Calusa Sea Kayakers (CSK) is a fun and adventurous group of sea kayakers that enjoy paddling the open waters of Southwest Florida in a safe and responsible manner. Experienced sea kayakers, and those who want to learn to sea kayak, are all welcome. Membership and training events are free, but to be accepted in the group, you must have a sea kayak that is at least a 14 foot long. Your sea kayak can be a sit-inside or a sit-on-top model. Recreational kayaks, SUPs, and canoes are not permitted in this group.
“Open waters” mean that we venture away from shore in the salt waters of SW Florida. Some of our events will stay closer to shore in sheltered areas and will be appropriate for anyone with the proper kayak. Other events will be more challenging, venturing further from shore in choppy waters.
There are other good Meetup Groups for recreational kayakers in our area, such as the Kayak Club of Greater Charlotte Harbor and The Fort Meyers Area Kayaking Group. We are not trying to duplicate what these groups already do so well. Also, I will leave it to these other groups to lead paddles on the wonderful rivers, creeks, and lakes in our area. We will focus on open saltwater.
You must wear your life jacket whenever we are on the water, even in shallow waters. This is non-negotiable in CSK. Spray skirts will be required for sit-inside kayaks for Level 3 or higher trips. A “wet exit” must be mastered before a spray skirt can be used. Sit-inside sea kayaks must have bulkheads or flotation bags.
The skill level and type of kayak required for each event will be determined by the trip host and will be described in the trip posting. I have adapted the rating scale that Southwest Florida Kayakers developed. Levels 1-5 of this scale are described at the bottom. Some trips and training events will be appropriate for all skill levels, but other events will be more challenging and only those who possess the required paddling and rescue skills can attend.
In addition to trips, there will be occasional workshops to learn or refine one’s rescue skills, paddling techniques, or rough water abilities.
Trip Rating Scale: The posted trips will fall into one of the following five categories, but be aware that conditions can change and seas can be rougher than anticipated. Therefore, everyone must decide whether the trip and conditions are appropriate for his/her skill and fitness level. Most of our trips will be level two or three.
LEVEL ONE: Trip length of 4 to 6 miles -Speed: two to three MPH -Protected paddling -All paddlers in CSK welcome
LEVEL TWO: trip length of 6 to 8 miles -Speed: three MPH -Some open water paddling -Skirts recommended for sit-inside kayaks
LEVEL THREE: trip length of 8 to 10 miles -A mix of open water paddling -Speed: three to three and half MPH -Skirts required for sit-inside kayaks -Ability to reenter your kayak on water with assistance
LEVEL FOUR: trip length of 10 to 15 miles -A large amount of open water paddling -Speed: three to four MPH -Seas: one to two feet -Skirts required for sit-inside kayaks -Rescue training required (of others and yourself) -Minimum boat length: 16 feet
LEVEL FIVE: trip length of 15 miles or more -Speed: four+ MPH -A large amount of open water paddling -Seas: two to four foot -Skirts required for sit-inside kayaks -Rescue training required (of others and yourself) -Minimum boat length: 16 feet
All participants in CSK group activities will be required to sign a waiver/release document on the first activity (one-time signing). The waiver will acknowledge that participants assume full responsibility for their own health and safety. Trip hosts are not professional instructors or guides. We are just peers who enjoy paddling together and participants are solely responsible for their own safety.
As we begin this new group, we will start with shorter trips and calmer conditions and take on more challenges as our skills increase. Don’t hesitate to join just because you don’t have sea kayaking skills. We will build your skills and grow together in experience. My goal is that training will be incorporated into every event. We will gather and have a talk before we launch on all trips. My background (Pete Hohmann, Organizer) is on my web page. https://www.baymysticpaddling.com/