(this is an out of order excerpt from what I will write about this year’s sail… I posted it on the WaterTribe Forum, and thought I’d add it here on it’s own first, and then as part of the overall narrative later)
When I arrived at CP 2 after a wild tidal ride up Indian Key Pass, I was able to confirm what I had suspected the night before – my brand new 22,000+MA backup battery wouldn’t charge a firefly, even though it was full. This left me without enough juice to safely finish the course while maintaining a minimum 48 hour power reserve. I had one 8800MA backup that was working, and Sharknado kindly loaned me another. However, I did have to find my way to the Circle K in Everglades City to purchase a wall charger to top everything off. After all of that, and the lovely Chokoloskee tide, it became apparent I’d be at CP 2 overnight. Resigning myself to the provided hotel room, I got some rest, and then had an awesome blackened Mahi salad and orange juice at the Havana Cafe, followed by a walk to Smallwood’s Store and Museum. I returned just as Clarity broke free from the mud, and I rigged her to go. But I had a problem… it was early afternoon by then, and my rhythm had been interrupted. I decided I didn’t think Rabbit Pass would be a good idea, and that going back out Indian Key Pass would be better, even though it would add 90 minutes or so to my departure. I also decided to run my thoughts past Chief, who said that, although Rabbit would be easily passable in my boat, I should indeed follow my instincts. Northern Light, the CP 2 manager, also agreed with me. And so I did.
The close reach back to the pass got me back into my sailing rhythm, but what happened next was almost magical. I tacked into the channel, with just a bit of incoming tide left, and the wind head on and light. My first 3 tacks produced little forward progress, but as the tide slacked, I gained ground. And Clarity took over like a veteran dance teacher showing a newbie how to tango. Each tack brought me within a foot or two of the mangroves, and she snapped about with the smart grace of a well designed boat each and every time. She didn’t turn, she pirouetted about her leeboards like they were Diana Adams’ pointe shoes. Commercial fishing vessels passed by, and some even slowed to watch. It all worked, and it was a great technical sail, buoyed by grace and poise as we led each other out. It was, in fact, the best single 90 minutes of the 2014 Everglades Challenge, at least for me. And, I think, for Clarity, my jaunty little trimaran.