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Next Ocean Tribe Paddlers adventure scheduled

By Staff | Dec 6, 2017

Do you want to explore the canals of Sanibel? Join the Sanibel Sea School Ocean Tribe Paddlers Club this Tuesday. PHOTO PROVIDED

Join the Ocean Tribe Paddlers this Tuesday for a paddling adventure through the canals of Sanibel.

Sanibel Sea School Executive Director Dr. Bruce Neill said Ocean Tribe Paddlers is a community organization based around engaging with the ocean in a sustainable, healthy, vibrant way.

“It’s not a break at all from our educational offerings. It’s still very educational. We want to learn about the ocean, but we want to learn about the ocean from a vessel that is paddled by ourselves,” Neill said.

Although the club is based around a sport, he said he does not think anyone that is kayaking, or paddleboarding is solely doing it for exercise.

“It’s a way to engage in the ocean in a different way that has all of those wonderful added benefits of being highly sustainable by not being a boat that is burning gasoline, being healthy and being integrated with the ocean,” Neill said. “The bonus for having paddlers is forming a community that wants to do this together.”

He said they want people to bring their passion to Ocean Tribe Paddlers and share their knowledge, experience with others.

“The idea is community driven, but to make it a community of expertise and welcome new people to either of two things – new people to kayaking, or paddleboarding, and people knew to the area,” Neill said. “We want to be able to share our local expertise of great paddling places with people. Even though magic happens everywhere in the ocean, it happens more frequently in some places than others.”

He gave an example of paddling with a bunch of kids from Causeway Island B to Matlacha Pass. Neill said it was disastrous because it’s a giant boat channel.

From that experience they changed the path making it much more enjoyable.

“There aren’t that many high traffic areas, but there are better and not as better places to paddle,” Neill said.

The other hope for the club is that it be taken over by the constituent members. Sanibel Sea School Outdoor Education Coordinator Walter Cheatham will always be the coordinator and facilitator. Cheatham said their job is to provide the moral and practical compass for the group, ensuring that they are “taking only pictures, and leaving the bubbles when they go out.”

“Very quickly we would like to have it be sort of a very highly member engaged organization,” Neill said. “People are picking the places to go and the adventures. It’s going to be so much better if we get more heads in the room.”

In addition to regularly scheduled paddles, the hope is to have indoor events as well to watch movies, listen to guest speakers and have demo days.

“Although we want to learn about the ocean, we also want to learn about the art of kayaking, which involves a lot of technology,” Neill said. “We want to help people learn more about the ocean. More about paddling.”

The Dec. 12 paddle, which will depart at 4:45 p.m., will travel the canals of Sanibel. Those who attend are asked to show up with anything they would like to paddle.

“Everybody has their niche that they are comfortable in,” Cheatham said.

He said they hope to provide boards and kayaks at some point in the future to the people who belong to the club at the get togethers, so they do not have a hurdle of showing up with their own.

This meeting will be the last hour long adventure.

“It will be less prescribed in the future. It will be more until everyone is exhausted,” Cheatham said.

Human beings are social animals, he said, resulting in people wanting to be with others that belong to a tribe.

“That tribe is a shared community of people who have shared experiences, shared desires and shared passions. That is the drive, it’s where two or more people gather in the name of paddling,” Cheatham said. “There are collateral benefits of having that shared community. If you put yourself on the beach, or at a put-in for kayaks and paddleboards and someone says, ‘oh man that is the new Native Watercraft and I’m dying to try it.’ You say ‘hey you hop in mine and I’ll take yours.’ Then two people have a broader experience than when they started. That helps facilitate the ease of getting out on the water.”

Over the next few months Cheatham said they want to develop it into a very welcoming membership based club.

He encourages families to join, especially when looking at the comprehensive approach of what the Sanibel Sea School is doing in regards to creating a hub for the philosophy of ocean conservation where people come and learn.

“They need to be able to provide the facilitation for furthering that learning. They also need a place to go so they can graduate from the school into a community. If your kids are out there learning how to surf and paddleboard and you don’t do that, where do you go? Here’s a group of people that say heck yeah, bring your 5 year old,” Cheatham said.

For more information, email info@sanibelseaschool.org.