Thursday, January 16, 2014

Knowledgeable, nice, well-stocked! Sweetwater Kayaks, St. Petersburg, Florida

This is the place for kayaks in southern Florida. Sweetwater Kayaks! It's their religion. We spent so much time in the "shop" during our visit last week, I was happy they didn't kick us out. I guess they understood, we too have the "love of good kayak's disease".

I don't know what to call the building Sweetwater Kayaks lives in besides awesome. It is too nice, unique, and perhaps historical to be called a store or a warehouse. It's Sweetwater Kayaks on 10000 Gandy Blvd. in St. Petersburg, Florida.

There is such a great choice of high-end kayaks, you get a bit of a rush walking into the store. It has a nice feel.

NDK (Nigel Dennis Kayaks). A good choice of the ever-popular Pilgrim.
Hey wait. An NDK Romany demo kayak? I wish I had time to borrow it for a few days and take it home. I tried a Romany S a few years back on a Tampa Bay Florida trip paddling from Cockroach Bay with Don Thompson from Big D's Kayaking and I'm still hooked. A great kayak, and a knowledgeable, fun guide and instructor.
I got caught up and spent most of my time in the store with the Tiderace sea kayaks. The Tiderace Xcite reminded me so much of my own Maelstrom Vital 166. Suspended from the ceiling with ropes mean the kayaks hang free. You can feel under the hull and imagine the glide on the water. I crawled on my hands and knees on the floor underneath the Tiderace kayaks to have a closer look. The salesperson seemed to take note of my behaviour, but this is normal kayak inspection procedure, right?
Valley kayaks, (of the Valley's and my smaller girl frame, the Avocet fits and suits me best), and North Shore, more British designed kayaks. I've seen the North Shore kayaks popping up on Canadian waters and in Canadian kayaking stores too, but I've yet to try one.
Ocean sit-on-tops, fishing kayaks, and some 3-piece plastic modular craft that don't look like kayaks to us but a stuffed-green alligator mascot seems to like it.
There is a room dedicated to paddle boards. Florida is a hub for paddleboards and paddleboarding. The prices and choices are so much better in the U.S. than in Canada!
Sweetwater Kayaks is an excellent kayaking resource if you want to paddle and kayak shop in southern Florida. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and their website has information about local weather, wind, seas, tides, water temperatures and much more. It is a reference hub for paddlers. It's a paddle village.

On the way out of Sweetwater Kayaks, there was a video of Dubside (an expert and inspiring legend of Greenland rolling and rope gymnastics) playing and rolling in the the surf with a GP (Greenland paddle). It's so hard to leave the store. Temptations are everywhere.

Sweetwater Kayaks puts on an annual sea kayak symposium in February. This year it's February 22-March 1, 2015. If you can make it, enjoy!

I visited Sweetwater Kayaks in 2010 on my first Florida trip when they had moved into a smaller, waterfront location during recessionary times. A location they affectionately refer to now as "The Shack." Let's see if I can dredge up a photo of the old location? Here it is. It was a pretty nice little waterfront shack near Weedon Island Preserve.
We met Russell Farrow of Sweetwater Kayaks on that first trip to southern Florida in April 2010. Russell saw us taking pictures of each other on-site. He said, "Do you want me to take a picture of you two together?"
Thanks Russell. I'm happy to see Sweetwater Kayaks is more than alive and well!

Here's a link to that 2010 post.
Sweetwater Kayaks, St. Pete's, Florida, April 2010

That interesting and awesome shower curtain with the sea shells still lives in the Sweetwater Kayaks store.
But, what did I find this time in the intriguing Sweetwater Kayaks restroom? What's the story behind this interesting orange jug faucet? Closing the tap will challenge you to find its sweet spot!
Go ponder. And go visit. You're sure to find something of interest.

Kayaking has a spirit of wonder and knowledge.
Happy paddles!
The BaffinPaddler

2 comments:

  1. Good to see them back on their feet again! I agree, fun place, fun people and they put on a fun symposium! Go there y'all!

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  2. Sunshine, beaches and a fine selection of kayaks! Who could ask for more! And what a beautiful building; it definitely looks like a great place to visit!

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