Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Everglades Challenge race report: Day 3

Day 3: Sanibel Bridge to Goodland Bridge, Big Marco River

The early morning fisherfolk ignored us as they waded out to catch the dawn’s rays. As did NatureCalls, still sound asleep.

SandyBottom headed on a more direct route across Mexico Bay—as I normally do—but this year I traded that with hugging the coast line with KneadingWater, body watching Spring Break and retiree beach goers. It had its moments. As KW coined the phrase, “she’s not my daughter.”

Distracted by a woman waving a towel madly on the beach, KW headed ashore to discover RiverJohn’s wife, hoping to hold us up as RJ scrambled to launch his Kruger and paddle a few miles with us. An entry in only this year’s UltraMarathon (just to CP1), to take more advantage of their Florida timeshare from the vagaries of a Canadian winter, he soon caught up with me, chatting away—always good to spend any time with John.

Once more battling against a strong tidal current, we stopped at the south side of Wiggins Pass (one of my favourite late night sleeping spots—only the north side) to refill (excellent quality) water at the fish gutting bench and wash some salt off. Always seems rather odd to step ashore people-filled beaches, gear- and salt-laden, more than likely a bit pongy, to tend to a few chores and then head off again. It’s nice when folks stop and chat—seems with the media attention local reporter Terry Tomalin (Insomniacs) had achieved, many a local either on a beach or fishing off their boat knew that we were competing in this year’s EC. Our NZ Pacific Action Sails (not seeing much action at all this race) also draw a fair bit of attention.

Photo: Tyro and PaddleCarver

A couple of times we passed and were passed by tandem Tyro and PaddleCarver, who decided to stop at dusk a few miles short of Big Marco Pass, to camp on Keywadin Island. As night fell, a weary SB was also keen to stop for the night at Sea Oat Island, but with a ripping tide to whip us through Big Marco Pass and up Marco River (a tide, going our way!) we managed to persuade her to stay with us for a few more miles yet.

Photo: KneadingWater in calm repose

Photo: The joys of Florida sunsets

By the Goodland Bridge, around 2230 hours, we called it a night. Tucked away from the small local marina, under a short outpost of the old original wooden bridge, we slung a hammock (SB), pitched a tent (KB) and cleared a level sand spot (KN, whose tent poles were residing safely in the back of SB’s van, parked at Fort DeSoto). Watching the tide slowly reaching our bed lines, we hauled the boats higher, cooked a meal, and slept (the others sleep; I doze fitfully).

Photo: With SandyBottom under the old Goodland Bridge

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