Before you go make sure you’re prepared. The following is a list of helpful information.
PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICES (PFDS)
Wear a Coast Guard approved type III-V, properly adjusted lifejacket at all times when you are in or near the river.
FILE A FLOAT PLAN
Tell someone where you are going, when you expect to return, and where to call if you don’t. A float plan is available online at www.floridastateparks.org/park/Suwannee-River-Wilderness-Trail or by calling 1-800-868-9914 for the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail headquarters.
PADDLE AT YOUR SKILL-LEVEL
Make sure that your water skills and experience are equal to the river and the conditions. During fall and winter, hunters are active on or near the river. Check before arriving for exact dates and seasons. In an emergency, stay with your canoe/kayak.
KNOW THE WATER LEVEL
Find out about river conditions — if the water is flooded, low, or normal. A flooded river is often dangerous and should be avoided. A low river may expose logs, stumps or rocks, requiring many liftovers, which make the trip slower and more difficult.
SHARING THE RIVER
Respect fisherman and landowners. Respect private property.
SECURE YOUR GEAR
Use a strap for eyeglasses and sunglasses. Carry gear and personal items in watertight containers or bags. Tie car keys to canoe or kayak or leave with outfitter
State fishing licenses in fresh and salt water are required, and species and size requirements are enforced.
Do not leave food unattended. Store food in a secure compartment aboard a vessel or in a hard-sided cooler (not foam). Take food and water for one extra day.
Bring trash bags for litter. Help keep our waterways beautiful!
REMEMBER: SAFE USE OF RIVERS
AND ANY DESIGNATED TRAILS,
AT ANY TIME, IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!
Use toilets where provided. Bring a small plastic trowel for use at other times. Where there is no toilet, dig a hole at least six inches deep and cover it after use or, better yet, pack human waste and toilet paper to the nearest toilet (70 steps [200 ft.] from the bank of the river). Please wash dishes (and yourself) away from waterways and sprinkle the graywater over the ground to keep soap out of the river.
DON’T FEED THE ANIMALS
Do not approach wildlife so closely that it interrupts their natural behavior. Enjoy the diverse wildlife — but from a safe distance.
Carry fresh water (1 gallon / 4 liters per person per day), compass, maps, anchor, sunscreen, sunglasses, rain gear, insect repellent, and tent (with insect netting).
Canoeists will encounter motorboats. Angle into the wake of a boat to minimize the chance of overturning.
IF YOU ARE IN TROUBLE
Stay with your vessel near a landmark or campsite. Set anchor or tie up immediately. Call 911. Try to attract the attention of other boaters.
WINDS AND WEATHER
Thunderstorms occur frequently in summer. Hurricane season is June through November. Prepare for sudden wind and weather changes at any time. Anchor or tie your boat securely.
Old gym shoes or shoes with tops and sides offer the most protection. Avoid sandals. Use a sun hat on bright warm days. Take along a windbreaker or rain gear.
Carry at least one signaling device on every trip — a flashlight, strobe, three flares, horn/whistle, cell phone, VHF radio, bright flag or a mirror are some key items to have along.
CONTACT US BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Call the Suwannee River Water Management District for river levels, land restrictions, access or special conditions. 386.362.1001, 800.226.1066 (FL only) www.mysuwanneeriver.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For water levels, see also water.weather.gov and there are many mobile phone apps for this.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!