How a kayak adventure helped me conquer my biggest fear

“Do what you fear and fear disappears”. 

David Joseph Schwartz

Being an adventurous soul, I am always looking for a new challenge and try things I have never done before. It is both scary and exciting all at once! That is exactly what happened during my trip to Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands last spring.

What really motivated me to go were the many activities on the menu and among them was river kayaking. In order to prepare myself for it, I watched a few videos on YouTube to learn the basics. However nothing prepared me for the real thing!

What I truly feared the most was capsizing or tipping over but since I am a big mama, I didn’t think it would be possible! Did I even mention the fact that there might be some alligators in their natural habitat?

After getting a great night’s sleep at The Boca Grande Resort, I woke up a bit earlier than everyone else because I wanted to see the sunrise from the marina which is located in the back.

Marina, pier, Boca Grande, Florida, SW Florida, Charlotte Harbor, wooden pier, boats

Marina, pier, Boca Grande, Florida, SW Florida, Charlotte Harbor, wooden pier, boats

After enjoying it for a few moments, it was time to meet with the group and head to the Outlet Restaurant to refuel (breakfast) for the busy and fun-filled day.

What better way to start the day than having breakfast al fresco at this waterfront property!

Outlet Restaurant, outdoor,  Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor, SW Florida, Florida, View

Our fabulous group:

journalists, Outlet Restaurant, outdoor,  Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor, SW Florida, Florida, CHGIFL

L to R (clockwise): Theresa, Kim, Mary Jane, Risa, Jennifer, Jurate and yours truly)

The food is delicious and the portions are huge. Just look at my plate!

Delicious western omelet which had a kick thanks to the jalapeño pepper!

Outlet Restaurant, outdoor,  Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor, SW Florida, Florida, View

Breakfast with a view!

As we were leaving, something caught my eye in the garden. It was literally calling me & I had to make my way to get closer and capture its beauty!

pink hibiscus, flowers, garden, outlet restaurant, Boca Grande, Florida, SW FL, view

Gorgeous isn’t it?

Right after we traveled for about 1 hour to reach our next destination, Shell Creek which is located in Hathaway Park in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Our host & guide Chris Warren from Phoenix Rising Kayak Tours was waiting for us. His company organizes kayak tours throughout Southwest Florida. From sunrise to sunset, from a river to the Gulf! He can even arrange an intimate Kayak wedding as he is fully authorized by the State! Pretty original idea right?

Phoenix Rising Kayak Tours, Kayak, Kayaking, SW Florida, Florida, Tours, Adventures,

Now as you know kayaking requires a few steps and they are:

Step 1: Put on life jacket (but of course!)

Phoenix Rising Kayak Tours, Kayak, Kayaking, SW Florida, Florida, Tours, Adventures,

Step 2: Listen very carefully to the instructions (what to do and what NOT to do)

Phoenix Rising Kayak Tours, Kayak, Kayaking, SW Florida, Florida, Tours, Adventures,

Step 3: Choose your kayak, adjust footrests and become familiar (how to get in and how to get out, how to use the paddle)

Phoenix Rising Kayak Tours, Kayak, Kayaking, SW Florida, Florida, Tours, Adventures,

Step 4: Get in the water

Phoenix Rising Kayak Tours, Kayak, Kayaking, SW Florida, Florida, Tours, Adventures

Step 5: Do NOT bump into your instructor 🙂

Phoenix Rising Kayak Tours, Kayak, Kayaking, SW Florida, Florida, Tours, Adventures,

Step 6: Paddle away

Phoenix Rising Kayak Tours, Kayak, Kayaking, SW Florida, Florida, Tours, Adventures

Let me be totally honest with you. I was not scared…I was petrified! My heart was beating so fast that I think animals heard it from far away 😉

What was I thinking? Let’s see:

“Am I doing this right?”

“Oh everyone else is moving faster and I’m like a turtle.”

“What if an alligator comes and bites me, boy is he going to have a feast. I will be the meal of his day!”

“Oh I’m so glad I bought life insurance”

Really ridiculous thoughts crossed my mind which now make me sound like and realize that I was indeed in a state of panic!

I obviously had a long face and Chris, who was way ahead of us, slowed down, turned around and came over to see if I was ok.

I shook my head to say no and he simply said: “Karla, take a deep breath. Take time to center yourself. Mother Nature is here wanting to show you her beauty. Just let go, you can do it!”

He then made me realize that my paddle was not in the right direction (notice it in the step 6 above) and patiently showed me, once again, the technique to move forward and to stop which may seem easy at first but it’s not. It takes practice but after a few attempts I got it. I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher, motivator and energetic guide!

Chris kept encouraging me by paddling right next to me and told me amazing stories from his youth. For instance, when he was in his teens, he was an instructor and lived in Maine. There was no other transportation method other than a kayak, so he had to paddle from island to island and as far as 40 miles apart.

