FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 28, 2014
PADDLERS COMPLETE 1,515 MILE SEA KAYAKING JOURNEY AROUND FLORIDA COAST
~Two paddlers circumnavigate Florida while battling challenges~
Paddlers become the 12th and 13th people to complete the impressive trail.
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection congratulates
kayakers Marc DeLuca and Jim Windle for finishing the entire 1,515-mile Florida
Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, as mapped and developed by the Department's
Office of Greenways & Trails. The two retired police officers from
Charlotte, N.C., began their four-month journey Nov. 2, 2013 at Big Lagoon
State Park near Pensacola and finished March 1, 2014, near Fort Clinch State
Park just south of the Georgia border. They are the 12th and 13th paddlers to complete the entire trail since it opened in 2007.
“While thousands of people paddle short segments of the
trail each year, we can appreciate the few who have the time and fortitude to
paddle the whole thing,” said Donald Forgione, Director of the Florida Park
Service, “It’s a huge accomplishment.”
The two men faced
extreme weather, large ocean swells and some health scares. On day three,
DeLuca’s kayak almost sank in rough seas due to a leaky rear hatch cover. They
battled a case of influenza near Miami, and a serious foot infection requiring
hospitalization almost sidelined Windle in St. Augustine. The two pressed on, vowing
not to give up.
Despite the hardships,
what they remember most is the coastal beauty and acts of kindness and
hospitality along the way. “People opened their homes to us, offered food, and
helped out in various ways,” Windle said. “You find out how important the
little things are like a hot shower or clean clothes.”
DeLuca added: “We saw
some of the most stunning coastal scenery in the country in a way few others
have. Pods of dolphins escorted us almost every day.” A
multi-media blog capturing their experiences can be seen at http://KayakAroundFlorida.wordpress.com/.
Designated as a National
Recreation Trail, the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail
educates paddlers about Florida’s rich history and fragile coastal environment.
Following the Florida peninsula from Pensacola around the Keys to the Georgia
border, this 1,515-mile sea kayaking paradise is often described as the
saltwater version of the Florida National Scenic Trail. The trail highlights 37
of Florida’s 41 aquatic preserves and offers paddlers access to numerous
state, national and local parks, seashores, wildlife refuges, marine
sanctuaries and historic sites.
For more information
on the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater
Paddling Trail, visit www.FloridaGreenwaysandTrails.com.