Saturday, March 24, 2007

What time is it?

Over the last few days one of our team members, Alan has been enjoying a second spring break. He is off sailing an Inter 20 with Trey Brown of Team Velocity Sailing in the International Rolex Regatta. The regatta features large racing mono-hulls, smaler racing mono-hulls, 2-3 person skiffs, and beach cats. They managed to find someone who offered to support them for the trip, and being the business man he is, Trey quickly accepted the offer. Trey also help Team RAF with the donation of line, hardware, and most notably the spent Hobie masts that became our akas. Here are a couple of action shots of Team Velocity on 'War', the Inter 20.

In other news this was posted on a WaterTribe forum thread:
"Wingnut thought one of them was so cute (Brownbeard or Redbeard -- the one that kept falling asleep), she was ready to adopt him!"

They must be talking about Redbeard...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pictures and Video!!!

Here is a slide show of all the pictures that we took during the challenge. Below you can view all the "good" videos taken day to day. All pics and video were taken from my Optio-W20. Note: Google cuts out some of the video clarity just so you know its not the cameras fault. Here is the line up. enjoy.... (All links are videos)

Here are some other sources of pictures from the EC 2007:

NEW Picture slideshows!! I will add more when I see them online!

Salty Fog's:

CrazyRussian's (Credit to Amy!):

Wizard's shlideshow:

Scareman's slidwshow:

Team RAF Videos

View from Wizard after Tampa Bay crossing
Surfing outside of Venice Inlet

Downwind past North Captive Island
Late Night around Cape Romano

Left Round Key, Headed for Indian Key

Early morning leaving Graveyard
Around Middle Cape
Around East Cape (bury that AMA!)
Hiked out around East Cape

We finished early in the morning at 7:08am. Hooray
Sailing in "Cat mode" with Wizard as the fourth (Mike was veery sleepy).

What a ride. More to come, Pics and trip reports galore. Thanks again to everyone who has been following our adventure.

More To Come

Back at NCSU, school is taking up our time but I hope to have some trip reports from the guys, lots of pictures and bunch of VIDEO from the challenge up on here soon so stay tuned. Here is a little teaser pic of the Rise curising at a comfortable 10mph just south of Venice Inlet on Day1 and doing some wave surfing.

Yesterday we moved out of our beloved storage unit and tried to sort through the piles of tools, clamps, and leftover scraps from the build.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Back to School

Saturday afternoon Team RAF loaded the "Rise" and "Fall" on their trailer, packed up and headed back to school at NCSU in Raleigh. Traveling some 850 miles from Key Largo, they arrived safely on campus in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Their challenging classes resume on Monday morning; but not to worry, the talented men of Team RAF have proven that they can accomplish any goal they set for themselves.

Congratulations to Team RAF for tremendous success with impressive style in the 2007 Everglades Challenge!

[This final report provided by DancesWithSandyBottom]

EC'07 Awards

Saturday at noon Team RAF received recognition for completing the EC'07. Chief awarded each man a trophy paddle and a shark-tooth necklace. In addition, the WaterTribe gave the Team a very special "Rookie of the Year Award" signified by a figurine of a newly hatched alligator.

(BrownBeard was not on hand for the awards because he needed to fly black to school early to resume a critical project for one of his architecture classes.)

The EC'07 challengers.
(A few had to leave prior to this group photo.)

[DancesWithSandyBottom reporting]


Friday (Day7): SOS took a ride on the overall winner of the EC'07 --the "Southern Skimmer" which is the first model of the EC-22 designed by Graham Byrnes, owner of B and B Yacht Designs .

Pictured here are Graham Byrnes ("Roo"), Matt Layden ("Wizard"), and Alan Stewart ("SOS") out on Florida Bay. Apparently, all three love designing, building and sailing boats.

This EC-22 was sailed in record time by Graham ("Roo") and Randy ("Tinker") to first place overall and first place in Class4.

