Friday, March 7, 2014

EC2014: Across Florida Bay to the Finish Line

Harry and Bryan set out at 6:16 am this morning from Flamingo, with the sun and tide both rising. The weather station in Marathon said there were 15 mph winds from the West, gusting to 20. They had to beat into the wind slightly to get in the channel and start across the very shallow (1 to 2 feet outside the channel) Florida Bay.

The speeds early on were exceptional. The sailboarder was going 10 knots again. Harry was doing about 3.5 knots on an early track point, then the next time I checked he was going 6 knots. That's faster than I've seen him go all week! He must have strapped all his water jugs around his shoulders and hung out the high side of his boat by his ankles! I texted Wes this impressive news.

Friday morning crossing Florida Bay
Then he stopped. His track went up to a little island and didn't move. I didn't get an OK message or anything so I figured he hadn't just had a close call or anything. He probably wanted to put another reef in his sail. I texted Wes to that effect. Wes guessed he was probably just stopping to unclench various orifices. 6 knots is a lot for N8R and Harry. I emailed Hugh Horton and he said that would be extremely tiring. I thought it was possible Harry was also using it as an excuse to wait for Bryan to catch up.
Stop at 11:02 am
Interesting little place where he stopped though.
Stayed here an hour
At 12:02 the track points started moving again. Bryan hit his OK button so I could tell they were together again. Harry went a lot slower after that, so I think he must have rigged up a lot less sail area while he was on that little island.

He got up to 4.23 knots going parallel to the Keys towards the finish. Yet it seemed to take so long! I was excited for him to get there!

I got the OK message at 3:59 pm. That's when the tracker logged him as finished. Elapsed time 6 days, 8 hours, 59 minutes. Outstanding. Good job, JibeTurkey. Good boat, N8R!

Bryan's still not showing up on the results. Push OK, Bryan! Push OK! I think a lot of the results are a bit squirrely. They'll have to update them from the log books for people with devices that failed. I can't imagine they're going to DQ people for that.

Here's the whole map of JibeTurkey's track for the Everglades Challenge. Now he just has to get back to St. Petersburg to get his car and be back at work in West Palm Beach on Monday morning. He has all weekend to do that. I think it will be very easily done. I think for a long time everything will be very easy, relatively speaking.

For the purposes of race-type statistics, here's the final results in Harry's class. I don't know why it shows Anonymous. Error in the database. Here's the results page if you want to study the whole thing. It's interesting to see who didn't finish. Like that Folbot Greenland II, made it to the first check point and dropped out.

Despite moving over 10 knots across Florida Bay this morning, Sean Hawes on the sailboard got to the the finish after Harry. Wonder if that's an interesting story?

Somebody asked me why there aren't many entrants in Class 3. I think it's because sailing canoes aren't a mass produced product. You have to make it yourself or order one from a boatbuilder. That is held up as a barrier to entry. I think when it comes to barriers to entry for the Everglades Challenge the boat you choose is the least of your issues. And the barriers to finish are even more complex.

I have reached the extent of my ability to speculate. Maybe after some time to reflect Harry will write up his thoughts and let me publish them here on Spasms of Accommodation.

Thank you for your attention. It was fun! Now I think I'll go binge-watch that hilarious TV show about Vikings. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Boats and Boards

The bulk of my knowledge of boats and sailing comes from reading Robb White III books as a kid. I hope I got all my terminology right as I wrote these blog entries. I spent a lot of time in boats when I was little, but as the youngest of four kids who always did stuff together, and the only girl, I was never allowed to drive the boat. Nobody ever taught me to back up the trailer. I trusted my brother and cousins to handle things safely, same as I trusted my father and my uncle. I did what I was told, stayed out of the way, and concentrated on bracing myself against what seemed to be constant pounding in a timeline of aluminum skiffs and fiberglass boats with outboard motors. In college I had a friend whose family had a enormous ski boat on Lake Lanier. He was a typical mechanically-competent Tech student. I trusted him too. That had an inboard motor. Fancy.

