Friendly Creatures: Kayak Camping in Florida, Part 1

Wind Against Current

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina


“And I want to see a manatee,” Vlad said.

We were discussing our goals for our upcoming kayak camping trip along the Gulf Coast of Florida.

The primary goal was to familiarize ourselves with the route of the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge, a 300-mile race from Tampa Bay to Key Largo that we hope to paddle next year.

It’s held every March, and is open to all forms of small non-motorized boats, whether human- or wind-powered (the wind-powered boats usually win).  There’s no fixed route—competitors simply need to get themselves from the start to the finish in the space of 8 days, although they must check in at three intermediate checkpoints.

It sounds straightforward enough, but there are plenty of reasons  it’s called a “challenge” (including a few that we learned on this trip).

First is the sheer length, which requires…

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