Without A Paddle

Journalist Warren Richey has written a book, Without A Paddle that is equally about paddling a kayak and about coping with a difficult marriage breakup.
If you’ve ever sat for long periods of time in a kayak while making a crossing or just having no place to easily get out, you’ve got nothing on Warren. He was finishing up a leg of the twelve hundred mile Ultimate Florida Challenge and had to paddle 24 hours straight. Hallucinations----sure. But the challenge also gave him unlimited time to ruminate and evaluate his life. For the entire book, he is on the cusp of proposing to the new love of his life.

Despite the angst that he brings to the book, it is quite entertaining and keeps you wondering just how it will all turn out—the UFC, the marriage proposal, his relationship with his son, and his experiences with storms, rednecks, ‘gators and water moccasins. It’s a good read and will keep paddlers and those “without a paddle”, entertained.

Publication Review of Without A Paddle

As far as Warren Richey knew, his life was on course. A reporter with a beautiful wife and talented son, Richey couldn’t imagine how it could be any better....Then his marriage falls apart and he can’t imagine how it could be any worse.
The divorce leaves Richey questioning everything, while struggling to find a way forward. To get his bearings, he enters the first Ultimate Florida Challenge, an all-out twelve-hundred-mile kayak race around Florida.

The UFC is less of a race than it is a dare or a threat. The thirty-day deadline sets a grueling, twenty-four-hour-a-day pace through shark- , alligator- , and even python-infested waters. But those twelve hundred miles are only a fraction of a journey that pulls Richey back to when he was embedded with troops in Iraq, reporting on missing children, and hiking the mountains of Montana with his son, and shows him where he went wrong, where he went right, and how to do it better the second time around.

Warren Richey’s memoir Without a Paddle is a remarkable physical and emotional journey that cuts to the heart of what it means to be a man, a husband, and a father.

Following is short description of the 2010 version of the Ultimate Florida Challenge taken from the Tampa Bay (Florida) Times

On Saturday, eight daring men will leave St. Petersburg for a 1,200-mile kayak/canoe race around Florida.

The Ultimate Florida Challenge, held just once before, in 2006, will send them south along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, through the Everglades, across the Florida Keys, north along the Atlantic beaches, on the St. Mary's River to the woods of north Florida, where they will carry or tow their watercrafts 40 miles to the Suwannee River, then paddle back to the gulf.

The rules are simple: The first person back to the beach at Fort De Soto Park wins. The course record is 19 days, 6 hours, 48 minutes. Contestants, who paid $995, have 30 days to finish.

The UFC and two concurrent races (the 68-mile Ultra Marathon and the 300-mile Everglades Challenge) are organized by the WaterTribe, a tight-knit group of paddlers who live for adventure in small boats. Members of "The Tribe" — they number in the hundreds — have tribe names that often reflect their paddling personas.
The next Ultimate Florida Challenge is in 2014. Start training today.

Thanks to Bill McCormick for loaning me his copy of the book.

Reviewed by George Granlund

New to Kayaking?

Don't know how to get started? Which boat to buy? How to learn without embarrassment? What if it tips over? Do I have to roll the kayak?

We were all beginners once and we'd be happy to help you with the basics. Before you even buy a boat, why not stop in at our monthly meeting (see the Paddlers Calendar) for some friendly advice from experienced paddlers. Whether you're interested in calm afternoons on one of Michigan's beautiful lakes and rivers or two weeks in the wilderness, we can help - we've been there.

To ask any questions or to contact the group for any reason, please send an e-mail to Eastcoastpaddlers@gmail.com