When I changed careers in 2005 from electronics to coastal engineering I was made to go in boats with people I didn't even know. I found that incredibly disconcerting. I also finally realized what a giant disadvantage it was that I was terrible at backing up a trailer and was not experienced at operating a motor boat. But I sure as hell knew when somebody was doing it wrong.

But there was nothing I could do but be tough and concentrate on never needing to pee. This is one of the main reasons I gave up that career too. Mixed crews of strangers on small boats is hell on professional women. The men would just stand at the back and pee off the stern. When I asked Harry how he pees when he's sailing along (after he hadn't slept in 36 hours) he said, "I just roll out the hose and throw it over the side. Just kidding. I pee in the bailer."

I suppose I could do that too on a boat by myself. But what am I supposed to do when I'm working on a boat full of men I just met that morning? Well, during the BP Oil Spill work I held it and got dehydration migraines every day. Also I got an allergic reaction to that much ultraviolet radiation. I am just very sensitive.

Typical workboat, BP oil spill 2010. I was in an airboat behind them. I rode on this boat the next day.
Another oil spill work boat putting out boom. Most of the women were on the science boats, not doing the physical work.
But I digress. This is the kind of boat I've grown to loathe. Let's talk about the boats I like.

In the '90s my uncle, Robb White IV, started building wooden boats exclusive of anything else. In 1996 I bought a Honda Accord station wagon with a roof rack. I took it to him and ordered a boat to be built to fit on it. I used my massive windfall from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to pay for it. At the time my cousin Wes was building boats full time too. He went back to being a band director when he started having too many children to support. He still builds boats in his free time.

My first boat. The wonderful pea pod.
My first boat weighed 25 pounds. It was 12 feet long. It was lapstrake poplar, glassed and epoxied. I could put it on the roof of my car by myself easily. I took it all the way to California with me in 1997. It made my gas mileage amazing.

Floorboards and seat
The seat slid back and forth in the floorboards so you could move it to balance the boat depending on how heavy the occupant happened to be.

My uncle made a stand for it. I kept it in my living room in my house in Atlanta like furniture. Wouldn't you?
My boat in the living room on the stand.
This boat was amazing. I went to Dog Island with my uncle and the family after I got it and we towed it behind the whale boat. It lifted up and planed under tow. My uncle beamed. "I thought it might do that!"
Robb White in my pea-pod
The tech recession in Atlanta in 2003 hit me hard and I had to sell everything of value and get out of Atlanta. My uncle found somebody that wanted my boat. He was a chef at a restaurant down in Naples. I took my boat down to my brother's house in Boca Raton. The man drove over from Naples and met us at the park on the Spanish River.

It looks so small on my brother's old Sienna van
He gave me a check and left with my boat. It was going to a good home. He wouldn't use it like furniture, I hoped. He would paddle it all the time. He went out on the water by himself all the time.

That was basically my problem. I didn't like to go out there on the water alone. It seemed dangerous and just not as much fun as sharing. But I didn't know anybody with a boat in Atlanta. I was close to the Chatahoochee River. I went there once.

When I got settled in Beachton I went looking for somebody to go with me on the local rivers. I found somebody in graduate school at FSU who agreed to go kayaking with me, so I went to the store and bought an Old Town day touring kayak. We went kayaking once and he lost his grant and moved away.

I decided what I needed was a way to have TWO boats so all I had to do was find a friend and make them go with me instead of needing to find a friend who already had a boat. I found another Old Town 13' kayak on Craigslist in Tallahassee. This nice woman had moved from Maine and hadn't used it. I snapped it up. I got two pairs of kayak cradles for my car and I was set. I got my friend Ronnie to come from Jacksonville to go paddling with me on the Wakulla River once, and made a friend in Tallahassee go to the Ichetucknee once when he was on his way to Gainesville anyway. But mostly the kayaks languished in the shed.

