A Sharkchow Ultimate Florida Repost!

Warren Richey, AKA Sharkchow, and author of “Without A Paddle”, has graciously allowed me to repost one of his comments from the WaterTribe.org forums.  The original can be read at http://watertribe.org/forums/topic/florida-challenge-update-tuesday-morning-3-20

Florida Challenge Update — Tuesday morning 3-20

As of 6 a.m. all five Florida Challengers were on the move.

Sandy Bottom and SOS camped a little more than halfway across the 40-mile portage at about 11 p.m. They broke camp at about 6 a.m. and are now continuing toward Fargo and the Suwannee River. They will arrive at the Suwannee sometime later this morning.

Mosquito Magnet left Fort Clinch around 5 p.m. Monday and has been paddling all night — 14 hours as of 7 a.m. — and was approaching Traders Hill. The question with MM is how much gas is left in his tank. It is still a long and winding journey to the takeout at St. George. Will he have enough to continue paddling through the morning? Or will he stop for nap? If he sleeps will he oversleep and lose the daylight necessary to navigate the upper St. Marys, or will he slice through the river quickly and avoid the snags that slowed Sandy Bottom and SOS?

Whale and Riverslayer left the Fort Clinch checkpoint just before 6 a.m. and rode the incoming tide up the St. Marys River, passing the St. Marys town on their right and proceeding west toward I-95 and the river beyond. They should enjoy a pretty good tidal push well up the river.

What to watch:

If you haven’t been paying close attention to the challenge, now is the time to start. Use the tracking map to follow their speed. Compare the tide-influenced speed of the lower St. Marys with the slower going on the Upper St. Marys, also track Sandy Bottom and SOS to see if they maintain a steady pace that justifies carrying a folding bicycle in their boat just for this portion of the course. When Mosquito Magnet, River Slayer, and Whale reach the portage, compare their speed across the 40 miles on foot. The overall moving average may not be that much different — or perhaps it will. There are two primary aspects to the portage. One is that 40 miles is a long way to walk — even if you weren’t towing your boat behind you. Second, the portage route is a two lane country highway with a posted speed limit of 6,000 mph. Cars come zipping by, and in that section of Florida and Georgia they actually speed up when they see pedestrians. More important, when they see folks towing boats down the highway they tend to swerve, shout, and squeeze off a few shot gun rounds. Good times. There is no shoulder on the road, the only option a survival-minded challenger has is to dive off the road for cover — with boat in tow. These maneuvers may not show up on the SPOT.   

At some point later this morning Sandy Bottom and SOS will start to feel the drag of the portage and will begin to look forward to getting back in their boat. Meanwhile, Mosquito Magnet, River Slayer, and Whale are concentrating on getting up the St. Marys with a nagging worry in their minds about that approaching 40-mile ordeal. This will be a day of hard work and anxiety for those three. Later this morning, if they keep up their pace, this will be a day of triumph for Sandy Bottom and SOS. I suspect they will be glad to trade in their portage shoes for some more boat time and the steady Gulf-ward flow of the upper Suwannee River.

[Sharkchow (AKA Warren Richey) is author of “Without a Paddle,” published by St. Martin’s Press. It is an account of his participation in the first running of the Ultimate Florida Challenge in 2006.]

Here are links to some of his other posts on the WaterTribe site… take some time to read them and get a real idea about how tough an event like the Ultimate Florida Challenge really is.  Then, get a copy of his book, where he REALLY describes it well (although he discusses many aspects of that it’s like to enter a WaterTribe event, one thing he never mentions is having to relieve himself even once during his entire journey, which is, to say the least, logistically improbable….)

Florida Challenge Update — Monday morning 3-19 http://watertribe.org/forums/topic/florida-challenge-update-monday-morning-3-19#post-3499

Florida Challenge Update — Monday afternoon 3-19 http://watertribe.org/forums/topic/florida-challenge-update-monday-afternoon-3-19#post-3535

Remember to check out the www.watertribe.org website… just be prepared to get drawn in to our enjoyable madness!

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