Everglades Challenge 2012

Although we are not competing in the 2012 Everglades Challenge, we WILL be manning a checkpoint for the duration.  We’ll be at the Chokoloskee checkpoint (CP-2) for the duration, doing checkpointy stuff, logging info on this site, the Watertribe site, and anywhere else Chief wants us to log stuff, and probably reading a few books!

The following is excerpted from the Watertribe description of CP-2:

CP2 – Chokoloskee, Everglades National Park, Florida

Roughly 70 miles along the coast from Cayo Costa you will come to Indian Key Pass.  The mangrove channel that leads to the fabled Everglades City.  You are at that crucible that will weed out the Men from the boys; the Women from the girls; and Real Boats from mere puddle hoppers.

Tide Will be a Factor

There are strong tidal currents through these mangrove channels that can make grown men cry.  A huge amount of water flows through these channels so current can be 2 to 3 knots or so.

Another interesting phenomenon is that as the water level drops or rises various sand/mud/oyster bars are exposed or covered.  Flow changes and currents become counter intuitive.

Tide tables and local knowledge of how to interpret them will be published long before the race.  Don’t get too fixated on the tide problem right now.  If the tide is too strong, you have two basic choices: wait or paddle harder.

I plan to pitch my hammock on Indian Key, or thereabouts, and nap until the right time.

It Is Doable

Having warned you of the terror, I must remind you that this is a doable entrance that is used by kayaks, canoes, sail boats, and motor boats all day long almost every day.  Some of our discussion forums have gotten carried away with the difficulty of this checkpoint — thus the opening paragraph.

If you use Indian Key Pass to enter Everglades City and then use Chokoloskee Pass to exit Everglades City, you will minimize tide issues and the need for local knowledge.  These two channels a wide enough and well marked so as to be considered “normal” navigation and difficulty.

Some plan to take a detour and visit Watson’s Place instead of take Chokoloskee Pass.  This too should not present any difficulty for classes 1 and 2, but classes 3 and 4 may want to think real hard about trying this route.

Big Boats Are Everywhere

Big boats are cruising these channels so watch out.  Some of them run at night with no lights.  If you must travel these channels at night, keep lots of lights going on your boat and keep a strong spot light handy.

Access for Family and Friends

This is a regular city on the west coast of Florida with highway access.   There is an article in the Sept/Nov 2000 issue of Paddler Magazine about Everglades City. If You Drop Out

Dropping Out

If you drop out at Everglades City, be sure to let the check in crew know.  They will help you arrange for transportation back to Tampa Bay if you need it.  You may have to stay at Everglades City a day or two (hopefully not more) for the transport to show up.

Fresh Water

Fresh water is available at Everglades City as well as restaurants, convenience stores, and kayak outfitters.  Your best bet is the hose at the canoe ramp at Park HQ or the hose at the docks of Outdoor Resorts or the convenience stores at both locations.  Beware however that availability of bottled water at these two convenience stores is not guaranteed.  There are other stores in the area within about a 1 mile radius at both locations.

The hoses will be easily accessible, but I recommend that you filter all water from hoses — if only for taste.

Everglades Park

This is the North Headquarters of Everglades Park.  If you are taking the inside route, you must register with the park rangers.  If you are taking the outside route, you may have to register with the park rangers.  It depends on whether or not you intend to camp on the way to Flamingo.

Everglades National Park

When you reach Everglades City, you are about to enter the Everglades National Park.  You must follow all park rules and regulations.  Depending on your chosen course (inside or outside) and whether you will have to camp on the way to Flamingo will determine if you must obtain a Wilderness Permit.  This is entirely up to you and your decisions about your best course.

You will have to get your permit when you arrive at the Everglades City/Chokoloskee checkpoint.  They are open normal business hours so you may decide to check in first and then go to the ranger station or the other way around.  It depends on what time you arrive.

In most cases, the outside route will be faster, but your open water skills must be up to the challenge.  This is during the busy season so have two or three alternate sites in mind for your camping permit.

If you don’t get a camping permit, you are not supposed to camp.  However, there is no rule that I know of that prevents you from stopping for a snack or a break.  DO NOT camp without a permit.

Our race IS NOT approved or sanctioned by the park.  They couldn’t care less that you are in a race.  In fact, they may get alarmed if you bring it up.  We aren’t doing anything illegal by paddling or sailing through as fast as we can, but DO NOT expect any favors from the park.

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