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.

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