Miami Watermen Complete First-Ever Crossing of Gulf Stream on Stand-up Paddleboards
Miami Watermen Complete First-Ever Crossing of Gulf Stream on Stand-up Paddleboards
Bimini-Miami Blue Water Challenge Raised Awareness for Surfrider’s Rise Above Plastics
MIAMI BEACH, FL—JUNE 15, 2012— A journey of 10,000 strokes starts and ends with just one. On June 9th, Miami residents, Bill Whiddon (58) and Thaddeus Foote (38) set off from the docks of the Big Game Club Resort & Marina, Bimini. 17 hours, 11 minutes and 43 seconds later they took their final stroke to the shore of Haulover Beach, Miami. In doing so, they became the first in history to cross the Gulf Steam on stand-up paddleboards.
During their 60-plus mile epic journey, the pair battled rainsqualls, searing summer heat and the natural northern drift of the Gulf Stream.
“It was paddle, hydrate, eat and paddle more,” said the 58-year-old Whiddon. “We did battle a 40 minute tough squall with the first hour of leaving the Bahamas and the seas went from flat to three-foot swells breaking into us.”
Their course was as tactical as it was long. To counteract the north pull of the Gulf Stream, Whiddon said he and Foote, 38, started a heading more southwest out of Bimini and then after ten hours turned the course more to a due westerly direction that increased speed and pushed to the north.
“We only had one fish encounter when we woke up a huge sun fish basking on the surface,” Whiddon recalled. “The fins on the fish were at least two feet long. We also had a school of dolphin swimming under our boards for a longtime, using the shade for some relief from the blistering sun.”
The cause behind the “Bimini to Miami Blue Water Challenge” is to raise awareness for Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics campaign to reduce plastics in the ocean.
“This crossing was a great opportunity to highlight the impact that plastics are having on our world’s ocean and how our actions, as a society, can make such a big difference,” said Foote.
C4 Waterman, Inc. is an Oahu, Hawaii-based lifestyle and adventure sports equipment company. They are a brand focused on providing the highest quality hard goods and soft goods to water sports athletes and enthusiasts around the world. C4 was the first company with a focus on SUP and continues to lead the pack when it comes to industry recognition, authenticity, innovation and product design. Planning a unique SUP expedition? C4 is always seeking new adventures. Contact us at www.c4waterman.com.
Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches. Local Miami Chapter www.surfridermiami.org efforts include lobbying for the enforcement of litter laws, beach dune restoration and K-8 environmental education.
Bimini Big Game Club
The historic Bimini Big Game Club, which reopened in the summer of 2010, is located on the main navigation channel in Bimini Bay. The resort currently features 51-rooms and a 75-slip marina capable of accommodating boats up to 145 feet in length. For more information, go to www.biggameclubbimini.com.
Chase Olivieri, C4 Waterman, 787-316-2289, www.c4waterman.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Thaddeus Foote, 786-837-3988, email@example.com
Martha Greenlee, 407-580-1830, www.surfridermiami.org,
A “Preferred” City Vendor Has Been Cheated By The System
When entrepreneurs venture to risk their future security, and the considerable amount of time and money that is required to start a new business, they should be supported, and at the very least entitled to a fair chance to succeed. Ft. Lauderdale city officials might play by a different rule book as witnessed by one of their own preferred water-sporting vendors who is standing up against a system that has lured him in, and then turned its back on him.
Mario St-Cyr unwound his lucrative commercial real estate businesses just as the economy was beginning to slow. He thought a perfect transition would be into something that was more in tune to his true spirit, and also provided the opportunity for reasonable financial rewards. Nothing inspired the South Florida water enthusiast more than the new sport of paddle-boarding, so he invested all of his efforts, and over $100,000 of savings into this next business venture - Paddles and Boards, Inc.
After devoting over 2 years to mastering paddle-board instructional techniques, designing company websites, and negotiating with the city of Ft. Lauderdale procurement department for the exclusive rights to offer paddle-boarding lessons and board rentals within the city, Mario St-Cyr finally realized the fruits of his labors and was awarded the concession to operate the city paddle-board concession at George English park.
