Another eleven and a half months have passed and it's time for the annual Everglades Challenge race. Which is, as I suppose most of my dear readers know, an unsupported adventure race that sends a flotilla of human-powered water vessels down the left coast of Florida from Fort DeSoto beach in St. Petersburg all the way down and across the Everglades to Key Largo.
Don't know about this? Want to waste a perfectly good period of time? Go over to the right, scroll down and click on "Everglades Challenge" and read all I've had to bibble-bable tittle-tattle about it.)
My favorite skipper (and boat-builder), known as "TwoBeers," heads a team of friends who designed, built, sailed, modified, sailed, modified, sailed, and modified yet again a boat called Spawn of Frankenscot.
The boat is a sloop of 22 feet designed by OH "Ningee" Rodgers. TwoBeers sails with Jahn "Moresailhesaid" Tihansky. He's supported by Amy Smith "Bookworm" Linton, Mark "EnsignRumsDOWN!" Taylor, and ––new this year!–– Charlie "Gaagii" Clifton.
The sweet sloop has changed over time, but the current freshness involves the water take-up system.
The setting: a fantastic oyster bar (the kind that serves beverages, not the kind that plagues our team's path to Key Largo). BTW, if you like lively viands such as oysters on the half shell, go to Eustis and check this place out: The Oyster Troff.
As we perched at the Troff, enjoying our second bucket of freshly shucked bivalves and our icy beverages, a rendezvous occurred.
Ostensibly an opportunity to catch up with mysterious engineer and former neighbor Jamey Rabbit, the social event had a darker purpose. Keen observers like myself witnessed a surreptitious handoff.
A bedraggled sack that patently did NOT contain lucky groceries switched hands.
Some words were spoken. Hands were shaken. Technical explanations followed.
Knowing glances were exchanged. Ironic laughter rang out. The deed was more or less done.
Instead, H2O will be scooped up by ingenious plumbing. Jamey used a 3-D printer to fashion the spring-loaded cartridge that allows our team to lower the PVC pipe so that gallons of ocean shoot right into the system.
Then it flows into the tank, where it provides a righting moment at 8 pounds per gallon. The 35-gallon tank is roughly the equivalent of one hefty but non-complaining, non beer-drinking gurgling dude.
Jamey claims that color plastic was the only material at hand for the 3-D printer, but I think we can all agree it looks pretty dang gangster. And that's good.