Showing posts from May, 2017

Sailing to Suwannee! 

Well today was quite the adventure! Shortly after leaving our new friends John and Joni we paddled a couple miles out to a point where we could just see Horseshoe beach off in the distance maybe 12 miles away. The wind was straight on our backs, and I thought about how much I had been wanting to try sailing my kayak..."Hey Harrison, how do you feel about trying sail?"After a quick stop and some paracord/tarp quantum physics rigging we had ourselfs a fully functional catamaran downwind spinnaker! 
  Our rig was simple. Two corners of a lightweight tarp tied to our decks with the top corners tied to our paddles. The boats tacked together with nothing but  our spare paddles and arms.  The  paddles would act as masts and I figured the whole thing could be quickly taken down in the event we needed to separate and paddle.    We learned and adapted as we went. Every mile that passed by we figured out how to postion ourselves and our lines to maximize speed and maintain course. We…

A Big Bend Thank you 

We've been enjoying some incredible paddling the past few days here in the Big Bend! The weather has been exceptional and the scenery has been incredible! Today marks my 20th day of paddling and I'll be coming into the Suwannee river! Yesterday not even 20 minutes into our paddle I saw two Sea Kayakers off in the distance. I told Harry "I'll wait for you up ahead I'm going to see who this is!" I'm so glad I paddled ahead. As soon as I caught up I was greeted with the friendly faces of John and Joni, two paddlers from Jacksonville. Sure enough they had actually heard of my trip and been following my SPOT tracker! I couldn't believe that out in such a remote location I ran into people who had heard of me! 
 We ended up paddling the whole day together and the miles flew by as we spent the day chatting non stop and observing the many sea turtles, sharks and rays we came across in the shallow sea grass beds. 
Later on they offered us a place to stay in Stei…

Inspired by the Romanceur - the truth behind my kayak trip 

- The truth behind my Kayak trip from Pensacola to the keys told through many sarcastic tips and tricks organized in the order I thought of them on my buddies couch. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did writing it.   Dedicated to the many friends I made this past year... 
People are always asking me, "Cole poppa, how do you do it? What do you eat? How do you squeeze all that pile of junk in your yak????"  Well I'll tell ya, but the truth is I hate gear. It's a bitter sweet love-hate relationship it is, the one between my gear and I. We fight and argue, sometimes things get physical but we always come back to each other. Sometimes I pick up new gear and leave the old stuff behind, or trash it, or heck my best friend starts using it and then I get jealous and take it back. Sometimes waking up in the morning with it is just the worse and I can't stand the sight of it all. In the end though all this gear makes life outside on the boat worth it. Read on for Cole Pop…

Bikes Bikes Bikes  

So currently after paddling roughly 100 miles in the past 3 days I've been holding up in Tallahassee. It's been a great place to wait out the unfavorable weather and for my good friend Harrison to come up and paddle the next big section with me. Right now the trip stands at about 300 miles in two weeks, with around 500 miles left. I'm feeling good and ready to paddle, but as of now I've been pedaling!     Anyone who knows me knows I love bikes and have been working on them since I was kid. I currently have 7 stuffed in my apartment while I'm away. I figured while I was here in Tally I'd check out the local bike community and see if I could get my hands on something to ride around. I got much more than that. 
   I poked around a few shops and had some good talks but nothing prepared me for where I spent most of my time today. A friend of a friend referred me to Bike House, a local warehouse loaded with bikes, piles of parts, tools, and quite a few friendly hel…

Artificial Reef Chief

This Tuesday I had the opportunity to meet up with my dad (Keith Kolasa) and artificial reef specialist Tim Mullane in Port St. Joe. We met at their shipyard, Colleen Marine, and got to check out the material that Hernando county is having deployed this summer. All of the material will be loaded on a barge and shipped over through the Gulf of Mexico.

 "What a heck of a boat" I thought as we walked up to the barge. I couldn't imagine driving this massive hunk of metal loaded down with tons and tons of concrete all the way back down to Hernando beach, let alone my 100 pound gear-laiden sea kayak. Later we had walked around the ship yard observing the material that will be placed on the sea floor off Hernando Beach. Concrete pyramids stacked 8 feet tall, cubes and culverts, and other innovative designs were scattered all over the place. "Everything is made here and designed to provide habitat and structure for the marine organisms" Tim explained. "If you pu…

Days 7 & 8 - Week one done..are we there yet?

