Jimminy Crickets, this time of year has not enough hours in the day.
Not enough days in the week.
Not enough weeks in the month.
The beginning of the Ultimate Florida Challenge is only a couple of weeks away and there is still so much to be done.
It's like we're attempting one of those Slopestyle runs at the Olympic Games.
You know, where a person zooms downhill, Tony Hawks a handrail, continues at speed backward (called "fakie" which I think is wonderful), skitters along the roof of a ski-patrol building and then flicks into a double McTwist 1260.
Landing that, still fakie, the person skis up and over the salad bowl for a twisting 1080 inverted dronocopter.
And the crowd goes wild.
Chez Linton, we don't particularly have form like that.
We don't clasp the front of our skis mid-spin.
We don't regularly stick our landings in a blur of snow and brightly-colored gear.
Instead, there is an increasing sense of speed, of breathlessness, of the impending bottom of the slope.
And all the packing material from all of the packages delivered to our doorstep provide only so much padding...
But a quick recap might be in order. At sunrise on the first Saturday in March (the 5th this year), a hundred or so small craft take to the water on the start of a human-powered adventure race called the Everglades Challenge. The fleet paddles, rows, pedals, or sails (or a combination therein) south toward Key Largo.
Some teams take their time, stopping to camp and absorb the natural beauty of the wild Everglades. Some vessels travel in supportive, companionable packs. Some stop for hamburgers on the beach.
It's a grueling event: they might get a few catnaps on the way, but they arrive in Key Largo looking rode hard and put up wet.
But for 2022, in celebration of a big birthday, my team will not be calling it quits on the beautiful white sand beach in Key Largo.
Mr. Linton and his crew Jahn Tihansky (aka Moresailesed) plan to keep racing...threading through Keys, skimming past Miami and Fort Lauderdale and going, knock wood, all the way past Jacksonville.
They will paddle up the St. Mary's, eventually climbing out of the water and portaging 40 miles on the side of a county highway to the Suwannee River.
Another 300 or so miles of river brings them back to the Gulf of Mexico, where they will switch back to Spawn to finish the circumnavigation at Fort Desoto.
Muah ha ha.
She quickly grew a set of wheels, an old-fashioned lee board, and an outboard rudder. Then, after trial revealed error, Miss Patsie got an upgraded wardrobe.
At each stroke, a splash of water landed on the legs of both paddlers. This water quickly pooled and offered a damp proposition for both voyageurs and their big pile o gear.
Rewind: Pile o gear?
Each team is obliged by the rules of the event to carry shelter, sleeping systems, navigation and safety gear, food, water, and (if they change boats) wheels for the portage. These all get stowed in dry bags, but water has a way of finding its level.
It's great to carry the material you need for health and safety, but you do have to be able to find it...
Jeff fabricated small loops of high-strength line (aka "soft fairleads" or "tie-down buttons") and epoxied them inside the Miss Patsie.
A bit of creative spider-webbery, and we hope the pile o gear will stay where parked. Even if ass goes over teakettle (knock wood no).
Then too, what if it's windy on the St. Mary's and Suwannee? Sailors gonna sail.
During a trial runl, we found that the full batons and a section of old windsurfing mast (doubles as a handle when the team is rolling the barkey along the highway) gave us ~2.5 knots downwind.
Add one paddler, and the sail still provides a bit of lift going close to the wind. There is certainly a bit of extra zing when a gust of wind comes along, but nothing that catlike reflexes and the sturdy leeboard can't manage...
Now, to modify the expedition cover to allow for sailing...
And attend to a few Spawn maintenance issues...
And put together meals and first aid...
And...Wheee! Triple cork with a Geenie grab!
We hope to land at the beach on Friday, March 4 for inspection and Concours d'Elegance.