Can you believe I took off without the camera? So, I had to pull
a file picture of Ibi from the 2012 River Rumble on the Missouri.
have been horrendous, torturous, and incessant for the last week. Gusts have been hitting 45-50 mph, and that
is without storm activity. Today was
supposed to be better, before we get back to gale force again tomorrow. The winds were forecast to be low until
mid-afternoon, and would be out of the east all day, veering from NE to E to
SE. If I stayed on the eastern shore of
the lake, I’d be in the lee of the land.
things first, however. This morning was
the start of the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge. They pushed off from Fort DeSoto State Park,
on the north shore of Tampa Bay, at 8 a.m., Eastern, for the 300 mile paddle to
Key Largo. I watched them all get
started, and will now follow Class 1, which allows the use of a one-square-meter
sail with no outriggers or dagger boards, and includes a couple friends who are
launched from the Longdale ramp. This
campground has been unusable for about eight years due to the severe
draught. Since there has been no
maintenance going on, I found a bumper crop of sandburs. I ended up with them everywhere, including
inside my dry suit, so I felt like I was sitting on a mound of fire ants all
day. The draught had withdrawn water
from the east shore a considerable distance, which allowed the growth of brush
and trees in the fertile dry lake bottom.
With water levels back up, I could now paddle through a labyrinth of
foliage, which was providing good habitat for ducks. I was able to evade a good bit of the wind
and experience a whole new and interesting environment. I paddled to the south end of the lake and
pulled out. The cabled string of big
orange floats that mark the swim area had been sitting in a dry field of weeds
for much too long, and it was nice to see them floating again. I sat on one above the shoreline, and enjoyed
lunch as I watched water lapping against Ibi nearby.
lunch over, I got back on the water, turned Ibi to face downwind and into more
open water, and popped the WindPaddle Cruiser sail. We took off.
I reached 5.6 mph, which is the fastest I’ve ever gotten the canoe
going. The wind wasn’t steady, however,
and gusts kept backing more forward. It
both drove me further offshore, and as I was already sailing on the edge of
trying to hold a beam reach, backed the sail and blew it over my head. The Cruiser is 1.6 sq. meter. In a canoe, that’s big, and when it backwinds
and flops over my head, I find myself sitting inside a big yellow tent as the
wind, now gusting to near 20 mph, is trying to blow me sideways toward open
water. A couple times it got a bit
exciting. It would have been really nice
if I could have kept the wind behind me, but it was backing more. I finally had to furl the sail and just enjoy the paddle. By gosh, spring is coming. I can feel it.
got home, I checked in again with the WaterTribe. In eight hours, Class 1 had traveled 40-45
miles down the Florida coast. That blows
my mind. Canoe or kayak either one, that’s
moving. If you want to watch the track,
which is updated several times an hour, check the site at: http://www.watertribe.com/Events/ChallengeGMapper.aspx. Be quick, or this thing will be over. To qualify with a finish time, they have to
have completed the 300 miles in eight days.