Wednesday, April 11, 2012

UFC 2012 Debrief and Thank you

I would like to extend an huge thanks to many people having found the time to add to the blog post-race.

My Dad for tirelessly (ok maybe tiredly too) continuing to post our stories, updates and pictures to the blog and for coming to get us multiple times while we "vacationed" down in Florida. Though i'm sure sometimes he would have rather left us down there to teach us a lesson.

My Mom for putting the idea out there that we should make a go at the UFC and for following through. Yes I really did the UFC with my Mom, no we didn't get sick of each other, and yes she is very tough as Moms go.

To Graham and Carla Byrnes of B and B yacht Designs who were supportive, generous, instructional and enthusiastic about the Trimaran project from the get go. B and B donated their materials, work space, tools and many hours of boat design "consultation" to get this thing in the water. For those of you who don't know I work "full time" at B and B yacht designs building boats, computer modeling boats and in some cases helping to design aspects of boats. I put "full time" in quotes because in what other job can you take time off to build your own work! Needless to say I think I may have used up my vacation time for the year. But there is that NC race coming up...important advertising opportunity I'd say.

To Mark at Kruger Canoes who lent us his personal Kruger Cruiser without a second thought. A marvel of expedition paddle craft evolution, Mark's Kruger Cruiser Canoe kept us dry and comfortable allowing us to focus on paddling fast and putting river miles in our wake. Without this boat I dare say we would not have made it.

To our fellow or future Watertribers for showing their support throughout our adventure. In some cases from the comfort of their own armchairs and in other cases on the ground in Fl, at the checkpoints and at the finish line. The involvement and interest of fellow tribers is hugely motivating. Thanks also to the UFC competitors who kept us moving and always looking ahead of or behind us. We were honored to race along side of you and hope to see you guys again soon. An individual thanks also to Sharkchow (Warren Richey). Without his daily updates/forecasts on the WT forum we would surely have been as blind mice in a wet maze. We marveled at his often uncanny predictions as to what we were experiencing or were about to experience.

To for their generous contribution to the cause. A demanding waterborne challenge such as the UFC requires durable and high quality gear such as is distributed at High tech (and affordable) sheets lines of blended dyneema and ultra high tensile strength dyneema 12- strand lines really make a boat like this possible. Murrays supplied the lines for all of our rigging, shrouds, forestay, waterstays, mainsheet and control lines.

To Dave Calvert of Calvert Sails for their equally generous contribution to the team and to the boat. Our custom built Mainsail, Jib and Code Zero sails powered us to victory with efficiency and grace. I found Calvert's sails to be on the leading edge of material technology, sail shape and design and I give them high marks for durability and ease of use. We were very pleased with the shape and control-ability of the mainsail, the Jib was powerful and easy to douse and while the conditions of the race didn't lend themselves to very much work with the large Code Zero we did fly it briefly with great results and I look forward to using it in the future. Check out for your next set of sails.

Being back at work and moving to a new apartment, I am quite busy but I will be working hard to complete a write up of our experiences in this years UFC, the design and construction of our Trimaran "Mosquito" and post some of the many pictures and video that we compiled during the race.

St. Mary's river. Mile number who knows. Another tree....sigh 

Thursday, April 05, 2012

All the Way Around

SPOT Track:   1,239 miles
 The trip report would not be complete without this Google Earth image of the SPOT track of Team B&B / Team Kruger.  

The length of the SPOT track was 1,239 miles (or 1,077 nautical miles).   Because the locations in the SPOT track are 10 or 20 minutes apart, the SPOT track does not account for short tacking while sailing and does not account for the meandering twists and turns of the Suwannee and St Marys Rivers.


Sunday, April 01, 2012

Home Again

After landing at the finish line of the UFC at noon on Monday March 26,  Team B&B spent the afternoon trailering the Mosquito and the Kurger Cruiser.  A steak dinner and a good night's sleep followed in St. Petersburg before hitting the road Tuesday for the 12 hour drive back to NC.

So THAT's what the pergola is for !

Welcome to REI

Gear everywhere

Hanging out the...  laundry

Calvert Sails

Ultimate Florida Challenge Finished


To each finisher, Chief awarded 3 sharks teeth, a gator tooth, and a whale-tail carving

Chief, SandyBottom, SOS

SandyBottom, SOS

WhiteCaps, SandyBottom, Chief

A tooth for each stage:  3 shark teeth, one gator tooth for the portage, and a whale-tail

The Mosquito Lands

USS Ft DeSoto, Mosquito: 
Mosquito you are clear to land.  
Call the ball.