[DancesWithSandyBottom reporting]

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Thursday (Day6), Team RAF relaxed at the finish line on a lovely beach which looks out over Florida Bay. Kotzebue and SOS took me (DWSB) out for a ride in a catamaran configuration of the "Fall" and "Rise" boats. Our maximum speed was a hair under 12 knots. Winds were NW at 17-18 knots.

SOS downloaded wonderful photos and movies from his camera. Want to see a few of the photos?

Onboard the "Rise"

Late afternoon view of "Fall" from "Rise".


The "Fall" surfing

Hiking out just a bit ...

The boats resting in Key Largo
in catamaran configuration.

At the finish line (done in 4 days, 0 hours, 7 minutes)

One happy sailor.

[DancesWithSandyBottom reporting]

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Most recent update: Team RAF is in Key Largo! As of 7:07 am today (Wednesday), the team has crossed the finish line healthy and tired. Congratulations Team RAF!

Update: Although Team RAF has not called in since early afternoon of Monday, the WaterTribe EC'07 results page indicates that they reached CP3 (Flamingo) at about 1:30 pm on Tuesday (Day4).

Wednesday (Day5), if still at CP3, Team RAF would be looking into the teeth of a strong Easterly head wind when looking across Florida Bay toward Key Largo and the finish line. Paddling 35 miles into a 15-20 knot Easterly head wind while navigating Twisty Mile would be very hard. Will they wait for the (predicted) NE winds of Thursday to attempt the crossing ? Or, have they already left Flamingo?

Early Wednesday morning I will be flying to Tampa, traveling to Ft. DeSoto, and driving 6 hours to Key Largo. My opportunities for report will be very limited until I arrive in Key Largo Wednesday evening.

Marine Weather Forecast for Florida Bay
as of 10:30 PM Tuesday March 6, 2007
small craft should exercise caution
Tuesday Night
Northeast to east winds 15 to 20 knots...decreasing to near 15 knots.
Bay waters choppy...becoming a moderate chop.
Northeast to east winds near 15 knots...decreasing to 10 to 15 knots.
Bay waters a light to moderate chop.
Wednesday Night through Friday
Mainly northeast winds 10 to 15 knots.
Bay waters a light to moderate chop.
Saturday and Sunday
Mainly northeast winds 10 to 15 knots.
Bay waters a light to moderate chop. Isolated showers.

[DancesWithSandyBottom reporting]

Monday, March 05, 2007


Tuesday (Day4), Team RAF is expected be sailing down the Gulf coastal waters of Everglades National Park.

Cell phone coverage is all but non-existant there; few if any reports are expected until they reach CP3 at Flamingo, FL.

Depending on their route from Shark River to Flamingo (Whitewater Bay or Joe River, -vs- sailing outside around Cape Sable) the winds may hinder their progress to CP3 at Flamingo.

As of Tuesday at 10:30 pm, here are the wind forecasts....

Tuesday 7:00 pm

Wednesday 1:00 am

Wednesday 7:00 am

Wednesday 1:00 pm

Wednesday 7:00 pm

Thursday 1:00 am

Thursday 7:00 am

[DancesWithSandyBottom reporting]


( Be sure to check out the 8 great "Day2 Photos" section below! )

Having camped on Round Key about 7 miles from CP2, Team RAF awoke on Monday (Day3) at 8am to find 50 yards of sand/mud flats between them and the water but the tide rising. And, the sand wasn't too muddy to carry the boats down to the water.

At 9:00 am RedBeard called in to say that as soon as they delt with moving the boats down to the water, they wout be sailing the 4.5 miles over to Indian Key which is the gateway to the canal leading to CP2.

No new were problems reported. Everyone was doing well. Perhaps they got 5 hours of sleep.

They left Round Key at 10:15am and quickly arrived at Indian Key. WaterTribe challengers tend to have no time to stop and smell the roses.

With tides rising in the area, at Indian Key the tidal flow provided a conveyor belt of water toward Everglades City. There the lads arrived at the CP2 lockbox on the island of Chokoloskee at 1:10 pm.

