Friday, March 13, 2009

SandyBottom Finished the EC'09

Friday March 13

In and Out of CP3
SandyBottom landed at Flamingo and checked into CP3 at about 11:30 PM Thursday night according to the SPOT data. Undoubtedly too exhausted to call home, we hope she set up her hammock (or tent) with out delay and slept well. This morning the SPOT data shows that she was back on the water starting to cross Florida Bay by about 5:15 AM. She may have gotten 5 hours sleep/rest. No other information from CP3.

In and out of CP3

Headwinds, Headwinds, Headwinds and More Headwinds

The challenge of the EC'09 has been persistent headwinds. Today is no different. The forecast is for East or Southeast winds all day at 10 to 15 knots (11 to 17 mph). Whitecaps, who arrived at the finish line Thursday night, said that those headwinds today, and over the last few days, make for a tough crossing of Florida Bay. The route east from Flamingo to Key Largo is about 35 miles.

From Tampa Bay to Florida Bay, in persistent east / southeast winds.

The First 3 Hours
By 8:40 AM SandyBottom was passing through the Dump Keys. The SPOT data indicated that she was averaging roughly 10 miles per 3 hours which takes into account occasional pauses for water/sunscreen/food and an average moving speed of about 3.3 knots (3.8 mph). That's impressive considering the headwinds that have been forecast.

Dump Keys

Estimated Time of Arrival ?
At an average speed of 10 miles every 3 hours, SandyBottom would reach the finish line between 4:00 PM and 4:30 PM, hypothetically. We hope she reaches the finish line before dark.

Passing End Key at 9:41 AM.

Ten Miles to Go
At 1:21 PM on Friday, SandyBottom was passing between Stake Key and Low Key, about 10 miles from the finish line.

Finished !
SandyBottom and KiwiBird paddled the last mile side-by-side and crossed the finish line together at 4:45 PM. DWSB gave SB a flower lei made from local red, purple, and orange bouganvillea flowers which grow so well here in Key Largo.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thursday March 12

Today SandyBottom is continuing to paddle through the Wilderness Waterway in the Everglades National Park today. She is beginning the day by breaking camp at the Broad River Campsite which is about two miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico.

Cellphone service is almost nonexistant in the Park, but the SPOT satellite messenger system should continue to allow you to follow SandyBottom's minute-to-minute progress almost instantaneously via her SPOT "share with friends" webpage. As soon as feasible, these same data will be bounced to the 'Challenge Mapper' section of the WaterTribe website where the positions of all the SPOTed challengers can be displayed simultaneously to see their positions relative to one another.

Thursday morning SB turned on her SPOT at 7:50 AM at the Broad River Campsite and was paddling toward the Gulf before 8:00 AM.

As of 7:30 PM, SB was paddling down the Joe River towards CP3. She had covered 35 miles since starting out at 7:50 AM. She was 10 miles from CP3.

At that same time (7:30 PM) KW and KB were paddling about an hour ahead of SB. KW and KB had already paddled past the Joe River Chickee and the South Joe River Chickee and seemed to be headed nonstop to CP3.

As of 7:30 PM it was not clear from the SPOT data whether or not SB would be stopping at the South Joe River Chickee. But with less than 10 miles to CP3..........

KB and KW reached CP3 before 10:15 PM.

SB came in to CP3 at about 11:30 PM.

The figure at left shows here GPS track last year. SB is again following the Wilderness Waterway.

SB is now 35 miles from the Finish Line at Key Largo.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wednesday March 11

Cellphone service is almost nonexistant in the Park, but the SPOT should continue to communicate with the satellites so that you can follow SandyBottom's minute-to-minute progress almost instantaneously via her SPOT "share with friends" webpage. These very same data are bounced to the 'Challenge Mapper' section of the WaterTribe website.

Darwin's Place (7:30 AM) to Broad River Campsite (5:50 PM)

SandyBottom is paddling through the Wilderness Waterway in the Everglades National Park. Now roughly halfway through the EC'09, she began the day by breaking camp at Darwin's Place and was on water underway by 7:30 AM --as revealed by the SPOT satellite messenger system. By 5:50 PM she had reached Broad River Campsite roughly 30 miles away.

As of 2:30 PM today:
----- KB and KW had taken some different channels than SB and they were about 5.3 miles ahead of SB.
----- Trader and TroutHeart in their 2-person custom Bell canoe were also in the area but roughly a mile or two ahead of KB and KW.
----- SB is following the same Wilderness Waterway route that the fast team of NiteNavegator and NiteSong took in their 2-person Kruger. They were the fourth boat to reach CP1 (including Class4 sailboats) and are very fast. At 2:30 PM today SB was 21 hours behind NiteNavegator and NiteSong.

