Surrender to the summer HEAT!

Summer is here and resistance is Futile!

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Off-season, aka summer paddling and camping in South Florida and the Everglades has a notoriously bad connotation for many people. It’s easy to picture hellish hot humid days and nights filled with bugs and drenched with sweat. While that can happen, there is also a beautiful tropical wetness that awaits paddlers willing to explore the coastal environment during the seemingly endless summer months.

During this time the forecast calls for a “steam bath” every day!

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Serious roaster!!
The hot South Florida summer sun is a force to be reckoned with!

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I call these hot months the

90-90-90

meaning it’s over 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade,

over 90 percent humidity and the water is also about 90.

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Cold as ice, baby!
Paddling in a Winter Wonderland – kayak ice breaking on the Rio Grande!

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At times like these, it may somewhat help to evoke thoughts of ice cold moments! 😉

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The summer reality is that it’s simply hot, really hot and really humid! Step one is to protect yourself from direct sun with sunblock, wear a wide-brimmed hat and light clothing. I like to be covered up from head to toe, and this includes covering my face and the back of my hands. In a traditional sit inside kayak you only need to focus on the upper body as your spray skirt will cover your legs. On a SOT type kayak look into light, loose fitting pants and aquasocks.

Unlike up north or in cooler more temperate climates, cotton is actually great in the tropical heat. As it slowly dries and evaporates it really helps to cool you down! (It is for this same reason that cotton is really frowned upon in cooler climes as this can easily lead to hypothermia.)

The summer heat calls for a nylon spray skirt rather than the nice fitting neoprene ones. Seas are usually flat so there’s not much chop to deal with. The porousness of the nylon fabric and loose fit help to keep cooler (esp with older skirts). There are half-skirts and also skirts with zippers on the tube and those work great for the summer!

The simple fact is that it’s almost impossible to feel a chill outdoors in the South Florida summer!

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Basic sun protection:
Wide brimmed hat, face protector, sun glasses, SPF lotion and SPF rated long sleeve shirt.
Heaven or Hell: Summer paddling and camping in the Ten Thousand Islands!

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Paddling or sailing gloves cover up the back of the hand.
They can improve hand grip and paddle handling and also normalize calluses.
Bahia Honda State Park – Kayaking through history along Florida’s lower Keys!

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Summer paddling and camping in South Florida and the Everglades!

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It’s a Sombrero mania! 😉

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When the sun gets hot, the tough go giant Sombrero! This style of hat is fun, self venting and with the addition of a head liner quite comfortable. Since it’s so wide, it’s like having a personal sunbrilla that shades even your shoulders. I like to add a chin strap, otherwise a good gust of wind will send sombrero flying! On the flip side, you can use it as a sail to go downwind. Additionally, the profile of the Mexican Sombrero is so distinctive that it is instantly recognizable even from a distance far away. I find mine to be a better visibility solution that even a flag on a pole.

It also tends to put people and other boaters into a lighter mood! 🙂

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Presenting the Kayakfari summer collection ..
Stay cool all the while looking dashing all summer!
A kayaker’s tribute to the humble and versatile Sombrero!

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No one will recognize me .. 😉
Kayaking the Biscayne Bay triangle: Cape Florida – Fowey Rocks – Soldier Key!

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The multi-versal Santa Sombrero also makes an excellent camp organizer! 🙂

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My giant Sombrero hard at work providing me with the maximum shade.
Exploring a Higher Ground in the Lower Keys!

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Sunshade tarp setup attached to three kayaks arranged in a triangle on the beach at Pavilion Key.
Heaven or Hell: Summer paddling and camping in the Ten Thousand Islands!

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It’s equally important to stop fighting the heat and humidity. Breath it in, hold it in your lungs and exhale slowly, all the while feeling the humid mass moving in and out of your lungs. Allow the hot and moist air to seep into every pore of your being. Allow yourself to sweat profusely and then get over it! It’s a little bit like a yoga breathing exercise. In a few minutes you will be more in tune with your surroundings and acclimated. After a while between the sea and the humid air you can really begin to feel and appreciate the tropical wetness!

This is what I mean by “surrendering to the heat”!

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Settling into the soul permeating wetness of summer on Florida Bay.
Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

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A ‘bay scrag’ – an uprooted mangrove tree dispersed by hurricane Irma in 2017.
Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

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The Banana Boat resting on a shoal in Florida Bay with summer in the background. 😉
Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

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Chillaxing in my hammock in the Everglades on the Sweetwater chickee platform.
Heaven or Hell: Summer paddling and camping in the Ten Thousand Islands!

