Saturday, December 31, 2011

OMG!

It's time to start some serious training.  Not sure how to train for this!  Read more about it here.

Cat launching off a beach on East Coast of Florida during a Tybee 500.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

WaterTribe

If you follow WaterTribe you've likely noticed they've updated the website.  The new site is watertribe.org, the old site still exists at watertribe.com while things get moved.

If you don't follow WaterTribe, you should.

The discussion forum is much changed and updated, with much more functionality.  This forum is a wealth of information for expedition, and expedition racing.   Membership is free.  A new feature to the website is the addition of Tribal Member Blogs.  

Some members of the Tribe have opted to blog on the site, talking about the boats they are using, building and training, and just having plane fun with.  In support of WaterTribe, I too have started a blog there at watertribe.org/sandybottom/.


I've been a WaterTriber for 8 years now, my first WaterTribe Everglades Challenge was in 2004. This blog started in 2005 as I began training for the 2006 Ultimate Florida Challenge (UFC), and has primarily been devoted to WaterTribe, and to the many Challenges I've done and trained for.

Next March 2012  is another Ultimate Florida Challenge.  Alan (SOS) and I will race that together as a team.  As I prepare and train for this new Challenge, I'll be posting on the new Blog.

No worries, this one will be alive and well, and will contain postings and links to the other as well.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Mosquito Floats

Alan (SOS) has promised to update his blog before leaving for Europe on Tuesday, so I'll just give you a sneak peak of a couple pictures of us testing out Mosquito (the trimaran) on the water.  She paddles beautifully.  Sailing trials will have to wait till February.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's Been Awhile

It may seem like I’d retired my blog, but really I just got so very busy this past year.  I've put blogging way on top of my New Year’s resolutions list, along with more paddling, sailing, and adventure.

So what’s been happening of late?   I finished the WaterTribe North Carolina Challenge (NCC) in early October.  As WaterTribe events usually are, weather offered us a real challenge, but also such fun and satisfaction.  I’ve not much interest in writing it up at this late date, but there are some great stories and videos one can check out here, and here.   The NCC is about 100 miles over 2 ½ day time frame, very doable for both the racer and the expedition kayaker looking for adventure.  You won’t meet a more diverse, interesting, and fun group of water folk. Come join us.

I was lucky to fit in a short solo vacation over Thanksgiving and visit my family in Hawaii.  It was wonderful getting to spend time with my Mom and Dad, and to renew a friendship with my sister.  We all had such a great time.  With retirement just around the corner, my visits can start happen more often and for longer.

Happy Birthday Lani!

Retirement!   I just added a new App to my Android called “Days Until”.    Right now it reads “351 days,69 hours, 21 minutes”.   Still about a year away (Dec 1, 2012), but I’m ready.  I’m so looking forward to that new adventure in my life.

Most weekends over the past couple of months have been spent in Vandermere NC (down East)  working at the B&B Yacht Design shop where Alan (SOS) lives and works, as we work on the trimaran Alan has designed and is building.  We plan to team up and sail it together during the March 2012 WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge, yup, the 1200 miler I did in 2006 in my Kruger.    Alan posts occasional updates on his blog 'Sailing Adventures of SOS'.  I’m not supposed to give away any of our secrets.   But you’ll be hearing all about it on the blog in March.


Last Sunday I managed some free time and disappeared for a few hours, paddling my Kruger Dreamcatcher up the Bay River and down Chapel Creek.  It was so good to get back in the Kruger.  Back on the water is on the top of my resolutions.  I’d just not done enough this year for my emotional and mental well-being.   It’ll be all about single blading for a while training for the UFC which includes about 400 miles of river paddling or rowing.


One last bit of news.  Next week we move into our new house.  Same general location, just a bit of downsizing, the retirement house!   Lots and lots of garage for our toys with, a boat house, and workshop.

Well it's almost the weekend again, so back to Vandemere, our last weekend working on the boat for awhile, hoping to get it on the water.   Alan's off to Europe for 6 weeks, and I've got lots to do to keep me busy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Off to the Races

North Carolina Challenge Route

We are all doing the WaterTribe North Carolina Challenge this weekend.  Paul's written a bit about it on his blog  'Dawn Patrol'.


