Everglades Challenge 2015 – 100% FUBAR

I’ve taken a month off while gathering my thoughts about the 2015 Everglades Challenge, and I”m still not totally ready to post my opinions.  I will, however, post them in the next week (it’s our anniversary this weekend, so no typing for me!).

There is a lot to say, to tell, to speculate, and to resolve.  Will Watertribe survive what happened?  Will the Coast Guard back off from adventure events like the Everglades Challenge, or did this years’ cancellation mark the beginning of increased encroachment?  It’s hard to say, but I do know I’d be seriously nervous if I were planning to enter, say, the Race To Alaska this year.

When I do write the post, I’ll have a lot to say, especially as I was an inspector this year.  I hope what I have to offer will help waterborne adventure eventing in the future.  We don’t need the Government interfering needlessly, nor do we need to be shooting our own selves in the foot (feet? foots?) with bad planning, either by entrants or organizers.

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Coastie And Clamcounters 2015 Everglades Challenge/Impromptu Vacation Report

Coastie, an ex-Coast Guardsman, and Clamcounter, his accountant son, are two of the most fun WaterTribers I know (and that says a lot, because ALL Tribers are a ton of fun!). Here is a link to their report, and a bunch of pictures they took, on their unofficial trek from Fort Desoto Beach to Key Largo. It shall be noted in passing that Coastie made no reference to the actions of the Coast Guard regarding the event!
2015 EC Report for Coastie & ClamCounter

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Everglades Challenge 2015 Beach Walk Videos

This year, I was a pre-challenge inspector, checking out the gear and vessels of those WaterTribers who have not yet completed a Challenge (once you complete a challenge, you can self-certify that you have all the required gear and your vessel is ready).  In between walking up and down the beach inspecting stuff, I found a little time to record my travels. Here’s the two videos I made (I even snazzified them up a bit with titles and music!).
Everglades Challenge 2015 A Walk On The Beach Part 1
Everglades Challenge 2015 A Walk On The Beach Part 2

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Some More 2015 Everglades Challenge Stuff

The commentary on many sites is starting to fly regarding the Coast Guard’s decision to cancel the 2015 Everglades Challenge – some pro, some con (mostly con), with various levels of information, speculation, and credibility. From what I’ve been able to gather, there was a 911 call placed that was forwarded to the Coast Guard, but it’s not known as of yet who called. Apparently, the Coast Guard showed up in the worst of it and decided to call the event off. The area that had the seriously bad wave action is a confined area off of Passage Key in Tampa Bay, and it’s well known to have hazardous waves, currents, and shifting sand bars. The rest of the course actually was suffering from too LITTLE wind! In any case, I’m still a bit hesitant to speculate, but I thought I’d provide a couple more links for your reading pleasure!

SOS’s (Son Of Sandybottom) 2015 EC blog page
Sailing Anarchy’s after action report

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The Coast Guard Cancelled The 2015 Everglades Challenge

As many of you know by now, the Coast Guard cancelled the 2015 Everglades Challenge as well as the 2015 Ultimate Marathon (which is basically the first leg of the E.C.).

Currently, there is a lot of speculation as to why they cancelled it, or if they should have, since there wasn’t even a small craft warning posted for the area, but details are still coming in.  Instead of rehashing and second guessing what happened (I did not participate this year), I’m including some links to other blogs written by participants, along with a link to Sailing Anarchy – which makes a couple of valid points.  I’d post some news media links, but they are either so incomplete or inaccurate as to be laughable.

Micro Tom’s blog (Tom is an experienced WaterTriber) – http://watertribe.org/microtom/my-account-and-assessment-of-the-2015-everglades-challenge/

– SandyBottom’s Report (SandyBottom is one of the most experienced Tribers there is)

Scareman’s Report (Another veteran Triber)

– Sailing Anarchy’s page (Sailing Anarchy pulls no punches – ever)

Again, I’m not ready to speculate, guess, condemn, or anything else.  We take a risk when we participate in an event like this (YOU MAY DIE appears more than once in the paperwork), but we do have to make sure we aren’t either doing anything foolish, or allowing unprepared entrants to participate.  There will be more about all of this later – but for now, know everyone is safe, sound, and accounted for.

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Absent again… and a major change of plans

Well, here I am again, having not posted in a LONG time.

Life, work, life, schools, and life all caught up with us in a big way this year, and I’m just not physically ready to do the Everglades Challenge this year.  So we will sit this one out, although we’ll be there at the start helping with registration and inspections.

We may do the North Carolina Challenge later in the year, and whether or not we do, I suspect we’ll be back next year, with an again-modified Clarity, ready and raring to go south towards Key Largo – and this time, I’ll have a crew.

I also apologize for the lack of updates, but I ran into a long spell of I-hate-computer-itis, and, after years of blogging, I just needed a bit of a break.  It was a good idea too, as it’s looking like I’ll be starting my own on-line business, so I’ll need to be refreshed and ready to bang away at the keyboard!

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A Good Man Has Left On His Final Sail

I met sailmaker Dennis Vallenga as we were preparing Clarity for the 2011 Everglades Challenge, and as sometimes happens, it was because of a tragic event  that we met.  On October 26th 2010, Larsen Hunt was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, leaving behind her young son Aidric, who is Autistic.  My wife and I decided to dedicate our trip to her memory, and to help her son.  We contacted a number of sailmakers with the idea of getting a sail made that could be signed for a donation to Aidric’s assistance fund, and Dennis contacted me within 24 hours, very enthusiastically offering his help.  Within a week, we had come up with the design for the sail, and he had it finished.  Not only that, but Dennis insisted on doing some work on my mainsail as well, installing extra reef points and some reinforcements to the head of the sail.  He helped me get into the Davis Island Yacht Club for a presentation and signing, which alone raised well over $500.00 for Aidric, and was even at the beach when we launched.  He well and truly cared about not only what we were doing, but who and why we were trying to help.  It’s not often these days that you meet someone with such a sincere desire to help others.
Clarity, flying Aidric's Sail

Clarity, flying Aidric’s Sail

Dennis was in a good jovial mood each and every time I talked with him, and his humor often reminded my of Jay Ward, chief cartoonist of the old Rocky and Bullwinkle show… you just knew there was always a little more humor there, just waiting to sneak out of him.  I wish I had met him long before I did, as I suspect there were lots of great stories to be told.  My best to his family and friends, and all those blessed to have met him.
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