The elation of winning the contract was soon diminished by Mr. St-Cyr’s realization that the city would not prevent other competitors from operating at George English Park, at the beach, or any other publicly managed land that the City of Ft. Lauderdale administration was responsible for overseeing. In fact, city officials actually seemed to encourage other water-sporting businesses to operate out of Paddles and Board’s “exclusive” contract.
Cate McCaffrey, the city of Ft. Lauderdale’s Director of Business Enterprises, emailed a Paddles and Boards, Inc. competitor the following answer to his question whether he can also operate his business out of George English park – even though he does not have a contract with the city to allow him to do so. She stated: “you may run your business from another site and you could launch from George English, but you may not run your business from George English (park).”
Her statements provoke unlicensed, uninsured, and unapproved businesses to operate out of Ft. Lauderdale city parks, without the need of any approval or concession agreement from the city, and to operate in direct competition to the cities’ preferred vendors who have been vetted to make sure adequate insurance and safety procedures are in place. The City of Ft. Lauderdale employees are encouraging illegal activities to occur which ultimately undermine the sustainability of local South Florida companies that have chosen to operate lawfully.
Paddles and Boards, Inc. is paying the city of Ft, Lauderdale a monthly rent and abiding by strict contract guidelines to be allowed to operate out of George English park, but at the same time, any other person, partnership, or corporation could also use George English park to operate a water-sport business without needing to pay any fee to the city, and without being required to be insured to operate their business within a public park.
“What kind of exclusive contract do I have if anyone can just show up at George English park or any other city property with their customers in tow, throw some boards in the water, and transact business right in front of my face,” said St-Cyr.
“On average, I would file reports 3 times per week to city officials, providing photographs of company vehicles, I would provide websites with the companies rates and advertised locations, I would provide coupon deals that other competitors were offering to do business in my ‘protected’ location. I then provided brochures and other marketing materials that are available in almost every hotel on Ft. Lauderdale beach,” said St-Cyr. “There have been more than 100 emails, letters, and phone calls made to city administration officials since 2009 and nothing has been done to prevent these businesses from operating on city owned property, in clear competition with the preferred vendors who have been approved to operate out of taxpayer owned property – because they pay rent to the city.”
St-Cyr exclaimed, “all the photos, websites, company vehicles, brochures, videos, coupons and Groupon deals that they have been provided as evidence was never good enough for the city to protect my exclusive contract. After more than two years, the city of Ft. Lauderdale has not curtailed the abuse at all. The poaching has only increased since the local companies have now realized that the city would not help to protect their vendors.
“The limited space I have to use is being diluted almost every day, and I am the only one the city knows is paying for insurance and abiding by all of the strenuous city mandated regulations that have been incorporated into the contractual agreement I have with the city of Ft, Lauderdale, which requires me to pay a monthly fee to use the location, even though the city is allowing other companies to operate from the same site. St-Cyr continued, “how can I compete with companies that do not have any of the overhead and regulatory burdens and expenditures that I have been forced to absorb.”
At least 12 companies have been operating throughout the city of Ft. Lauderdale with seemingly no enforcement from code enforcement, park rangers, or any other city administration office or department. In an effort to curtail city-wide poaching of vendor territories and to further tighten the concession rules, Paddles and Boards, Inc. proposed and worked in coordination with the parks and recreation department to create a vendor concession agreement that would allow paddle-boarding lessons on the Ft. Lauderdale beach front. This was originally designed to be an add-on to the original contract that Paddles and Boards already had with the city, but eventuated into a full bid for proposal that somehow cut out the only vendor who was operating legally – Paddles and Boards.
The Ft. Lauderdale procurement department rated Paddles and Boards in 3rd place in the beach bidding war. “They have rewarded the very companies that have been the most flagrant violators of city code,” said St-Cyr. “Is this how the city ultimately treats their vendors who follow the rules? The city manager stated that he was not going to invest city money to investigate the matter. The City manager had absolutely no empathy for my situation. He suggested that I could try to speak at a commission meeting, if they allow me to speak.”
