When TwoBeers (the WaterTribe name for my husband) first decided to transform an elderly, mild-mannered Flying Scot sailboat into a vehicle suitable to the Everglades Challenge adventure race, he never guessed that the project would siphon up two and a half seasons' worth of fishing time.
That's a lot of weekends and evenings. While the fish have enjoyed their vacation, our house has been a hive of activity: preparing, building and rebuilding, plotting routes, and thinking about what might go wrong when pointing a small boat away from shore.
We are not the first to ponder and worry. The organizers of the Everglades Challenge have an extensive list of required safety gear -- and it includes a cell phone. (Those who know TwoBeers can take a moment to nod wisely and chuckle at the irony.) So like it or not, my favorite captain has been venturing into the 21st Century.
Although TwoBeers spent many of his childhood summers cruising the Bahamas with his pappa and brother, and he put in plenty of long-distance miles delivering boats in the years since, the Everglades Challenge IS a different kind of race.
Luckily, his crew, Moresailesed (aka Jahn "Wild Card" Tihansky), coaches the Navy off-shore team. He's also an amateur pilot. This means he practices navigation, preaches navigation, and has a keen appreciation for the value of safety gear.
So while TwoBeers has been focused on boat-speed and design, Moresailesed has been leading the charge on navigation, with EnsignRumDown (Mark Taylor) as expert IT director. On the advice of a cruising friend R, we are trying out Navionics electronic charts. We even found a folding solar charger with a pair of USB ports for charging the hand-held electronics. Frankenscot's progress will be tracked closely by satellite.
At the other end of the technology spectrum, I bring you...FIRE.
All the high-tech gadgets in the world are well and good, but if it comes to making a rough landing on a dark and cold shore, the thing that will keep a body alive is very basic indeed.
The Campmor catalog has provided a lot of cool gear (cozy sleeping bags, mylar survival blankets, water purification tablets, a snake-bite kit, and waterproof stuff-sacks), but the coolest of them all? The sheath-knife with a magnesium fire-starter stick built right into the handle.
Strike the steel blade along the magnesium and you get (kettle-drums sound off here: Dun-Dun! Dun-Dun!) fire!
Well, not quite fire: more exactly, sparks of molten magnesium at around 1200 degrees that -- after a number of practice attempts as you get the hang of it -- will create flame in a bit of tinder.
Stone Age high technology. It's our hope that Frankenscot will carry the crew safe to the finish, but they'll have a hand-line (Hey, fish, wake up!) and the means for fire, just in case.
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