When I went to Austin after the oil spill I came back and got my kayaks. I used them a lot. That was the ideal situation, just like I imagined. I put on my okcupid profile that I had two boats but hadn't been out on the water yet. This guy responded right away. "That's a shame! Let's go!" I got a boat buddy and free legal advice.

Town Lake in Austin was really easy for going kayaking. 4 miles from my house. 
I still kept my boats in the living room. It's a hard habit to break.

I even made people go with me who had never been kayaking before. My friend Daniel was a video game programmer and all his friends were strictly indoor people. He appreciated me making him go outside. I tried to make him stop wearing black shirts in the sun but he didn't have any white ones.

Video game programmers can go outside too.
Austin was a good place for me and my boats. Alas, I had to leave. I brought my boats back with me and put them back in the shed on the kayak cradles on a pair of Harbor Freight sawhorses. While I was busy fixing the Spartan and having terrible back pain the legs of the plastic sawhorses gradually splayed out and left my kayaks on a pile against the other Spartan in the shed.

Following the Everglades Challenge has made me feel pretty bad about this. If my back is never going to let me paddle again I need to find them a good home and quit kidding myself.

This week while I was waiting for the tracker to update to see what my brother was doing I've been looking up the other kinds of boats in the Everglades Challenge. Here are my favorites.

I forget who it is, but somebody is in the roster as having a Folbot Greenland II. I found the website with an assembly video. I watched the whole thing; it's about 20 minutes long. I couldn't help it. The man unzipped two satchels, got out a big piece of fabric out of one, a lot of aluminum tent pole looking things, put together an aluminum frame, stuck it inside the fabric, twiddled a lot of star nuts and called it a boat! I kept waiting for him to put some floorboards in like in my pea pod. It got nothing. Nothing between your feet and the water but some canvas. There are two people and about 100 lbs of gear going 300 miles in a reinforced duffle bag! It staggers me. I mean, I think it's a beautiful design and I was impressed by the assembly, but damn! It's a reinforced duffle bag!

From the Folbot website.
I was kind of proud of myself that I knew what sponsons were when he said it in the video. I'd already looked that up when I read that they were allowed. It's air bladders around the top edge.

Then I looked up the first kayak to arrive at the finish. It's this hard core father/son team from Lake Mead, Nevada. The father, Robert Finlay, runs Kayak Lake Mead. I've been to Lake Mead. I don't remember it looking like their website. They have a special website about the Everglades Challenge. They paddle a three man kayak but only with two men. Here's how they pack it up. 

From 2011 Everglades Challenge Race Report
TheJuice paddling in the Everglades Challenge 2013
When he's wearing the spray skirt like that it makes this whole thing look like some kind of weaponized hand puppet.

They finished this year in 3 days, 17 hours, and 1 minute. They paddle about twice as fast as Harry's bufflehead sailing canoe was sailing most of the time. And they never stop paddling.

Then there were people in things that aren't even BOATS! And they weren't IN them, just sort of ON there. Just a board. A man on a paddleboard finished yesterday in 4 days, 20 hours, 21 minutes. He just stands on a board and paddles. 300 miles. For real. His name is Justin Schaay and he runs a surf school near Charleston. I googled him and found his blog
Like this, 300 miles. Photo from his blog.
Then there's another guy that's doing it on a sailboard, Sean Hayes (SeadogRocket). There's a training video on YouTube. (Turn down the sound. Lots of crackles from the camera mic.) He got to the third checkpoint about the same time as Harry. I looked at his icon on the tracker as that storm was coming in and he was flying along at over 10 knots. 10 knots, y'all. Harry got up to about 4.5 knots at best in his bufflehead.

I think my point is that there are people who are just trying to push themselves to do the most uncomfortable thing possible. I admire their stamina, but I do not understand them. I do not at all. I am more in the camp with Gokey where it's fun to build something. In my case I want to build something I can live in, or sit in to write this blog. He likes to build things that go.

