Sunday, March 16, 2008

Everglades Challenge race report: Day 2

Day 2: CP1 to New Pass
During the night, another competitor dragged his boat up in the brush beside us. Turned out to be WhiteCaps in his new Kruger, fast asleep still when I awoke, tucked away inside his boat. And my camping companion was Gus, support crew for SavannahDan and PaddleMaker. I had passed this wonderful tandem crew earlier in the day, and also wasn’t to see them again until they finished – last year we’d crisscrossed each other’s paths.

On the water by 0645 and following the sunrise, I had just enough breeze to help me along with a relaxed paddle style. As with last year, I cut straight across Charlotte Harbor to save some distance from following the marked ICW. But this year the tide was out, and nearing the entrance to Pine Island Sound I discovered a sand bank, and had to drag my boat across it. A few more scrapes along the hull...

A little further down Pine Island Sound I passed Nite Navigator and Nite Song in pretty much the same place as I’d passed them last year. We had a good chuckle together on that. And a little further down, NatureCalls passed me, moving well in their tandem Sega with Balogh rig.

This was about the last time I got any use from the sail. Well before Chino Island, the wind shifted around from a southerly direction. And it pretty much stayed there for the rest of the Challenge. It took some time to beat south into San Carlos Bay, past Picnic Island on a heading for the Sanibel Causeway Bridge – a constant one to two feet chop, with about a 10knot plus headwind. And once out in the open sea, passing my 100-mile distance mark, the chop and headwinds only got worse, all messed even further up by the constant to’ing and fro’ing of speeding pleasure boats. (I must admit, even though I’m not a fan of this method of transport, not a few days later was I envying the ease of their forward motion!)

It had been my plan to spend the night at Wiggins Pass, but in utter frustration I felt I was getting absolutely plurry no where. So east I headed, paddling abeam and inshore to Matanzas Pass. A fair number of boats were heading in the entrance at the end of their boating weekend, and with a scan of my chart, it seemed that I could paddle behind the “mainland” in relative shelter and meander my way down to Wiggins Pass thataway. And it was a new route to explore.

Matanzas Pass, behind San Carlos Island

While the chop definitely subsided, the wind didn’t; and slowly the sun wound its way down as I followed the well-marked channel past moored boats and shore-sided housing.

I then hit my lowest ebb of my race – out of pure frustration with the conditions, which is a bit silly when this is what it’s all about! I remembered Chief’s words, that when you’re at a low and even feeling like pulling out, to make land, have a meal and sleep on it. Which I resolved to do. In the black I found a small strip of private beach from an apartment complex, and dragged my boat out of most views, pitching the tent in a very small clearing up past a couple of deck chairs. Even though I dreamed of someone coming to oust me at any time, guns drawn, I forced down a hot meal (my last for the race) and got a few hours sleep. The wind didn’t let up. But the rest gave me time to reflect, and to have a good chat with myself. This is an adventure, for heaven sake! Tell me again that we’re having fun! On y va!


Michael said...

Which all goes to show why we need to have a few wise 'chiefs' out there! Good for him, and good for you for being a good listener! Paddle on!

Capt'n "O" Dark 30 & Super Boo said...

I think you are candy coating it!

I heard you were feeling strong, planning on breaking the female record class ll, eased up not to embarass the rest of the fleet! :-)