She discovered she loved the experience so much that it seemed only natural for her to share it with others — which led to a career and a richly rewarding life.
Originally from Rochester, N.Y., she grew up boating and canoeing on Lake Ontario. A true water lover, she even worked as a lifeguard on the beach.
Andrea met her husband, Bobby Paulson, while visiting a friend who owned the house he was renting.
“I came down and was expecting to meet some old salty captain,” she recalled. “We met and that was it; it was kind of love at first sight.”
After a long-distance romance that often involved commutes back and forth from Palm Beach, she moved to the Keys permanently in 1993.
While her husband is out guiding flats-fishing trips, Andrea guides her clients on a journey by motorboat seven to nine miles off the Lower Keys. There they begin their kayak adventure in a realm of crystal clear waters, remote islands, pristine beaches, shallow flats, mangroves and more.
While exploring, kayakers enjoy an “off-the-beaten paddle experience,” discovering islands and areas unreachable by kayak alone. They might spot native Keys wildlife like great white herons, ibis, starfish, stingrays, colorful tropical fish, sea turtles and even a dolphin or two.
Offered daily by appointment from Sugarloaf Marina on Sugarloaf Key, Reelax Charters’ fully customized kayak excursions are an escape in time. Participants begin at their leisure — and Andrea doesn’t watch the clock while guests are having fun. Most tours last four to five hours and accommodate up to six people.
A few couples, clearly romanced by the natural beauty of the Florida Keys, have even gotten engaged or tied the knot on one of Andrea’s private kayak excursions.
“I love my job, and when I’m not working I’m out exploring new areas by kayak,” Andrea admitted. “The best part (of my job) is ending the day with a hug from a customer because we’ve had so much fun together it’s almost like we’ve become best friends.”
During her free time, Andrea often finds herself kayaking, fishing with her husband and entertaining other fishermen’s wives. She also enjoys “downtime” with her husband and their yellow Labrador puppy, Clark.
Like a true Paulson, Clark loves the water. In fact, most likely he’ll be spotted exploring the Lower Keys backcountry by kayak sometime soon!