Friday, March 4, 2011

E.C. Traditions

Apologies for the delay in posting updates on the Florida-bound KiwiBird. Technical difficulties.

KB arrived at Fort Desoto Park about 6:30 pm yesterday in the company of SandyBottom, DanceswithSandyBottom and SOS, with the Core Sound 20 Dawn Patrol that DwSB and SOS will sail in tow. The photograph above is in the El Cheapo truck stop parking lot at the exit ramp from I-95 for Midway, Georgia.

Why there? Fried chicken. At a small stand in the back of the convenience store two ladies serve up some the tastiest cluck you’ll find, along with a selection of fine southern country sides. Last year they hit the spot going both directions, and I expect they will again. For this crowd, the Everglades Challenge is all about traditions. The first is the Wednesday night dinner at SB and DwSB’s, the second is a tardy departure Thursday morning, and fried chicken at El Cheapo comes third. There will be more.

At 7:00 last night, a party commenced at SavannahDan and Paddlemaker’s campsite, so make that tradition four. This year, as last, the E.C. commences on the new moon, and the challenge, if you’ll pardon the expression, at the party is to avoid tripping over raccoons in the dark. Last year we all repaired to the recreation center because it was so cold; this year the mozzies might have forced the same retreat.

First light Friday finds the crew heading for tradition five: eggs benedict at the Village Inn. I’m not entirely sure what DwSB (far left) and SOS (far right) are eating, but KB and SB are clearly upholding the tradition.

With tanks full once again, it’s down the street to the supermarket to pick up the last bits of food to pack for the trip. It’s an even mix between picking up treats (sardines anyone?) and KB talking SB into buying more granola bars.

Back at Fort Desoto, it’s time to get the boats on the beach and pack them. Boats go just above the high tide (WaterTribe rules and common sense), and 15-20 kilos of gear and water get toted down in Ikea bags and then stowed away. Food generally waits until the morning, as the raccoons are ingenious and persistent.

Left to right, these three fellows are Hammerstroke, Sundance and Paddlepeddler. The four of us can tell (and have told) some stories about a sleepless night on an island during last fall’s North Carolina Challenge.

This year sees a record number of entries for the E.C. (71) and the Ultramarathon (13). Since many of those entries have two aboard, the total number of entrants exceeds 100. It’s a busy beach and even more crowded beach shelter for the Captains’ meeting at 1500.

Finally, be sure to check Steve Earley’s blog regularly. He’s the shore contact for SB and DwSB and SOS, and he has a way with words.

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