Sunday, March 6, 2011

Underway on Sunday

I had an e-mail from FwKB a little after midnight saying that KB had reached CP1 at 2348. (That is an amazing accomplishment considering the conditions; last year under quite favorable winds, we reached there just before midnight.) Then at a little after 0200 this morning, FwKB sent a text saying that KB had gotten the Spot from Stan (Etchemin) and was leaving CP1 with Seiche. They appear to have camped on an island a little way south of CP1 and were underway at 0800 this morning.

A few words about CP1 are in order. First, getting there is a difficult navigational feat, particularly in the dark. Here's what it looks like to a seagull.

The checkpoint is at Grand Tours Kayak Center, which is the yellow-orange square toward the top of the image, back on a creek. The competitors must first get under the highway bridge at left, then they must hit the small opening in an old railway trestle that's no longer used. This is not lit and is very hard to see on a moonless night. From there they cannot go straight for the channel opening as it's too shallow. They must go up until the entrance is abeam and then make the left turn. There are shallow spots either side of the channel up to the yacht club just right of the Placida marker. From there on up it's unmarked with plenty of shallow spots. Tide also matters; the current can be considerable on changing tides, and low tide can spell trouble, particularly for the sailboats.

Speaking of, few of the sailboats can get under the highway bridge without lowering their masts. In WaterTribe parlance, this is a filter, equalizing the competition between sailboats and kayaks.

There's one more small gap in the old railroad to hit, and they're at the checkpoint. This is actually a very pleasant spot, with freshwater and facilities. But it's not really a great place to camp for the night. The ground is very hard and unreceptive to tent pegs, and there's noise all night long as competitors come and go. We camped there last year only because we were too cold to continue safely. I was the only one who slept at all, and that amounted to about an hour. That's why KB and Seiche went on to an island south of Boca Grande.

At 0830, the temperature at Boca Grande was 69, and winds were forecast to remain out of the south southeast (on the nose) but perhaps a little lighter than yesterday. A good goal for the day would be Wiggins Pass, south of Fort Meyers.

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