Thursday, March 1
March came in like a lion here in Texas, and now
the weather is heading for Florida. Hopefully, they
won't get the violent stuff that is heading across
Georgia tonight. Chuck is camped on the beach at
Fort DeSoto--he met Skip there this afternoon and
they took the proa out for further manuevers--ironing
out problems, seeing how things worked. He mentioned
a couple of concerns, but they were going to work
on those. One thing was a problem with sailing downwind--let's
hope that one is solved, or it will be a slow run
south. One thing I know about Chuck is that if there
is nothing to figure out, nothing to fix, he will
get bored fast.
Tomorrow is check in day, and if there is time,
they will get a little more sailing practice in.
I am guessing that right now, they are sitting in
camp, maybe with a fire, drinking a little vino,
toasting the future and telling tall tales about
Friday, March 2
Thunderstorms heading for Tampa this morning. Hard
to tell from the weather map if they will hit or
not, but Chuck reports the weather is iffy, and
the Gulf looks treacherous. Last night he heard
stories about 15 foot waves. Yikes!
They are waiting for Chief to show up and begin
the check in process this morning. Last night uneventful
except for the raccoons. One was so friendly it
tried to climb into Matt Layden's lap, and another
opened Chuck's ice chest and was making off with
his granola. Chuck, who was already all comfy inside
the tent and his sleeping bag, said he had to tackle
the raccoon as it tried to make its getaway with
FYI, he said Matt's new boat is an 8' pram, multi-chined
w/leeboard, oars instead of a yuloh and a standing
Wind is expected to shift to the north overnight
and hopefully the thunderstorms will evaporate by
tomorrow. Stay tuned. I forgot to ask about the
bikini babes, but he would have probably fuzzed
over that part.
Friday afternoon, March 2
Chuck's handle for the watertribe reports is razorback--actually,
that is Skip's handle, but will serve for both.
I will be posting their position when they give
it to me. If he gets a chance to post any pictures,
they will be on the Flickr site where he has been
posting the P-52--look just above the comment section
for P-52 photo album. He may not get a chance until
Key Largo, and then only if he can get to a connection.
They are supposed to have a good one there at the
Latest report is windy windy windy--15 to 20, with
30 mph gusts. They are planning to stay inside when
they take off in the morning. Last thing I heard
was they were going to eat a real meal. Check-in
complete and boat is in position at the high water
Friday evening, March 2
Last thing I heard was Chuck eyeing the rainfly
on the tent and thinking about making a downwind
sail with it. He was going to sleep on the idea
and get up at 5am and meet Skip down on the beach.
They had a bit more gear to pack in. Wind was still
out of the south, but considerably slowed. He said
he would call after they got underway and tell me
about the start.
Saturday, March 3
FINALLY heard from the guys. Was beginning to worry
a bit, but they are doing fine. Next to the last
to leave the beach, they rigged a downwind sail
out of a tarp, and it is working well--they are
almost to Sarasota (N27, 21.655 LAT and W34, 34.814
I can picture them now, lounging in the cockpit,
watching the sail, watching the water,--they are
using just the downwind sail--had the mainsail up
earlier, reefed down, but said the downwind sail
moves them just as fast. making 7 mph at times.
On the EC website, I have read about at least one
dismasting and one boat on shoals already. Tampa
Bay is described as like a commercial washing machine
and Sarasota Bay like a home washing machine (agitating).
Wind is out of the north and about 10mph. They are
staying on the inside for now--said they would call
this evening with another report. Must be chilly,
Chuck said he had his fleece jacket and pants on.
Note to Capt Ron: Ceremony photographed by Bill
Paxton, and he is going to send photo link later
tonight--I will post the particulars. Also photos
of other racers and their boats.
Saturday, March 3
Oops. Looks like I was supposed to post new reports
at the top of the page. Oh well, I am not going
to move it all now. Never did take direction well,
why start now?
Guys just called. They are in the Venice area,
taking their time, did not think they would reach
CP1 until tomorrow, what is the big rush anyway?
Had to cut the call short to deal with a bridge,
but Chuck said he would call back later.
Saturday, March 3, 8:30 florida time
Guys are in Lemon Bay--say they will sail for another
couple of hours, and then call it a night. They
plan to reach Placida (checkpoint 1) sometime tomorrow
morning. Sound tired but happy.
