Wednesday, March 5, 2014
KB and comrades are making good pace along the coast of Everglades National Park. The body of water you see at the lower right is Whitewater Bay, which they will cross to reach the canal that comes into Flamingo from the north. The question is, will they stop at Oyster Bay Chickee, which is inside the entrance or continue on? It's about 12 miles to Oyster Bay Chickee, so 3-4 hours at current pace. That's where SandyBottom planned to be tonight, but I can't check on her as her Spot has stopped transmitting. DancesWithSandyBottom is trying to get Santiago's track, as he thinks that's who she's with.
Other options for KB and friends include two chickees in the Joe River or going on to Flamingo. I'm skeptical that they'll push on to Flamingo. It's about 30 miles, and they've not shown much inclination toward late nights. As usual, we'll see.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
The reservation for tonight is for Rogers River Chickee, about 25 miles as the crow flies from Chokoloskee, and kayaks don't (or shouldn't) fly. They either didn't get the message or have decided it's too far for today, as they appear to be heading out to the Gulf of Mexico. Here's the track:
Update: They did have lunch at Havana Cafe and are heading out to Mormon Key tonight to battle the raccoons. The plan is to stay outside until Whitewater Bay. KneadingWater is also with them.
As expected, KB had dinner at Marker 8.5 in Goodland and proceeded on into the 10,000 Islands, where she set up camp about 20:30, apparently with Seiche. This morning they were on the water by 07:30 and headed for Everglades City.
What they didn't know--and we hope they will find out--is that SandyBottom already acquired permits for camping in Everglades National Park. In WaterTribe, this what is called a "filter." The ranger station in Everglades City (marina at upper left, above) is open from 08:00 until 16:30 daily, and there are no advance campsite reservations. So the wise challenger times his or her arrival during office hours.
Checkpoint 2 is actually at Chokoloskee (lower right, where the causeway hits civilization), and each competitor must stop there. Besides, if at all possible, one wishes to arrive there during open hours for the Havana Cafe, which serves excellent Cuban food—worthwhile fortification for the two days about to be spent on the Wilderness Waterway.
Monday, March 3, 2014
It's been an interesting day for following kayakers. Weather reports have not indicated much wind, although it's mostly been out of the SSE. I'm guessing that's why KB started hugging the shoreline around North Naples and then went inside with SandyBottom at Naples. They're now cutting over to McIlvane Bay presumably to follow the canal next to highway 951 down to Marco Pass.
Dinner at Goodlands is often a part of the ritual at Marco--particularly if KneadingWater and Seiche are nearby. Beyond that, I'm not guessing. I don't know the 10,000 Islands other than that Indian Key is at the entrance to the Everglades City channel. That's about 15 miles after dinner. Here's what that looks like:
Yesterday was a tough day slogging into the wind (so much for the forecast), so KB stopped relatively early. She was on the water about 06:15 this morning and is currently approaching Naples.
KB, SandyBottom, KneadingWater and Seiche have been near each other for the past 24+ hours, appearing to paddle together sometimes and then separate slightly at others. Although all tend to get to the same place about the same time, each has a different pace depending on the conditions.
By now SewSew probably has already finished, as he was at CP3 midday yesterday, but I have had no confirmation of that as yet. Race management requests that we not attempt to use the WaterTribe tracking map, so that race personnel might be able to figure out where people are.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Forecasts are for another relatively calm morning but no shift to north winds in the afternoon. In one way that's good news, since it will keep the seas down on the exposed passage south of Fort Myers to Marco Island. The paddlers, of course, always hope for favorable wind but take whatever the wind's whim offers.
Kristen called home from CP1 last night and reported a great day on the water. She saw two porpoise and a sea turtle, had favorable afternoon winds and made good progress. She was off the water last night by about 22:30, which should have given her ample time to get her necessary five hours of shuteye.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
This section of the intracoastal earns its nickname, "the ditch." It's a depression lined with rip rap. There's generally little breeze and not much to look at. Of the portions of the EC route I've seen, it's easily the least scenic. In roughly another mile, though, it opens back up, but I don't remember much about it, because it was dark when I got there.