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On any summer trip, it is essential to have up to twice the amount of drinking water that you think you need! This means ideally you should have up to 2 gallons (8 liters) of water per day. Most of us living in South Florida are habituated to the comfort of air conditioning. It’s very easy to underestimate how much water you can sweat out, especially during the first day as your body acclimates to it’s new found warm ambiance! Again it’s important to stop resisting the heat and relax into it. With proper hydration you will not be thirsty, but you do need to bring enough of it!

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Precious, precious fresh water!
The Supermoon of 2016 and the full moon camping experience at Little Rabbit Key!

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Some people bring sports drinks for hydration.

I rely mostly on plain water supplemented with rations of coconut water to replenish the sweated out salts and minerals.

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Coconut water works great to replenish salts and minerals.
Beer also works, but alcohol can dehydrate so it’s best to drink sparingly.
Let’s take a Ranger-led Pour of the Everglades!

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A Cumulonimbus cloud starting to dump it’s contents over some distant Keys.
Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

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One of the benefits of camping in the hot summer months is that there is almost nobody else out there either boating or camping. Also, the Park doesn’t charge for the privilege of camping in the heat with the bugs, but filing a permit is still necessary. The whole Park can pretty much be yours!

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On the flats of Dildo Key Bank in Florida Bay.
Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

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Going for a swim might seem like a good idea, but if the water is shallow it’s going to be near 90 degrees. So the only relief from the heat will be once you get back out – and – if there’s a light breeze or you create the breeze by paddling fast! The best places to cool off are the deeper (over six foot) channels and open ocean where there is a thermocline.

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Surface temperatures may be near 90 degrees, but deeper channels can be refreshing.
Little Rabbit Key – a camping jewel in Central Florida Bay!

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Mangrove seedling growing in the shallows off Marvin Key.
A Lower Keys Roundabout: Marvin Key and Snipe Point!

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Red Mangroves blooming in the summer on Florida Bay.
South Florida’s walking coastal Mangroves – Roots Paddling, Photography and Dreadlocks!

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“Bay scrag #1”
Kayakfari ART photography – CLICK for more!

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If you go paddling in the summer, it bears repeating:

Consider bringing twice the amount of drinking water you think you’ll need!

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Mobilis in Mobili .. paddling in the heat demands pacing yourself and proper hydration.
Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

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Summer colors of the blue green marine world of South Florida.
Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

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Dark blue hues of the stormy sky meet the turquoise waters of Florida Bay.
Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

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The final component of any South Florida summer is the ever present possibility of squalls and thunderstorms. Usually these tend to form over land masses, however they do move and come in two flavors.

There are very intense and violent thunderstorms which typically form daily in the early afternoons over the Everglades. These squalls develop quickly and move from west to east. One should do everything possible to seek shelter and avoid being caught out in the open!! Aside from the deadly risk of lighting, the storms can also momentarily kick up localized 20 – 30 knot winds and choppy seas! With current technology it’s easy to check real time radar for nearby lightning activity. If caught out in the backcountry, your immediate options can be very limited, so this is really the main wildcard!! However if you paddle known locales around town, it’s key to take note of buildings, shelters and bridges – places where you can shelter from a storm.

Then there are so called “widely scattered showers”. These milder, gentler rain showers can be refreshing and revitalizing but it’s always good to be prepared for a downpour which can suddenly drop temperatures 15 – 20 F. Again, it’s important to acclimate to the heat and humidity and stay cool when working or exercising outdoors.

Since much of the storm activity occurs in the early afternoon, it’s good to start very early and be off the water by about noon to 2pm whenever possible. Shallow places like Florida Bay present a special challenge because certain large parts are impassable on low tide. The tides dictate the timing!

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Imposing cloud formations over the distant Everglades as seen from First National Bank.
CLICK for more: Aerial & VR Panoramas!

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Localized heavy rain in the distance on Florida Bay.
Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

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Among sea grasses on the flats at high tide, witnessing a large storm over the Everglades mainland to the north.
The hold up at First National Bank in Florida Bay!

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Approaching Flamingo in the summer rain.
Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

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The sweet rain is a delicious contrast to the salty sea.
As long as there’s no lightning, it’s fun to be “paddling in the rain”!

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Stay cool and hydrated, enjoy the tropical summer!

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! BLESS – Feel Irie

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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.

All rights reserved!

DISCLAIMER:

The maps and images on this site are not intended for navigation, I am not a guide; use any and all information at your own risk! Your mileage may vary .. so use good judgement before venturing out!

I hereby disclaim any sponsorship, endorsement, nor association with any product or service described herein. The photographs, depictions, products, and ideas presented on this site are for informational purposes only. Your results may vary, and I do not imply nor guarantee the effectiveness, suitability, design or operation to adhere to any standard. I assume no legal responsibility for the implementation of anything herein presented! Use any and all information at your own risk! By using any and all information from this website, you accept the final liability for any use or possible associated misuse!

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With that said..
Blessings friends!

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