Sissel Robertson

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Observer Article: A Stroke of Serenity

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A stroke of serenity

If you feel you’re up the creek without a paddle, it’s Sissel Robertson to the rescue

January 6, 2016
By John Morton (jmorton@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

It was about this time five years ago that Sissel Robertson dragged her kayak from Montana to Fort Myers Beach to start a business.

Was she crazy?

“Well, I’ll admit I didn’t have a plan B,” Robertson said. “It had to work.”

Article Photos

Sissel Robertson helps Ally Johnson out of her kayak after a trip through Estero Bay.

And it has.

Still thriving on the grounds of the Fish-Tale Marina is Crazy Woman Kayaks, which is housed in a trailer and features kayak rentals and accessories on Estero Bay. Rowers can go to it alone or be accompanied by the 63-year-old Robertson herself, who began kayaking with her father at age 3 in her native Norway.

“There’s nothing more peaceful, more relaxing,” Robertson said. “You can get a workout or just let the wind take you. And do not worry – it’s nearly impossible to get lost on Estero Bay.”

The clientele that has emerged, however, has surprised Robertson. In many ways it’s been a reflection.

“My market research wasn’t that great. I thought I’d get lots of twenty- and thirty-somethings and young families,” she said, “but what I’m getting is a lot of older women on their own. Many are older than me.”

The therapeutic nature of coasting through nature likely explains it.

Women feel a lot of stress – especially the married ones and the mothers – and sometimes they need alone time,” Robertson said. “Sixty minutes on the water and you’ll feel so much better.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m offering therapy services. Maybe I should be the ‘Don’t Go Crazy’ Kayak Woman.”

She points to the recent outing she shared with local resident Bonnie Roberts as affirmation of what splendor she offers. Roberts, 69, runs the neighboring Santini Plaza Farmers Market and has been undergoing chemotherapy.

“She was apprehensive, but once she did it she felt victorious,” Robertson said.

Said Roberts, “She’d been talking to me about going out for more than a year. I didn’t think I’d be up to it, but I’m so thankful I finally did it.

“I saw osprey and blue herons up close and we went through this mangrove – we had to pull on the branches to get through – and into the most beautiful lagoon I’ve ever seen. A more peaceful day I’ve never had. It was just good for the soul. I’d call it magical. Life changing.”

Recent customer Ally Johnson agreed. She was visiting from Riverside, Calif., with her only prior kayak trip being one in Maine.

“I saw nothing on that one,” she said. “Today, I saw dolphins. Wow. And then there were the jumping fish, which were just hilarious.”

And with that, the tough-as-nails Robertson tossed Johnson’s kayak over her shoulder and meandered back to her trailer with a whistle-while-you-work nonchalance, ready to play water therapist for another willing participant.

“Isn’t this just great?” she asked.

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Welcome to my first blog!

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Today is too windy to paddle, but just right for blogging.

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Just wanted to thank you and let you know what a good time we had.

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Hi Sissel,

My friend and I stopped by The Naughty Pine and spoke with you last Aug.  We picked up our kayaks at TNP for a 2 hr cruise on the river.  It was my first time kayaking but my friend is an old hat at it. Can’t remember the couple’s names who helped us at TNP but they were absolutely great to work with.  They were very helpful and made the experience a lot of fun.

We had a blast going up to Marten Creek and your kayaks were a breeze to learn how to use.

Just wanted to thank you and let you know what a good time we had. And my husband Jim and I will be up in Trout Creek again mid-Sept and we plan on stopping by TNP and renting them again.

 

Many Thanks

 

Melinda Murray

I would highly recommend giving Crazy Woman Kayaks

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Hola Sissel

…A few days ago, on an unplanned stop in Thompson Falls, my friend & I saw a fun-looking advertisement for ‘Crazy Woman Kayaks’. Having just spent the day driving alongside lake Pend D’Oreille & the Clark Fork River, we were definitely interested in playing in the water! After calling the number on the sign, I was saddened to receive the ‘after hours greeting’, but I left a brief message anyway to say it had looked like fun, and perhaps on a future visit to T.Falls, we’d stop by.

A few minutes later, I received a call back from Sissel at Crazy Woman Kayaks, saying that since it was still light out, she’d be willing to let us rent a kayak! We were excited that she’d go out of her way to make this happen for us. For the next 2 hours, we had a wonderful experience, both in meeting & talking with Sissel and in the beautiful scenery while in a tandem kayak on the Clark Fork. We were amazed at how many different types of birds we saw, as well as plenty of jumping fish, otters, and a few deer. It was a lovely late afternoon, and the lighting, weather, and lack of insects was PERFECT!

I would highly recommend giving Crazy Woman Kayaks an opportunity to provide you with some entertainment while in Thompson Falls. Sissel is very friendly & knowledgeable. Although it was just in it’s early stages of having opened when we came through, she was very professional, and there’s a lot of equipment to accomodate various skills of kayakers, as well as larger groups.

Now, give Crazy Woman Kayaks a call, and GET ON THE RIVER! You won’t regret it!

Kerri
Great Falls, MT

Been doing this for 20 years and Crazy Woman was the first place to ever provide whistle.

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Found Wonderful Seats for our kayaks. Sissel was very helpful. Been doing this for 20 years and Crazy Woman was the first place to ever provide whistle.

Tania + Eric Hunt

What an exciting time we had.

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My eleven year-old daughter and myself had a wonderful adventure on your kayaks. We saw 3 manatees, 2 dolphins & 1 sea turtle. What an exciting time we had. I island animals love the kayaks. They are very curious and not frightened, like they are with the motor boats. Thanks!

Cindee Shandy

Thank you for making us feel like “old friends.

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….Beautiful weather + a gracious hostess. Thank you for making us feel like “old friends.”

Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Hill, New York 13970

My 1st time was great!

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Great day! Saw tons of pelicans sitting in trees. Very prehistoric looking. Saw 2 manatees & many egrets. My 1st time was great! Felt very safe.

Lucy Omelley