Which explains, for instance, why cobbles from San Diego ended up in Boston, while rocks from Kurraba Point near Sydney, Australia floated all the way to Cornwall.
Tampa has a its own Ballast Point Park (formerly Jules Verne Park –– which is kind of cooler, no? –– after Verne's use of Tampa as the launch of his fictional From the Earth to the Moon). It's a good place NOT to run aground.
Back on track, fast forward to modern racing skiffs.
Instead of rocks, we see sailors leaning out from the side of the boat (confusingly called "hiking" since the people are generally sitting down) or suspended even farther from the center of effort by a wire.
<insert sound of tom-kick-crash: Ba-Bum-Tishhhhhh.>
Instead of me trying to write my way through how the OH2 works, here's a quick videoclip my sister Sarah Ellen Smith took of it.
It fills 30 or so gallons in five minutes of pumping (that's a sizable chunk of rail-meat that doesn't squawk or drink beer). The tank empties in about 45 seconds.
The weather has not permitted a heavy-air test, but the addition of a few gallons made a big difference in stability, especially when the boat is being rowed.
T-minus two weeks and a couple of days until the hundred+ craft launch from Fort DeSoto Beach.
Here's a stirring bagpipes-enlivened video of that moment. Listen for the guy who shouts, "Freedom!" at the 2-minute mark or so. I don't know who it is, but we love his spirit.
The organizers of the event announced early on Friday that should a small craft advisory be in effect at the start, the fleet would be delayed on shore. The WaterTribe is made up of small -- nay, tiny -- craft, and there is a well-travelled shipping channel between the start and the first couple of miles.
It takes very little imagination to see where that might go badly.
I was awake most of Friday night, listening to the gentle snoring of Ninjee and Moresailesed and the freight-train roar of wind through the trees outside the camper.
On Saturday morning, the news came at the six-thirty competitor's meeting: small craft advisory still in effect. Consequently, a 24-hour delay on shore, and disqualification for anyone who ventured out before then.
As the morning wore on, the prospects changed shape. In the likely event of continued small craft advisoriess, further delays might be possible, unless the boats were starting south of Tampa Bay.
Many of the competitors popped their vessels onto trailers and skipped ahead to Check Point #1 for the restart. Team Spawn considered it briefly, then weighed their original goals –– to top last year's time and to finally (finally!) stick around for the awards ceremony and receive one of those dang (alleged) shark's teeth.
Over a hearty breakfast and by the glow of multiple internet devices, the team gauged weather against time. And headed for the barn.
Until the next adventure...
That's how progress has been on Spawn this year.
OH Rodgers, the boat designer, came up with a pair of sliding foils that lifted the bow of the boat last fall. They looked sporty and worked to make the boat a bit more stable and quicker.
After a bit of testing, however, Mr. Linton pronounced, "The juice isn't worth the squeeze." Sadly for fans of the coolness, the foils took up a great deal of room in the cockpit, which tended to make the boat much less easy to row.
For the Everglades Challenge, with its 300 miles of sailing and rowing and camping across oyster beds and what-not, the faster performance of the foil didn't quite outweigh the possible need to operate the sweeps.
So the slots where the foils were inserted got filled back in and the rowing seat received a bit of an update.
For the first time, Team Spawn seems to be ready with plenty of time to spare. No last-minute deliveries or modifications! No questionable flight arrivals. No drama! Knock wood.
With the bonus days, Captain TwoBeers turned his attention to organizing. In the famous last words of Joe Hill: "Don't mourn, organize."
Fact: The quotation was actually from the next-to-the-last letter the labor organizer wrote before being shot by firing squad, and it goes like this: "Don't waste any time mourning. Organize."
In his last letter before execution, Hill asked that same friend, "Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don't want to be found dead in Utah." Gallows humor is the bravest of them all.
Extra bonus fact:
Successive approximation is also used in behavior modification; I knew someone who worked with emotionally disturbed kids. As part of their learning plan, teachers would reward "approximately" appropriate behavior.
As I recall, one of her most challenging students was doing well when he managed to call her Miss F*&ing B@#%.
Baby steps. What I learned from stories about working with emotionally disturbed kids is that there is a whole world of people worse off in every way than it's possible to imagine. We are most of us really lucky.
So there are presently two foils extending from the sides of the boat. They resemble the tipped wings of some airplanes.
To put them in, the fellas first cut a pair of holes in the sides of the boat and then fitted them with daggerboard trunks from an A-Cat.
Why yes, it does seem ironic to cut holes into the hull of a boat that was a good floater. But progress is not made without some revolutionary thinking.
When the team chooses not to use the foils, they can seal off these slots with a strip of tape. Good old duct tape would do, though they are more likely to use Insignia sail tape.
A few test-runs (thanks to guest test-pilots Bill Wingrove, John Paulson, Ben Givens, and Dave Clement) to adjust the angle of attack, and poof! The bow lifts to reduce wetted surface and make Spawn a more stable creature.
The team will take to the water this coming weekend for a longish trial. Crossing fingers for good sailing weather.
Shoehorning a bit of boat-work into the summer, my favorite skipper continues the construction and refinement of Spawn the adventure boat.
Despite the onslaught of mosquitoes and biting gnats, and undaunted by what he describes as 1000% humidity, he's made improvements and tweaks in preparation for the next adventure*.