SOS called in from CP2 at 1:14pm. He reported that the AA battery case on one of the VHF radios was trying to grow oxide crystals, coral and barnicles. Apparently all "waterproof" VHF radios will invariably do this if they are not kept in a perfectly closed waterproof drysack or case.

Now the team was faced with either cleaning up the corrosion or shopping for a whole new VHF radio in Everglades City. The team managed to clean off the corrosion and was ready to sail away after listening to a weather update.

Marine Forecast for Coastal Waters from Chokoloskee to Cape Sable
Tonight (Monday)
NorthEast winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet. Bay and inland waters a light chop.
[ditto: same conditions]
Tuesday Night
[ditto: same conditions]
East winds 10 to 15 knots becoming 5 to 10 knots in the afternoon. Seas 2 to 4 feet subsiding to 2 feet or less in the afternoon. Bay and inland waters a light chop.
Wednesday Night
North winds 5 to 10 knots. Seas 2 feet or less. Bay and inland waters a light chop.

Everglades City is a gateway into Everglades National Park and Team RAF has entered the Park. SOS said their plan was to sail an outside route along the Everglade's coast in the Gulf down to CP3 in Flamingo, FL.

Along the way they will come to Shark River. There they may enter travel SE down the middle of Whitewater Bay (a bewildering inland sea 16 miles long by 7 miles wide dotted with mangrove) or enter the Joe River which follows the southern edge of Whitewater Bay. Both routes lead to to the 3-mile long Buttonwood canal which terminates in Flamingo, FL.

As a connection between the Gulf and Whitewater Bay, Shark River has tidal flows that can either propel or repulse a boat entering from the Gulf.

Alternatively, Team RAF may by pass the Shark River, stay in the Gulf and sail around Cape Sable into Florida Bay. At the southern tip of Cape Sable they would have to "turn 90 degrees left" and sail/paddle due East to Flamingo.

Either way, CP3 is about 100 miles from CP2 and that distance will take them at least 17 hours if they average 6 mph. The trip depends heavily on winds and the timing of tidal flows.

Cellphone coverage in the Everglades National Park is all but non-existant. Few if any reports are expected until they reach Flamingo: there is a pay phone there.

(Don't forget to check out the great "Day2 Photos" update below! )

[DancesWithSandyBottom reporting]

Day2 Photos

Wow! Check out these great photos of Team RAF in action taken by KonTiki about 3 miles off shore from Wiggins Pass. Thanks to KonTiki...

Foster Photography, Inc.
754 Park Ave.
Naples, FL. 34110

Umm, hey guys your back hatch is open...

[DancesWithSandyBottom reporting.]

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Team RAF left CP1 Sunday morning sometime after 8:00am refreshed and with all gear functioning properly. The yellow "Rise" and orange "Fall" double outrigger sailing canoes headed south out of Placida Harbor (Gasparilla Sound) to cross the six-mile wide open waters of Charlotte Harbor down to Pine Island Sound.

Winds were favorable, flowing out of the North at 10 knots.

All previous problems had been repaired on the "Fall": leeboard break, boom fork break, footbrace detachment.

Midday: Captain SOS called in at 11:59 am on March 4th to report position ( N26 35.500' W82 11.658' ) well down in Pine Island sound approaching Sanibel Island. He said they were enjoying the sailing with North winds at their backs blowing a brisk 10 knots. They were sailing fast at about 8knots and were taking turns sleeping / piloting.

He reported that another footbrace had detached since they left CP1: one in the front cockpit of "Fall" (that would be BrownBeard's) and that on-the-water temporary repair had been made. "Fall" now being steered from the rear cockpit only (that would be Captain Kotzebue's).

Sundown: Near dusk, Captain SOS called again at 5:25 pm on March 4th. They were 3 nautical miles off shore from Bonita Beach ( N26 20.782' W81 55.047' ) in the Gulf.

During the cellphone call, SOS and Kotzebue relayed information back and forth via their VHF radios during the phone call.

