Where the Boys are

In Kayak Trips on January 18, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Today January 18th 2009, 3 friends have left for a kayaking journey to circumnavigate the Florida Keys.  They are doing this to raise awareness of our “Wounded Warriors”.  Sean Fitzgibbons who is an amputee himself and works for “St. Petersburg Limb & Brace” along with Jeff  Fabiszewski is performing thier 2nd circumnavagation for this cause.  You can read more about thier efforts at http://www.liquidrhythmkayaking.com/ and http://topahonu.wordpress.com/.  Bryan Doleman who is a paramedic for the St. Petersburg Fire Department, and an avid paddler and works part time for one of our local kayak outfitters, as well as a guide for a local paddle club.  He has an ACA certification, and is a veteran himself.  Jeff got his ACA instructor/guide certification with Bryan a few years ago has a history with the Boy Scouts of America.  He is currently employed by Eckard College.  He currently volunteers for “Team River Runner” a national program to bring water sports to our wounded veterans.  His  passion is Greenland style kayaking as well as his family.


 Bryan, Sean & Jeff

I know that it is hard to leave your daily routines, wives and children to make this trip.  I am sure that you also join me in wishing them good luck and a safe journey.

They will be starting from Key Largo on the atlantic side and returning up the gulf side.  You can follow thier daily progress here at  https://kayakkev.wordpress.com/



01/18/2009 I just got my first report.  The boys had a great drive down other than the jitters are setting in.  They are staying the night at Key Largo Kamp and fixing a crab pasta for dinner.  Sean and Bryan are sleeping in thier “Tree Hugger” hammocks, Jeff is using his one man tent.  They have plans of being on the water by 8am EST.  Jeff is using my Expedition Single and a “Tuktu” paddle, Bryan is in his “Eddyline Night Hawk 16” using a “Bending Branches” paddle.  Sean is in his “Alantis Mist T” with his favorite “Bending Branches” paddle.



01/19/2009- Day 2  The first leg of the paddle and the boys made it to Windley Key.  A distance of about 22 miles.  They fought a 18mph head wind for most of the day, 1 – 1 1/2 foot swells.  Had rain for most of the afternoon, and was very impressed with thier “Columbia Omniwear” and “Kokatat” jackets.  Luck was on thier side first thing this morning when the people camping next to them last night, followed Bryan to where he was leaving his truck for the trip and gave him a ride back to the launch so he didn’t have to walk.  Thank you kind people.

01/20/09- Day 3  They are facing their first encounter with Mother Nature.  The Keys are being affected with the same Artic Blast that the rest of the nation is facing.  With a west wind of 25mph gusting to 35, they are needing to hunker down.  They are having problems as to where they can do this.  Tomorrow the winds will change out of the north which will put it to their backs and riding the swells instead of getting hit by them breech.  Lets hope someone on Windley Key, or Islamorada will help them with a 6×6 piece of land.


Okay, after much grumbling they got a late start and faced the weather to paddle about 6 miles to Indian Key.  Here they met a fellow paddler that knows the area very well and gave them a map of all the areas in which they can camp.  You know this Gentleman whos name is Paddler Ron from Wisconsin is a good guy cause he has a black Cocker Spaniel named Gala as a paddling partner.  With Rons help they found a location that is protected by trees that they can set up camp and wait out todays bad weather.  Hopefully the wind direction will change tonight and they can continue in the morning.

0120091341  (0120091341aRon and his partner Gala)











01/21/09 Day 4  Today was not a good day.  This Artic Front blew it’s worst today and was a trial for all mankind.  The Boys found themselves in 30 mph winds, swift hard currents, strong tides, and 4-5 foot swells.  In crossing two bridges, they had to paddle right at the bridges to be kept from being swept out to sea.  All this hard work netted them only about 12 miles to Long Key.  They are staying the night on a famous Florida chickee.  Spirts are still up even though they froze last night, and muscles are sore from fighting the water all day.  All 3 admitted that the bridge crossings was very scarey, but so far, so good.  I was glad to report to them that the weather only improves for the next week.  The worst is over.

Jeff called me later this evening.  Again spirits are high and he is ready to complete this journey.  He did admit it was hard with sleeping bags rated for 50 degrees and the nights being low 40s, the rats running all over his tent to the point it was unnerveing to see and hear them outside while he was inside.  And then to paddle the day with his yak (actually all 3 yaks) at an angle to the direction he was aimed.  His triceps are tight from using a constant left hand sweep stroke.

01/22/09 Day 5  Just got a call from Sean.  The weather has not improved much if at all, depression has begun to set in.  They are all freezing with the temps being lower there than they are in Denver CO.  As of 10 AM they are going to sit tight one more night on the chickee and see what tomorrow brings.  Remember that it is colder there now than it has been in the last 12 years and they are not prepared for it, plus they can’t even make a fire to warm up (chickees are wood platforms).

01/23/09 Day 6  Well the boys gave up and came home.  I will let them tell you why on their web pages and this will no longer be on my front page.  Thank you for checking on it everyday.

  1. You’re in my thoughts & prayers guys; an inspiration to many folks! See you soon.

  2. I feel your pain about headwinds. I paddled the St. Johns River from beginning to end in 11 days, and we caught the leading edge of a front during a 42 mile day. We had gust of 40 mph for about 20 minutes and sustained winds of 20-25mph. Its brutal not being able to get of of the boats for nearly 14 hours. Keep it up guys.

  3. Wow, I am impressed. What a paddle!!

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