As of mid-day the SPOT track of SB's progress is closely following the waypoints she had chosen to store in her Garmin 76CS GPS....

SB is also carrying a second backup GPS, a Garmin 76CSx, and she has a complete set of charts.

In addition to the SPOT messenger mounted on her sprayskirt, she is carrying an emergency personal locator beacon (PLB) on her PFD, and has a VHF radio in a pocket of her PFD --the very same VHF radio that she hit with her rib back at Ft. DeSoto. Hope her rib is feeling better, but we won't know until she emerges at CP3 in Flamingo, FL.

SB reached the Broad River campsite at about 5:50 PM today. KB and KW had been resting at that campsite since about 3:40 PM.

It also appears that SB, KB, and KW turned off their SPOT devices when they reached this point.

The dock at Broad River campsite

Here is a description of the campsite from the Everglades Diary...

"The Broad River campsite is located about 2 miles east of the Gulf coast river entrance, and is one of the nicer backcountry ground sites in the Park. The site is spacious and sports a dock with a cleated wooden boat ramp. The river at this spot is subject to tidal influences that can lower the water level to more than 6 feet below the dock, and the ramp facillitates the loading and unloading of paddlecraft at low tide. Be careful, though, as the ramp is submerged at high tide and can be very slippery with silt and algae at low water. Once you've unloaded your boat, you'll find that the campsite is divided into several semi-private areas by natural walls of trees and brush. For southbound trekkers, Broad River campsite is the staging point for a journey through the Nightmare, the long, skinny mangrove tunnel that is passable only on a high or a rising tide. I've left the Broad River site as early as 2 AM to catch the high tide, and I can say that paddling the Nightmare by night under a full moon is an experience not to be missed."


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday March 10

SandyBottom at CP2
(Photos by Amy)

NDK Explorer Kayak

Some Blisters

Path into CP2

Path out of CP2

As of Tuesday morning, the current forecast for the remainder of the week: more mild weather, headwinds, more headwinds, and even more headwinds in the 5-10 knot range. Gulf waters were described and predicted to be a "light chop".

SandyBottom began the day in Goodland Bay, 23 miles from CP2. SandyBottom, KiwiBird and KneadingWater all left the campsite at 8:50 AM. KB and KW were shortly far ahead. Rather than feel frustrated, SB stopped on a key for 30 minutes and then resumed at her own pace with no kayakers visible on the horizon. Consequently, SB reported that she had a great time paddling the 23 miles in the Gulf waters at her own relaxed pace.
Upon reaching Indian Key, SB rode a fast tide on the inland waterway into Chokoloskee Bay. The SPOT tracks show that she hit at least 5.4 mph coasting along on the incoming tide. She made a bee-line for Everglades City (arriving at 3:00 PM), in order to purchase a permit for using the Everglades National Park. KB and KW were also at the Park headquarters in Everglades City buying their permits.

She called home at 3:39 PM from Everglades City and reported that she is planning to take the "inside" route via the Everglades Wilderness Waterway. She will be camping with KB and KW at a very nice campsite called "Darwin's Place" that is about 20 miles southeast of CP2. She also reserved a double-chickee campsite with them on the Joe River. Chickees are raised wooden platforms.

After calling home, she paddled the short 1-mile trip along the north side of the causeway to the island of Chokoloski where CP2 was located. She arrived at CP2 at about 4:48 PM. Coming to the island from the north side means landing at CP2 on a paved boat ramp; whereas, most sailboats arrive at CP2 on the south side and wade ashore through a gooey mud beach that is 20 yards wide.

............ .......

SB is ahead of her own schedule due to having paddled at the pace of KB and KW instead of paddling at her own pace. She has some chafing from her back-rest, some blisters, and that sore rib. Taking some recovery time at CP2 might be wise, but SB has reported that she good to go and is leaving CP2 soon.

Hey, SandyBottom, don't rush off. Stay for dinner before you go. I hear they have real food at Choko.

The "Darwin's Place" campsite is on the ground rather than up on a wooden platform. Easy landing and launching for kayaks.
According to SPOT data, at about 5:50 PM SandyBottom started her 20-mile trip from CP2 to "Darwin's Place". She reached the campsite at 11:50 PM. KB and KW had left CP2 earlier at 5:00 PM, had took a slightly different route, and had arrived at the campsite at 9:40 PM.

SandyBottom's Route from CP2 to Darwin's Place

What an experience, paddling 20 miles through the Everglades at night, perhaps with a little moonlight.
Here is a campsite map. Camping here is popular. (Darwin's Place is #10.)