Follow-along!  My SPOT tracking is here
Paul (DancesWithSandyBottom) and Alan (SOS) tracking is here

And you can follow along on the race websites tracking map here and any discussion on the forum here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cedar Island to Atlantic

--by DWSB

There was more practice today for the WaterTribe NC Challenge: kayakers SandyBottom, TwinSpirit, JayBird, and Rambler scouted routes among the islands between Pamlico Sound and Core Sound.

Route:  Driftwood Campground's boat ramp into Cedar Island Bay, out Beach Creek into Pamlico Sound, past Hog Island and tiny Chain Shot Island to Harbor Island,  and then SW on Core Sound to Atlantic, NC. 


From the Driftwood Campground/Motel  to  Atlantic, NC

A Three Hour Tour


Arrival at 1:00pm

Early reports suggested that a welcoming committee of post-Irene mosquitos greeted the kayakers, picked them up off the water, and air-lifted them ashore for "lunch".  

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Beaufort to Cedar Island

by DWSB

SandyBottom is on the water this weekend with friends practicing for the WaterTribe NC Challenge (NCC).  The 2011 NCC will start at 7am on Friday September 30.

  
Late night start on Taylor Creek after shuttling cars,  
Camping off Brown's Island,  
Early morning progress up Core Sound
(SPOT

As of 8:40 this morning they are 20 nautical miles from a great seafood dinner at the Driftwood Restaurant on Cedar Island.  Looks like a beautiful day on Core Sound.

There are currently 3 weather stations on the west shores of Core Sound
(Wunderground)


Update:   3:30pm arrival at the Driftwood Campground dock and boat ramp.

Arrival at the Driftwood

Route from Beaufort to Cedar Island

Monday, August 22, 2011

Checking Out the Blogs

It was a great paddling trip this weekend from Hobucken to Belhaven and around Goose Creek Island. Got a chance to raise my FEKS sail a bit, put in some miles (55 all totaled), and spend some time with some great paddling partners. I’ll check out the pictures and get a trip report out this week.

In the meantime, I noticed Alan (SOS) has updated his blog to show the beginning build of the trimaran he’s designed and building for us in next March’s WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge (UFC). I’m working my way through the Challenges boat classes, as this will be a class 5 entry. I stopped over in Vandemere where Alan works and lives at B&B Yacht Designs on the way home and was very pleased with the hull size and shape. It’s gonna be fast :)


There’s another blog out there that Matt (RedBeard) has started. He and Alan, and 2 other’s, all NC State students at the time, built plywood outrigger sailng canoes (Wa'apas) for the 2007 Everglades Challenge. The original build and racing can be found on SOS blog as archived posts in 2006 through March 2007.
Dan is now getting one of those Wa'apa's  refit for the WaterTribe North Carolina Challenge next month.



Thursday, August 18, 2011

FEKS Ready for the Weekend

Last night Paul helped me get my Flat Earth Kayak Sail (FEKS) all set up on my QCC.  Doesn't everyone work on their kayak in their house on the kitchen table?   Off this afternoon for Hobucken, and a 3-day paddle around Goose Creek Island, with a night in Belhaven, should have 10 mph winds throughout the weekend.

SPOT tracks here.  See Ya. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back on the Water

I really need a new camera, sorry no pictures.

This weekend, I finally felt better and good enough to get in some paddling. I met Christine late Saturday afternoon for a 15 miler, and then we camped at a wilderness camp site on Jordan Lake. Sunday weather called for a 60% chance of thunderstorms and rain throughout the day. We paddled another 20 miles, and the sun shone all day long. It was beautiful.

We ended the day with some rolling and rescue practice in our loaded boats. My new QCC is not nearly as easy to roll as my NDK Explorer. I’ve just got to remember to keep the lay back (the Explorer is easy to cheat on this). It had been awhile since I’d done rescue work in a loaded boat. I was surprised at how much water the cockpit took in. Way too much pumping needed. I’m now considering an electric pump.