Meade Gougeon, of West Epoxy fame, did this race for the second time this year, the first time solo in a sailing canoe. He finished in 4 days 8 hours 26 minutes. His boat is similar to Harry's, but his experience racing sail boats is tremendous. Also his experience period is 28 years more than Harry because he's 76 years old.

I tried to remember any time Harry has ever been in a race. All I could think of was when he was on the swim team at the YMCA. He only did it for one year when he was about 10. He has never been interested in racing before. I think he really took this event on as a challenge, not a race. Wes said he doesn't think of it as a race either. But others? They were racing.

I found this picture on a gallery of pics from April 2013 Sarasota Sailing Squadron of Hugh Horton, the Bufflehead designer, and Meade Gougeon with his sailing canoe. I'm not sure if this is the one he used in the Everglades Challenge, but it's probably close.

Photographer unknown. I hate to borrow your photo without attribution :( All these link to the original.
My brother and cousin Wes like to go to the Woodenboat meet-up in Cedar Key. The emphasis there is talking about making boats, not racing or anything. I went one time with Wes and my pea pod boat. For a person with a good memory I recall nothing about it except there was a man with a plywood boat named 60 Grit and I thought that was hilarious. Here's some photos from the recent ones. (I don't know who took the photos. The site says photos by Ron Hoddinott, Steve Kingery, Eric DeVoe, Dennis Marshall, Larry Whited and Dave Lucas. All photos link to original.)

Harry (l) and Wes (r) standing on the Pacific Proa. 
This is a boat Wes built. It's like what the polynesians used to spread out all over the Pacific. See how tall Harry is? I think he's just plain bigger than the typical small boat person. He didn't have much choice but to build his own boat. I took him to the Wacissa river with me once and let him use my red kayak and he almost kicked out the bulkhead and he couldn't fit his feet in straight up and down.

Here's another picture of Harry with his own boat, the one in the Everglades Challenge. I found it on a blog written by a cat named Simon, apparently.
Wes on the left in front of another one of his boats he made.
Or maybe his father made that one. I am not familiar with it.
Harry is in the white shirt and the white boat is his white cedar strip plank Bufflehead.
The one in between is Hugh Horton (I think) and I know that's his Bufflehead.
I like the pretty boats the best.

I understand pushing yourself to your limits. I do it all the time. I wanted to get up off this blue yoga ball and get back in bed hours ago because my back is screaming in pain. I can't really wrap my head around people who are so tough they can push themselves to do something like that paddleboard or sailboard trip. It's like we aren't even the same species. It's like there's as much variation in the capabilities of humans as there is variety of objects they can float in and on.

One of my favorite stories from family trips to Dog Island where Harry's kids and Wes's kids play together is about my niece Kate getting a sand spur in her foot. She cried in pain. My aunt Jano told her, "Rebecca Jane just pulled one out of her foot and she didn't cry like that."

Kate said, "Well (sob) is (sob) RebeccaJane (sob) TOUGH?! (sob) Because (sob) I am (sob) NOT TOUGH (sob) AT ALL!"

Me either, Kate. Me either.

EC2014: Flamingo

They made it to checkpoint 3! At 6:08 pm EST Thursday March 6 I received Harry's OK message from the SPOT transmitter. They waited on that little island at the top of the picture until a storm passed, then went on their way across Coot Bay and down the Flamingo Canal. Hugh Horton told me by email that they would have to take their masts down for the bridge.
Made it to checkpoint 3
Here's Flamingo in all it's aerial photo glory.
I think there used to be something there but it got wiped out during the hurricanes in the early 2000s.
Now they have to decide what to do based on tide and wind.

It's kind of nice that high tide is during the day at least.

Here's the results table that shows who else got there about the same time.

Notice SeadogRocket (Sean Hawes), Class 4, which is monohull sailboats. Only he was on a sailboard. As in standing up the whole time holding the boom of a big sail with the mast on a floppy pivot point on a surfboard.

