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Pine Island resident kayaks home for Christmas break

By Staff | Dec 31, 2011

A University of West Florida student decided to make his last Christmas break from college an adventure by kayaking 400 miles home to Pine Island – his longest trip to date.

Nathan Jangraw, 20, a senior, said the idea of kayaking home dawned on him as a last-chance opportunity. He will graduate with a criminal justice degree in the spring.

“I wanted to take advantage of it before I had to start working,” he said.

The 18-day trip began Dec. 11 from the eastern part of the Florida panhandle and ended on Pineland Dec. 28. Jangraw said he traveled about 20 miles a day before finding shelter for the night.

Once he took a break after a day of kayaking, he made camps in the wood line near the shore. Jangraw said he went camping whenever he could.

He only took one day off during the trip to rest, during which, he admitted, he still kayaked for a few miles.

The college student brought standard kayaking, sleeping and safety gear with him, along with a sleeping bag and six liters of water.

“At one point I had to make my own water,” Jangraw said, because he ran out.

He also brought a 10-day supply of non-perishable food, including rice, oatmeal and granola bars. The food, he said, had to be the highest calorie count for the lowest weight gain.

Jangraw said although he saw a lot of wildlife on his trip, he did not see a lot of people.

Jangraw’s trip consisted mostly of kayaking in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I was out in the Gulf the whole time. I didn’t go in any rivers or anything,” he said. “I saw the shoreline of the ocean the whole way.”

Although he said the trip went pretty good, it was very difficult at times due to the weather and tides.

“Every day was different because the weather was different,” he said, adding, “I didn’t have any serious problems.”

He was faced with a lot of high winds and shallow water due to the tides, along with really big waves in the Gulf.

“Battling the winds was the hardest thing,” Jangraw said.

Although the waves and winds gave him a problem, he said most of the time the temperatures during the day were really nice. There were only a couple nights that were pretty cold though.

His 400-mile kayaking trip taught him more about kayaking, organization and planning strategies.

“It was really a good time,” he said about his journey home.

Jangraw has always been around kayaks, due to his parents owning one when he was younger.

He said over the past few years his passion for kayaking has grown and he has taken more trips.

Jangraw said he will definitely do another long distance kayaking trip that is more challenging sometime in the future.

Although he kayaked home, he said he will take a bus back to the University of West Florida once the break is over. He is a 2008 graduate of Mariner High School.