Thursday, April 05, 2012

One Last Trip to Complete UFC

There is still one final trip that ends our WaterTribe Ultimate Challenge adventure, returning the Kruger Cruiser to Mark Przedwojewski (ManitouCruser), owner of Kruger Canoes.  Alan and I will leave Friday evening for a quick weekend road trip to Michigan.  

Mark was so incredibly generous to lend us one of his Krugers for the month, but, that’s just the way he is.  The Cruiser really took care of us on the obstacle course of the St Mary’s River with all its downed trees, strainers, and shallow waters.  On the Suwannee River it took great care of us allowing us to keep our lead which we worked hard to maintain.

I am convinced the only boat for a long challenge like that is one that keeps you dry and comfortable, and that’s just what Kruger’s are famous for.  We’d chosen Alan’s designed and home built trimaran Mosquito for the open water sections on the Gulf and Atlantic (not a very dry ride), but the Cruiser was perfect for us on the 4th and toughest stage of our race on the River’s.  It’s the longest stage, consisting of 90 miles upstream on the St. Mary’s River, a 40-mile portage from St. George to Fargo, 220 miles downstream on the Suwannee River, and a final 20 miles to Cedar Key for a grand total of over 370 miles.

Mark, a well respected and decorated (sharks, alligator, and whales tails) member of WaterTribe, also hosts his own small boat adventure races called “The Michigan Challenge” this June, there are choices in distances and routes.   Check it out here.  The only think keeping me from this race is June.  But there's always next year.

If your still wanting more about the Ultimate Challenge, Marty Sullivan (SaltyFrog among the Tribe) has posted an article on the forum that sums up some of all of our experiences nicely.   He titled it “UFC Carnage”, check it out here.   Carnage describes this year’s event quite well.  The statistics really speak to this, only 3 of 11 boats finished the UltraMarathon, 17 of 55 finished the Everglades Challenge, and 4 of 11 boats starting finished the Ultimate Challenge.  It was a very rough year with 24 of 78 boats having success (31%).

I also hear there may be another book written.  Rod Price who completed the challenge under the Tribal name of RiverSlayer (website here) is planning to write a book about the history of WaterTribe and this years Ultimate Challenge.   He’s written a book before about his race and win with Ardie Olson (Ardio) in the Yukon 1000 Canoe and Kayak Race (a race KiwiBird and I still think about).     And of  course I love Warren Richey's (SharkChow) book ‘Without a Paddle’ of the 2006 Ultimate (which I also paddled and finished), this book an interesting mix of both love story and adventure.    

Personally I find it difficult after an event to sit down and write about it, I tend to be the type that looks forwards not backwards, and am always planning and working toward my next adventure.  But there's lots to tell, many interesting and even funny stories from this Challenge.  I’ll try and find the time over the next couple of months after I have a chance to look at all our pictures and videos.

So what’s next?  Well after this weeks trip to Michigan, it's looking like another circumnavigation of Bald Head Island week after next.  This is a trip I did in 2009 with friends who are interested in doing it again.  The post I wrote about that trip can be found here.  Some trips are worth the repeat, and this one will get me back in my NKD Explorer and at the coast.  It’s all good.

Monday, April 02, 2012

All the Way Around

SPOT Track:   1,239 miles
 The trip report would not be complete without this Google Earth image of the SPOT track of Team B&B / Team Kruger.  

The length of the SPOT track was 1,239 miles (or 1,077 nautical miles).   Because the locations in the SPOT track are 10 or 20 minutes apart, the SPOT track does not account for short tacking while sailing and does not account for the meandering twists and turns of the Suwannee and St Marys Rivers.


Sunday, April 01, 2012

Home Again

After landing at the finish line of the UFC at noon on Monday March 26,  Team B&B spent the afternoon trailering the Mosquito and the Kurger Cruiser.  A steak dinner and a good night's sleep followed in St. Petersburg before hitting the road Tuesday for the 12 hour drive back to NC.

So THAT's what the pergola is for !

