Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ready or Not - Here we Come

It's almost midnight Tuesday, and Paul and Alan are still building the boat, and I'm packing us up as fast as I can. Paul and I will pick up KiwiBird at 5AM tomorrow morning for the 12 hr drive down to Tampa. We've got the kayak and Kruger on top, and the Core Sound 20 on the trailer. Alan will fly in to Tampa on Thursday afternoon so they can continue building the boat. Not too much left to do, just lots of hardware stuff.

As we did last year, KiwiBird and FlysWithKiwiBird brought dinner over (yum), along with all of Kiwi's stuff. Their Andrew is the cutest and sweetest little boy. Lots of excitement now!

I'm repeating below the posting with instructions on how to follow the Challenge.

My family (Mom especially) has always enjoyed following my progress in previous WaterTribe Challenges from daily reports that Paul always posted here. This year, Paul is in the race too, and she'll also get to follow Alan and Paul (SOS and DancesWithSandyBottom) sailing thier just finished sailboat. Mom, everything you need to follow along this year is explaned below.

Our contact person is Alan's roomate Mike (who also finished the EC last year as Team RAF (4 college students who build 2 pacific outrigger sailing canoes and finished in 3rd place among Class 4). Mike will take on blog reporting for us, and write-up daily reports on our progress (SandyBottom and SOS/DancesWithSandyBottom) on Alan's blog.

The very best way to follow all the action from home is to monitor the WaterTribe Forum and the Challenge Viewer link on the WaterTribe site. (Mom, the purple underlined words are links to those places, when you get there, save the link in your Favorites to visit often).

The Forum will contain official status reports (or log entries) on each racer once the race starts. These reports are posted by the racers land contact after phone calls to them. Contacts and status reports must be made every 24 hrs (except in the Everglades where phone service is bad) to avoid a call to the Coast Guard. These status reports or log entries will also contain a google earth map showing the location of the racer at the time of contact. The racer is depicted by a skull and crossbones. Zooming in and out in the map will let you see other marks on the map. The checks are the checkpoints, the triangles are the locations of the other racers at thier last report. Putting the mouse over these marks will identify the racer.

The Challenge Viewer will include video clips taken by the challengers and dropped off at the checkpoints. The idea is that challengers using a waterproof camera can drop off their SD memory cards and one of the race managers will upload the clip into the viewer. Currently the Viewer contains clips from the 2006 Ultimate Florida Challenge, once this years challenge starts, select "EC2008" from the 'Select Event' button above the list of clips to see what's posted.

A new feature is being added (if it's finished) to the Viewer, that will include a mapping feature similar to the maps you see with the log book entries on the Forum. But it will have the additional feature of showing a racer's track instead of just their current position. You will be able to select from a list of all racers in a particular class /division or all challengers in the race.

Then there are a couple of other great blogs worth checking on for additional race reporting as well.

Brian, a fellow member of Team Kruger (known for his paddling blog 'Capt'n of the "O" Dark 30), will be doing this year's challenge with his 11 year old daughter Marissa (Boo) in a double Kruger Cruiser. Boo's additional challenge is to raise awareness for Breast Cancer Research. Her Mom has breast cancer and this is a way for her to do something positive and support her mom. Boo's blog, The Adventures of Super Boo, will have thier daily reports posted. Mark (ManitouCruiser), owner and builder of Kruger Canoes, and the most successful of the WaterTribe (having completed the most challenges), will be paddling along with the Capt'n and Boo.

KiwiBird is a personal friend and paddling partner who also has a paddling blog. She did the EC last year (we paddled the Everglades Wilderness Waterway section together). She has a friend who will provide some great daily updates on KiwiBird's Blog.

Another location would be the B and B Yachts Forum. This is an email forum for those who build wooden boats designed by Graham Byrnes. Graham, who is the current record holder for the EC, will be in the race, as well as a few other boats similar to Alan and Paul's. There is likely to be some discussion as they follow the race this year.

If you check in on all these reports and blogs, you'll be as busy as we are in Florida :) See you after the race.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Pictures say a 1000 words so I don't have to. I will post the moving video as soon as I get it uploaded. Thanks to everyone who came to help move the boat. I'll try to keep posting but we are a little umm....busy.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Weekend Plans

In case your wondering what my weekend will be like, see the long list posted on Alan's Blog.

I've got lots more sanding, and painting, and varnishing to do. We're having dinner for 15-20 folks Saturday evening for the "Move the Boat" party (I already warned everyone I wasn't going to clean the house). I still have to sew the fabric cabin door up, that will bring a nice splash of color onto our white boat.

Then I've got to get my Kruger Dreamcatcher ready. The Balogh Sail kit arrived, and I've got to set the ama angles and practice rigging the boat. I'll be sail/paddling in Class3 this year.

I need to hurry up and get to Florida for this Everglades Challenge just so I can get a few hours sleep every night :)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Better than Perfection

I though I'd gotten a reprieve from the boat-building when Alan and Paul gave me the day off Saturday. I got in an early 5 mile run then a 25 mile paddle on the lake. It felt really good, the Chi-running technique is really coming along.

But my reprieve was only for the day. Here I am finishing the 1st coat of primer in the cockpit at 2am (the guys were up much later). The dogs were nice enough to let me sleep in till 7am (they and I are usually up at 5am), then I finished the 2nd coat. All epoxy sanding and priming has to be completed by the end of the day.

