Resupply Strategy


Maildrops

Ten days worth of food was the most I ever carried during my circumnavigation of Florida. I might have been able to cram a full two-week’s worth into the hatch, but a trip that lasts any longer requires that the thru-paddler resupply groceries. Kayakers are limited to those grocery stores that are within walking distance of the shore, but in many coastal towns the groceries are not in the oldest part of town built close to the shore, but miles away among the new development. Even when there are groceries, they may be small and unable to serve people with special dietary needs (vegans, the lactose intolerant, those with celiac’s, et cetera).

 

Fortunately, there is a workaround. Appalachian & Pacific Crest Trail hikers are familiar with maildrops, but many paddlers may not be. The US Postal Service allows you to mail packages to yourself care of local post offices, a service called General Delivery. The local office will typically hold the package for 30 days before sending it to its return address. Just arrive in person, show your picture ID, and receive your package. If you use Priority Mail flat-rate boxes, the only cost is postage.  

 

Here’s how to address the package:

Your Name                        ex:       Mike Ruso

General Delivery                          General Delivery

Town, State                                   Homosassa, FL

Zip Code                                       34487


us postal service logo

The zip code is in effect, the identification number for that area’s post office. Find zip codes for local post offices by visiting the USPS website or simply using Google.

 

If you are planning to circumnavigate Florida, I recommend using maildrops in these towns because of difficulties reaching grocery stores on foot or the limited selection at small groceries:

 

  • Mexico Beach (poor selection)
  • Apalachicola (only if you make that detour—otherwise hold out until Carrabelle)
  • Steinhatchee (poor selection)
  • Cedar Key (poor selection)
  • Homosassa (no grocery within walking distance)
  • Pass-a-Grille (there is a Publix near the public beach at St. Pete Beach, but the PO at Pass-a-Grille is easier to reach)
  • Bradenton Beach (no grocery)
  • Boca Grande (there is a Publix on Don Pedro Island before the Grande Tours Outdoor Center but it is very difficult to reach and requires climbing over a tall seawall into someone’s backyard)
  • Matlacha (no grocery)
  • Everglades City (poor selection)
  • Key West (no grocery anywhere—in fact, groceries are so difficult to reach in the Keys it’s best to use mail drops the entire time)
  • St. Augustine (no grocery)

 

*Note: If you get a maildrop in Pass-a-Grille, there is no need to stop in Bradenton Beach and vise-versa. If you get a maildrop in Boca Grande, a stop in Matlacha is unneeded, and vise versa.