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Canoe & Kayak Gear & Equipment Books

kayak - what makes a good fishing kayak?

- Kayak and Canoe Anchors, Anchor Types Folding kayak anchor, ideal for kayak fishing is a durable, light weight anchor, thatcan fold this anchor and can carry easily wherever you go and offers enhanced stability.Foldup Grappling Anchor for canoe/kayak. holding power

- Kayaks for Kids and beginners Great fun to be had kayaking lakes,calm rivers, and ocean waters with kids.
It's true that rap

ids put much of the "extreme" in backcountry trips involving water travel is not for kids and teens. Together with your kids ...

- Types of PFDs Life Jackets, Models and Manufacturers Types of PFDs Life Jackets ...Reducing Risk Few pieces of boating gear (Personal flotation devices) PFDs have progressed more in safety and safety than the some of models simple life jacket.

- Whitewater Kayaking The beauty of whitewater kayaking is found in the basics of paddling (movement & proper paddle position), and a proper execution and understanding of the basics and basic safety tips and rules- have more fun on your next kayak adventure.

- River Kayaks, still & whitewater kayaking

- whitewater River Classification US and Canada whitewater River Classification - Whitewater kayaking

EU River Classification

Kayak Adventure and Experience - A Story of Adventure and Experience on the Connecticut River

Canoeing and Kayaking - experiences in around the world

How to be safe on the water

Woman water adventure

Caring for Your Kayak

"Taking time to enjoy" story

Whitewater Rafts and Choosing

Inspirational Story of a Woman

Waters that go for the kayak - Tips and Advice

Columbia Kayak Adventure

Whiteeater River boating

stop, admire and learn about the marine environment

 Canoe and kayak resources

Taking time to enjoy the view from a kayak


Taking time to enjoy the view from a kayak


In our haste to catch bonefish, tarpon or permit in the back country of the Lower Keys, we often neglect to stop, admire and learn about the marine environment that makes up the fabric of our sporting life. That's where captain Markus Godula comes in. Godula, the 49-year-old owner/operator of Florida Keys Kayaks and Canoes by Scarlet Ibis on Big Pine Key, is as fond of flats fishing as the average fanatic. But, he has never stopped observing and appreciating the coral patches, grass beds and bait schools that make such bountiful fishing possible. "The back country changes via texture," Codula said. "It's more like a quilt. You have a bottom of white, hard limestone, a patch of turtle grass, then a sandy shoal. It's like Hobbitts-ville - things hap- pen on a small scale. But they're very beautiful."

I recently accompanied Godula on what he calls his "Way Back Tour" - a full-day, motorboat/kayak adventure exploring islands, creeks and flats of the Lower Keys back country. With 20-plus- knot northeast winds forecast to howl all day long, I decided to leave my fly rod at home and instead concentrate on the saltwater equivalent of "sniffing the roses." It's a good thing to do once in a while. Godula loaded two kayaks on his wide- beamed, 19-foot Carolina skiff, and we motored to a small, protected bay near Howe Key. Paddling the small Heritage kayaks was no problem because mangrove stands sheltered us from the driving wind. "I have at least somewhere to go, no matter how the circumstances are," he said. As we paddled, he pointed out a small Southern stingray, churning up sand on the bottom of a channel, liny golf ball corals were scattered here and there. Various bird species - great white and lit- tle blue heron, egrets, a belted kingfisher - squawked and fled at our approach. When I mentioned that I tend to con- fuse great white herons with great egrets, he had a simple way to tell them apart. "Egrets have black legs. A white heron may have orange, tan or yellow legs, but not black," he said. That solved that bird-watching dilemma.

"The back country changes via texture. It's more like a quilt," says Markus Godula of the Lower Keys. His business is to show the beau ty of the area.

We paddled back to the motorboat, loaded the kayaks, and headed to a tidal stream that flows within a few hundred yards of the Cudjoe Key Air Force Station - home of "Fat Albert," the well-known surveillance blimp you often see floating high above the Lower Keys. There was something surreal about looking over at a high-tech spy balloon, then peering down into the clear water where juvenile Goliath grouper, stingrays, mangrove snapper, and nurse sharks were going about the same daily routines that their species have performed for the past million years. Godula knows a few things about switching gears from a fast-lane, high-tech lifestyle to simplicity in paradise. In the early 70s, he dropped out of Chicago's American Conservatory of Music to go to England, working as a piano roadie for Elton John. Over the next 20 years, he formed his own production company and tour with the likes of Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Stevie Wonder and others. But he never-lost his boyhood love of the outdoors/forged on the Great Lakes and South Florida. "I'd be in the hotel room after the show and I'd be looking in the Yellow Pages for some guide to take me (fishing)/' Godula said. "I always made time for nature.

When I had the opportunity, I came to the Keys. It struck me like this was the real Florida." In the early '90s, he got blasted by a malfunctioning speaker, causing a severe case of tinnitus - a constant ringing in the ears - which ended his music career. He moved to Big Pine Key in 1994, took some time to learn to navigate the back country from some old-timers, and then launched his kayak tour and rental business. "I went from being a Type A to a Type C," he laughed. "I don't miss the 30,000 seat arenas if I can please a couple people from Ohio and turn them onto this stuff." Not to mention showing a longtime South Florida resident a thing or two.

Susan Cocking is an outdoors writer. She can be contacted at [email protected]

published: Wave - South Florida June/July 2004