Within the kayaking community, there is an understood “friendship” with fellow paddlers – even if you have never met. So, one evening, we were contacted by a “fellow paddler” about offering assistance (a yard to camp in, a meal, a cup of coffee…) to Steve Chard who was currently in Jacksonville, Florida. He was on his way to Nova Scotia on a kayaking journey raising funds for charities in the U.S., Canada, and the UK. Heather, the “fellow paddler” stated, “I can honestly say he is nothing but kind and gracious and has some wonderful stories to tell of his adventure. I have known nothing but kindness and friendship in the paddling community, and I hope he can experience the same on his journey.”
Just so you know, we love an adventure! We immediately responded to the message, and provided our contact information for Steve. A day later, he called!
Steve is from a small village in England, and is paddling the Great Loop, starting his journey from Nova Scotia! What is the Great Loop you may ask? It is a system of waterways that encompasses the eastern portion of the United States and part of Canada. It is made up of both natural and man-made waterways, including the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, Intracoastal waterways, Great Lakes, the Tombigbee River in Tennessee, the Mississippi River, and other tributaries. The entire loop is approximately 6,000 miles/9,600 kilometers long.
He was kayaking from Jacksonville, Florida to Amelia Island, Florida, and as he was approaching Amelia Island, he called us to arrange a place to meet. Our owner, Mark, greeted him and loaded up his kayak and gear.
First things first. It was a cold day, so a hot shower was priority! Then we were off for a good meal. Once we got him settled in, he was eager to share his day’s event on his social media and then “hit the sack”.
After a hot breakfast, we sat around the table with a map as Steve told his stories. He gave a play by play of his journey from Nova Scotia, and showed us his projected route back to Nova Scotia.
We asked him to “autograph” one of our kayak paddles, and he placed our AIKE sticker on his boat. Mark and I joined Steve as he departed Amelia Island on to Cumberland Island by crossing the Cumberland Sound. He promised to return as we swapped heart-felt good byes, and we thought what a great new friend we have made!
To the world, he may not be a celebrity, but to us, an ordinary person who takes on such a noble and extrodinary feat is quite special. A kind-hearted man on an adventure, Steve Chard is helping the ones who help us by bringing awareness to their causes.
– The Bullington Family
You can follow him and his progress on Kayak The Great Loop-Paddle with Steve. Below is the full list of the charities he is involved with.