The Everglades Challenge

While most of us were sleeping this morning, members of the WaterTribe launched kayaks, canoes, and sailboats from the beach of Fort Desoto Park.  At sunrise they quietly paddled, rowed, and sailed into the Gulf of Mexico.  They’re racing all the way to Key Largo, 300 miles away, and none of these boats have propellers.
sailboatskayaksIt takes a special combination of skills to compete in the Everglades Challenge, along with some degree of insanity.  The race is unsupported, meaning you’re on your own, no matter what comes your way.  Capsize, run aground, thunderstorm on the horizon?  Deal with it. Only about half the boats will make it to the finish line.  If you make it to Key Largo in 8 days, consider yourself a winner.
sailgeckoMy friend Channing (known as Dances with Mullet in the WaterTribe) has competed in the race for the past 7 years.  He works, plays, and spends most of his life on the water.  He’s as qualified as you can be to compete in a crazy thing like this, and he even built his own boat for it, called Finger Mullet.  finger mulletfingermulletNavigating Florida’s coast is pretty straightforward until you hit the Ten Thousand Islands in the Everglades National Park.  Channing found himself there one night without a breath of wind and had to row his sailboat just to keep moving in the right direction.  Delirium set in as he tried to make his way through the labyrinth of islands.  With blistered hands and mosquitos biting, he rowed and sang and cussed his way to the end, and told himself he’d never do this race again.danceswithmulletBut he always does.  

Fair winds and following seas, Dances with Mullet!  You can track his progress here.

This is Fred, the masthead of the Miss Marie.
This is Fred, the masthead of the Miss Marie.