Monday, March 31, 2014

Living the Dream and Loving the Surf

Retirement has been about my bucket list, and in that, I'm living my dream.  Two kayak camping trips to Everglades National Park this past Jan and Feb, and of course March's Everglades Challenge.  And some more great expeditions coming up this year including weeks on the Roanoke River, Isle Royale, the Apostle Islands, down east Maine, and possibly Anglessy Wales.  I'm always about the expedition.

Locally though, it's about the surfing.  I'll complete my ACA L4 Open Water Instructor Certification in a couple weeks.  I passed the IDW/ICE last Fall pending my giving a navigation class (I'd spent too much time with a GPS).  Preparing for that L4, a lot of my focus has been on surf skills, and rough water.  As an expedition paddler, I've spent many years getting good at not surfing in my loaded boat.  Now I'm working on the finesse and enjoyment of just riding the big waves.

What's new about that you say.  I've posted about surfing before, and I've been kayak surfing for many years.  But this past year and this year, it's serious, and I'm playing in the big stuff with the big boys.  Wanting the best instruction one gets in the South, I'm being mentored by Dale Williams (kayak surfer extraordinaire), taking group and private lessons as I'm available.

Last year while training for my upcoming L4 class, I participated in a 2 day surf camp taught by Dale and run out of Sea Kayak Carolina.  One of the participants stuck his GoPro camera on my kayak and put together a really fun video for me.  The surf wasn't really very big that day, it was my first day paddling with Babs (my Big Ass Blade for Surf), but we all had a ball.

And my dreams and journeys continues....

Monday, March 10, 2014

Everglades Challenge: Home Again

SandyBottom, Floatsome, KiwiBird in Chapel Hill, NC
Photo by DWSB

Planning the next adventure
Photo by DWSB

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Everglades Challenge: Awards Party

SandyBottom received her shark tooth, aligator tooth, and paddle award
from Chief and PaddleDancer (a.k.a Paula Martel)  at the BBQ party on Saturday
Photo by SOS

Just in time for the BBQ party....

PaddleMaker and SavannahDan !
Photo and caption by Paula Martel

Only a little BBQ left but still in time for the party...

PeacePaddler !
Photo and caption by Paula Martel

Macatawa (a.k.a. Ben Algera) noted that 86 boats finished the EC'14 which is more than the number of boats that started the EC'13.

111 boats left the starting line
Image and analysis by Macatawa
Macatawa noted that his tabulation does not include the additional boats that started the 2014 Ultimate Florida Challenge (1200 miles).  He also noted that "Class Hobie" includes Adventure Island and Tandem Island boats,  while Hobie catamarans are lumped into Class 5.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Everglades Challenger: Tellin' Tales of Adventure

Santiago posted this photo report today:  "So what do you do when you're stuck by low tide for two hours in The Nightmare, a mosquito-infested portion of the Everglades Wilderness Waterway? Make sweet & sour pork and take a nap using your paddle float! — with Dawn Stewart and Warren Richey."

Tide Traveler got through this channel just before the last inch of water vanished.  He waited for Santiago and SandyBottom on the other side.  They followed SharkChow's advice and made the best of it.  Two hours later the tide came flooding in.  SandyBottom reported that there were no mosquitos there and they were able to catch up on organizational chores and meals.

SandyBottom stuck in a muddy bottom
Photo by Santiago

Catching up on hot meals
Photo by Santiago
Santiago's deck
Photo by Santiago

Quote by SharkChow
Photo by Santiago

TideTraveler reported his view fore and aft...
TideTraveler wrote "This is what the Nightmare looked like as I went through"
Photo and caption by TideTraveler

This is looking back from the same location the other photo was taken.
Photo and caption by TideTraveler

From SandyBottom's point of view:  Santiago in the distance
Photo by SandyBottom
Photo by SandyBottom

Santiago cooking his meal
Photo by SandyBottom

Selfie by SandyBottom

When it gets tough, be smart, be patient, be of good cheer  --and just keep moving forward.
    --SharkChow (Warren Richie)

Everglades Challenge: Relaxin' on the Beach

The number of EC challengers at Key Largo continues to grow today.  Many more to come in yet.   Here is Yakmando's mid-day arrival...

Yakmando happy to hit the beach (finish line) at Key Largo

Relaxing on the (currently windy) beach is the thing to do for those who have arrived.  SandyBottom reported this morning that she is well and rested. SOS is helping her clean and dry her gear.  For lunch they headed next door to Mrs. Mac's Kitchen  --the best restaurant in all of Key Largo is just a short walk from the finish line there at the Bay Cove Motel and Pelican Motel.   And key lime pie.   Wow!

