Friday, March 21, 2008

Everglades Challenge race report: The next few days…

Over the next few days, waiting for the final racers to make Key Largo, we started to appreciate the toll the conditions had taken on the race this year. Eleven teams pulled out over the course of the race, and two didn’t make CP1. Some are calling it the hardest year yet.

It was kind of nice lounging around for a couple of days, waiting for the remaining paddlers to come in, swapping stories, catching up with fellow WaterTribers, introducing FliesWithKiwiBird and the WeeOne to the Tribe for the first time.

Root and the WeeOne

Friday and Saturday, as forecast, the conditions worsened, blowing right in on our landing beach, the tide not even retreating. We expectantly waited for updates from SandyBottom, ManitouCruiser, RiverJohn, DaBiscuit and SuperBoo, not forgetting Trader and TroutHeart in their Bell Northwoods 18’6” canoe. Calls that did manage to make it through from the water finally had them in Flamingo, and then sheltering behind a mangrove island waiting for calmer winds.

We were helping prepare Saturday’s awards lunch when I got a call from DancesWithSandyBottom. He and SOS, KneadingWater and Lumpy (or was it Bumpy;) had taken Dawn Patrol out to try and find SandyBottom, ManitouCruiser, RiverJohn, DaBiscuit and SuperBoo. They couldn’t. I looked out over the bay and told him that they were coming in now – sadly for both parties, they’d each taken a different route.

Above: SandyBottom, all smiles. Below: DaBiscuit and SuperBoo are in!

I must admit, I had tears in my eyes, standing on the dock cheering them in. Thankfully, NiteSong said she did too.

Tyro and PaddleCarver did a wonderful job with the awards, as they did with the race’s management; Archangel and helpers did a fine job making lunch; and SharkChow and SaltyFrog, in their inimitable kindly manner brought much levity, graced with a dose of gravity, with this year’s special awards. PaddleCarver and SavannahDan

It’s all a bit sad when everyone packs up to head off home. We weren’t leaving Key Largo to further explore the Florida Keys until Monday; SandyBottom, DancesWithSandyBottom and SOS had plans to leave earylish Sunday morning for the long drive back to Chapel Hill, NC, so gratefully complete with my boat and gear; and Wizard and Karen weren’t leaving until later Sunday.

Cooking dinner for the small group of us in the “Clubhouse” on Saturday night, we were delighted to be able to welcome Trader and TroutHeart in at 1915, share dinner with them and create a small awards ceremony, just for them and their waiting families. A terrific couple of chaps.

Wizard and Karen encouraging the WeeOne to think EC2020

Next post, EC08 gear reflections...


Silbs said...

All's well that ends well. Done and well done. Congratulations on a wonderful accomplishment and for sharing it with us.

Michael said...

Ditto Silbs! I very much enjoyed following along in your writer's wake! Such an interesting venture! I'm looking forward to hearing and seeing more soon! Yes, that's a hint of thing to come...