Monday, February 14, 2011

Florida on my mind

I received phone calls from both SandyBottom and DanceswithSandyBottom yesterday, logbook tests for the upcoming Everglades Challenge.  Dawn called in from the lake where she was out for a training paddle/sail in her kayak.  She said the first leg was a hard paddle into the wind, coming back was a fast sail - up to 6.5 knots - riding that same wind back to the ramp.
Paul has a nice post on the Dawn Patrol blog about the race.  He talks about preparation and training, unpredictable weather and conditions, fun versus adventure.

I'm very much looking forward to following the race.  It goes down the west coast of Florida from Tampa Bay to Key Largo.  Over the years I have visited a few towns along the way, but most of what I know about it comes from Peter Matthiessen's wonderful novel "Shadow Country."  The names, particularly along the Ten Thousand Islands, always seem so lyrical to me.  Caxambas, Fakahatchee Key, the Shark River, Panther Key, Chokoloskee Pass and Lost Man's River.  I would like to have those names in my logbook someday.

Our logbook test went fine.  Part of the test was having their SPOTS turned on so that they, along with several other competitors, would show up on the race's tracking page.  You can see them all spread out from Florida to the Great Lakes to the northeast.  Soon all those markers will migrate down to Florida for the March 5 start of the race.

We'll be able to follow Paul and Dawn on the tracking chart, above,  and we'll have their SPOT tracking pages too.  There is Dawn's track, below, from yesterday's training session.  The weather was great yesterday, but this winter has not been kind to people like Dawn who need to get in some training outdoors.  The long, cold, snowy winter had cut down on her paddling time.  She has been doing a lot of weight training.  Those workouts, plus her years of experience in the EC, should see her through just fine.  As for me, I'm still trying to figure out how you put food and equipment for a week into a kayak.

Paul points out there will be a new moon during the race, meaning that night paddling will be in pitch black darkness.  Wow, paddling at night in complete darkness.... past places with names like Panther Key and Lost Man's River.  It does sound like an adventure.

 I spent my day-off today working on Spartina.  Right now I'm reloading the boat with the day sail equipment, cleaning stowage areas and checking lines.  A couple of the lines on the mainsail jaws had started to fray.  I taped and trimmed them, melted the ends with a hot knife and then dipped them into liquid whipping.  I see that the leather on the jaws had worn through so sometime this spring I will need to replace that (I wish I would have noticed that last fall, it would have made a nice winter job).

And speaking of Florida, I got a note and some photographs from Curt.  He is down in St. Augustine, Florida and sails the Drascombe Coaster Annie.  We exchanged emails a while back and compared notes on Chesapeake, the Outer Banks, Oriental and Ocracoke.

Curt had been out for a winter sail on the St. Johns River near Georgetown, Florida.  It was clear and bright, temperatures dipping into the thirties.

Warm below, frosty decks above.  A nice fire at sunset.  Sounds like a beautiful sail to me.

Thanks for the photos Curt.


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