Here are some better photos from the game cameras:
It was bound to happen. While clearing trail –– it's on the to-do list whenever we first get to the Would-Be Farm –– we found a game camera that we'd forgotten all about...16K photos of waving grass. I guess that's why we lost track of the danged thing. I'll spare you.
Here are some better photos from the game cameras:
It's an unconscious thing, a tick. A habit. Take a phrase, parse it, divide it, recombine it, look for entertaining results.
As I beetle around trying to restore order to the large pile of salty gear, slightly used batteries, marine electronics, and ziplock bags of snacks, I find myself turning over the wordy options: The Everchallenge Glide. The Everyglades chalice. The Challenger Everglading.
The boys on Spawn –– my favorite skipper and his pal Jahn –– are never-say-diers. They keep swinging for the fences. Always aiming higher.
All sporty metaphors apply.
The additions and refinements they make to the boat are all designed to eke a bit more speed, a touch more performance, a sliver more of whatever it will take for them to get to the finish line faster.
Mr. Linton installed a system of long sweeps, racing oarlocks, and a nifty sculling seat on the original boat, and has continued to refine it as time passes.
The oars are a boon when the boat is bucking the current and needs a little extra oomph. It's also handy when navigable waters get too narrow for actual sailing.
Rowing kept Spawn out of the fog that socked in some racers farther north.
From Sanibel to Cape Romano, they'd row a mile to reach a puff, sail for a bit, and then row through another lull. Chasing zephyrs, balancing patience with strategy in connecting one patch of wind with another.
With help from the awesome Jim Signor, the boys packed Spawn onto the trailer, stowed things for highway travel, and we made our ways North. Moresailesed had a pressing engagement with the US Naval Academy, where he coaches sailing.
The Linton-mobile cantered home across Aligator Alley, meeting up with the nasty line of weather that Spawn had managed to outrun, but which lambasted the majority of the fleet.
We dodged the inexplicable traffic that plagues I75 between Fort Meyers and Sarasota and as always were grateful to arrive alive at our house. We parked and hustled bag after bag up the stairs and then stood looking at one another. Jeff spoke the immortal words, "Is it over already?"
Well, for now it is.
Headline: Nearly There.
Sunrise on the first Saturday in March is less than a week away.
We've started checking the weather.
And alright, perhaps a skosh more work on the centerboard gasket.
Aaannnnd those shrouds can be refabricated. Again. Gahh.
Thank goodness for the support of Leslie and Paulie at Masthead Enterprises in St. Pete, Brian Malone at North Sails, and Derek Dudinsky at JTR Industries for helping with last-minute fixes!
Ooh, yeah, plus some food. I (WaterTribe name: BookWorm) will Betty-Jo Crocker a batch of toothsome morsels for the heroes.
....And Bookworm needs to apply a fresh bit of Sharpie-marker for the eyes of Horus* so they can keep a sharp lookout.
As in past years during the Challenge, I will be pacing about and clicking "refresh" way too often. I'll attempt to report progress and adventure and photos in as timely a fashion as possible here and on the Spawn facebook page.
Hoping for a speedy and not too adventuresome a Challenge for the entire fleet of intrepid Watertribers.
Just when I think my favorite skipper is finished with his boat-building, he comes up with one more cool refinement.
Not the inexpensive solution, but Hydroturf sure looks sharp. The ocean blue might be a little warm in the sun, but it's cushy and –– so we hear –– UV resistant.
Then there's a nifty water-take-up contraption. Since the water wings act as water ballast tanks, of course, it's important to be able to fill and empty them rapidly.
When one of the Spawnsters gives the little line on the right of the tube a tug, the inner section telescopes into the water, allowing for rapid water take-up.
Stowage is a universal question. It's all well and good to pack what you need, but what if you can't find it when you need it?
In the original boat (Frankenscot, a highly modified Flying Scot), Masthead Sailing Gear fabricated some big, roomy zip bags. In combination with plastic tubs and netting hammocks, it worked pretty well.
But after last year's watery portion of the trip (Short story: they flipped and stuff floated away. Longer version: here.), one of the goals was to have more secure storage for gear. Hence, new tailored Masthead Enterprise custom bags are tucked and snapped into place between bulkheads.
