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.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gear and Packing

On the road in 5 days, today was all about gear and packing for next week’s adventure; actually it was more about finding gear. While we are in Florida, painters will be coming in to paint our house, part of getting ready to put it on the market. It’ll be a bit inconvenient for our house sitters, but, it also means the garage has become a place for storage. What a mess! It took two week to find my tent, and I still hadn’t found all my dry bags. A quick trip to Great Outdoor Provision tomorrow will fix that :)

This afternoon, with such wonderful spring weather, I aired out both my hammock (my preferred sleep during an EC), and my tent. Each is so light that I don’t mind taking them both for the convenience; together weight less than 5 lbs.

Another additional 3 lbs I haven’t quite decided on is whether to take my little wheels. Twice last year I did some paddling trips that involved a ferry ride, and each time I’d wished I’d had a small kayak cart to help load and unload on to the ferry. So I bought one, it only weighs 2lbs 13oz, and fits into my small 10" hatches.

I’d normally not even consider this for an EC, but the rules have tightened somewhat in the WaterTribe which is really all about self-sufficiency. But more importantly, rumors are that it’s likely Everglades National Park may be closed in a week, the result of Federal budget cuts. This will have Flamingo the 3rd checkpoint in the challenge deserted. Unless I’m with other paddlers, there will be no one around to help me move my boat from the fresh water side to the salt water side, about ¼ mile portage. Is it worth 2 lbs 13 oz? At that point in the race, I’ll not be in condition to even consider carrying my kayak, an expedition weight NDK Explorer.

I’ll have to see what I can pare down. Its food and water (and my kayak) that really weighs the most, and I usually have a bit left over. Approaching the challenge as a cruiser, just trying to finish the event, I pack more for comfort than the racers anyway.

And of course I worked on my tooth necklace this evening as well, adding last year’s earned shark and alligator tooth to my collection.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Lots of fun stuff on the WaterTribe Forum as excitement draws near. Warren Richey (Sharkchow), author of my favorite book ‘Without a Paddle’ has offered up a Poem.  Read the book, and the poem below, I’m mentioned in both :)

With apologies to the Gilligan's Island theme song.)
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful race.
That started from old Mullet Key
Seventy boats in a chase.
Their goal was a place clled Largo
Three hundred miles away.
It beckoned in the distance like a cherished love,
The promise of a clam, clear bay.
By paddle, sail, tide, and drift
The intrepid mariners pushed off.
Through blasting wind and baking sun
To all dangers they did scoff.
They took to the sea like fish or duck,
Bumpy, Whale, and Juice,
There's Paddlemaker, SavannahDan
Let no one call a truce.
Cap'n Krunch, Penguinman,
An Ocean Diva, too
Sundance, Seiche, and Sewsew,
Making a bee-line through the blue.
Here's Lugnut and old Foghorn,
Whose name implies some gas,
These old salts have no intent
To end the race dead last.
Now Jarhead riding a shadowy moon
Is known for amazing displays.
He's been this route so many times
It only takes two days.
There's Ed and Joe, gliding home
Aboard their gleaming craft.
And Percival with Blackwater Knight
Awake so long, they're daft.
Iszatarock? Iszatarock?
I really want to know.
Is that a rock before my boat,
Or just my big fat toe?
ArdieO, Oh ArdieO,
Why are you so fast?
Don't you know the sweetest thing
Is to make the journey last?
Toby, Toby, Toby,
What do you have to say?
Is that Whitecaps on the water,
Or sharks in Florida Bay?
Dr. Kayak and Sand dollar,
What got you in this race?
The sun, the moon, the open sky,
Or the persistent, grueling pace?
There's catman and KiwiBird
Laughing down the coast,
Scaring off the wildlife,
Leaving just a ghost.
Mosquito Magnet, what a name,
The funniest we're ever heard,
He draws those flies from the Glades
As well as any turd.
Royd and Royd, now there's a pair,
Those two know the way.
The problem is the way they know
Is via Hudson Bay.
Watch closely, pay attention
There goes Iron Bob,
And DolphinGal, and Hammerstroke,
Is he paddling a Saab?
Suddenly, the tide rolls back,
Sucked into sponge so large.
Fear not, it's only Scareman Brad
In a giant Georgia barge.
In every race there's a race within
This one just the same.
Paul and Alan under sail
Share Sandy Bottom's name.
But Dawn in her kayak cramped
With soggy guts and grit
Is toughest of the three,
And that's no line of...
For Bob and Janet this is no task,
The challenge is vacation nice.
They came from northern Michigan
After months of paddling ice.
What noise is this from darkened sea
That injures tender ear.
It's Sharkchow hoisting high above
A tome both fun and dear.
WITHOUT A PADDLE, buy it now
No better book to read.
It's light and fast, just like your boat,
And that is guaranteed.
In every race at some dark point
It comes to paddle or die.
In this one too there will be times
When you'll wish you could fly.
Win the day, push on through
Leave nothing on the shore.
When mind retreats and turns to goo,
Well, that's the time to snore.
Don't waste the night, you'll tell yourself
Stay in the boat and go.
Just not too long or you will see
A Technicolor show.
What's that? What's that, cried Salty Frog
Gesturing at the sky.
It's just your shadow in the wind
It comes before you die.
Don't die! Don't die, commanded Chief,
Death is not to do.
But if you slip beneath the waves,
For God's stake, please don't sue.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fun and/or Adventure