KB and SB are making good time today. They're about 16 statute miles from CP1, with an ETA of around 21:00. I expect they'll only stop briefly to get water and check in. They'll camp a little farther along, before the Charlotte Harbor crossing.
I had a Spot Check/OK message from her at 10:11 this morning, which I thought rather odd. She wouldn't normally send one of those unless stopping for the night or making a major course change. When I checked her position, however, I realized she was going outside at the inlet between Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. This (and the weather report) tell me that conditions are quite calm. Winds are less than 16 KPH and predominantly controlled by the diurnal onshore/offshore swing.
To the best of my recollection, she's never before gone outside at this point. I suspect the rationale is some mix of novelty and avoiding powerboat wakes in the intracoastal waterway. Most likely she'll come back in at Venice Inlet, but she might stay out until Stump Pass, which is shortly before checkpoint 1. There are other alternatives as well should conditions change.
She's making quite good progress thus far, and at the current pace she should arrive at CP1 around 20:00. I'll update later this afternoon before heading off to a wedding.
Friday, February 28, 2014
It's boat-loading time. Besides KiwiBird and SandyBottom boats, I think I recognize the CWolfe avatar on the green-decked Tiderace Pace in the foreground. The wooden boat just past SB might be FeralCat's Pygmy, making the next boat DeadCat's Eddyline, but I don't know; could be the wooden boat is StripBuilder's or even SaltyFrog's. That does look like Dolphin Gal's Nemo with the red deck three boats behind SB. Where are KneadingWater and Seiche?
Most participants try to pack everything the day before--except possibly food, which must be defended from racoons assiduously--which means having redundant camping gear or a vehicle to sleep in. A spare stove will likely be used collectively in the campsite to boil water in the morning for vital fluids and a spot of porridge.
All of the folks mentioned above are what are called "elders," which means they have finished a Challenge (it's just a coincidence that there's no spring chicken among them;). Elders can self-inspect, but every first-timer must undergo an inspection of required gear by an elder. About now, the local West Marine is likely doing a land-office business.
By the way, credit for both of today's photographs goes to KiwiBird, although the breakfast shot obviously involved a helper.
Since the the beloved Cottage Inn closed a few years ago, IHOP has become the go-to place for registration-day breakfast. I can't be certain of it, but I'd almost guarantee that someone's having eggs benedict. On the left, we have John (aka Jake, aka PopTarp), who sails with Alan (aka SOS) second from right, Dawn (aka SandyBottom) at right, and, of course, Kristen.
I'm sorry to report that Dawn's father passed away yesterday morning. You can get details at Dawn's blog, linked above, but suffice to say that her mother and sister insisted that she continue with the Everglades Challenge. He had been sick for quite some time, and Dawn has flown to Hawaii every couple of months to see him and help out with care. In any case, our thoughts are with her.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
It's time for round eight of KiwiBird's Adventures goes to Florida. If all went as planned, KB picked up SandyBottom at 05:00 this morning, and by now they've feasted on fried chicken at the stand at the back of the BP station (above) in Midway, Georgia, and should be near Jacksonville. And all in such luxury--in the new-to-KB Toyota Venza with (imagine this!) cruise control.
Prep for this year's EC has been minimal, what with the demands of work and school, but she'll paddle her way back into fitness within a couple of days. At this point, the weather forecast looks fairly benign: A bit chilly, with highs having trouble threatening 21C (70F) at Fort Desoto, and northerly winds at 16 KPH (10 MPH) or less.
As has often been the case in previous years, your faithful correspondent is Floatsome. I'll be with you daily until Thursday, March 6, when I fly to Tampa to ferry the Venza to Key Largo. Recall also that you can follow progress at the WaterTribe Tracking Map once they start on Saturday morning. You may also find some worthwhile commentary at the WaterTribe Forum.