Next weekend I’m planning another Belhaven trip from Pate’s Boat Yard  with a small group from my kayak club. Planning to arrive in time for Thirsty Thursday :)  It’s all good!

From PatesBoatyard

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Plans Change

Tropical storm Emily may have stayed away, but the summer cold I started last week just continued to get worse. We ended up having to reschedule our trip this weekend, which I spent in bed rather than on the water.

But Alan's kept me feeling better with occasional phone texts about his progress as he started to build our “super secret - super fast trimaran”, the boat he has designed for the 2012 WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge. This picture is a paper model of the main hull.


Alan (aka SOS) and I have entered the race as a mother and son team. He’s the expert sailor, I’ll bring my experiences by having finished this event in 2006 and as a paddler since although this is meant for sailing, we’ll be paddling at least 300 miles of the 1200 during the St Mary and Suwannee river sections, and likely more depending on weather and winds.

The video below is Alan and his then college roomates as Team RAF, launching during the 2007 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge in thier home built, but not so secret and not as fast (as this new trimaran will be) Wa'apa trimarans.


Monday, August 01, 2011

Next Weekend Escape

Sadly Paul’s father passed way, though thankfully only a few days after his stroke. The funeral was a great remembrance of how he touched other’s lives, and all he gave to our world. Life will be forever changed without him and he’ll be remembered and missed. Life still goes on, and with things finally slowing down, I’ve planned a last minute needed weekend escape.

Christine (WaterTribe member TwinSprit) and I have planned some much needed WaterTribe North Carolina Challenge (NCC) training. Routing Beaufort to Oriental via the Intercostal Waterway, then return via the Harlow canal. This trip will give us both some familiarity with this section of the NCC route, and some good fun. I did this trip with friends in 2009, the ICW is almost always interesting, an early supper in Oriental will be a great treat, and the Harlow canal is beautiful.  I’m hoping Alan (SOS) will drive up from his home in Vandemere with B&B Yachts to dine with us.

This trip will also be my longest in my new used QCC 600, and be great to help me figure out my outfitting needs for distance paddling in this kayak. I also still need to mount my Flat Earth Kayak Sail on it, but this trip with will be paddle training, and the narrow ICW and Harlow Canal is not conducive to much paddle sailing anyway.


Earlier this morning another friend and WaterTriber Scott (aka Lenscap) and I emailed abit.  He told me his summer had been about average, meaning he’s getting in about 100+ miles per month.  I felt so jealous reading that.  I used to paddle a couple of times weekly and always managed some good regular mileage.  Lately I haven't managed more than a planned weekend trip each month.  Hardly reason to complain, just not my normal.  I was starting to think this sounded like a great new goal for me (I’m so goal oriented).  Looking back through my logs I realized I'm actually getting in more distance than I had thought.  My monthly weekend trips are usually distance trips, and it seems I've actually managed 100 miles each month anyway.

So.... I feel much better now, and I'm realy looking forward to this trip and weekend away.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Family First

I’ve just had to cancel my vacation to RAGBRAI this year. Paul’s Dad has gotten very ill, and I’m needed here at home. We’ve been very lucky to have both of our parents’ live long lives. They’ve been able to watch and enjoy our children growing up, and our kids have been lucky to get to know their grandparents and their family history. Even though our families seem to be all over the map, we’ve still managed to stay pretty close, and the times we’ve all gotten together has always been fun. Family just has to come first.
Paul’s family

Dawn's Family

The bike training has me pretty fit, and I’ve really enjoyed the training my friend David and I have done as we prepared for RAGBRAI. There’s always next year, and/or possibly another bike trip.  And we have some nice kayaking trips coming up soon with our kayaking club.

I’ll now plan to use some of my unused vacation days with Paul out at the coast for some rest and relaxation on our sailboat later this summer when things calm down a bit.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Growing Bolder

As soon as I get pictures, I'll post a trip report of our last weeks ocean paddle.  "Growing Bolder" pretty much describes it, as we were in very challenging conditions, on that edge of danger and exciting fun.

I've also discovered that "Growing Bolder" is a TV show on American Public television, though I'll need to check my local listing for it.  It's 1/2 hr shows are empowering stories that inspire audiences of all ages to believe that it’s never too late to achieve their dreams. It features stories of masters athletes, cancer survivors, musicians, health experts, entrepreneurs and more.