Another person who did the whole thing standing up is JustSurf (Justin Schaay). He finished the whole thing yesterday in 4 days, 20 hours, and 41 minutes on a stand-up paddleboard. Somebody else did it one other year, but this is only the second time somebody did it.

I think I'll do a separate post on boats.

EC2014: In the Everglades

At the end of my last post Harry and Bryan were in their 38th or so hour with no sleep on Tuesday night. I finally got an SPOT custom message at 10:41 pm EST that they were stopping to camp. Look at this adorable little island!
At low tide I think that waypoint is the edge of the beach.
I had this mental image of Harry falling out of his boat exhausted, scrabbling in the sand with his hands like an edgy combination of J. Alfred Prufrock and Sandra Bullock at the end of Gravity. He would spend 5 minutes being dramatic for a low angle camera while the boat drifts away. They do this in films and on TV and I find it utterly nerve wracking, like leaving the refrigerator door open. I cannot concentrate on a single thing anybody says in front of an open refrigerator or with an unanchored boat in the background. (I'm talking to you, Gake no ue no Ponyo. Even though I watched it in Japanese and had no idea what they were saying I cringed when boats drifted away from anthropomorphic cartoon fish in the middle of dramatic dialog.)

I texted our cousin Wes to express my concern that Harry would be too tired to secure his boat. He reassured me. "He won't. All he has to do is pull it up above the tide mark. Will he finish tomorrow?" I was still worried because I could see that the tide mark was about the width of the whole island. Then I got another SPOT text and replied to Wes. "There's the OK message! If he's coherent enough to push that button then he's lucid enough to pull the boat." Then I explained to Wes that I thought it would take them at least 3 more days. 

63 miles to checkpoint 1
174 miles to checkpoint 2 
   ** you are here**
273 miles to checkpoint 3
300 miles to the Finish

Right after they got to Pavilion Key another boat arrived, DivesWithKraken and WyomingWolf. The roster says they have a Hobie Tandem Island, which is similar to Bryan's boat but longer with a bigger sail. In the movie version they would have built a perfect campfire on the beach. The low angle camera would show the four of them sitting on picturesque driftwood holding polycarbonate wine glasses perfectly backlit, laughing with big white teeth. The men would be snappily dressed with collared shirts and creased trousers and Wyoming Wolf would be wearing a bikini and a scarf around her hips and her hair would have required 20 minutes with a straightening iron. They'd have color coordinated hammocks in the trees behind them. I doubt this is how it really went down. They probably sucked energy gels out of metallized plastic pouches and rolled up in tarps on the sand like gritty burritos with their filthy feet sticking out the ends for the raccoons to nibble on.

The Hobie tandem set out at dawn. Harry and Bryan took their time. I would have stayed on that island all day. I would want to know if there were frogs in the little ponds. I guess if there were frogs everybody on that island would know from the sounds in the night. They set out again about 10 am on Wednesday morning.

At 1:10 in the afternoon on Tuesday they stopped on Plover Key. It probably looked just like this with the sun high in the sky and the tide.

Charming place for a rest stop
After a bit of rest they kept going on an interesting course among beautiful little islands. I can't wait to hear what wildlife they saw.

Way better than the Intracoastal Waterway

Last night around 10pm JibeTurkey started going all kinds of backwards. (Waypoint 32 to 38) I texted Wes again to see if he thought Harry had lost all sense of direction again. Wes reassured me that he hadn't been awake nearly long enough for that.

"Campsite?" texted Wes.

"Only if he's camping in Mobile, Alabama" texted me.

"Could the electronics be glitching?" texted Wes. "Going around a big sandbar? What's the tide? Is he past Cape Sable yet?"

I couldn't think how the GPS could generate that error. It didn't seem like one of the possible failure modes to just show him slightly off course. Then I went down the rabbit hole of trying to find tide tables for Monroe County. I finally convinced myself that low tide was around midnight.

