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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Starr

The Mermaid Survival guide

Updated: Apr 8, 2022

Standup Paddleboard Boca Grande Placida Florida Gasparilla Sound Glass Bottom Rentals

I guess it's easy look at what I do from the outside and say, “I want to be Tour Guide Barbie” or “you got the life”. Honestly, I have my moments where I get a tad irked when people assume I am nothing more than a beach blonde that plays all day, because the reality is most people couldn’t live the Eco Tour Guide life. It's not for the weak or money hungry, we do what we do because we are passionate adrenaline junkies who love nature.

At GBR we are off the grid, meaning we are down a dirt road, with no power or water, just us and the elements. Somedays it's sunny and 80, that’s one of those days most people comment how easy we got it, but how tired are you after you spend 8 hours at the beach? Now let’s throw in carrying 80lbs boats up and down the launch all day, answering phones, scheduling, talking to people walking by, and paddling a couple of miles all while educating, entertaining and taking pictures. That’s a “dream job" day. Most days are not that. We have days it's 50 degrees with 12mph winds and days it's 100 degrees, no winds with sudden severe storms that pop up. There are times we go for 14 days without a single day off, and times we go months with no work because of a harmful algae bloom. It’s a lot like primitive camping with an adventure every day, so a Mermaid Survival Guide is needed.

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First things first is the safety of myself and guests while we are on the water. Where we explore the Gasparilla sound the average depth is about 5 feet, depending on tide, but with some very strong moving currents because of the pass. We have safety first policies for winds and tides, but the reality is Mother Nature does what she wants, and conditions can change quickly, so I need to be skilled and prepared for any shift in conditions. Keeping in mind I am in the Walmart tax bracket, not the Patagonia, these are the must haves on my board whether I am giving a tour our just out on my own.

-I use a 15lbs anchor because that is all I trust with being able to hold ten kayaks in that strong current.

-As for the rope I use to tie up boats, or to tow people with, I'm not too picky, polypropylene is nice but doesn’t last long.

-Next on my must have is a knife or two, and not just because I am the girl who always has several knifes on her. I keep two ceramic knifes on my board that won’t rust in saltwater or need to be sharpened. I use my knife frequently while out on the water to cut fishing lines that are caught around mangroves or marine life.

-As far as a PDF (personal floatation device) I use a belt because I dive into the water and swim frequently, so I want something that comes on and off with ease and is comfortable. Attached to my PDF is a whistle because screaming for help just isn't that effective.

-Last on my must be on the board list is my water bottle, because the salty air just sucks the moisture right out of you, especially when you are talking for two hours straight while paddling. The few times I have forgotten my water I have regretted it and returned to the launch resembling a mermaid out of water, parched and about to pass out.

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I am terrible at wearing sunblock, I swim and sweat so much It feels gross, so I do get a little burned here and there. My remedy for days I get sunburnt is aloe, and we have some growing right at the shop, and at my house. I do recommend everyone wears a sunblock and please make it reef safe, my personal favorite brand is Sunbum.

Glass Bottom Rentals Blog Healthy snack

I really am the girl who always has a knife, probably several and anyone who knows me loves to make fun of me for it, but I promise they have had to use one. And how else would I eat my peanut butter, especially the stir kind? Don’t be surprised if you come down to the launch and I’m sitting on a blanket licking peanut butter off my knife just off the water. It's just another day and the life of a Mermaid.

Until the next adventure…stay salty

The Salty Boca Mermaid.

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