I learned of this show when getting a link to a video of adventure canoeist and canoe racer Rod Price.  Rod is a good friend of the WaterTribe, a Tribal Elder who has completed an Everglades Challenge among many other adventure races. I hear will be joining us in this years North Carolina Challenge.  He describes much of my feelings about the adventure sea kayaking I do in this video about his adventure canoeing.

Rod keeps a blog here, and has authored the book  "Racing to the Yukon", about his experience racing and winning the Yukon 1000 with Ardie Olson (another great WaterTriber).  A great article of their adventure is also found here.

Kristen (KiwiBird) and I still talk about paddling in the Yukon 1000 together some day.  Unfinished business!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Weekend Off - Going Paddling

Life's been so busy I just haven't had much time to blog lately, but promise to get back to it soon.

I've mostly been biking weekends as David and I get ready for RAGBRI next month.  We're up to 50 mile rides, I think we'll be in good shape for the ride.

This weekend I'm taking a break and going down to the beach, an ocean-side paddle from Swansboro to Beaufort.  A long first day, paddling 28 miles out Bogue Inlet, up Emerald Isle, across Beaufort Inlet, and camping on Shackleford Island at Cape Lookout.  Sunday we'll paddle another 13 miles over to Harkers Island.   I'll have my SPOT on, you can track me here

Of course I'll have my Flat Earth Kayak Sail with me, as we're expecting some great winds 10-15 kts SW.

Picture below is from our Currituck Sound Paddle that I did a few weeks ago.  The big sand dune in front of us is Jokey's Ridge of the Wright Brothers fame.  That's me with my FEK sail below, paddling (very easily) next to my friend Jay.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Finally

Going paddling and camping.  I'll be spending a long weekend paddling in Currituck Sound with a small group of friends.  We've been slowly paddling the inner banks of NC over the past couple years.  This about finishes it.  SPOT tracking found here.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Goose Creek Paddle Fest

It was another great weekend at the 2nd annual Goose Creek Paddle Weekend. Every time I go to Hobucken to paddle or sail, I’m reminded how great the people there are, and how welcoming Shawn and Pate’s BoatYard is. Paul posted a nice history of Pate’s Boat Yard that he researched while I was out there last year.

Hobucken is quite a rural community, though the Island hosts a small Coast Guard Station, is located on the NC Intercoastal Waterway, and another small community named Lowland on the North end.  The Island is quite popular among hunters and fishers, but I think kayakers are slowly finding its appeal, and as Steve and Paul have discovered, it’s become a nice convenient spot to start a weekend sail.

This past weekend was the 2nd annual paddle-fest. As usual all was well organized with delicious food, great camping (not a mosquito in sight), and the party (DJ and karaoke) was so much fun. The paddling was even better, and this year a bit challenging and with 20-25 mph winds, even occasionally impossible with 35 mph gusts. But perfect conditions to challenge oneself and see what they are made of. Shawn was motoring around in his pontoon boat playing safety boater and picking up a few of the short boats that had trouble in the winds.  




I’d brought down a new ‘used’ boat to test out, a QCC 600. Which I’m pleased to report is now a new addition to the family, 48 lbs and a little rocket.  The conditions were just perfect to really test it out.


Alan also joined me for the weekend with his new sailboat “Southbound”. See his post here. I’d brought an extra kayak, but with the winds it was all about the sailing for him. See his report here. On Sunday, John (one of the weekend hosts) and I joined him on the sailboat. What an exciting (windy) sail we had.


Thanks everyone, I had a great time.

I’m ready for more sailing, and have found myself looking through some of the well documented trips Steve has done and reported on in his blog "Log of Spartina"  (see right sidebar).  Paul and I will plan a week at the coast either May or June and it just makes sense that we take advantage of the planning Steve’s already done :)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Dreaming

My body was at work today, but my head sure wasn't.  I've just returned from a wonderful weekend of kayaking, camping, and sailing down in Hobucken on Goose Creek Island.  You'll have to wait on pictures and trip report, including pictures of me with my new PFD on, and sitting in my newest kayak :)   And I've still got EC stories to tell.

