Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Novice Kayakers Get Closer to Nature - and Exercise, Too

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Novice Kayakers Get Closer to Nature - and Exercise, Too

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Buehn

Kayaking continues to grow as a sport, and it's a healthy, quiet and inexpensive way to enjoy Clay County waterways.

The recent experience of three friends illustrates how easy it is to start kayaking.

Carol Gay of Fleming Island got a kayak in May as a birthday gift from her husband. Although she had no experience, kayaking was something she wanted to try.

She's been paddling with two friends, Pat Swinehart of Middleburg and Peggy Bazaldua, who lives in Ortega. Both are new to kayaking, although Bazaldua had done some paddling growing up in upstate New York. Her husband bought her kayak at a garage sale.

On a recent Saturday morning, the trio paddled the south side of Doctors Lake and while afloat talked about how much they enjoy their newfound sport.

Encouraged by Bazaldua to try kayaking, Swinehart was "immediately hooked." She went to a dealer and tested a few kayaks, picked one out and "loaded it in the car that day."

"Kayaking is just unbeatable," said Swinehart. "You see so much wildlife and paddling is great exercise."

Also, you don't have to be a jock to kayak," she said with a laugh, "and we're not young!"

Don't be daunted by thinking paddling is too strenuous. None of these novice kayakers has had trouble with aches or soreness, "even after all-day trips," reported Swinehart.

"Kayaking connects you very closely with the water," observed Bazaldua. "It's a great way to see birds and other wildlife. We're spoiled here in Florida with so many birds. In New York, it's remarkable to see even a great blue heron. …

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