I thought the water looked suspicious there in front of that Graveyard Creek campsite anyway. I found a really interesting Florida Department of Environmental Protection website that explained exactly what happened. They were describing a trail for people who would be coming down Graveyard Creek to the campground. This is what they say to do the day after you camp there.
At low tide, the mouth of Graveyard Creek can be a mud flat, so you may want to paddle up Graveyard Creek and wind around into Ponce De Leon Bay, where the water is deeper, allowing you to continue your journey south.
The FDEP website for the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail is really pretty cool. This area is covered in Segment Fourteen, Everglades/Florida Bay.

In Ponce de Leon Bay. (Pretentious diacritical mark not included)

By the time I finished looking all that stuff up on the internet Harry's track was making sense again. At 6 minutes after midnight he sent an OK message from this unidentified little bit of land. The zoomed in image showed a lot of fallen down trees at the water's edge, likely hurricane damage. The tree skeletons were all bare and old. Since there hasn't been another hurricane lately to wash them away I guess they're still there. There's no telling though. It's just a photo taken on one particular unknown day. It's so realistic I have to keep reminding myself it's not NOW. I wonder in the dark hours if I have a better idea what danger lurks in front of Harry's boat than he does.

I went to sleep thinking I wouldn't have to wake up in the night to check the map. Our mother woke me up with a text at 7:27 in the morning to see what I had heard. Bad weather coming. I said he was camping. Then I looked at his track and called myself a liar. He'd been moving since 4 am. Then I got an OK message at 8:48 am when he came out into Whitewater Bay.

I looked at the weather forecast and saw it was complicated. It was pouring rain at my house. I was snug and smug. I got out my sound pressure level meter and checked how quiet my soundproofing job was on my metal roof. 20dB louder outside the front door than inside.

Maybe it will get the Everglades? Maybe not? At any rate, it explains why there's a south wind. That thing must be sucking all the air from down there.

I continued to watch his progress through Whitewater Bay. He took a jog between the aptly named Midway Keys around noon.

Soon the scuttlebutt on the WaterTribe forum started to focus on the weather. About 2 pm somebody reported that the winds around Cape Sable had picked up to about 20 knots from the SSW, pretty much blowing everybody to Flamingo and the next check point.

The race manager reported that the power was out in Flamingo, and the cell tower was "knocked out." That's surprising. The cell tower at the end of my driveway is surprisingly resilient. It has never failed in any of the many hurricanes I've been through. I could always look out the window and see the light blinking on it, and hear the diesel generators when the wind and rain were quiet. I wonder how she got that post online? When my power is out I need the cell tower to reach the internet.

I got an email from Hugh Horton, the designer of the bufflehead, asking if I thought Harry knew about the weather. Should I call him on the phone? I told him there was no calling him, as the only cell tower in the Everglades wasn't working. It would have to be taller than a TV tower and as powerful to reach him that far away anyway. And it would have to be AT&T and not Verizon. I assume they are listening to the NOAA broadcast on the VHF radio. Cell phones are just not the communication of choice outside of cities.

At 2:07 pm Thursday I got an OK message from Harry on another little island in Whitewater Bay. I assume they're waiting out the storm there.

Waiting out the storm

 They are pretty close to the next checkpoint.

Waiting out the storm. Flamingo is the next checkpoint.
Harry told me there's a portage involved in this event. You have to carry your boat from one concrete boat ramp to another concrete boat ramp. Nobody but another WaterTriber can help you. I don't even like to scrape my polyethylene kayak on a concrete boat ramp. I would have never let my wooden boat touch one. I guess he'll just have to take out his heavy gear and then see if somebody will carry the other end for him. His boat is so light he can easily lift it onto the roof of his car by himself, so he could carry it by himself if he had to. He said Bryan has some wheels that slide into holes in his hull that make his boat into a little cart. It's as easy as moving carry-on luggage through an airport for Bryan to make this transition.

He said it was "from the freshwater side to the saltwater side." I assumed I knew what that meant, but it took a while of studying the map to figure out it was this place at Flamingo.