But this post is about an idea that's been circling in my head all day.  I retire from work Dec 1, 2012, only 20 months from now (yup, I'm counting down).  So of course I need a big plan. 

And now I have it.  I'll just do the March 2013 Everglades Challenge (EC) in my Kruger Dreamcatcher (it's been a bit lonely these days).  I'll just take a short rest, get a ride further south from Key Largo to Key West, then get on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and paddle my way back home.  There's the Florida Saltwater Paddling Trail and now the new Georgia Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail I've had my eyes on.  Of course I'll have to paddle all the way to Norfolk Virginia to milepost 0.0 (bet Steve would be there to meet me there when I'm done).

I've actually already paddled the Florida ICW during the 2006 Ultimate Florida Challenge (UFC), but quite a bit of that was in the dark, and my focus was only on paddling forward and getting that 1200 miles done.  I'll see some of it again next March when Alan and I team up for the 2012 UFC, but we'll be sailing it in Class 5 (multi hull) and he's determined that we're going outside. 

This new trip idea, will be slow, smell the roses, enjoy the journey, a vacation.  It's really starting to sound like a great way to start my retirement.  And I've got a bit of time to do the research and look forward to it.  It may only be today's dream but lucky for me, I like to make my dreams come true.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

2011 EC Report - The Start

Keeping with our annual traditions over the past 5 years, we picked up Kristen (KiwiBird) before 5:30 am, towing the Dawn Patrol and with our 2 kayaks on the van, we headed for our favorite fried chicken lunch at the ‘El Cheapo’ gas station and grill in Midway Georgia. We arrived at the Ft Desoto campground about 6:00 PM, set up tents, headed for dinner at the Italian restaurant down the road, and then headed over to the annual WaterTribe party put on by PaddleMaker and SavannahDan.

Kristen and I on the way down to Tampa

Friday morning started with our annual Eggs Benedict at a local breakfast spot, and then Paul and Alan dropped us off at the start beach, while they headed off for some shopping at West Marine. The rest of the day was spent setting up our kayaks, checking out boats, visiting with old friends, and meeting new members of the Tribe. This year’s Captains Meeting was big event, with 84 boats starting (Everglades Challenge and UltraMarathon), there were more challengers there then ever before, and all getting to introduce themselves at the meeting.

Chief and Tribe at the Captains Meeting

Saturday morning while still dark, we took down camp and drove over to the start beach for last minute final packing of boats, wishing everyone well, and roll call. At 7AM the fog horn sounded, and the Challenge began. The start is always an interesting event. I’ve heard one describe it as a bit of chaos, the horn sounds and everyone gets in their boat, gets on the water, and all seem to go in a different direction. Many head across the Bay towards either the East or West sides of Anna Maria Sound, other’s go West past Edgemont Key and out into the Gulf.

I've no pictures on the water, but found this great article of the EC start, it's descriptions and pictures give a good idea of the diverstiy of the craft that come to the Everglades Challenge (including 2 Paddle Boarders), though it doesn't speak to the numbers of kayakers who attempt the challenge.  This year's EC had 33 kayaks and canoes in both class 1 (kayak/canoe with downwind sail) and class 2 (racing and no sail) starting the Challenge.

Kayaks on the start beach, Seiche (standing) and KneadingWater (kneeling)

We had a bit of a windy start, 15kts out of ESE, my Flat Earth Kayak Sail, which sails up wind to a degree, was doing very well, and Tampa Bay was not too terribly rough. During the crossing, I noticed Kristen up ahead, her PAS seemed to be set at an unusual angle, rather than sitting upright and turned in, it was tilted way over to the right side, almost hanging off her kayak. I recalled she’d had trouble with her sail mount once before, but I’m not sure this actually wasn’t her way of trying to get the most of what most would call headwinds and unsailable in a kayak.