At the start of my very first WaterTribe Everglades Challenge in 2004, my phone calls home to Paul each day began with “I’m having so much fun”. When I got to the 2nd Checkpoint, 245 miles later and 4 days into it, I dropped the word fun, and stated ‘I’m having such an adventure”. I even wrote an article about that first challenge, titling it “It’s not for the fun, it’s the adventure!”.

SandyBottom 2010 EC Finish

But truth be told, as I prepare for my 8th Challenge next week, it's all fun AND adventure.  It’s always an adventure, and it’s fun enough to keep me coming back. It’s also become quite a family affair, with my husband Paul (DancesWithSandyBottom) and son Alan (SOS) also racing in our sailboat ‘Dawn Patrol’ this year. This their 2nd EC together, and Alan’s 3rd Challenge.

Paul and Alan in 2009 EC

Alan and friends in 2008 EC

That first year, there were 26 boats registered, 13 were kayaks (the rest sail boats or kayaks/canoes with larger sails and outriggers). This year we have 72 boats registered with 31 in kayaks. Quite a large challenge this year.

This kind of event is not just about the race or challenge (depending on how you approach it); it’s also about the people. WaterTribers are special folk, certainly not your typical everyday boater.  There is a camaraderie and kinship that develops both on the discussion forum and during the event that lasts a lifetime.

It's all good.  This year I’m not quite as prepared as in previous years.  Life just got in the way and my training didn’t quite continue as I’d hoped.  Oh well, I guess it’ll be quite an adventure :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What He Said

Check out Paul's blog "Dawn Patrol".

He always says it so well.

Out Paddling

Picture above was taken by David a few weeks ago when KiwiBird, David, and I got out on the water for a WaterTribe Everglades Challenge (EC) training paddle.   That's my new Flat Earth Kayak Sail, which I'm really enjoying and will use in this years race.  Today promises to be great weather, 60 degrees, SW winds 10-15, I'll be out there all day.

Overall, training has not been as I'd hoped/planned.  I've just not had much boat time on the water, though I have been sticking to the weight training 2-3 times each week.  My latest plan is to just go with the philosophy "I know how to do it, and I know I can do it".   And of course I'll have lots of ibuprofen.

Our sailing friend Steve of 'Log of Spartina' blog has agreed to be my (and Paul and Alan's) shore contact this year for the EC, he'll be posting updates of each of our challenges on his blog, so be sure to check there often.  This afternoon we've planned a test contact call.   This will be the first year I'll have my Droid phone, not sure how well it'll work through the waterproof case. 

I'll have my SPOT on testing it out on the WaterTribe tracking mapper as well.