By the end of the day (literally), SB had paddled 23 miles from Goodland Bay to CP2, and another 20 miles from CP2 to Darwin's Place.

SB had reported from Everglades City that the cellphone reception is not very good over on Chokoloskee and that she may not get a signal out until she reaches CP3 (Flamingo). Indeed the signal from Everglades City was not entirely wonderful. Whereas cellphones use cell towers, the SPOT uses satellites. The reliability of the SPOT system has been demonstrated, thus far, in the Everglades today by EC'09 challengers.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Monday March 9

SandyBottom left camp and was on the water Monday morning by 7:24 AM. SB had camped at the bridge foot with KB and KW for 8 hrs 22 mins, but were sleeping for only 6 of those hours as meals, tent management and getting into dry clothes takes some time --especially when you are tired and moving slowly.

There had been no place for a hammock. Sleeping on the therma-rest pad turned out to be painful (Saturday night she slept in a hammock) and SB did not sleep well. She is certainly planning to use that very comfortable hammock henceforth, whenever possible. The rib pain is worse in the mornings, she reported.

SB called home this morning at 9:00 and reported that she was not having fun due to the chronic rib pain and also due to the frustration of needing to paddle at a her own pace to help deal with the painful rib bruise which was at odds with the urge to speed up and try to catch up with KB and KW who were always far ahead a mile or two.

Her rib still hurt a lot and was somewhat swollen. Perhaps it is fractured after all, maybe. But the standard of care for an injured rib is to wait and let it heal. Perhaps tylenol and/or ibuprophen will help. She has lots of ibuprophen but no tylenol.

The route Monday was southeast along the gulf coast, of course.

At the end of the day (11:04 PM) SandyBottom reached Marco, FL, paddled into Goodland Bay, caught up with KB and KW who had stopped, and together they found a campsite not far from the bridge over the bay. Okay, very close to the bridge.

SB had covered 47.5 miles during the day's 15.5 hours of paddling. Her average speed computed as 47.5/15.5 was 3.07 mph.

This is a fast pace for SB. She reported that she tended to paddle at the pace of KB and KW, which is faster than her own usual pace, because they were always a mile or two ahead the entire day.

Being in Goodland Bay put SB in the 10,000 Islands area of Florida. From there, she was about 23.5 miles from CP2. If tides and wind are favorable or at least neutral, SB may reach CP2 by 3pm on Tuesday.

SandyBottom called home at 11:55 PM Monday. She was in her hammock which was strung up over water and her boat was tied nearby. She was too tired to talk much and promised to report in tomorrow morning. I'll be waiting by the phone, waiting for it to speak. Will report more news then.

Oh speak dear phone, speak.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sunday March 8

Oh good. We lost an hour of sleep. Did you remember to change your clocks?

I heard that KneadingWater recruited four raccoons to hold up his tent all night; the tent poles are still at Fort DeSoto. (It's about time the raccoons did something helpful around the campsite.) Toss out those heavy tent poles, break off the handle of your toothbrush, trim the labels out of your clothes, limit your supply of peanut M&Ms to 20 pounds, ..., etc. You have to understand that these challengers will try anything to reduce the weight of their loaded boats. No need for tent poles when there is an endless supply of helpful raccoons at every campsite in Florida.
The news this morning: SB reached checkpoint #1 (CP1) at about 10:48 AM today and caught up with KiwiBird and KneadingWater there.

Photos by Amy at CP1.

At about 11 AM, SandyBottom called home. She reported that she slept very well last night in a very comfortable hammock and she was glad to be at CP1.


As I mentioned yesterday, SB is favoring a bruise on her ribs from a minor fall back at Ft. DeSoto: Getting out of the car with a load of gear and her PFD over one shoulder, she landed on the VHF radio that was in the PFD pocket. She hopes that by tomorrow morning the bruising will be gone. Today certain movements are painful and that is having an impact on her otherwise excellent forward stroke form. The effect of favoring the bruised rib yesterday was that she developed some pain in her elbow. As some movements are painful (e.g., raising the arm above the shoulder) she said she is not sure she could perform an off-side roll today, is finding certain kinds of sweep strokes painful to do, and is therefore hoping the weather will be fair. It would not be a good day for rolling back up from a knock-down in 8 foot seas, for example.

Calls home are always brief and never seem to answer all the questions you might like to ask. Based on the SPOT data , it appears that SB reached CP1 at 10:48 AM after paddling about 2 hours and 40 minutes. That means that she broke camp and starting paddling this morning at about 8:00 AM. Which probably felt like 7:00 AM --given that the clocks have done the "spring forward in the Spring" thing.