There were WT boats all around.  At some point I paddled a bit with Boat1984 (yes, that's his year of birth :). He was quite excited about the Challenge. He was an MissouriRiver340 veteran many times over, and knew that I also had completed an MR340 a few years ago. In last years MR340 he’d met and paddled a bit with SaltyFrog and had decided to do the EC. This he said was the first time he’d ever paddled in salt water. I never saw him again during the Challenge, but expect he had some great adventures.

Once I got towards Sarasota Bay, the wind was howling, and in my face. No sailing during this crossing. In the distance I saw a few Kruger’s on shore taking down their Balogh rigs, just too much windage if paddling.  I would often see many other WaterTribers around, mostly kayakers, it’s a very big Bay.

Further along and just under the big Sarasota Bridge I heard my name called out, and turned to see Steve (KneadingWater). He was paddling his new TideRace kayak. I was a bit surprised to see him, figuring he was up ahead with Kristen, but also knowing that being from Michigan, and not having much opportunity to paddle over the past months, the first couple days has him needing to get out of his kayak every once in a while to stretch out. He told me he was thinking about dropping out. WHAT, I couldn’t believe it, Steve has finished 9 various WaterTribe events.  Was the new boat giving him problems? He’d said it had just arrived, and he’d only once had it in a pool.  It turns out his shoulder was really bothering him, he was having tingling down his arm and numb fingers, and worried about possible nerve damage if he continued. He'd been having a problem since starting.  His friend Denny(Seiche) then also joined us, he had been waiting for Steve at the bridge since Steve had slowed down earlier.

Steve said he was going to paddle a bit more, take his time, and then make a final decision soon.  He encouraged Seiche to put it in high gear and catch up to KiwiBird, who they figured wasn’t too far up ahead.  I'd offered to paddle with Steve a bit, but I too needed to get going; so feeling a bit left out, but ready to continue my own Challenge, I too paddled on.

I stopped again this year at a little beach at the swing bridge at Blackburn Point to put on some warmer clothes, change out my water bag, empty my bladder, and to call Steve (my shore contact).   I remembered last year when Floatsome and I stopped here, we were very cold and really needed some warmer clothes on.  The Sarasota Bay crossing was very hard, and very slow.  Lots and lost of wind.  My report to Steve which he posted on his blog included the word 'Brutal'.  Funny how you don't remember how bad it is afterwards, guess that's why I keep coming back :)

I hit a great tide in the Venice Ditch past the Venice Inlet and around the airport, continuing to either be passed or passing other paddlers over the next few hours.  A few were talking about stopping and camping the night, then starting early to make the checkpoint (CP) before 10am the next day. I recalled that in 3 previous challenges I too camped at this part of the stage, and offered my advice for good spots I knew about.  But I was still feeling good and felt it was still a bit early for me, I'd not really paddled enough distance yet to stop.  I’d decided to get through Lemon Bay and get within a couple hours of the CP before I’d consider camping.

Right before entering Lemon Bay, I heard someone shout out ‘Are you WaterTribe’. It was KneadingWater again, only this time on shore and not dressed for paddling. He said he was looking for KiwiBird and Seiche, he’d seen on the forum that KiwiBird had lost her SPOT, and he was going to lend his since he had dropped out.  I was surprised to hear they might be so close; both are faster paddlers than I, maybe they’d stopped for lunch along the way. I never did see them, during the challenge, though thougout the challenge I'd hear that they were never too far away, either in front of me or behind me at various times during my 3 days.

I was pretty sure KiwiBird would try and make the CP, then camp that night about a mile further, but I was getting pretty tired, and had slowed down in the dark. I decided that since I wasn’t going to make the CP before 2am so decided I’d camp about 8 miles away, and arrive there in the morning. I stopped and camped about midnight; the results page shows KiwiBird and Seiche arrived at the CP at 19hrs 50min which was 2:50 AM. I’m not sure I believe that, else I would have been in front of them when I pulled off to camp. I think there are a few errors in the results times posted.

After a great night sleep in my Hennessey Hammock, I left about 6am arrived at the CP (about 60 miles) a bit before 9am (my times on the results page are wrong, I’ve requested a correction).  I remember how disappointed I was when Pelican the CP Manager told me I was the last kayaker to come in. That just couldn’t be true. I’d decided to camp but couldn’t believe all other kayakers paddled through the night to get in, heck I knew a few who had camped as far as 20 miles north. Pelican also said that DophinGal and a few other’s had just left the CP about 20 minutes ago after camping there that night. Something must really be wrong with the result times on the website, as her CP arrival is listed as 1 Day 9 Hours32 Min. She would not have even arrived yet.