SOS said the winds had swirled lightly earlier near San Carlos Island but the winds were good again now and they were sailing at 6.1 - 6.5 mph (5.3 - 5.6 knots). No (new) problems reported.

The marine forecast for the open Gulf waters: North winds 10-15 knots this evening, tonight and tomorrow with seas staying at 2-3 feet and with bay and inland waters "a light chop".

Team RAF was making a bee line for Big Marco Pass 23.7 nmiles to the SSE with E.T.A. being 9:40 pm.

What they do at Marco Island will depend on the weather and their condition.

At Marco there is the option of entering Big Marco Pass to take an inside route going around the north (mainland) side of Marco Island to get into the Ten Thousand Islands area where CP2 is located.

The other option is to stay in the Gulf and take an outside route around the south side of Marco Island and then turn ESE into the Ten Thousand Islands area.

CP2 on an island called Chokoloskee at Everglades City located 3 miles into the keys that make up the Ten Thousand Islands area.

Night: SOS called in at 10:13 pm on March 4th to report position (N 25° 56.040' W 81° 45.760') and conditions. They were sailing reefed at 6 knots under a clear sky with full moon. The rollercoaster seas had calmed a little bit in the last 10 minutes.

Between 5pm and 10pm a the North wind had shifted and flowing out of the West had kicked up the seas with waves rolling in from the Gulf. Temperatures also dropped. SOS said that the previous 20 minutes had been "eventful" with speeds up to 12.4 knots surfing down gimongous swells and slowing to 4 knots on the uphills. Sounds like a roller coaster. For several hours the winds had been 15 knots with higher gusts. Some breaking waves came over the decks but the cockpits were mostly dry.

And Kotzebue had to change the batteries in his VHF radio during this. Team RAF has been making outstanding use of channel 73 on the VHF radios.

No new problems reported. SOS (in "Rise") and Kotzebue (in "Fall") were doing all the steering with their foot pedals, so their legs are getting tired of that. The footpedals in the front cockpit of "Fall" were not functioning, so if Kotzebue's footpedals fail too the "Fall" would have to resort to some form of emergency rudder control.

They had 9 miles to go to reach the southern tip of the cluster of islands around the city of Marco Island, Floriday. At the tip, or Morgan Point on Cape Romano as it is known, they planned to "turn left" and head SE to make a bee line for Indian Key. Morgan Point to Indian Key is 14 miles.

Their ETA at Indian Key was 2:00 am or a bit later. Long day.

Tide tables showed that high tide at Cape Romano would occur at 1:17 am which is about the time the "Rise" and "Fall" would be sailing through that area. A full moon, cloudless skies, North winds at 10+ knots, and plenty of water beneath the boats --what more could you want! Hang tough little double-outrigger sailing canoes.

Late Night: At 12:48 am on March 5th with very poor cellphone connection. Location was (N 25° 48.901' W 81° 37.837') 10 miles from Indian Key. Their bearing to Indian Key was 94° true --almost due East. At that time, current weather reports ( for Marco Island claimed that the winds were NNW and light at about 6 mph. That might mean that their E.T.A. at Indian Key would be 3am.
Wee Hours: From 12:48 am to 3:00 am, Team RAF sailed/paddled East from near Morgan Point at Cape Romano to Round Key in very light winds. Team RAF reached Round Key at 3:00 am camped. From their position at 12:48 am, Round key was four miles closer than Indian Key. The distance from Round Key to Indian Key is 4.5 miles.

Its Another Day: Team RAF awoke at 8am to find 50 yards of mud flats between them and the water but the tide rising. At 9:00 am they called in to say that as soon as they can deal with this, they will sail to Indian Key and from there to CP2. No new were problems reported. Everyone is doing well. Perhaps they got 5 hours of sleep.

Team RAF

Captain of the orange "Fall"
Chief Navigator

Propulsion Engineer on the orange "Fall"
Chief Science Officer

Propulsion Engineer on the yellow "Rise"
Chief Transportation Officer

Captain of the yellow "Rise"
RAF Team Leader

[DancesWithSandyBottom reporting]