Per the event rules, the end of a stage of the Ultimate Florida Challenge is an opportunity for me to shower the boys with hot water, soap, clean clothing, and non-homecooked meals.
Okay okay, that was my interpretation. More precisely, it's a chance for the team to resupply.
And the end of Stage 2 and 3 (since they did a virtual check-in at Sebastian Inlet, no showers for them!) is just north of Jacksonville, Florida at Fort Clinch State Park. Across the bay from Clinch is the town of St. Mary's, Georgia, where the team will switch into the Miss Patsie.
While I was playing dodgem cars in an absolute downpour on 95 (what IS it with I-95?), Team Spawn called for a weather update. I don't know if cold-front dynamics have changed, but it used to seem like cold fronts were preceded by what we call a "romping Southerly," marked by a line of thunderstorms, and followed by brisk Northerly breeze under clear skies.
But alas, it's not always so simple, things stall, fronts back up, humidity pumps up from the Gulf. In any case we've had the variety pack of weather for the past couple of days, in advance of a big bad arctic front threatening to sweep through North Florida early Saturday morning.
Despite having the boys –– back in cellphone range Wednesday afternoon, and evidently a bit bored –– tell me that maybe I needn't go all the way to St. Mary's quite yet (did that sound like defeatist talk? They said they'd give themselves til midnight Friday night to get to the Miss Patsie And since I can't help them unless they decide they are done and want fetching –– oh, whatEVs!) I went all the way.
Thus we find ourselves in beautiful downtown St. Mary's, Georgia.
This town is in fact quite lovely: a restored municipal waterfront, a spacious boat-ramp, a daily ferry to the Cumberland Island National Seashore (with wild ponies! I might yet betake myself out there, but not quite yet), an elegant historic lodging, the Riverview Hotel, and even a small locally owned bookstore. Having an independent bookstore, to me anyhow, is the mark of civilization at its height.
Being within cellphone range means that Moresailesed and TwoBeers have started calling in with some truly Karenesque complaints. For instance, the conditions: Evidently, if the wind is not completely dead, it's blowing 50 out of a squall. If it's not blowing 50, it's blowing 10 from precisely that direction they most wish to travel.
If the wind had held, they could have made it to shore for lunch, but now that the wind has died ––! Maybe the tide would help. "It's low tide," I said happily and then, as light dawned, "I think it comes in. for. five hours."
Yeah, of course they'd be bucking the tide.
Was there at least wind in St. Mary's?
TwoBeers got so cold on Wednesday, he reported, that he took up oars in the middle of the night and rowed. BTW, even with the long sweeps and the sliding rowing seat, Spawn maxes out at around 5 knots –– but sustainable rowing is more like 3.5. Evidently when calculating whether that juice is worth the squeeze, one should factor in metabolic benefits as well.
Moresailesed started a story with, "If you ever want to do something not fun with your husband..." and followed it up with, "Hey, don't get me wrong, I like the guy..."
At least they are still laughing. "We're still laughing," Jeff said, and then, "I see wind. Gotta hang up."
And back I went to a leisurely mooch around the bookstore.
They have been pressing "okay" each time I have asked in the past five hours (the SPOT personal locater is NOT okay. What a regrettable purchase!). The batteries have been changed, it's been powered down and on again. All expected lights are on or flashing in accordance with expectations. And yet it has not worked for five hours again. Grrr.
So the SPOT has provided a little side entertainment from the day's main work: They've chased zephyrs. They've rowed. Zephyrs. Rowing.
And now, gol-dern-it, they are anchored at the mouth of the river. Outside of the 3200-foot-long George Crady fishing pier on Fernadina Beach.
There's zero breeze, squadrons of hungry no-see-ums, and the tide is flowing out like -- well, like a river in flood.
They'll be having an MRE on board Spawn and will snooze until the tide turns.
Let's hope there's breeze to help them get to Fort Clinch and on to St. Mary's in a civilized fashion. I've got hopes to see them before midnight.