With luck the snacks and electronics will not become separated from the boat. Knock wood, knock wood.
And at Moresailesaid's specific request, TwoBeers installed a special Masthead-made splash guard. Made of Mylar sailcloth, the guard is meant to deflect spray for a drier ride with better visibility.
Did I mention knock wood?
The 2019 Everglades Challenge is a month away, and my favorite skipper is finalizing this year's modifications to Spawn of Frankenscot, the 22-foot-long, OH-Rodgers-designed adventure boat that engages his attention this time of year.
But the wings are worth a quick look, I think. So here's a video.
I'm calling them "water wings." Like the inflatable swim aids, these solid wings should give the boat additional floatation and resistance to turning over.
Which is important to me, anyhow.
And as promised, a short video from the weekend of testing Spawn.
By the time I got on the water with a camera, the air was VERY light. Thanks to EnsignRumsDown who filled in for Moresailesaid on New Year's Day.
My favorite skipper will be away from this project for a few weeks while he sails other, less quirky vessels.
Everglades Challenge: Spawn Looks More and More like the Painted Love Child of a Praying Mantis and a Delorean DCM-12
Each year, I try to tamp down my impatience and worry knowing that Two Beers finds the long, fiddly process both mentally and physically engaging.
Each year, Mr. Linton dreams up some Gucci modifications to the adventure boat: water ballast tanks, a foiling board, cassette rudders, a big old bowsprit.
And he's back at it again.
Since the metal handicap-rail style hiking racks began to wrack, and it takes the better half of a small village to get the things pressed and warped into place, Mr. Linton has been cooking up a better idea.
Last year's water tanks (made of polycarbonate sheets) point-loaded on the straps holing them in place, and after getting water-boarded by the mighty Gulf of Mexico the first night of the challenge, turned out to be less sturdy and consequently less water-tight than one might hope.
Combine the these two elements, add in a salvaged carbon fiber A-Cat mast from the most excellent Robert Cummings of Cummings Marine, and design courtesy of OH "Ninjee" Rodgers, and the Spawn is taking new shape.
Folding carbon-fiber hiking racks.
Testing should begin within a few weeks.
Does everything need to intersect in a person's life? Maybe not.
But music does anyhow.
When I was a young equestrian, I always kept my ears open for horsey music. I knew enough to hide a shameful soft-spot for Michael Martin Murphy's Wildfire.
(I know, I know <shakes head wearily> oy vey.)
When I moved to Florida, I exchanged horses for boats. Yet the music continues to want to intersect...
Hence, Wooden Ships by CSN, Sail Away by David Gray, Sail On Sailor by Beach Boy, Land Ho! by The Doors.
And the inevitable –– so customizable! –– Drunken Sailor.
But wait, as the huckster used to insist, there's more!
Fair winds and following seas, y'all.
I spent my first years as an adult in Manhattan. This meant putting aside my hayseed discomfort with seething masses of humanity and suppressing a powerful native impulse to avoid conflict.
And –– the more important bit of immigrating to the Big City –– transforming my near-constant uneasiness (oh, call it fear!) into bravado and a solid grasp of the island's geography. The zeal of the new convert in action gave me a passionate opinion about Katz's deli, the Old Town vs. the Cedar Taverns, street dogs, knishes, the best route to the softball fields at the East River, and every other New York City thing.
I was a broke young creature with a super-cool job, and I knew that NYC was probably the best metropolis in the universe. I mean -- Korean salad bars open at 3 am? The Met? Central Park? Subways and monasteries and amazing retail?
But then I went a little farther afield. Bella Roma!
At seven in the morning, at least on this day, the Fountain of Trevi gets cleaned. City of Rome workers sporting the ubiquitous Romulus-and-Remus-suckling-from-a-wolf logo drain the water, sweep the coins into buckets. (It goes to charity), and scrub away the algae. The square is empty, the gelatarias shuttered, just the one tourist in attendance.
New York has a sewer museum. New York has Broadway and a eye-popping number of celebrities-per-square yard of sidewalk.
But it lacks enormous classical statuary being scrubbed –– with typical Roman aplomb and nonchalance (Tota va bene!) –– by a team of rubber-booted workers on a regular basis.
Boom! Advantage Rome.
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