When last we left them, the guys were taking a break at Blue Springs state park. They grabbed as much shut-eye as they could before midnight on Thursday, and then took back to the river.
The moon was nearly full in a clear sky, and as we know from our pal Lucky Jack Aubrey, "There is not a moment to lose!"
So they paddled 70 miles down the river without much break until Friday afternoon.
As alert readers have doubtless read for themselves, or have heard from discussions with the Chief, boat-switching Challengers are permitted to change back to sail power south of this bridge.
While I was just psyched to get visual proof of life, it turns out that our cheering encouraged the team to put ashore and consider their options.
At 4 o'clock on Friday, they'd spent the last three hours dodging powerboats and battling the kind of solid 12 to 15 knot headwind native to a cool river on a warm day.
Parked on the side of the river, there followed a prolonged period of everybody consulting their screens and trying to decide when the cold front might deliver favorable winds.
There were phone calls and tire-kicking and squinting as the boats blared by.
Hemming and hawing and yawning and eye-rubbing were also in evidence.
A YouTube video should appear someplace here.^
After drinking his sundowner beer, TwoBeers had clearly made up his mind; after gathering intel and contemplating the state of his person, Moresailesed concurred: it was time to put a fork into Stage 4.
Mike Walbolt, Cindy and Chali Clifton, and the gang of three Spawnsters hit the nightlife of Fanning hardcore for the 45 minutes it took to order, receive, and snarf our dinners at the Suwannee Belle Landing.
Thanks, Rappin' Rodney for the dining recommendation and weather thoughts!
Thereafter, we retired to the modest property that somebody pronounced a roach motel (I saw clean shower, bleached white sheets, and –– in my room, anyhow –– any untoward creatures kept their teeny heads down), where the Sandman lambasted us all before 8:30 pm...
Saturday morning found us deciding against a leisurely big breakfast. Thanks Cindy and Chali for bringing breakfast sammies for the sailors so they could rig and launch with as much alacrity as they could muster.
Spawn designer and occasional Spawnster, OH "Ninjee" Rodgers showed up to provide moral support with and his nearly-anonymous buddy Ray. Both were happy to also offer the odd bit of heckling and Ray, who is a bit of an electronics wizard, addressed the wayward SPOT with little hope that even he could manage to make it behave any better.
For me, the takeaway lesson of the morning: do NOT –– as you love life –– do NOT take an experimental sniff of any item of clothing found in the van.
According to one local, the boat-traffic was nothing special, "No, not a race. Some of us is just havin' a river run."
When a 40-foot Scarab blows by on a stretch of river only a couple of hundred feet wide, I can tell you who's going to run.
The Challenges are various and vast.
At his 6:30 pm phone call, TwoBeers reported that according to Moresailesed, their team is the first and only (including natives in their dugout canoes, et cetera.) to ever, in the whole history of time, ever, EVER sail upwind down the river the whole dang way.
Spawn was at anchor while the boys awaited the promised westerly, ate some dinner, and got suited up for the possibly snorty/sporty weather expected tonight.
Home stretch! Knock wood!