Coming into CP1, and leaving CP1, there are several "filters" that the challengers must pass through. The picture below illustrates 2 of these: on the right is a roadway bridge, on the left is an old abandoned railroad bridge with a section missing. The opening under the former is only 10 feet wide and about 10 feet tall --imagine squeezing your sailboat or rowboat through that when trying to move upstream against an out-flowing tide. The latter is also a narrow opening to squeeze through, and features dangerous piling just below the surface. A third 'filter' illustrated in this photo is the shallow winding waterway itself. To avoid going aground on mud or oyster shells the challengers must steer carefully around the twists and turns. Imagine doing all this at 1:00 AM, for example, when sleep deprived and at the end of a very long day.

Photo from the WaterTribe "Challenge Mapper"

From CP1, SandyBottom paddled down Gasparilla Sound and then crossed Charlotte Harbor down to Pine Island. At the northern tip of the island (Bokeelia) she stopped for a lunch and caught up with KB and KW who had been a mile or two ahead of her all day long.

KneadingWater provided a tuna-and-mayo-on-flour-tortillia for SB and KB. Nice. I believe SB reported that StripBuilder, SandDollar, and Dr. Kayak were around there as well.

From Bokeelia the route was down the east side of Pine Island through the Matlacha Pass. Leaving Bokeelia, KneadingWater suggested that SB and KB could take a 'shortcut' channel that cuts off the northwest corner of Pine Island and leads to Matlacha Pass. In spite of the nice tuna-and-mayo-on-flour-tortillia lunch, SB and KB were not fooled by this ploy and insisted that KW come with them through the 'shortcut'.

By the time SB reached the southern tip of Pine Island and left Matlacha Pass behind, the tide and winds were unfavorable and the forward stroke was down to 2 mph. Time to camp!

By 11:00PM SB had passed under the Sanibel Island Causeway Bridge and had caught up with KB and KW who had been paddling a mile or two ahead of her all day.

They found the perfect campsite was found just south of the eastern foot of the bridge. "Perfect" meaning 'I have to sleep now and this is where I am.' SB called home at about 11:55 PM to report that she would sleep now, speak words tomorrow.

Here is an image of the campsite; x marks the SPOT. Lovely isn't it? SB slept in a tent here because using her hammock was not feasible.

At the end of the day, having paddled 15 hours Sunday from 8:00AM to 11:00PM (with a stop at CP1), SandyBottom had covered 50.7 miles. Her average speed computed as 50.7/15 was 3.38 mph.

This is a fast pace for SB. She reported that she tended to paddle at the pace of KB and KW, which is faster than her own usual pace, because they were always a mile or two ahead the entire day. She found this frustrating, needing to paddle at her own pace to help deal with the painful rib bruise being at odds with the urge to speed up and try to catch up with KB and KW far ahead all day long.

Fortunately the weather has been favorable for the kayakers this year. Here were the conditions Sunday evening.

The conditions have not be as favorable for the sailors (especially Class 4). Wind have becalmed at times and the sailboats have not generally run ahead of the paddlers. For example, as SandyBottom was putting up her tent Sunday evening, Graham and Randy on the Southern Skimmer were passing by within less than a mile.

Saturday March 7

Start to CP1

SandyBottom and many of the challengers in kayaks spent the day taking the 'inside' route, beginning with Sarasota Bay, while many of the challengers in class4 boats spent the day on the 'outside' route hoping for better winds. Winds were light or becalmed a substantial part of the day forcing the sailers with oars to do some rowing.

The end of the day SandyBottom caught up with KiwiBird and KneadingWater who had been paddling a mile ahead all day and together they chose a campsite a the southeast end of Lemon Bay not far from Stump Pass.

On the first day of the EC'09, SandyBottom paddled from 7:00 AM to 10:50 PM. During those 16 hours she covered 57.5 miles.
This is a fast pace for SB. She reported that she tended to paddle at the pace of KB and KW, which is faster than her own usual pace, because they were always a mile or two ahead the entire day.

Having covered 57.5 miles of the 67.0 miles from the starting line to CheckPoint 1 (CP1) , she is now camped 9.5 miles from CP1.

Her average speed computed as 57.5 /16 was 3.59 mph.

SandyBottom called home three times on Saturday and reported being tired and sore but otherwise in good shape. She reported that she is favoring a bruise on her ribs from a minor fall back at Ft. DeSoto. Getting out of the car with a load of gear. Had her PFD over one shoulder and she landed on the VHF radio that was in the PFD pocket.

On sunday morning it may take about 2 hours and 40 minutes for SandyBottom to reach CP1.

Camping a short distance from CP1 (either before reaching it or after reaching it) has the advantage of a quiet place to sleep. CP1 can be relatively noisy even during the wee hours with challengers coming and going. Sleep well!

Saturday night camping area...