Friday, March 14, 2008

Reflecting from home

This year’s Everglades Challenge is indeed “over and in the history books,” as Chief so eloquently puts it. I’ll post a few blow-by-blow and gear-reflection entries over the next few weeks, but I have a few thanks and initial reflections to pass on here.

First, a huge thank you to my sponsor, BubbaGirl. Check out the new Web site! And not only did BubbaGirl sponsor me again this year, but they also sponsored SuperBoo, the 11-year-old sprite who completed the entire race paddling tandem with her dad – for 24 hours at one stretch. This is what BubbaGirl’s all about – not matter what your age or interests, be unique by being adventurous – get into real life. Send the BubbaGirl URL to all your friends – be unique, be adventurous, get out!

A big thanks to Floatsome, who more than ably updated my blog in my absence, and even more importantly tried to keep track of me to comply with the compulsory 24-hour race reporting rule. The last three days, while scurrying around the Everglades without cellphone coverage, Floatsome had only my BubbaGirl-supplied SPOT OK check-ins to decipher where I was and where I was heading, contrary to plans I’d issued earlier. Basically, I pushed the OK button at every “turn.”

And, of course, a big big thanks to FliesWithKiwiBird, who not only lets me do one silly thing a year (and this is it), but was there at the finish line a couple of hours after I arrived and unbeknownst to me (thanks to SPOT) had booked me a room – with shower – as I turned up 24 hours earlier than planned. With the Wee One, they braved tornado warnings and lightning storms to drive SandyBottom, SOS, and DancesWithSandyBottom’s trailer and van down from Tampa Bay.

So, a few reflections on this year’s EC:

  • This was the hardest EC of the two for me. Last year’s was new, and so exciting. Consequently, Day 2 of this year hit me hard – constant headwinds, chop, boat wake, a deliberate ramming from a keeler, and no respite from that headwind. I surprised even myself how down I got Sunday night
  • Wherever one pointed the bow of one's boat, that’s from where the wind was blowing
  • I got a bit lonely this year. The last time I saw SandyBottom was at the race start. Kneading Water, of whom I am very fond, and I separated mid-morning on Day 1. I was very grateful for some time with NatureCalls, but overall, I missed the camaraderie of paddling with a mate or two
  • I have no desire to paddle the Ultimate Florida Challenge
  • Raccoons are the cunningest of critters out, and deserve every scrap they filch
  • Everglades mosquitoes are savage
  • Raccoons and mosquitoes work in tandem at 0200hrs
  • Wherever one pointed the bow of one's boat, that’s from where the wind was blowing
  • My boat's the best: Grahame Sisson's Arctic Raider. Thanks, Grahame! Thanks, Mukesh!
  • When your chart work says 96degrees and your compass says 120, your chart work is not wrong. When your GPS’ purple line heads off one way and you’re heading off the other, your GPS is not wrong
  • I missed my family – I blame the Wee One for the wrong course I took only a few miles from the finish
  • Sand is a killer. Salt water never lets you get all the sand off, no matter how much baby powder you pat around. If I could, I would post a photo of my derriere – there was little skin left on it by the time I arrived at Key Largo
  • Wherever one pointed the bow of one's boat, that’s from where the wind was blowing
  • The wildlife is superb – this year I experienced two sharks, two stingrays, a loggerhead turtle, two late-night manatee bumpings (scary!), lots of birds and no crocs
  • When there's no moon, it is very, very, very dark, and a wee bit scary
  • The Internet brings the world down to the size of a marble. I was paddling up to Chokoloskee, miles from ANYWHERE, past a moored launch with two red inflatables tied up astern, when one of the chaps came aloft, saw me and my boat and exclaimed, “It’s the infamous KiwiBird! I read your blog!”
  • My fellow WaterTribers are some, if not the best and most honorable people this side of the black stump
  • The best mojitos to be found are at the mojito bar at Miami International

Where do I sign up for next year?

Above photo: Cleaning up at Key Largo, the day after finishing. I look a bit beat...


David said...

Let the real tales begin! I've gotten some previews, and they're worth waiting for.

Work? I can work anytime.

David (aka Floatsome)

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

you had me at where ever you point your bow, that's where the wind blows.

thanks for your inspiration and support with bubba girl and super boo.

whay a grand adventure!!

Ron said...

Way to go!! You are an inspriation! Looking forward to hearing some details of the challenge.