, hot pepper spices, and spiced rum with grenadine. 

Less than an hour later we made it to Ti Kaye, a boutique resort nestled into a hillside above a glorious strip of secluded beachfront. I would soon find out that the best part of the resort is the bay next to that beach called Anse Cochon. I threw my bags down in my room, changed into a swimsuit and practically flew down the 165 steps to the gray colored beach, a mix of volcanic black sand and the usual white sand from the coral. I grabbed an ocean kayak and was soon paddling down the western shoreline past cliffs where vines clung precariously to the top, deserted beaches which I’m sure honeymooners staying at Ti Kaye have taken full advantage of, and a green velvety hillside that led to jagged mountainous ridges. I can’t tell you how liberating it is to grab a kayak and take a paddle just by your lonesome down this unpopulated stretch of coastline. The only person who passed me during the 2-hour paddle was one fisherman.

Back at Ti Kaye’s beachfront bar, Ti Manje, I ordered the smoked marlin salad, slices of fish topped with mixed greens, tomatoes, corn, and a chipotle dressing, washed down with freshly made ice tea. Waves pounded the restaurant as I watched scuba divers take the plunge into Anse Cochon. You want to know one of the most cherished spots for all those scuba diving and snorkeling boats? Yes, this exact spot, which is a preserved marine sanctuary. Avoid the boat traffic in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon and the place is yours. I grabbed snorkeling gear, walked to the far end of the beach and soon was swimming in a natural aquarium of neon-colored fish including parrotfish, the multi-colored queen angelfish, and the bright blue chromis. I also loved seeing fan, organ pipe, and brain coral that was very much alive.

Afterwards I washed off in my outdoor shower and relaxed in the hammock on my porch, where I now relax after another hard day of work. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/17/15 at 05:00 AM
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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Top 5 Adventures in Florida, Sea Kayaking No Name Key

The Florida Keys are basically small spits of land connected by bridges on the Overseas Highway. Surrounding you is the water of ocean and bay, but it’s hard to get too far off the beaten track on land. No Name Key off of Big Pine Key is arguably the most remote section of the Upper Keys. The best to way to see the island is from the seat of a sea kayak with Bill Keogh as your guide. For 20 years, Keogh, owner of Big Pine Kayak Adventures, has led paddlers across the channel and into the mangroves of No Name Key. Within moments of paddling on the calm water, we spotted the swift frigate birds, tricolor and green herons, and kingfishers. Then we were following Bill and his dog Scudder through a narrow tunnel of mangroves, pulling roots to move us forward. We would soon reach a large salt pond where we would spot numerous jellyfish in the clear waters. It was just the great white egrets and us in this serene locale. After breathing in our fair share of salty air, we would go back through the sinuous waterway in the mangroves, flowing with the current, and wishing it would never end. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/15/15 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, April 21, 2016

AMC’s Best Sea Kayaking in New England: 50 Coastal Paddling Adventures from Maine to Connecticut

Registered Maine Guide Michael Daugherty has just come out with a beauty of a book describing his favorite sea kayaking paddles along the New England coast. They include many of my favorites, including the Porcupine Islands near Acadia National Park, Georgetown Island off mid-coast Maine, Castle Neck in Ipswich, Monomoy Island off of Chatham on the Cape, Newport, and Connecticut’s Thimble Islands. Many of these jaunts can be done in a memorable day trip or turned into an overnight, ideal for the novice to more experienced paddler. Daugherty notes the distance of each trip, but far more important discusses the tidal changes and necessary cautions against strong currents and boat traffic. Only an avid paddler with a mind for detail could write such a book and I’ll happily carry it in my dry bag for many joyous days along the coast. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/21/16 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Canada Week: Sea Kayaking Newfoundland’s Iceberg Alley

Some of us chase after the morning train to get to work. The more indulgent will chase down that shot of bourbon with a pint of Guinness. And the truly intrepid? They follow Ed English as he chases icebergs. Come June, it’s not unusual for villages on the east coast of Newfoundland to wake up to a mountain of electric blue ice the size of a 15-story building. The icebergs calve from the glaciers of western Greenland and begin a slow 1900-mile journey south with the Labrador Current on a route dubbed Iceberg Alley. English, owner of Linkum Tours, takes sea kayakers up to his lighthouse inn on Quirpoon Island, the northernmost point of Newfoundland, to get as close as possible to the huge crystalline structures before they float away. An added bonus are the pods of humpbacks, minkes, and the occasional beluga whales who feed in Iceberg Alley as they make their way north. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/12/17 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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