This sanding and finish work is so hard. I now understand why most boats are built in fiberglass from molds, eliminating all that extra work. I'm also finally starting to appreciate some of the flaws we have. For awhile every nick, and hole not completely filled and sanded flat, totally drive me crazy. But I'm getting over it. I'm really liking the fact that our boat will look like a home-made boat; made with weeks and months of hard work, love, and laughter shared among the three of us. So much better then prefection.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wish We Could Just Leave It

We're planning a boat moving party weekend after next, and I just can't bear to have anyone over without at least taking down the Christmas tree and other holiday ornaments. "Isn't it almost time to put the darn thing up again anyway". We've been so busy, the house and yard has been completely ignored.

Last night we finally got the first epoxy coat on the deck and cabin. It's really looking like it's almost done, and it's beautiful. Those of you who know about finish work, can likely count the fingers on your hands to realize another 2 coats of epoxy then sanding, 2-3 coats of primer and sanding again, and then all the finish coats of paint (the hull took 6 coats), drying and curing time, etc... means we've kind of run out of time.

We'll probably be squeezing the boat out of the basement while the paint is still drying. They'll certainly be sailing it in the EC before it's all finally cured.

Speaking of squeezing. The picture below shows the boat in front of the only doors that we have down there. Yup, it doesn't look like it's going to fit does it. And of course it also weighs a little less than 500 lbs. Alan figures about 15 people needed for the job. He'll try and get a bunch of friends from school (these budding engineers can figure out the logistics), and I'm inviting everyone I can, hoping a few have some carpentry skills :)

After posting, Paul sent me the picture below. It is a better presentation of the task, and less likely to scare off any volunteers. The boat is wider than the door, but not wider than the height of the door. And the height of the boat/cabin is not more then the width of the door. So, it's size and weight is the challenge, but he promises it'll fit.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I'm Now a Boat Builder

This has become my new life now. This picture was taken after midnight last night. Everything else has taken a back seat as we try to finish the sailboat. Only 17 days before we have to drive down to Florida, and there is still lots of epoxy, primer, and painting, and much miscellaneous needed before it's finished. It's going to be so tight, as these all need curing and sanding before the next step. We're already starting to take short cuts (and an occasional day or afternoon off from work). I won't be surprised if Alan and Paul will be adding the hardware and rigging on the beach, we've certainly run out of time to do any trials on the water.

My training was doing pretty well, until this past week. Too many late nights on the boat this week to get in most of my workouts. I just cancelled today's planned 40 mile bike ride, and only managed one run, swim, bike each all this week. I didn't even get in any paddling this weekend. I'd hoped to paddle Friday night and camp with Kristen, but was asked to help paint masts and varnish sprits and thwarts instead. I've done less paddle training for the EC this year than any of my previous years, it could be a painful challenge.

We ran out of time to make the oars and yulogh, so we've ordered them unfinished, I'll be varnishing them early next week when they arrive. All these costs are really starting to add up. We even got a call from our credit card company, worrying there could be a problem because they noticed an unusual pattern and suspicious credits being made.

One of the things that's getting me through all this stress is the fact that I know Alan will not be able to build "another" boat for next years EC. He likely won't even be able to participate, as school will finally have gotten the better of him with required senior projects. That said, I'm still not sure this aeronuatical engeener will ever really be building airplanes in his future. So much of his passion seem to now be about boating.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A Feel for WaterTribe

Want to get a good feel for what it's like in a WaterTribe Everglades Challenge? There are 2 "documentaries" on the web about last years Challenge. Both are from class 4 (small sailboat) participants, however, a paddler would still enjoy and learn quite a bit. You can easily get a good feel for the enthusiasm, fun and challenge of the event from thier experiences.

One is an hour long FurledSails podcast. Both the interviewer and the interviewee had teamed up together during last years EC (Noel and Gary, aka Root and Lugnut). Gary has competed in 3 other ECs and occasionally speaks to the different challenges each offered.

The podcast is full of great stories, including rescuing one of the kayakers crossing Tampa Bay at the start. they speak to last years high winds, waves, and the always present mud, and give a great description of some of the course. The podcast is at FurledSails.com Podcast #123 Lugnut 2.

There is also a 45 minute video made last year by Dan aka StayCat, doing the EC solo for the first time. It's amaturish, and the wind creates some sound problems, but it captures his challenges and emotions during the challenge. The video, can be found here.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Birthday Weekend

It’s going to be a busy weekend, and the weather will be gorgeous, sunny with highs about 60F.

First, it's Paul’s birthday. He doesn’t want much in the way of celebration, he’s just too busy with the boatbuilding. And that's just the way he is, preferring attention to be on others than himself. Paul is the glue that keeps our family close, happy, healthy, and together. Unselfish and selfless, he never thinks “me” but always “us”. So no big party, we’ll just have a small dinner and make sure to remind him how important he is to us, and how loved and appreciated he is. Happy Birthday Paul!

Alan's coming home Friday night and the marathon boat building will continue (but don't think for a minute that Paul's not working on that boat every night during the week). Unfortunately Tana is too sick to make the trip home this weekend, and we will certainly miss her.

Speaking of boat bulding, another class 4 (small sailboat) EC challenger, has just finished building his Core Sound and is planning some water trials this weekend. Our boat, which Alan and Paul will race will be finished "just" in time. I’m not sure it’ll see water before the day of the race.

I'll be trying to stay out of their way, and will take advantage of the weather to get in some good training. If I can't talk Alan into taking a 2-3 hr break on Saturday I'll be joining the MS150 GSK bike team I ride with every year as they start thier training for this years event in New Bern, September 12-14. I'll post more about that in the future, it's a great charity event.

Then Sunday I'll get in a very long paddle in my Kruger Dreamcather (fully loaded now for EC training). I plan to start really early and then eventually hook up with a group of friends on the water finishing with an additional 5 hr paddle and picnic.

Life doesn't get much better than this.