Thursday, May 29, 2014

I recently picked up a used Tower FIT paddleboard on Craigslist and the board is amazing. I was pretty skeptical at first, since my past experience tells me that anything that is short, fat, and wide will not go forward very fast. Somehow this board manages to do well with me at 195 lbs riding on it. At 5 1/2" thick, it is very thick, even for a paddleboard. The polyester construction seems odd as well in this day of epoxy boards cranked out from forms in factories. It actually reminds me of an old windsurf board from back in the 1980's only wider and thicker. The board has a Futures fin system, which is five boxes and I was excited to try that out. I ordered a nice set of set of medium-sized fins for a 3 fin setup and immediately found that the center needed a larger fin. I traded the center for a 7" fin and then the board really started to work. I have been out on a couple of not-so-glassy days and was still able to paddle and catch waves. The only downsides I can find are that this board is probably more like 31 lbs than could be that it's not new, who knows, but a giant polyester board does not even sound like something that would be light anyway. The other downside is trying to go upwind, and even getting out past the break with an onshore wind. You can catch waves, but what I do see missing that you would have on a longer board is glide. This board does not glide...but boy does she turn and go...I can paddle for almost any wave I want now, and you can believe that when I get out of the water, I am dog great board for a surfer!

Check out my video review of this board

Saturday, May 24, 2014

This Is Going To Be A Memorable Weekend..

You know you're doing it right when you go to edit your video and this is your first frame....if there was any question about what makes me happy, we now have a much bigger clue....

Monday, May 19, 2014

Your First Time On The Water

The first time you go out on the water, it can be intimidating, but this sport is really simple and easy. What is not easy is dealing with wind and tides, all of which came into play on this day. Mainly, you need to know which way the tide is going and what kind of wind you have. A strong wind that is blocked by an island, like we had here is fine, as long as you stay in the shadow of the island. The issue with the tide could be that if the tide is going out, it could take you with it, unless you are paying attention to where you are with your landmarks. For me, I always need to be sure I have saved enough energy to go back home against the wind the whole way..because that seems to be what happens! If things get too rough and choppy, you can always go to your knees and paddle from there.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The First Time On The Road

Man, was I excited. We were hitting the road and for the first time, and it was as Ed's Eco Adventures. Everything was packed tight and I knew we were heading for the perfect place. Even the 4 hour ride through walls of Love Bugs in the back country couldn't keep me down. In the old days, I was enthused when they built a superhighway from Orlando to Fort Myers, FL, but the freeway driving didn't really take less time and sometimes with the accidents, it could take more. Nowdays we take the old path through the backroads and see the parts of Florida that most tourists will never see. The is always the stop at Sonic the burger drive in, in Bartow Florida and I'm always on the lookout for a food truck on the side of the road in all of the small towns. Once I stopped and had BBQ corn on the cob slathered with Mayonnaise and Cayenne pepper...that was something special!
You know it's the right kind of vacation when even the traveling part is fun....

Monday, May 12, 2014

It’s Bokeelia time. Bokeelia is a small fishing village on the northern tip of Pine Island, Florida. Our families have been fishing this area for 3 generations and as Pam and I started getting older, we began appreciating a simpler form of the trip: we take kayaks and now, paddleboards. We found a place called “The Beachhouse” which is right on Charlotte Harbor and has a place for us to keep and launch our kayaks. They rent rooms by the day or week, which is great for us. We wake up looking at the harbor and within 5 minutes can be on places to catch fish or little mangrove islands to explore. May is a great time to come for the temperature, but it’s a roll of the dice on the wind. This trip, most days have had a significant north wind, which inhibits us from launching on the shore (we are facing north). Pam’s brother was staying nearby with his girlfriend and his boat, so the four of us did some fishing/exploring trips out to Boca Grande and Cayo Costa. The first day out we caught lots of small sharks and Spanish Mackerel and a few large trout. I really expected to see a lot of snook, but that and the pods of white bait were nowhere in evidence. The water is clear and blue and is one of the best things about this area. Some times of the year, this isn’t so, and it has a lot to do with rain and the floodgates of Lake Okeechobee. Pam finally talked me into getting a pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses. I choked on the price, but finally decided to go the whole distance and got a pair with the 580 glass. What was astounding wasn’t so much that I could see into the water more clearly, it was the color difference. It almost seemed like wearing night vision goggles for water. I could spot sandbars off in the distance by the glowing bright blue and see the patches of grass easily. I took off the glasses and the water looked an even dark green. The glasses had an unexpected effect of making me feel happy, like I was looking at the world as if it were a beach postcard. It looked the way I remembered Grand Cayman from years ago. This effect seems to be most pronounced when the sun is directly overhead. I would have to say after only two days of having these glasses, that the trip has been greatly improved for me by having them on when we are out fishing or just paddling on the water. I have started to wonder if there is glass such as this for my camera…this seems to be more than just polarized. I have heard it said that the glass is more important than the megapixels before. I can understand that better now…

