Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Everglades Challenge race report: Day 7

Day 7: CP3 Flamingo to the finish at Key Largo

Last night we’d agreed on a 0500 start to be off at 0600—KneadingWater wanted to buy some extra food bars to get him through the last day. At 0400, wide awake, I asked him if he was asleep. “I have extra food bars for you…” We were off.

Under the bivvy tree we found SandyBottom looking pretty tired. Everyone else, with Pelican and Egret just casting off, had left around 0200, trying to beat the 10-15-knot forecast easterlies—right on the nose, which had turned back a few paddlers the day before. We persuaded her to come with us, only if I promised to stay with her all day—I was more than happy to.

Out in the dark, some helpful moon showing up the distant keys, we paddled on, probably only doing around 2knots with the wind rising earlier than expected. We passed Pelican and Egret—Pelican peddling the 200 pound boat against the wind, and Egret paddling. Dawn rose before reaching Dump Key where we found KW doing just that.

With wind and chop against us—Greenland paddles are a boon in such conditions—keys slowly passed us by, as did the infamous Twisted Mile channel and Jimmy Channel. From Jimmy Channel we saw KW making a beeline for the mainland right ahead, still a few good miles ahead but obviously going for the lee of the shore. We thought to follow him, but appreciating the extra miles this would give us, we made for the very narrow two-posted “ditch” between Stake and Low Keys. Then tucking above and around Bottle Key we were back on our usual route to the finish.

It was a delight to see Roo and a few crew mates, including JarHead, coming out to meet us on Southern Skimmer. Through the narrow IntraCostal channel we paddled and slowly made our way around the point to the finish—our speed (or lack of) was commented upon after landing, but we were trying to figure out which dock was the finishing line—made at 1645 hours. I had a beer in hand (courtesy of CrazyRussian) as my boat was lifted from the water—with me in it.

Photo: CrazyRussian welcoming us home, with cold beers in hand

Photo: Signing in for the last time

Photo: The showered version, chatting with Pelican and NiteSong

1 comment:

Michael said...

Great tale Kristin! Now how does everyone get back to Ft Desoto to retrieve their vehicles etc?