Mrs Mac's Kitchen

Of the stormy crossing yesterday,  Santiago noted that "Santiago felt much better knowing SandyBottom and TideTraveler were at his side. Those two are awesome! Eh, 45 mph winds? No problem."  

No doubt SandyBottom was glad to have TideTraveler and Santiago with her.  The three crossed Florida Bay literally side-by-side on purpose because as SandyBottom explained,  if one boat ever got slightly ahead or behind the other boats then the high winds would have made assisted rescues almost impossible due to separation of the boats.

Santiago (a.k.a., Joe Spooner)
Photo by Paula Martel

Santiago racing away from Ft. DeSoto
Photo courtesy of Santiago
Santiago's QCC with Flat Earth Kayak Sail  (FEKS)
Photo courtesy of Santiago

Santiago's QCC
Photo courtesy of Santiago

Some photos by TideTraveler

TideTraveler (a.k.a. Josh Morgan)
Photo courtesy of TideTraveler

TideTraveler  on the starting line at Ft. DeSoto
Photo courtesy of TideTraveler

Superior Expedition Canoe that TideTraveler paddled
Photo courtesy of TideTraveler
Challengers continue to arrive at the finish line ....

WildBlue at the finish line
Photo by Paula Martel

Welsford SCAMP "Fat Bottomed Girl" completes the Everglades Challenge!
Photo and caption by Shawn Payment

windsurfer at the finish  SeaDogRocket with reefed sail


Sundance and daughter GoldenSun

BermudaBoy is windsurfer #2

The Finish Line on Florida Bay.
Welcome to Key Largo.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Everglades Challenge: A Stormy Florida Bay Crossing

 The weather started getting rough, the tiny ships were tossed....

SandyBottom at the finish line 10pm Thursday 

The Stormy Crossing:  horizontal rain,  10 foot seas,  high winds
SPOT Track of Santiago crossing with SandyBottom and TideTraveler

Near Jimmy Key on Thursday at 7:00 pm
Red:     SandyBottom, Santiago and TideTraveler
Black:     KiwiBird's  track                                                   
Stopping for a half-hour break near Jimmy Key 

The radar at 12:50pm Thursday showed that the rain storms
were moving East to drench the kayakers
Two waves of wind and rain moving across Florida Bay
from west to east  Thursday afternoon and evening

Meanwhile back at the ranch,  DeadCat and others reached the finish line in spite of high winds and rough conditions.  LeewardLauren and WindwardMark arrived in their Kruger cruiser.   After a capsize in rough conditions, StripBuilder wisely called for Coast Guard assistance to reach Key Largo.

DeadCat finishing at the storm reaches Key Largo
Photo by Paula Martel

Amazing:  DeadCat is.... ALIVE !
Photo by DogsLife

LeewardLauren and WindwardMark  finish in the wind
Photo by Paula Martel

LeewardLauren and WindwardMark  finish in the wind
Photo by Paula Martel
LeewardLauren and WindwardMark  finish in the wind
Photo courtesy of Marcia Fry
LeewardLauren and WindwardMark  finish in the wind
Photo by Paula Martel
Coast Guard Boat  delivers  StripBuilder to the finish line
Photo by DogsLife
StripBuilder:  wise to be safe
Photo by DogsLife 

Everglades Challenge: Cat and Bird

KiwiBird  and  DeadCat
Photos by Paula Martel
This is a story of a flightless bird and a lifeless cat......

Beginning at CP2,  DeadCat and KiwiBird seemed to be in a race to the finish line.  From CP2, DeadCat traveled the Wilderness Waterway and then followed the Joe River to CP3,  while KiwiBird took the outside route until Shark River and then crossed Whitewater Bay to CP3.

From CP2 to CP3 in the Everglades National Park

Bird caught up with Cat at CP3

Cat launched at 2:21am
Bird launched at 6:20am
Although Cat launched much earlier than Bird,  Cat lost 3 hours back-tracking.  To be exact, she covered the same 3.6 nm three times and lost almost exactly 3 hours of time. Perhaps something slipped overboard and she needed to go find it?  No.   It turns out that when Cat stopped at Buoy Key,  she resumed paddling in the wrong direction and followed the channel markers back the way she had come ---for 1 hour and 50 minutes.  Ouch.    

Cat lost 3 hours when she paddled in the wrong direction after stopping at Buoy Key

Bird appears to be in the lead.   Track of SOS (black) pinpoints the finish line.

KiwiBird finished at 2:38pm.  Cat finished at 4:57pm.

KiwiBird with Flat Earth Kayak Sail (FEKS) at the finish