Getting help landing at CP1, one of the Adventure Island kayaks behind me

to be continued......

Friday, March 25, 2011

What Happened?

We’re all back home now and life is as it was, almost as if our vacation and the Everglades Challenge didn’t happened. My wounds have pretty much healed, both physical and emotional (so hard to not have finished a challenge). Now it’s time to figure out ‘what happened’. I certainly don’t want a repeat, and I plan many more paddling and WaterTribe adventures in the future.

Basically I was taken out by chafing sores both at my tailbone and up my backside, and around my waist. I have had chafing issues in previous challenges, actually most challengers have some chafing, hard to paddle 50-60 miles a day in salt water and not chafe at all. But this year my sores started early in the challenge, and then began to fester and weep. To have continued would have had me in too much pain, risk of infection, and a very lengthy recovery. I’ve just no time in my life for that any more. As hard as it was (I am never a quitter), I really didn’t have much choice in the decision.

I’ve attributed the backside wounds to an adjustment I’d made a little while back to my seat back (bringing it forward and lower), my neoprene shorts (different than what I usually wear), and to the weather conditions. Though most have complained of the headwinds, I often found them angled enough to have me sailing almost continually through the first 3 days except for the mid morning crossings of Sarasota Bay on day 1, and the first few hours across Charlotte Harbor on day 2. The rest of the time I was sailing like crazy, often trying to keep from being heeled over (winds were almost often 20-25 kts) and always sitting on one cheek (likely pressure sores as well as chafing).

Quick aside; my Flat Earth Kayak Sail worked beautifully, simple to use, easy to launch and easy to take down. It’s a bit more complicated initially setting it up (then the PAS), requiring side stays as well as front and back stays, but I love the ease in adjustments for various wind and angles.  Less a downwind sail, and more a real masted sail with sheet.  I wish I had some pictures of me sailing it in the Challenge, hopefully someone will have picture I can post later.

I labeled the my EC two years ago in 2009 my Muumuu challenge. I’d had such horrible chafing around my waist that at the finish I had to shop for a muumuu at the local dollar store, not able to withstand the waistband on my shorts or pants. I’d thought it was due to a different brand spray skirt I’d used that year. However with this year’s equally bad chafing, I realized it was the bottom of my Stolquist PFD where a thick cord runs through a tunnel that clips across my waist. By Monday morning I was telling Steve (mine, Paul's and Alan's EC shore contact this year) to warn Paul when he next spoke to him that it was looking to be another Muumuu year. Not sure how I managed last year.  I’m pretty sure I’ve figured this one out now. I’m now going to try out the Kokotat MsFit PFD, and think it’ll even ride higher on my chest.  Perfect timing, my REI members check has arrived.

Aside from the sores/pain during my 3 ½ days of paddling I was actually doing quite well.  Fitter and in better condition than I’d thought, this thanks to the weight training I’d been doing 2-3 times a week with Lauren at Chapel Hill Training. Lauren had set up a program for me that was very specific to the strength needs of paddling, lots of core, upper body and legs. In fact I don’t think we ever did anything that didn’t have me on a ball, a half round disk, or one leg, always working the core with every exercise.  I’d not put as much training time on the water as I’d have liked prior to the challenge, but really, I'm always on the water, know how to paddle, and know the way, it really didn't seem to matter too much.

My progress for the 160 miles I’d completed before dropping was great.  I was very pleased, and had been having quite a good time.  We had a very windy EC this year, and the Gulf was as rough as I'd ever seen it, but my speeds and times were as good as my fastest years, I was camped on White Horse Key in the 10,000 Islands on Monday night, which matched my previous and fastest year ever. For all the weather issues, and physical issues, I had really made some great time, and arrived at Checkpoint 2 in Chokoloskee a full day ahead of the deadline.