Welcome to REI

Gear everywhere

Hanging out the...  laundry

Calvert Sails

Ultimate Florida Challenge Finished


To each finisher, Chief awarded 3 sharks teeth, a gator tooth, and a whale-tail carving

Chief, SandyBottom, SOS

SandyBottom, SOS

WhiteCaps, SandyBottom, Chief

A tooth for each stage:  3 shark teeth, one gator tooth for the portage, and a whale-tail

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.

Waiting at the Finish Line

The Mosquito Flies Again

After checking the wind forecasts,  Team B&B Yacht Designs decided it was time to sail away from Cedar Key at about 6:15pm.  That would mean sailing all night to arrive at the finish line the next morning,   but the forecast suggested that there might be little or no wind for the trip if they did otherwise.
The winds were light on the beach, but immediate off the beach the winds were 15-20 kts.   With reefed main and full jib,  the Mosquito quickly reached 13.6 kts on a broad reach or run.  As the sun set, Team B&B dropped the main and sailed quickly downwind with only the jib. 
Sunday March 25

Mosquito ready to sail.  The mainsail is reefed.

Mosquito, palm tree, SOS, SandyBottom, docks and boatramp, palm trees, trailer parked in public lot

Launch at 6:18pm Sunday March 25

According to the SailFlow forecast it was a choice between staying awake all night to sail the 95nm with good wind versus getting a good night sleep in Cedar Key and then having to paddle 95 nm.

Wind "Now"
Wind "Later"
SPOT track from Cedar Key to Ft DeSoto
SPOT track from Cedar Key to Ft DeSoto
SPOT track from Cedar Key to Ft DeSoto


Cedar Key Landing

Paddling south on the gulf coast from Spanish Bayonet Island,  SandyBottom and SOS arrived at the Cedar Key stagepoint Sunday March 25th, 9:27am.   They were welcomed by DancesWithSandyBottom, SaltyFrog, LilyPad, and two new friends, Dan and Ryan.
SB pressed the OK button on the SPOT on arrival
SaltyFrog, LillyPad, SandyBottom, SOS with the trailered and patiently waiting Mosquito 
Ryan, Dan, SaltyFrog, Lilypad
The official landing site is a beach of sand and shells covered by oysters on the west side of Cedar Key.  From there, SB and SOS prefered to continue around the waterfront to the east side which has a nice sandy beach fronting the public park.  Plus, a boat ramp and public boat trailer parking flanked the public park.
Beach near "Faraway Inn" was the official stage point
Rounding the boat ramp on the way to the public beach/park.
Cedar Key landing !
LilyPad, SandyBottom, SOS, SaltyFrog
Parking to the left, our room at "Park Place" (hotel/condos),  picnic area and beach
We were lucky to find accomodations at "Park Place" which provided a very affordable suite with great features, waterfront view, handy parking in back, and location, location, location.  "Park Place" was LilyPad's discovery.  Thanks LilyPad!   Such a nice place to rest, but SB and SOS took a look at the wind forecast and decided they could not stay overnight.  Their visit to Cedar Key lasted less than nine hours:  hot showeres, clean clothes, two meals, a 15 minute nap, rigging and loading the Mosquito,  and putting on drysuits for the wet ride south.    

The public beach/park and swimming area

Cedar Key:  official stage point on the left,  nice public beach on the right,  marina at center

Sunday morning Sharkchow wrote:   "Sandy Bottom and SOS made their triumphant arrival at the Cedar Key checkpoint this morning at about 9:30 a.m. after spending six hours on a beach on a deserted island a few miles north of Cedar Key to wait out some pretty nasty wind and rain. They are now preparing to switch back to their sailboat and out of the two-seat Kruger they took across Florida during the river portion of the challenge.  Their next leg is a 120-mile "sprint" to the finish. If the weather holds, they should have favorable winds that will push them back to Fort DeSoto and a happy end to their ordeal. I suspect they aren't celebrating just yet. It will be interesting to watch how soon they leave Cedar Key. With Dances With Sandy Bottom there (and all those restaurant choices) it might be tough to get away quickly."