Start: 7:50 AM- Chaz… Springs
Finish: 5:15 PM - Island off of New Port Richie
Daily dist: 35 miles
Total dist: x miles
Weather: Chilly (by Florida standards) with a 10 mph north tail wind
Notes: Charlotte dropped me off at the landing and I had a great down wind run. I put on three extra miles and an extra 45 minutes to the time by paddling into Port Richy for a TV interview.
Since early yesterday, I have been in contact with Chris from the local TV news station trying to figure out how I could meet up with a camera crew and reporter for an interview. We didn’t have time to meet up in the morning and the only camp site the paddling guide shows in this area is tucked back in the marshy shore line far from any road access. So, in order to meet up with the camera crew I needed a spot where both of us would have access so we could do the interview and I could continue on to the campsite. The town of Hudson, a few miles before the camp, looked like it might work but was less than ideal. Two miles down the coast from the camp a park near New Port Richy was indicated on the guide as a place to get drinking water which could work. However, I didn’t want to have to do a two mile backtrack for the interview so I fired up Google Earth and started looking around the water stop location to see if there might be a place to camp. What do you know a quick search revealed an island just a mile off shore from the New Port Richy entrance. Being just a couple miles from the park indicated on the guide, this spot would enable me to do the interview and still make it a bit further down coast to the island before dark.
After already paddling nearly two miles out of my way and with daylight rapidly running out I was not interested in back tracking to the other park. So we both turned on our GPS’s and were trying to find land/water access where we could meet. As I scrutinized the tiny screen on my GPS with my phone pressed against my ear I drifted around a large house on a bend in the channel. Right then I looked up and my eyes picked up lettering on the roof of a dock side restaurant a quarter mile away. One by one, past the edge of the house, ten foot tall bright orange letters of the name of the restaurant were slowly revealed; H-O-O-T-E-R-S. “No way,” I exclaimed to the reporter, “a Hooters!” Not only did we both instantly know where I was there was a boat ramp right next door. So that was it, “Meet me at the boat ramp by Hooters.”