Mr. St-Cyr took that advice and made a heartfelt presentation during the March 2012 Ft. Lauderdale commission meeting where he addressed the mayor, city commission, and the city manager to plead, one last time, for help in protecting his exclusive contract.
During the commission meeting Mr. St-Cyr explained to TEA Party Miami members and to commission meeting attendees, “Paddles and Boards has provided excellent service to the residents and visitors of Ft. Lauderdale for the last two years. Every day I tend the concession at George English Park whether it’s in the heat, the cold, or in cloudy conditions. I pay the city of Ft, Lauderdale on time, every month, for the use of the public property. The bid you are about to approve this evening is being awarded to a company that has already received dozens of documented complaints and they have been physically removed from city property for operating on public land without a contract. No matter how much money and time I invest in marketing and advertising, it’s almost impossible to compete, or survive, if I am the only business playing by the rules. My competitors have never played by the rules and now they are being rewarded by getting their own exclusive contract.”
The mayor and commission then finalized their ruling to award the Ft. Lauderdale beach paddle-boarding concession to the very company who has been the most egregious violator. While Mr. St-Cyr ponders a lawsuit with the city, he is hopefull that a compromise can be worked out that will satisfy all parties involved and ensure that Paddles and Boards, Inc. will be able to continue to serve South Florida residents and vacationers for many years into the future.
Time, and TEA Party Miami, will tell…
TEA Party Miami
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Regulations regarding paddleboards and PFDs vary depending on the circumstances. If a paddleboarder is in a swimming, surfing or bathing area, the PFD is optional. It is required equipment beyond those instances.
Those who knew him said was as good as they get.
“He was a very strong paddler,” said Darry Jackson, who sells stand-up paddleboards out of his shop, Bill Jackson Shop for Adventure in Pinellas Park. “He was in great shape.”
But when Comer, a 50-year-old from Tampa did not return from a stand-up paddleboard trip near Egmont Key last weekend, his friends were left to only guess what happened.
This much is certain: The avid waterman had gone out for a paddle near Egmont Key on Saturday. His paddleboard, along with his wallet and car keys, was found near the north entrance of the Manatee River late that evening. His vehicle was found at Fort De Soto County Park, and Tampa police checked his residence.
“The weather was pretty nice, but later that afternoon a storm came blowing through,” Jackson said. “It was probably pretty rough out there.”
The U.S. Coast Guard scoured local waters for two days, covering an area roughly the size of Pinellas County, before abandoning its search Monday evening. Comer’s body has still not been found.
Even experienced paddlers can fall off their board when the seas get rough. And once you are in the water up to your chin, it is often difficult to see above the waves.
“And when you do fall, you tend to push the board away from you,” Jackson said. “And when the waves are big, it can be hard to find the board again.”
Stand-up paddleboarding is one of the nation’s fastest growing water sports. Paddlers stand atop a board that is similar to a surfboard and propel themselves across the surface with a long paddle. Bill Jackson’s sold three times as many paddleboards last month as it did the same time period one year ago.
Unfortunately, many of those who are new to the sport don’t think much about safety.
A board leash, which keeps the board attached to the paddler at the ankle, is relatively inexpensive, but it can be a true lifesaver, especially in open water.
“We don’t know if Jeff had a leash or not,” Jackson said. “But I do know that if I planned to paddle across the mouth of Tampa Bay, I would definitely be using one.”
Board leashes cost between $12 and $35. If the water is flat calm, the leash can be coiled up on the deck of the board, where it is out of the way. “But if you are going to paddle open water, you need a leash,” Jackson cautioned.
PFDs for SUPs
Many paddlers don’t know whether the regulations regarding personal flotation devices apply to paddleboards.
Should a stand-up paddleboard be treated like a surfboard, no PFD required? Or are the oversized paddleboards more like kayaks and canoes, a mode of transportation, and therefore subject to applicable U.S. Coast Guard regulations?
After much discussion, Michael Schenker, a local paddling instructor, put the question to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“Stand-up paddleboards are classified by the U.S. Coast Guard as a vessel,” wrote Brian Rehwinkel, the FWC’s boating and safety awareness coordinator. “The only exception would be if these paddleboards were used in a swimming, surfing or bathing area.”