There's some cleverly thought-out modifications to block placement and chafe-plates on the rudder control system. Plus a new metal rowing seat that will be semi-permanently bolted in place. Thanks, Derek Dudinsky at JTR!
Modifying where the oarlocks will be placed and some height adjustments (hello Sir Hacksaw!) to the rowing seat follow after an afternoon of on-the-water testing.
And then we are off again on more travels. Spawn will be waiting when we get back...
* Which next adventure race? Well, there's the Black Beard Challenge, possibly. It's 300 miles that include active gunnery ranges (avoid!), unlit fish traps (avoid!), unavoidable low bridges, black bears and skeeters, all on a challenging loop past Pamlico Sound and Beaufort (Bo-furt!).
Shore duty is looking sweet on that one.
To the sound of cheering crowds (modern-day crowds, that is –– the noise a swellign crescendo of plasticky key clicks) Spawn of Frankenscot arrived safe and sound in Key Largo 1 day, 12 hours, and 46 minutes after starting the 2016 Everglades Challenge.
They were the first boat to finish and they broke the previous monohull record by 12 hours. Click-click-click hurrah! Social media applauds!
Here's a gorgeous short video of the team –– shot by Ninjee's cousin Simon Lew via helicopter over the Gulf of Mexico.
They were fortunate in the conditions. The wind stayed mostly abeam or aft, so that they were running or reaching about 75% of the course, with only a few chunks of rowing against the tide (like at the Indian River Pass), and short slogs upwind with crew on the wire.
The Spawnsters barely had time to snack during the trip, though they wouldn't have starved: an unfortunate Spanish mackerel, leaping boisterously from the water somewhere out in the dark blue empty, landed with a surprising thud in the cockpit in the middle of Saturday night. The team trained their headlights onto the piscatorial visitor. "What is it and where should I grab it?" Moresailesed inquired before flinging it (by the least harmful corner of its tail) back into the sea.
The mighty yacht herself landed with a thud from time to time in that last stretch of what navigators call "skinny water." Florida Bay (Rod Koch describes it as "lunar") is shallow and full of both mucky sand and hard coral. Said boat designer Ninjee, "I didn't realize how much running aground we would be doing." Discussion of a stainless-steel leading edge on the centerboard followed.
Spawn disturbed at least one hazard of the course: a 7-foot-long shark had the startle of its weekend when the boat passed over it in about 2 feet of water. "It looked like an explosion of mud behind us," said TwoBeers.
Special thanks to Ensign RumsDown, who IS a driving Ninja and generous friend.
As he announced to the team in a manly bellow from the shore of Chockoloskee (after Mary and I had warbled "I love you" across the starry, echoing darkness) "I LIKE YOU!" Really do.
In 2014, when my sweet husband competed in his first Everglades Challenge, it was nerve-wracking to try to follow his progress. Although the personal tracker (required by the competition's rules) was working, the device had a tendency to flip over and stop transmitting to its satellite. So the team would drop off the map for some chunks of time.
This year, I am very happy to say the tracker is on track!
A little modification to the deck is proving to work quite well -- the SPOT nestles into a recessed cup on the back deck, clipped into place.
I post this 14 or so hours into the race, and while there are no other boats in their division (three-person team in a monohull), they are at the front of the pack. The WaterTribe site tracking map has been up and down, though here's a screenshot from a few minutes ago...Click on the map for the link.
Keeping fingers crossed.
The WaterTribe website tries to provide a real-time map of the competitors' geographical locations. It has bogged down pretty readily in the past, but the link is here. Or click on the image of the map below. (Ain't technology grand?!)
I know I will be hitting "refresh" at a slightly unhealthful rate while the fellas are away from land.
I'll try to update the team's progress on the Frankenscot Facebook page. Keep in mind that even as we shadow Spawn's track on shore, we will be in and out of cell/internet coverage, but the shoreside team (ERD, Bookworm, and Ms. Ninjee) will do our best.
Good luck to all the WaterTribe!
My favorite skipper was sailing back to Florida from the island of Bonaire with his dad when the theme song from "Gilligan's Island" got stuck in his head.
It was a long offshore voyage that included a lot of adventures, beginning with Pappa Joe having decided it was time to quit smoking.
A few peevish days into it, and having scrounged every fleck of dried old tobacco from the bilge, I believe they made a foray into Key West for smokes.
Later in the voyage, they nearly sunk off the coast of Venezuela. Spent the night holding Island Woman off the rocks and had to limp into shore to effect repairs.
Which led to a midnight bunk, dodging commercial traffic out of –– was it Maracaibo? to avoid having to hire the required but extravagantly expensive harbor pilot. They returned home with both passports, which was a bit of serendipity.
Also, Pappa Joe nearly got pulled overboard by a billfish. He wanted to boat the fish; the fish wanted to ocean the man.
Two men on a stout 36-footer with a damaged rudder making their way upwind from the lower reaches of the Caribbean? Of course some song was going to get stuck in someone's beezer. Why not that most appropriate of lyrics: "The weather started getting rough/the tiny ship was tossed"?
Any sailor with the slightest lick of whimsey has chanted those words from time to time.
Of course, with the Google these days it's a cinch to get the rest of the words. Offshore, back in the day, sleep-deprived and salty? Upon reaching shore, I imagine these were his first words to the nice fella at the gas pump in Marco: "Hey, you know Gilligan's Island? Yeah, what comes after 'Sit right down and you'll hear a tale/A tale of a fateful trip'?"
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