Portage point. From freshwater side, dark water, to saltwater side, green water where that checkmark is.
Apparently when they cut in Flamingo Canal they very responsibly didn't join it to the ocean. Looks like a straight up dam in between. I guess by keeping it separate they keep more water in that boat basin, less tidal influence. I don't see how it can pass the 24 hour flushing rule for marinas though. Maybe it was grandfathered in when FDEP decided on that requirement. There's apparently an 8 ton hoist there to pick other boats up over the dam.

There's a bridge across the canal. Internet says it's got a clearance of 10 ft. I'm not sure how tall their masts are. I guess they might as well lower them ahead of the bridge since it would make it less comical to carry them down the road. Maybe that's what they're doing right now while they wait for the storm, taking down their sail rigs. They could just paddle the rest of the way to Flamingo.

I found this interesting Flamingo tidbit on the FDEP site about this part of the canoe trail. 
Flamingo, named in 1893 for the colorful flamingo birds that once arrived in great number from Cuba and the Bahamas, is an isolated town and was formerly only accessible by water. It is notorious for flying insect life during the warm months and early residents relied upon smoldering smudge pots inside their homes and even under baby carriages. When a scarcely passable road was built to Flamingo in 1922, one resident joked, “There were fewer people than ever at Flamingo. They had found a way to get out.”
When is it not a warm month?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

EC2014: Checkpoint 2 and the Very Long Day

Harry and Bryan did stop to rest early on Sunday night after the short sleep after checkpoint 1 on Saturday. They stopped on Sanibel Island just past Blind Pass. I got the SPOT custom message, "I am going to camp here. Hope I will be warm," at 6:57. Then Harry texted me this nice photo of the gloaming dusk. I could see on the WaterTribe tracker that Bryan had pushed his OK button on the same spot so I figured they were just chilling out on the beach eating all their ramen noodles and tuna packets.

They stayed there a good long time. I didn't get another SPOT message until 9:22 am Monday morning. Then there was no tracking for a long time. Then at 10:51 am I got another one. Then the tracker started working. I never saw a new tracking location for Bryan though. He was still on the island at 6:50 the night before. When Harry called about 4:00 pm he said he would tell Bryan to be sure to push the OK button.

He said Bryan consulted the Sailflow website on his phone and made a float plan. He set a course for a cut near Marco Island, but there was no wind in the early morning. Harry said Bryan made him paddle for what seemed like 5 hours. (By the map and weather reports I think it was just 2 hours.) When the wind picked up they were mostly just sailing on the fastest course they could achieve, planning to change direction with the turning wind and end up where they wanted to go. They had been out of cell phone range most of the day cutting across the open water. As they got closer to Naples and Marco Island they could use the phone again.

At 6pm Monday the tracking map looked like this.

Monday 6pm, track from camping spot overnight Sunday.
I kept hoping they'd go over to the shore and rest but they just kept going. Finally I saw them nearing Marco Island. I got an OK message at 11:10 pm Monday night. I'd sent a variety of texts for perusal later and I got one back. "Need water." I zoomed in where he'd landed.
Marco Island water stop
Man, look at all those giant condo complexes! I texted him back that there was a swimming pool full of water straight in front of him. (Hurr hurr.) But they probably also have a hose bib and a cold shower on those boardwalks down to the sand. I decided to text him this picture and tell him to watch out for those three groins when they set out again. I couldn't imagine they were going to camp right there in front of those big buildings. It would be like taking a vacation to see a Formula 1 race but being forced to sit through a NASCAR race the night before.

At 12:18 I got another OK message. I assumed it meant they were setting out again. I could see Bryan had pushed his OK button on the island too, so they were still together. 

There's Brian's default skull and crossbones up there on the beach.
Gokey's red sail icon looks like he's leaving Bryan, but they are together.
I thought maybe they would maybe go past Marco and camp on one of the keys in Thousand Islands. Maybe even on Dickmans Point. I would definitely have stopped there. (In fact I am so easily amused by that I blew up that iPad screen shot in iPhoto and took a screen shot of it on my Mac just so I could put it here. I spent the day troubleshooting why iPhoto that won't let me export cropped iPad or iPhone screen shots. Decided it's a bug. Anyway, that's why this update took me so long.)

