Disco fever kayaking in Dania Beach – Surf’s UP!

When it’s winter in South Florida,

sometimes ..

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

Good sized swells heading out Port Everglades inlet on a recent afternoon in mid-February.

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.. surf’s UP!

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

It’s tough to take selfies while paddling and surfing, so this is well off shore.

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Truth is we don’t get really great surfing conditions here in South Florida. It’s tough to get nice long rides. Some of my best rides have actually resulted from powerboat wakes in slow speed intracoastal zones on surfskis. At the beach however, the break is short and usually very close to shore. Surfskis are too long for this and not made for riding breaking waves, so a much shorter boat is needed. My personal favorite kayak for this is the RTM Disco sit on top.

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

Ready to catch some rides in the MOJITO, an RTM Disco kayak.

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It’s Disco fever in the surf!

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

Surf’s UP!!

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Although not marketed as such, the Disco is actually very capable in rough water with the addition of thigh straps. Once in the straps, she responds much like a short sea kayak. At 14 feet, she might seem long for surfing, but there’s a lot of rocker and she turns on a dime. Additionally, the longer length is a bonus given our local conditions. The Disco is a petite SOT kayak, and as such the paddler should be under 180 lbs. Also, she’s always a very wet ride and the foot ergonomics are not the best. There are purpose made short surf kayaks and wave skis out there, but given the local conditions it’s tough to justify owning one. So if you fit into the Disco, she’s is a ball of fun to paddle anytime!

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Typical South Florida surf conditions are far from ideal, but it’s still worth going out to play and practice paddling in rougher ocean conditions. Throughout the fall, winter and spring we get periodic cold fronts that bring stronger easterly winds somewhere between 15 – 25 knots. These build up seas and surf just enough to play in. Of course this isn’t much compared to other locales, but it’s what we get!

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

Good sized swells coming through.

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A solid high brace is key for kayak handling these kinds of conditions. A good roll is also important. However given that a lot of surfing takes place close to shore where it may be only a couple of feet deep, I feel it actually more important to be able to quickly re-enter a boat or just relaunch from the beach. Thus a sit on top design which drains quickly works very well!

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

The RTM Disco is a fun surf play boat for South Florida! With the addition of thigh straps she can be edged and rolled just like a sea kayak.

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Due to beach crowding and lifeguards, there aren’t that many places where you can launch and surf directly from the beach. One such place is Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park in Dania Beach. This is the park immediately south of Port Everglades inlet that was formerly known for decades as “John U. Lloyd beach”. The wide beach has recently been eroded and depleted by hurricane Irma in 2017, so the seabed is even more shallow now with several shoals on low tide. On weekdays the park tends to be relatively empty, so there are few or no swimmers to watch out for!

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

Truly a mess, but looks strangely beautiful. You do have to add the wind blown salty air though!

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Aside from the surf session, I wanted get some surf action shots of a different kind. There are plenty of excellent pictures of people surfing POV selfie-style with an action cam or shots of the paddler riding from a distance on shore. It’s impossible to take pictures of myself while actually surfing, therefore here I am presenting to you literal ‘surf zone’ photography from the seat of my kayak!

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

Closer to shore in the soup zone.

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Staying alive in the soup!

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

Almost on shore nearing low tide at Mizell-Johnson State Park (John Lloyd) in Dania.

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Breaking waves carry a lot of energy that they dump on the shoreline. The surf zone needs to be treated with respect. The cardinal rule is to do everything possible to prevent broaching, i.e. turning sideways parallel with the waves. If caught in this situation, the best recovery is to lean into the wave in a loose high brace which allows some control.

The other main thing to keep in mind is to never position yourself between the boat and the shore!!

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

Riding in the soup.

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

But then that next set comes crashing in right behind me and it’s a wipe out in six inches of water .. ha ha.

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Boogie woogie in the water!