No journey is complete without that feeling of "are we there yet" or "how much further". For me it's been "I wonder if home for the night will be around this corner" or "are those trees up ahead or some buildings far off in the distance?".  It's been 2 long days of paddling, totaling close to 60 miles or so in just the past 2 days. Conditions haven't exactly been favorable as the winds pick up in the afternoon, but I've enjoyed calm and cool mornings. Sunday was incredibly slow as I passed by seemingly never changing scenery and had to watch the high rise condos of Panama City slowly get bigger every stroke from over 20 miles out. You can imagine that the miles pass by quite slowly. Luckily I was greeted by FCT Trail Angel Fred Borg, who gave me a ride, a hot meal, a bed, and anything else I could've needed. Thanks again Fred!

  Monday marked a week since I've been paddling, and it sure feels like it's …

Day 6 - New gear and old friends!

After a quick breakfast and a little gear clean up this morning I was surprised by a phone call from Mrs. Kim Luallen, a former teacher from my elementary school. She recently moved to a town near where I was staying and said she'd be happy to meet up and bring me anything I need! I couldn't resist her offer so after a quick talk we met up and drove over to the local outfitters where I picked up some spare dry bags, a new ground tarp to keep the sand out of my gear, and some my flies for some fishing later on the trip.

We had a short lunch and they dropped me off back at the campsite. Always a pleasure to see some old friends, and I enjoyed talking with her son Zach, who I used to mentor when I was about 11 years old. Thanks again Luallen family!

The rest of the afternoon was spent organizing, re-charging, and a little light studying of my charts and books for the trip. Feeling prepared and excited to cover some ground ( water?) tomorrow!

Day 5 - Not so easy paddling...

Well, conditions definitely picked up today! After a long morning of getting organized and doing some laundry, I launched around noon into heavy winds and some choppy surf. With a little struggle I paddled out past the break and started my short paddle inland to Grayton beach park where I'm currently at now.

  After 8 miles or so of choppy conditions I landed with a fun ride in on the surf and was greeted with a cold drink and some help with my Kayak from a lovely family on shore. It seems there's no shortage of helping hands in the panhandle!

I managed to snag a primitive camp sight just next to shore the rain started. In need of a freshwater wash-down I was happy to soak in the rain and rinse all my other salty gear. The weather is supposed to stay windy and stormy tomorrow, so I plan on using it as a planning and organization day while I wait out the weather. I've been making good time, so it won't hurt to have a day off the water.

Day 4 - A Little Help From the Smiths

Today marks my 4th day on the water and about 75 miles paddled total! Things have been fun for sure, and getting settled and working out the kinks in my gear has been interesting. Everyday I get a little faster, and everything develops a rhythm of its own. My route today involved transitioning to the Gulf from the inter coastal. I left from Fort Walton beach and paddled into Destin out the East Pass. The waters were crystal clear, and momentarily I felt I was already in the keys. Guess not. I got my first taste of big waves as I pushed out past the wakes from the many boats passing by and then into the open sea. I'm excited to say that the boat held together great and is still water tight after being knocked around today!

  As I neared my destination, Topsail Hill State Park, I had to figure out how to make a landing in the rough surf. I went for the "go as fast as I can and hop out before I hit something" method. Sure enough as I paddled in I caught a sma…

Day 3 - Easy Paddling

Today has been one the best paddling days so far as I covered 12 miles before 11:00 am and another 12 after a quick lunch break! I left close to 7:30 this morning and landed in Navarre around 11. There was a nice landing point just inside the intercoastal so I stopped and enjoyed a delicious lunch.

   Later on I passed by some pristine beaches and when coming into my destination for the night found the island covered in Canadian Geese! I definitely was careful around those guys.

   Tomorrow will be my first day on the gulf and in open water! Looking forward to the emerald coast and it's crystal clear waters!!

Day 2 - Deep Water

Woke up to a beautiful sunrise and decided to get right at it! Was a cool 60 degrees and I got an early start! Right off the bat I entered the main channel coming out of Pensacola, depths exceed 50 feet here so I proceeded with caution as several large ships were moving in and out frequently. Luckily the water was flat and I only had a few small boat wakes to deal with. Passing Fort Pickens I stopped and observed the old structure which has stood since the civil war era.

The day consisted of easy paddling over a 17 mile course with a few bridges and small bay crossings. I landed early around 2:00 pm and decided to take the time to relax and enjoy the beautiful campsite I'm staying at.

Currently enjoying the sunset and looking forward to a big 24 mile day tomorrow!