Monday, April 6, 2009

Everglades Challenge race report: Day 6

Day 6: Broad River to CP3 Flamingo

Not an early start, and the tide way out. SandyBottom took the mud route off the camp site, as above; KneadingWater and I launched from the ramp, mud free.

Less than a mile or so from the entrance to Broad River we headed further and further off the coast, the water getting no shallower the further off we paddled. We decided it would be quicker to walk the boats. Thus with KW with a towline around his waist, off we sauntered to find the deeper water to renter the Wilderness Waterway at Harney River, exploring the bottom life in all of four to six inches of water.

Photos: Walking the boats; Harney River entrance somewhere over there...

Up the Harney, tide and wind were against us… A dolphin followed me for a while; another played off my bow for some time. On we paddled, slowly making headway on the chart. Making a hard right around the bend into Shark River, the tide was still furiously coming in, but what we thought would be the wind with us and perhaps even a chance to raise a sail, did a 180 degree shift and was now against us…

At least we caught the last hour or so of the tide coming in via Shark River as it enters
Whitewater Bay – the homeward stretch, albeit a few good miles yet, to Flamingo and CP3.

With a strong headwind, we paddled over to the west of Whitewater Bay for Joe River to try and find some shelter from the winds. A new route for me, but no respite against the full-on wind. KW went ahead, and SB was somewhere astern. (She also ended up coming down Joe River.)

With the full moon a couple of nights back, the moon was slow to rise in the dark, and with no GPS, I just followed the less dark headland to the next less dark headland to find the entrance to Coot Bay. My rear white passage light was abuzz with noisy blood-hungry mosquitoes.

Finally, around 2210 hours, and over 273 miles later (440km), I rounded the last wee bend of the long narrow Flamingo Cut to find KW and Lugnut and Wingnut ready to help portage the boat over to the Florida Bay side of Flamingo. Very much appreciated help, having done all this by myself last year. But sadly—nay, devastatingly—the shop was closed—no ice cream yet this race, nor Flamingo’s delicious micro-waved hamburgers (I kid you not)!

Finding DrKayak, SandDollar, StripBuilder
bivvied aside their boats, with Pelican and Egret under the large tree aside the pontoons (they had all taken the outside route, including the Cape, missing the Wilderness Waterway), KW and I found our traditional stealth camp site overlooking Florida Bay, and bunked down for a few hours rest (he sleeps; I “rest”).

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