I hyperbolize. A tiny bitty bit.
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.
The racers stop in at a few checkpoints –– Cape Haze, Chokoloskee, Flamingo –– before crossing Florida Bay to Key Largo. It's been a thing my favorite skipper has done for a few years. (Here's a selection of past blogs.)
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.
The Spawnsters? Not so much. When noting the beauty of their surrounds, my team is on the fly. They aim to shave minutes or hours off their best each time.
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.
North of Jacksonville, they will head up the St. Mary's river and leave the mighty sailing vessel Spawn and climb into the increasingly quirky canoe Miss Patsie.
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.
Miss Patsie started off as a perfectly standard 18-foot-long Wenonah canoe.
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.
A yachtful of thanks to Leslie and Paulie at Masthead Enterprises for the time and energy, plus gear and brainpower to make a full expedition outfit for the canoe. Their support is precious to all the Spawnsters.
Then too, what if it's windy on the St. Mary's and Suwannee? Sailors gonna sail.
Thanks to Tom Barry at Sail Technologies for the creative (and lightweight) 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.
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