It was also while camping on White Horse Key when I’d realized I was likely seeing the end of this Challenge. I’m very careful with body maintenance in these challenges, using hydropel continuously, desitin on my butt, good soapy non-rinse wipes, and talcum powder to help dry at night. But the sores festered very quickly during the night, by the time I made it in to CP2 it was clear most were open weeping wounds that would never heal by staying wet in the boat, just sitting in my kayak had become excruciating.

I think because I was doing so well, as good as I could have, and with little room for another option, dropping out was only hard that very first day, and hardest when greeting other challengers as they prepared to continue their journey.  As a DNFer, I was in great company, as this year, 30 dropped out of 71 boat starters, including other EC veterans.  In the end it really wasn't such a bad vacation, I had a few extra days in Key Largo to celebrate Alan and Paul's great success, greet the remaining finishers, and visit with my many WaterTribe friends.  There will always be next time.

 Kristen (KiwiBird) and Alan (SOS)

Party in Key Largo

Me very well rested in Key Largo

Regardless, I paddled 160 miles in 3 days and 6 hrs, and do have some stories to tell.   And since  life just doesn't stop, I'll be getting on the bike now, starting training rides for the upcoming RABGRAI challenge in July.  Next weekend, I'm off to Hobucken and Pate's Boat Yard for the annual Goose Creek Paddle Weekend, a weekend of paddling, camping, eating, partying, and karaoke, last years report here, great fun.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Ready or Not

Here we come. Another year, another WaterTribe Everglades Challenge (EC). 

KiwiBird, and the not so little “Wee One” came over this evening to drop off KiwiBird’s kayak and gear; we’ll be picking her up very early tomorrow morning for the drive to Florida.  And, in keeping with tradition, FlysWithKiwiBird cooked us all a nice dinner and Tana made us all dessert, for our annual pre-EC dinner (thank-you!).

Excitement was running high as we ate and talked of previous ECs; between us all we’ve experienced 14 of them. This year will be extra fun (or extra worry) as Paul (DancesWithSandyBottom) and Alan (SOS) will be also racing in the DawnPatrol, and again with parts and pieces untried

I know KiwiBird can’t wait for this to become a family affair for her too, though I’ve told her Andrew will not like the Tribal name of “WeeOne” when he’s old enough to join her.

How to Follow Along:
Check the reports on the ‘Log of Spartina’ blog regularly. Our friend Steve Earley has graciously volunteered to be our shore contact person, and will be reporting on our progress and phone calls on his blog. I promise this will be great entertainment, Steve’s an excellent storyteller.


You also might enjoy visiting the WaterTribe Forum as the racers friends and family will be posting updates on the many of the challengers. The Forum will contain official status reports (or log entries) on each racer once the race starts. Log entries must be made every 24 hrs (except in the Everglades where phone service is bad) to avoid a call to the Coast Guard.

The Challenge Viewer will include slideshows taken by the challengers and downloaded during the race, or view some of the slideshows from previous races.

Another feature is the Challenge Mapper which is a Google Map showing where the challengers are on the race course. You will be able to select from a list of all racers in a particular class /division, all challengers in the race, or any one challenger.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Oh Oh is Right

You got that right KiwiBird.  Tomorrow morning I'm off for an emergency visit to the Dentist.  Seems I have some kind of gum lesion that's getting worse rather than better.

During the Everglades Challenge I'd probably be ok in a pinch, there is always KneadingWater, a cat vet who specializes in cat dentistry.  But I'm figuring he won't have his tools or novocaine with him, though a good hit of his rum might do the trick :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fruit for Breakfast?

Almost finished packing, and I've finished my food shopping.  This year I'm planning fruit with my granola bars and Ensure chocolate shakes for breakfast.  The package advertises no preservatives, no colorings, no additives, no fat, no genetic modifications, no water added, no dairy or gluten, nothing artificial; all fruit.  I bought 3 flavors, but I'm not going to try it out ahead of time, it'll probably taste better during the Challenge.

I also bought so many nutrition bars, I'm already gagging.  Though quite a bit of weight, they are just too convenient to eat on all day long, assuming you can eat them.  My plan is to not replicate a brand or a flavor within any one day.