I could tell how passionate he is about what he does for a living. What an inspiration!

“Listen to the voice of nature, for it holds treasures for you.”
-Huron Indian proverb

What is great about kayaking is that you move slowly and really have the time to listen to nature as well as admiring wildlife, breathe in fresh air and it is also quite a workout. Concentration and strength is required, so you challenge your body to create a balance!

Phoenix Rising Kayak Tours, Kayak, Kayaking, SW Florida, Florida, Tours, Adventures,

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands Twitter account @CHGIFlorida

We heard the thunders in the distance, so that meant that we had to go back to where we started or we would be caught in the rain.

It was much easier upon return and believe it or not I was one of the first persons to arrive safe and sound on the shore. It started to rain and I couldn’t help but laugh & cry of relief. Lucky me, no one noticed as rain & tears all looked the same ha ha! Divine timing I said to myself.

What a proud moment! I conquered my biggest fear and mastered my 1st kayak experience. That was definitely something I needed! Thankfully I didn’t skip it because it taught me a very valuable lesson of courage and determination.

If you are ever in Charlotte Harbor or in Southwest Florida and would like to go kayaking, you can do so by visiting www.prkayak.com to get more information. The website contains gorgeous photos and really great quotes!

Many thanks to Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau, Above Water PR and Phoenix Rising Kayak Tours for coordinating this adventure.

A very special thank you to Henry, our tour driver from Doris limousine in Port Charlotte who took all the photos of the kayaking tour while the photographer was in the water! I will certainly remember this for the rest of my life 🙂

Tell me, when was last time you were really afraid?

How did you overcome it? Did someone help or encourage you?

Share your story with us.

If you have a link, leave it in the comments section.

Better yet, I invite you to write it and let me know once it’s done.

P.S: I hope you enjoyed reading the longest post to date! Actually it’s a mini book chapter. Yes good things take time but when they come they are a great surprise 🙂

More to read:

An adventure on the Boca Grande Bike Path

Shop, eat, stay and play at Fishermen’s Village

The island House Inn at Boca Grande Resort

Photos of the Week: Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands

Destination of the month: Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands

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15 thoughts on “How a kayak adventure helped me conquer my biggest fear

    • traveller soul says:

      Thank you so much. Yes I know they look like you can flip at any time if you make a false move or put more weight in one direction but that’s when you need to focus and have to be in sync when paddling.

      Everything has to be done correctly which is not obvious at first (and your arms hurt a bit) but it gets better and you relax and come closer with nature.

      It’s totally worth it! Give it a try in a lake or maybe a river where there are no alligators ha ha

      Thank you so much for visiting 😉

  1. Theresa says:

    That was a fun day and I for one, was glad not to see a huge alligator.
    No matter how many times I do it, I often get a bit nervous about ziplining. I did one of the longest and highest in North America when I was in Hoonah, Alaska. Check out my video.

    The scariest part was before the actual ziplining.

  2. ailsapm says:

    Ooh, fun and scary at the same time, looks like you had one heck of an adventure. I like the cheery yellow of the kayaks, makes it seem a lot less intimidating. 🙂 Ailsa

    • traveller soul says:

      It sure was scary at first but ended up enjoying it 😉

      I’d definitely do it but maybe at sea or in a river where there are no alligators 😉

      Yes, loved the bright colors of all kayaks. Cheers you up!

      Have you tried kayaking?

      TYVM for your visit 😉

    • traveller soul says:

      Well you know it’s not the kayaking that scared me the most, it’s actually going into the wild where alligators and other creatures live that is so scary!

      My heart was pacing so fast I had to take deep breaths and motivate myself, some good pep talk!

      Though after a little while, I did let go & just listened to the sounds of nature, take in all the energy surrounding the creek. The colors were spectacular. It was like a mini-movie.

      The coordination of movements became almost automatic! It is quite a workout but it requires lots of concentration and you forget about everything else.

      I sure will try your suggestion which sounds less intimidating 😉

      Thanks for visiting!

      Kay

  3. Christopher Warren says:

    Hey Karla, Alligators are soooo misunderstood. They have been around for millions of years only because they are efficient. There is NO gang mentality, they want to sleep, keep warm, and eat. Oh , and procreate. Give them the space to do those things, and you are as safe as if you were in your own bed. knowledge, my dear is power over the unknown. BTW, you were brilliant!

    • traveller soul says:

      Thank you so much for that lesson Chris 😉 Being out there & in touch with nature was incredible! I know that animals mean no harm unless they feel they’re in danger. Fight or flight mode exist for them as well.

      This was a life lesson i needed to learn and I couldn’t be happier you were there to lead the group. I’ve so much respect & admiration for what you do with so much passion!

      Oh I’m totally interested in going to that early rising kayaking adventure 😉

      Hope our paths will cross again!

      I wish you lots of success 😉

      Cheers from Montreal, Canada.

      Karla

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