Thursday, March 01, 2007

At the Starting Line


SandyBottom arrived this evening at the starting line for the Everglades Challenge 2007. She and KiwiBird shared the 11-hour drive from Chapel Hill down to Fort DeSoto County Park on Mullet Key in Tampa Bay --what a great idea!

First time in a WaterTribe challenge, KiwiBird demonstrated tremendous potential by being totally well prepared and all packed up days in advance. A good photo of these two partners in crime taken at 6:00am this morning is posted on KiwiBird's blog.

They arrived in time to catch up with other WaterTribers for dinner in a restaurant. SandyBottom was glad to see her son, SOS, and his Team RAF arrive safely with their two new Wa'Apa trimarans they recently built (or are still building.)

Everyone will get a great night's sleep tonight. Tomorrow (Friday) will be a busy day filled with figuring out how to pack a mountain of stuff into a little bitty boat, getting gear inspection by Chief, attending the skippers' meeting, and sharing critical insights with other WaterTribe members. Chief will say Go! when the sun comes up Saturday morning at 7:00am.


Fort DeSoto is the traditional starting point of the EC going way way back in history all the way to the very first EC which occurred in March 2001. The campground and white sandy beaches on Mullet Key and the location in the bay are ideal. This beautiful park is only a few miles from the Sweetwater Kayak shop, RadioShack or WestMarine stores for those last-minute essentials, and groceries for stocking up tasty protein goo and other high-calorie fuels.

From the starting line on the beach, this location launches the challengers into an exciting first small step of the EC called "dodge the gigantic high-speed ships while crossing 7+ miles of open water." Sometimes this is done in blinding fog or in high winds.
The location also offers the challengers choice of route: them with big sails (or big thoughts of sailing) head out of the bay into the open Gulf to ride the winds, while most aim for an "inside" route through Sarasota Bay.

All is quite now. Here at home the rooms that yesterday looked as if an REI had exploded in them are now, oddly, looking clean and normal. In the lull, here's one for all the challengers in the EC'07 and their families and friends...
WaterTribe Willin'
(from Lowell T. George)
I been whipped by the rain, driven by the flow
I'm damp and dirty, don't you know
But I'm still willin'

Out on the river late last night
I'd see the pretty gators in my headlight
sharks, manatees and gators

And I've paddled from Tampa to Key Largo
Even all the way around!
Sailed every kind of rig that's ever been made
Camped outta sight so I wouldn't be delayed
And if you give me charts, tides and time
And you show me a sign
And I'll be willin' to be movin'

And I've been kicked by the wind, manatee-flipped off the seat
Had my head stove in but I'm still on my feet
And I'm still willin'

And I struggled at times to reach that Big Marco
Baked by the sun every time I go to Big Marco
Ah but I'm still...

And I've paddled from Tampa to Key Largo
Even all the way around!
Sailed every kind of rig that's ever been made
Camped outta sight so I wouldn't be delayed
And if you give me charts, tides and time
And you show me a sign
And I'll be willin' to be movin'
[Reporting for SandyBottom, I'm DancesWithSandyBottom... ]

3 comments:

Steve Cory said...

I'm sure you can make it fit if you just bring food and water. :)
There was a LOT of wind and rain last night. Today it's beautiful and very springlike. I hope your weather is as well. Good luck, have a great time and by all means keep us posted!

Michael said...

You danced it well! Thanks for posting the updates, they'll be appreciated by us non-competitors!

Capt'n "O" Dark 30 said...

Nice job Paul... thanks for keeping us in the loop!!

Capt,n B dadiscuit