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

This was not the move I expected! 😮

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No matter the skill level, wipeouts still occur and it’s important to be able to exit the boat quickly and place the capsized boat between you and the shore. Rolling the kayak is often not possible due to the shallow depth. It may not always be prudent or possible to hold on the the kayak either. Therefore it’s very important to be aware of any swimmers or beachgoers so as not to injure anybody as your boat washes up on shore!

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

The waves dumping and releasing all their energy in front of me.

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Once the boat is washed up on the beach, pull it out of the water immediately so it doesn’t get swept back into the soup zone. There will likely be significant undertow!

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

The MOJITO safely washed up on the beach. One of the nice things about Mizell-Johnson State Park is that it’s nearly empty on weekdays and therefore few swimmers to watch out for!

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

The MOJITO is my RTM Disco and a very tough plastic boat.

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I use an old and practically unknown paddle with the Disco most of the time. It’s a 90’s vintage fiberglass paddle called the Werner Pegasus. It’s the only wing paddle ever produced by them along with an identical version in carbon called the Gryphon. At the time it was said to be a replica of the winning 1992 Olympic sprint blade, but I haven’t been able to corroborate this claim. It has some interesting features which I feel make it a great rough water paddle. First, it is all fiberglass, so it has some inherent give unlike modern carbon paddles. The Pegagus also has a very large blade with a lot of twist. This gives lots of instant power on tap! Additionally the bottom edge near the shaft has a pronounced shoulder, something completely absent on most modern wings. Thus it feels more balanced in the water and there is power throughout the stroke. Most modern carbon wing paddles load up all the power into the catch at the start of the stroke, which is great to go fast, particularly in flat water. In rough water like in the surf zone, I find the more balanced power delivery of the Pegasus really helps with stability! Of course, this paddle is heavier and has limitations when compared to modern kayak blades. Obviously as with any wing, sculling is impossible or very limited at best. It’s a blade made for moving forward, but works well enough for a combined high brace/forward stroke and a basic screw roll when needed.

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flex maslan surf zone kayak dania kayakfari beach paddle waves ft lauderdale rtm disco John Lloyd Mizell-Johnson park

The Disco is like a short, highly rockered sit on top sea kayak! 🙂

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I like the Werner Pegasus paddle a lot, and have been using it for over 20 years. It started out as a two piece take apart, but I have long since shortened it and turned it into a one piece. It’s a tough paddle!

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This old Werner Pegasus wing paddle is my favorite choice for powering the MOJITO. It’s a great combination!

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Enjoy your time playing at the beach! 🙂

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More from Dania Beach:

Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson (John U. Lloyd) State Park!

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Flex Maslan Whiskey Creek John U Lloyd kayakfari ART flex maslan florida kayak beach canoe kayakfari.com digital029art.com

“Attitude is Chillin’ !”
Paddling on Whiskey Creek at Mizell-Johnson (John U Lloyd) State Park in Dania Beach.

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Flex Maslan halloween kayak skeleton kayakfari whiskey creek paddle art corpse dead Kaya Kay Dania beach adventure

“Kaya Kay on the sea!”
Kaya Kay Skellitonova’s excellent adventure on Whiskey Creek!

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More Disco moves:

Flex Maslan kayak Jesus Christ statue Reef kayakfari key largo dry rocks paddle keys dive snorkel abyss Pennekamp

Paddling for Jesus in the Florida Keys dive country!
Kayaking to Dry Rocks Reef – a Pilgrimage to find the “Christ of the Abyss” off Key Largo!

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Flex Maslan Everglades kayakfari ranger led pour beer kayak Alligator Reef Light dive keys paddle coral photography

Kayaking to Alligator Light Reef (lighthouse) .. of Fishes, Wreckers, Pirates and Keys History!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari.com rasta 420 happy kayakfari kayak canoe paddle photography adventure fitness awakenthegrass everglades florida

! BLESS

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© 2018 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / awakenthegrass.com . All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

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With that said..
Blessings friends!

🙂

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