Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Mosquito Lands

USS Ft DeSoto, Mosquito: 
Mosquito you are clear to land.  
Call the ball.

Mosquito in sight.
Getting a visual on the landing options.  Ramp or beach?
Fly By
Heading to the beach
Coming in to the sandy beach
Landingat noon on Monday March 26, 2012
Team B&B Finished !

Happy to finish the UFC
SPOT tracking to the Ft DeSoto Boat Ramps

SandyBottom and SOS sailed all night but were happy to finish the Ultimate Florida Challenge.  They were greeted by 8-10 WaterTribe friends who had brought refreshments and congratulations.   Many other WaterTribe friends were far away but still giving them a pat on the back  --in spirit.   KiwiBird posted on the forum "Someone give them a hug from me!"

On the WaterTribe Forum,  SharkChow wrote a summary for Monday afternoon, March 26. 

"Sandy Bottom and SOS arrived at the finish of the 2012 Ultimate Florida Challenge at 12:12 p.m. on Monday. The challenge began on Saturday, March 3 at Fort DeSoto Park near the entrance to Tampa Bay. They circled Florida (1,200 miles) in 23 days, 5 hours, and 12 minutes. (this is not the offiial time, just my estimate.)

They completed their final 120-mile sprint to the finish from Cedar Key in 18 hours and 12 minutes, having left the final checkpoint at 6 p.m. Sunday. Their overnight speed ranged from 13 nts to 5 kts.

Their arrival at the finish is historic for the Watertribe. It marks the first time the rules have allowed a challenger to use two boats to compete in the Florida Challenge. And it marks the first time a two-person team has competed in and completed the Florida Challenge.

Congratulations to Sandy Bottom and SOS, and thank you for providing an outstanding 23-day diversion from day-to-day life for those of us who are shore bound and, even worse, deskbound at work.

This team matched up one of the strongest paddlers in the Watertribe with one of the sharpest sailors in the Watertribe. It is worth mentioning that they spent the first two days of the challenge on the launch beach fixing a leak. It may have been a smart move. By the time they left, they managed to miss part of the extremely difficult conditions that swept many challengers out of the EC and Florida Challenge this year. But they didn't miss the nasty weather altogether. They did what they had to do to keep their boat moving.

Under the new two-boat rule they were allowed to sail a large and fast sail boat from the starting line near the entrance to Tampa Bay to the checkpoints at Key Largo, Sebastian Inlet, and Amelia Island. Then they switched to a two-seat Kruger expedition canoe for the journey up the St. Marys River, across the 40-mile portage, and down the Suwannee to Cedar Key.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this team is something that hasn't been mentioned yet. Sandy Bottom is a 50-something mom from North Carolina and SOS is her 20-something son. This is a mother and son team. To be honest, I don't think of them in those terms. For purposes of this race, I've viewed them in terms of the skills they brought to the task. It is SOS out there with Sandy Bottom -- two experienced members of the Watertribe doing what they do. So it isn't until right now that I have actually had time to reflect on the fact that this is a mother and her son pushing the limits of their strength and endurance, both physical and mental, to achieve something only a few others have achieved. And they made it look easy while doing it.

The other indispensible member of this team is Dances With Sandy Bottom, husband and father, Paul. Thank you, all three, for putting on such a great show.

My only regret is that I couldn't be there at Fort DeSoto to greet them personally, share in the celebration, and, very gingerly, shake their hands."

Sharkchow (a.k.a.Warren Richey) is author of "Without a Paddle", published by St. Martins Press. It is an account of his participation in the first Ultimate Florida Challenge in 2006.

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