Friday, May 9, 2014

Bokeelia And Your First Time

A great thing about paddleboarding and kayaking is that you really don't need to know much to have a good time. You just need somebody with you to make sure you don't get into trouble. The number one trouble would be making sure you save enough energy to get back home. My daughter came out with us in Bokeelia, FL to paddle around the mangrove islands of Charlotte Harbor and she was off in a blaze and when we finally got back, she was whipped for the day. You need to keep a reserve in case the wind decides to start blowing in an unfavorable direction, which happened to us this trip several times. May is one of the most beautiful months in Florida, but there is a good chance of big wind in May. We usually waited for the periods of slack wind to do our paddling and stayed near the sheltered sides of islands. In the summer, when the wind can be very calm, paddling a mile out to a sandbar is not out of the question. The summer has the heat and thunderstorms, so May still sounds like fun. The wind also keeps away the no-see-ums. We remembered this last night as, for the first time this trip, the wind came to a complete stop. Within 15 minutes, the bugs were on us and everyone was chased indoors. In the summer, they spray for the bugs with airplanes and helicopters, but you can still get chewed up quickly if you go outdoors at twilight.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A truly rare photo, the native Floridian, captured in a natural habitat, an old condo on the water on a remote island. Even more interesting, is that she is up with the sun, and cooking breakfast for the clan, something few people ever get to see. She is up early for a day of fishing, which for the Florida native, involves a lot of trash-talking about the 'score'. Newbies have to learn the point system the hard way: -2 points for a catfish, and extra points for something that is worth taking home. This day there would be no newbies, only seasoned veterans out on the water. A beautiful day it was to be, cool breeze, bright sun, and a large variety of fish. Once the boat and fish were put away, no one would remember the final score, just the clear bright blue water and the knowing that it was a day well spent...

Monday, May 5, 2014

Finding Good Places To Eat While The Wind Is Blowing

A trip down to southwest Florida was way overdue and we managed to hit Pine Island right after a week of bad weather. We arrived a crystal blue sky and temps that ran from the 60's to the 80's...postcard weather, except for the wind. We were dealing with 12-15mph onshore winds that pretty much kept us on shore for the first two days. That meant time to explore the area. We love finding new places to eat, and my wife has mentioned to me that the only thing that can twist my head around faster than a pretty girl in a bikini, is a sign with the word "Bakery" on it. A real find is a Mom and Pop store where the pastries are baked on the premises. we found one this morning in Cape Coral, Florida. Casa Rojas was a better than usual find. Everybody in there was Hispanic and everything looks great. There are sandwiches, desserts and it all looked very good. Then we noticed the prices were lower, like maybe half the price we are used to seeing in a small place. Fortunately, Pam fancies herself to be fluent in Spanish and was quick to point out to our server that the cheese and meat popover actually contained "Queso". We asked about a few things and then settled on a sandwich to split, a cup of water and some desserts for later. Our server then took out a box and started filling it up. Then came two bottles of water. I tried to say no, but gave up when she looked puzzled. it only came to $15.00 and I figured it was worth it. Pam sat there in a booth, looking smug until one sandwich was delivered, and then another and then everything she had asked the name of...guess we picked a bad week to start a diet!