As a result, basic boating safety equipment requirements apply, which means one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket “onboard” for each passenger on the paddleboard. In Florida waters, any child under 6 years of age would have to wear a life jacket while the vessel is under way.
Lisa Novak, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Coast Guard in Washington, concurred: “The Coast Guard has determined that beyond the narrow limits of a swimming, surfing or bathing area, a paddleboard is a vessel, and therefore subject to applicable regulations.”
Welcome to Fort Lauderdale’s Official Stand up Paddle Boarding Services City Partner!
Paddle boarding, an ancient form of surfing, is gaining popularity as a high-intensity, low-impact platform for group fitness classes from calisthenics to yoga.
Experts say it may feel like walking on water because paddle boarding works on the flat water of a lake or pond and doesn’t involve waves.
“A paddle board is basically a surfboard that’s thicker, more buoyant, so it can hold you standing up in flat water,” said Scott Bumbalough, founder of Maui B’s Stand Up Paddle Boarding.
“For fitness classes we take a one-hour lap around the lake,” he said, which in this case is Lake Ivanhoe in Orlando, Florida. “Buoys are placed at intervals and at each buoy we do an exercise such as squats, push-ups or squat thrusts on the board.”
Bumbalough encountered paddle boarding, which probably dates from ancient Polynesia, while living in Hawaii, where surfers used it to train when the surf was down.
“It’s a high-intensity, low-impact workout,” he said. “The class probably works about 85 percent of the muscles in body.”
Bumbalough said he brought paddle boarding to Florida in 2007. Since then it’s spread throughout the nation as a hugely popular sport that can be done anywhere there’s safe water. Peace, serenity, and six-pack abs are among the many benefits that have accrued to Nani Sadowski, a health-care consultant, since she started exercising on the paddle board two years ago.
“I prefer yoga on paddle board because you have to focus that much more on your balance,” said Sadowski. – Reuters
I had all my gear with me but the winds was just not conducive for going after tarpon via stand up paddle board. We went to plan B, which was to fish sheltered area and see if we can come across some fish.
Like most people he was hesitant about fishing from a SUP because the fear of falling. I assured him if he had half way decent balance it would be a breeze. After about 10minute of paddling it was 2nd nature to him. We to fight some winds to get to our spot but once there we were greeted with calm crystal clear water.
Due to looking into the glare, we spooked a few fish heading over there. This was very promising indeed. We decided to work the mangrove and split up until we found fish. It wasn’t too until Josh screamed “fish on!” in a super excited voice. I made my way over and Josh, on his first cast with a DOA shrimp I gave him(casting it on a over size rod) get a really nice red fish.
We saw several more schools for red fish and Josh on his 2nd cast lands another one on the DOA shrimp again. I opted to stay with fly rod only and could not get a good shot so no eats for me. After the tide came up the fish scattered and we called it in for lunch.
We decided to relaunch for baby tarpon later but the water was so high they all underneath the mangroves. We did get a chance to get Josh’s girlfriend on one for a quick demo. Like Josh, she was hesitant at first but picked it up right away. I think after this experience there will be a couple more paddle boards in the keys soon.
Responding to complaints from jet ski tour operators, Florida Fish & Wildlife officers have aggressively increased their presence at popular paddleboarding spots, to initiate a ‘no tolerance’ policy regarding any infractions. “We’ve had reports of paddleboarders harassing the jet skis—racing intimidatingly towards them and generally making a distracting spectacle on the water,” said jet ski operator, “Smitty” Smith, “when our clients are feeling threatened, we lose business and demand protection.”
Informed sources report the paddleboarders have no respect for other mariners, or even aids to navigation. “They just paddle wherever the hell they want, ignoring channel markers and even going in water too shallow for real watercraft,” Smith tattles. “Some even dive off their boards and go for a swim.”
Marine Patrols are on the lookout, writing tickets as fast as they can tally offenses—all in the name of maintaining order on the seas. Former Commodore, “BJ” Jones explains, “It’s our right to go out drinking and fishing without having to look at them paddling around aimlessly. But when they start with that paddleboard yoga, well someone has to draw a line.”