A hint of warm weather arrived yesterday evening in the form of an email from Paul, aka Dances with SandyBottom. He and son Alan, known as SOS, are gearing up for the Watertribe Everglades Challenge which begins this Saturday at 7 a.m. Paul asked if I would serve as their "shore contact," something I am very happy to do. Following the everglades challenge has become a right of spring for me, tracking friends Paul, Alan, Dawn and Kristen as they sail and kayak from Tampa Bay to Key Largo. It is typically the time I doing final prep work on Spartina, hoping for a warm day to get out on the water. (This year, because of my rehab, I'm behind schedule and will be looking for a warm day to paint Spartina's cockpit.)
Paul tells me they have made a few modifications to Dawn Patrol, a Core Sound 20 designed by Graham Byrnes of B&B Yacht Designs. They have a new weighted centerboard, removing the need for a downhaul, plus they have added hand rails - a good safety item I'm sure - to the cabin top. New splash guards have been added to the side decks, possibly reducing the amount of spray coming into the boat (but the way they sail, I doubt it).
Above is a night shot of Alan in a Watertribe event from a couple of years ago. Paul says they will follow their tradition of sailing non-stop, taking turns sleeping/sailing throughout the day and night. When they get a chance, and have a cell signal, they promise to send me updates via txt and some photographs.
Tracking the ec competitors was once a challenge in itself, but it is now much easier courtesy of the iPad app Spot Buddy. I can plug in as many tracking urls as I like and keep track of everybody.
While serving as shore contact for Paul and Alan, which means basically posting updates here and on the Watertribe Facebook page, I will be watching Dawn, above, and Kristen, below, as they kayak down the Florida coast. That image of Dawn might well be from a stretch known as "the nightmare" through the everglades.
Emailing with my ec friends last night, Kristen mentioned she had just brought her kayak indoors to "defrost" it after an icy rain had just passed over Maryland's eastern shore. My first reactions was that that is no way to start an everglades challenge. My second thought was maybe it is the best way to start the adventure.
While digging back through the blog to find the photographs above I came across this photo of Spartina crossing Albemarle Sound a few years ago. The picture made me smile.