Sunday, March 4, 9:30 Florida time
Chuck just called in. They had a good rest and
are now sailing south towards CP1. He reported a
pair of bald eagles sitting on a sandbar watching
them go by. Said the wind is sporadic--they have
the big sail up, and it is fine unless the wind
picks up--does not work too well when the wind is
over 10 mph. They hope to reach Placida by noon,
and after check in will immediately head back out
for Pine Island Sound and hope the wind is not too
strong out there as it is more exposed.
Bill Paxton (bless you, Bill!) has uploaded photos
to this site for all to see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/watertribe
(did not do this right--not sure how to make the
link active--please copy and paste)
More when they reach the first checkpoint.
Check Point 1 has been touched by Razorback and
Chuck the Duck. They are the last Class 4 boat to
arrive, but still going--some racers have dropped
out. At least one fellow had to be rescued by the
Coast Guard when his boat came apart. They tell
me they were slowed somewhat by 4 or 5 drawbridges
and 2 swing bridges encountered since the start
of the race--have learned you must call the bridge
by its proper name when you call to ask them to
open it or they will just ignore you. And even then
you may wait 30 minutes for it to open. No more
bridges for awhile!
Wind is still out of the north, but speed is variable--their
plan is to proceed down Pine Island Sound, and when
they get to the end see what the wind is doing.
If it is mild, may continue on thru the night, if
not, will stop and wait until morning.
Sunday evening, almost 7, Florida time
After a "boisterous" day in Pine Island
Sound, the guys have stopped for the night in a
bunch of mangroves. Chuck said he had a headache
all day, and finally realized it was caffeine withdrawal
and drank a coke and then felt better. They are
still about 50 miles north of Checkpoint 2, but
determined to press on in the morning. Winds forecast
for 10-15-20 tomorrow, so will see what it looks
like when they get to the end of Sanibel Island
and then decide what to do. They said it took them
a long time to get out of the first check point
as the wind was right on their nose. Stay tuned,
more tomorrow morning.
Monday, March 5
The adventure continues. Chuck reports that the
wind blew cats and dogs all night, and is still
blowing this morning. They are pretty much stuck
where they are--pinned by wind and waves into a
nice little cove on (they think) North Captiva Island
(fitting name) in Pine Island Sound, about 10-11
miles north of the Sanibel Bridge. There are shoals
in the direction the wind will push them if they
try to sail out.
The sun is out at least, and they are hiking around
and finding sand dollars, and waiting for the wind
to settle a bit. The forecast is for it to stay
much the same, I fear, but you never know--weather
can change pretty quickly on the coast. I am just
glad they are safe and warm and have plenty of food
and water. Chuck said they slept well. Now they
just have to be patient. If you are reading the
blog on Watertribe, it sounds like everyone is being
beat up by the wind and waves. Even Chief said to
tell the racers to remember they could declare a
weather hold if they felt it was necessary.
Thanks to all the comments and those following
Monday afternoon, March 5
Alas, still in the same spot, wind howling. They
are hoping the wind will calm down and let them
continue down Pine Island Sound. Very frustrating,
but they are being sensible, thank goodness. Will
call later tonight to let me know if they did any
Monday night--underway again!
The guys are underway! The wind has calmed for
now, and they have a full moon, and they are sailing
under the bridge at Sanibel, and if the waves are
not too crazy, they are going to sail all night
and head for CP2. They are well rested, well fed,
and feeling their oats. They will call in the morning
Tuesday, March 6
They sailed all night and called this morning to
say they were about to turn in towards Chokoloskee.
The next call had them in trouble, with a damaged
outrigger and asking me to call for help. I finally
got the rangers at the ranger station to go and
look for them--this was after another call that
sounded a bit frantic, saying they were (I think--it
was breaking up) in the water. The ranger found
them, and they left the boat where it was--the ranger
is taking them into the station where they will
try to find someone to go back out and help them
tow the boat in. They have officially left the race.
Both are fine, and now it is a matter of recovering
the boat and gear.
Boat has been recovered. Boys are disappointed,
but safe and sound; they are spending the night
in Everglades City and eating out tonight. Thanks
to all who followed the race and wished them well!
I am sure Chuck will have a tale to tell when he
gets home. That will be a few days yet. Signing
off for now.