I haven't been shirking on my race tracking duties though, oh no. In fact I check it so much this happened last night. (uncropped, I give up.) It says "This site has exceeded its daily quota for maps."

I don't know if the Everglades Challenge singlehandedly used up the map quota or what. It was 12:51 am EST, so I guessed the daily quota was based on PST so it would probably work again in just a couple more hours. I'd forgotten all about it the next time I woke up to check on Harry and Bryan.

They are just out in the middle of the ocean again! And this time it's DARK! I bet the stars were amazing though. I figured there was no way they had cell phone coverage out there either. 

I took a screen shot of the Challenge Tracker at that time too, just to see where the other WaterTribers were. Sunrise was only another hour and a half away, the temperature was above the dewpoint, so no fog or depressing chill to worry about. They were likely fine.

Harry's going 1.94 knots. Destination is that green check. Bryan still shown on the beach on Marco Island.

About 8:30 I was looking at the map and even though I figured it was unlikely they had cell coverage I texted Harry that Picnic Key was coming up. I couldn't imagine they wanted to just keep going without resting. The next tracking spot showed Harry turned. Then he ended up doing this maneuver.

Where's he going?
I pondered this move. I texted our cousin Wes. I'm sure he was busy at work and couldn't answer, but I like to share.

Two day track. Very top is Saturday night stop. Little tent is Sunday night.
The rest of this is all one extended stretch in the boat except for that 1 hour
stop in Marco Island to get water. Good lord, y'all!
But they just KEPT GOING!

From Tuesday morning at 8:30 am until Tuesday night at 7:00 pm
The thing at the beginning, point 1 to 9, I don't know what that was. They got on track again and landed at Everglades City at about 1 pm. That's where the Everglades National Park office is. You have to get there between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm to buy a permit for camping. They moved on along to the WaterTribe checkpoint and hit the OK button on the tracker at 2:08 pm.

Here they are on the results page with some other people who got there near the same time.

I'm pasting in the top of the chart below it so you can see what the different classes mean. I think it's interesting that all the different classes were getting to the 174 mile mark at about the same time. SailBirdMike was out there with JibeTurkey and AhMaChamee all night, while the kayakers were close in to shore and taking the shortcut behind Marco Island instead of going farther to stay in the wind. The point of the whole thing is to show how very different boats can participate equally.

Harry called me around 4:30 from Chokoloskee. He said he was very tired after being awake for 36 hours. I said he sounded surprisingly normal. He allowed he may have gotten a second wind after having a good lunch at the Cuban restaurant.

"But I was incoherent this morning," he said. " I thought I was going backwards. But Bryan caught up to me and convinced me I was going forward."

"Harry, look at the GPS! We're going 3 mph!" Bryan said.

"Yeah, 3 mph BACKWARDS!" Argued Harry

"Harry, there's no current, it's fine! You're hallucinating!" Explained Bryan.

"So I just concentrated on two points on the shore and convinced myself that I was going forwards," Harry said. "Bryan and I just have to look out for each other." 

It sounds like a solid plan. Between two of them operating on about half a brain each they add up to one lucid individual.

I asked if it could be caffeine withdrawal hallucinations but he said he made coffee on the beach at Marco around midnight last night and sipped out of his thermos all night. That makes me feel a lot better about the whole thing.

They are heading out of Chokoloskee to try to get to a camping spot. "Hope we make it," Harry said flatly. 

As of 7:30 Tuesday night they still haven't stopped. They really need to stop and sleep. They haven't slept since Sunday night on Sanibel Island. 39 hours and counting. If I see one of those crazy course changes I'll figure one of them is hallucinating again. I hope they take turns at becoming incoherent and don't both see a mermaid at the same time.