Saturday, March 31, 2012

EC2012 - Day 3

Everglades Challenge 2012
Monday, March 5, 2012

After a quick breakfast we got underway by about 6AM.  The wind was still from the north but had moderated overnight.  We had an extremely pleasant sail across Charlotte Harbor and down Pine Island Sound.

Sunrise over Charlotte Harbor
Cabbage Key
The easy sailing ended at the southern end of Pine Island Sound.  The wind was shifting to the NE and to get out of the Sound and around Sanibel Island we had to make two tacks.  At this point the wind was also starting to get quite light and we broke out the paddles and motorsailed under the Sanibel Island Causeway.  

As we neared Point Ybel LeatherLungs in his CLC Northeast Dory rowed past us.

For the next couple of miles we traveled close together sometimes sailing and sometimes paddling or rowing.  For the rest of the afternoon the wind was very light and we did a lot of paddling.  Eventually we pulled away because we could paddle and sail at the same time and he could only do one or the other.

By late afternoon the wind began to fill back in, now from the east.  We decided to once again take the route through Caxambas Pass to Gullivan Bay.  In the best case scenario we hoped to make it to Panther Key which is where we camped on Monday night during the 2011 Everglades Challenge.  We enjoyed the lights of the high-rise condos on Marco Island while we enjoyed a pleasant sail towards the pass.  We made the turn into the pass and were able to continue sailing.  It was nearing midnight and we decided to stop for the night.  We tied up to the mangrove of Fred Key, had a bite to eat, and settled into the boat for a quick nights sleep.

This ended up being our highest mileage day; we covered about 75 miles in 18 hours.

Friday, March 30, 2012

EC2012 - Day 2

Everglades Challenge 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

No IHOP this morning... We were woken up at about 2AM by a light rain.  The wind was still out of the south but we had been sleeping for a while, so we decided to give it another go.  The conditions were not any better, so we ended up sailing exactly one tack.  We ended up about a mile further down Sarasota Bay, near Bishops Point.  We settled in for another nap and woke up again at about 5AM.  The wind still had not changed, but we didn't feel like waiting around anymore, so I started pulling the boat along the shore.  About half a mile later we walked past Wally and Badger who were tied up along the mangrove.  We chatted for a while, then just after 6AM noticed that the wind had started to shift.    We decided to go for it and hopped in.

The wind was now NW at 20+ mph with gusts close to 40 mph.  Our sail was still double reefed down to about 30 square feet and we were routinely hitting 10mph.  We had a few highlights:

  • "Sailboat Slalom" through the moored boats outside of the Sarasota Sailing Squadron.  These big boats were tugging at their moorings and the wind was howling in their rigging.  We sailed straight through the middle of the field of boats being very careful to not hit any of them or catch their mooring lines.
  • Sailing under the John Ringling Causeway hitting 12.8mph surfing a large wave.  My boat's new max speed :)
  • Not hitting the Siesta Drive bridge.  We misread the chart while approaching the bridge and though the vertical clearance was 18 feet, which meant we would need to drop out mast.  Unfortunately, there was nowhere to beach the boat and the wind was steadily pushing us towards the bridge through some very nasty chop generated by the waves reflecting off the seawalls.  Just when we though we were going to hit the bridge, we drifted nicely underneath with plenty of clearance.  Checking the chart again, we realized that we had looked at the wrong bridge and this one was 25 feet.  Whew...
The rest of the trip to CP1 was less eventful.  We had the drop our mast to get under a few bridges and while nearing the Blackburn Point Bridge we noticed Stripbuilder up on a bluff waving down at us.  He showed his his excellent campsite tucked between a fence and some mangrove... very stealthy :)

We continued south through Venice and saw DonKeyHoTeh and MicroTom beached on Snake Island.  The sail though the canal was fast but uneventful.

We arrived at CP1 at about 2:30PM and enjoyed some delicious hot dogs thanks to PaddleDancer and Etchimen, thanks!  We dried out some stuff, filled our water and rested a bit.  After discussing plans with some other Watertribers, we decided to head towards Hoagen Key to camp for the night.  We passed a few others as we were paddling back out:

Lugnut and Karank
After clearing the Placida bridge, we put the mast back up and set a straight line course to Hoagen Key.  This worked great until we hit a mud bank.  We dragged the boat around the obstacle and finished our day.  Hoagen Key is maintained by fellow Watertriber, Tyro and the Florida Paddle Trail Association.

We found a nice spot out of the wind, ate some dinner and settled down for a good nights sleep.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

EC2012 - Day 1

Everglades Challenge 2012
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Our day began with breakfast at IHOP.  Several other Watertribers were also eating there, enjoying a last big meal before our adventure.  We arrived at the beach by about 6AM and made our final preparations.

Emily took care of filling our water
Suiting up for a wet ride
The winds were in the mid teens from the south, had been blowing hard all night and most of Friday, and we were under a Small Craft Advisory.  We quickly decided that sailing out in the Gulf was not an option for us and decided to stay on the “inside,” sailing in the ICW.  After roll call, Chief walked up and down the beach reminding us that we did not in fact need to leave the beach if we did not find the conditions safe.  We felt fine about leaving but had our sail double reefed, which brought our sail area down to about 32 sq ft.  The horn blew at 7AM and people slowly trickled off the beach.  Em sat in the middle of the boat and I dragged the boat out past the sandbar just off shore.  I hopped in and we were off!

We're off!
Since the wind was from the south, we started on a starboard tack, heading southeast towards the Sunshine Skyway bridge.  The conditions in the crossing were lumpy, the waves were about 2 ft and the wind continued to build.  After several long tacks, we were finally approaching the first bridge.  With the combined wind and current, there was no way we were going to sail under the bridge.  We saw several other Tribers pulled up on shore on the eastern side pulling down their masts and walking under the bridge.  We followed suit and were through and going again in about 20 minutes.

Macatawa and MisterMoon pulling the boats under the Anna Maria Island bridge
We continued to sail near two Core Sound 17 sailboats, one sailed by MisterMoon and the other by DragonSlayer and SmokinJoe.  We repeated the procedure at the next bridge and continued to short tack down the narrow northern end of Sarasota Bay.  Eventually the bay opened up and we were able to sail some longer tacks.  It was now afternoon and the wind was 20+ knots, still from the south.  Sarasota Bay is very long with lots of fetch, and the waves continued to knock us around.  As afternoon turned to evening, we decided that we would end our day early rather than continue to be beat up by the wind and waves.  We watched the sun sink over Longboat Key and made one final tack towards shore.  We found a nice mangrove to tie up to that protected us from the wind and settled down for a nap in the boat.

Route for day 1:
We square symbol with the three lines shows where we "camped" for the night