Mosquito in sight.
Getting a visual on the landing options.  Ramp or beach?
Fly By
Heading to the beach
Coming in to the sandy beach
Landingat noon on Monday March 26, 2012
Team B&B Finished !

Happy to finish the UFC
SPOT tracking to the Ft DeSoto Boat Ramps

SandyBottom and SOS sailed all night but were happy to finish the Ultimate Florida Challenge.  They were greeted by 8-10 WaterTribe friends who had brought refreshments and congratulations.   Many other WaterTribe friends were far away but still giving them a pat on the back  --in spirit.   KiwiBird posted on the forum "Someone give them a hug from me!"

On the WaterTribe Forum,  SharkChow wrote a summary for Monday afternoon, March 26. 

"Sandy Bottom and SOS arrived at the finish of the 2012 Ultimate Florida Challenge at 12:12 p.m. on Monday. The challenge began on Saturday, March 3 at Fort DeSoto Park near the entrance to Tampa Bay. They circled Florida (1,200 miles) in 23 days, 5 hours, and 12 minutes. (this is not the offiial time, just my estimate.)

They completed their final 120-mile sprint to the finish from Cedar Key in 18 hours and 12 minutes, having left the final checkpoint at 6 p.m. Sunday. Their overnight speed ranged from 13 nts to 5 kts.

Their arrival at the finish is historic for the Watertribe. It marks the first time the rules have allowed a challenger to use two boats to compete in the Florida Challenge. And it marks the first time a two-person team has competed in and completed the Florida Challenge.

Congratulations to Sandy Bottom and SOS, and thank you for providing an outstanding 23-day diversion from day-to-day life for those of us who are shore bound and, even worse, deskbound at work.

This team matched up one of the strongest paddlers in the Watertribe with one of the sharpest sailors in the Watertribe. It is worth mentioning that they spent the first two days of the challenge on the launch beach fixing a leak. It may have been a smart move. By the time they left, they managed to miss part of the extremely difficult conditions that swept many challengers out of the EC and Florida Challenge this year. But they didn't miss the nasty weather altogether. They did what they had to do to keep their boat moving.

Under the new two-boat rule they were allowed to sail a large and fast sail boat from the starting line near the entrance to Tampa Bay to the checkpoints at Key Largo, Sebastian Inlet, and Amelia Island. Then they switched to a two-seat Kruger expedition canoe for the journey up the St. Marys River, across the 40-mile portage, and down the Suwannee to Cedar Key.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this team is something that hasn't been mentioned yet. Sandy Bottom is a 50-something mom from North Carolina and SOS is her 20-something son. This is a mother and son team. To be honest, I don't think of them in those terms. For purposes of this race, I've viewed them in terms of the skills they brought to the task. It is SOS out there with Sandy Bottom -- two experienced members of the Watertribe doing what they do. So it isn't until right now that I have actually had time to reflect on the fact that this is a mother and her son pushing the limits of their strength and endurance, both physical and mental, to achieve something only a few others have achieved. And they made it look easy while doing it.

The other indispensible member of this team is Dances With Sandy Bottom, husband and father, Paul. Thank you, all three, for putting on such a great show.

My only regret is that I couldn't be there at Fort DeSoto to greet them personally, share in the celebration, and, very gingerly, shake their hands."

Sharkchow (a.k.a.Warren Richey) is author of "Without a Paddle", published by St. Martins Press. It is an account of his participation in the first Ultimate Florida Challenge in 2006.

Waiting at the Finish Line

The Mosquito Flies Again

After checking the wind forecasts,  Team B&B Yacht Designs decided it was time to sail away from Cedar Key at about 6:15pm.  That would mean sailing all night to arrive at the finish line the next morning,   but the forecast suggested that there might be little or no wind for the trip if they did otherwise.
The winds were light on the beach, but immediate off the beach the winds were 15-20 kts.   With reefed main and full jib,  the Mosquito quickly reached 13.6 kts on a broad reach or run.  As the sun set, Team B&B dropped the main and sailed quickly downwind with only the jib. 
Sunday March 25

Mosquito ready to sail.  The mainsail is reefed.

Mosquito, palm tree, SOS, SandyBottom, docks and boatramp, palm trees, trailer parked in public lot

Launch at 6:18pm Sunday March 25

According to the SailFlow forecast it was a choice between staying awake all night to sail the 95nm with good wind versus getting a good night sleep in Cedar Key and then having to paddle 95 nm.

Wind "Now"
Wind "Later"
SPOT track from Cedar Key to Ft DeSoto
SPOT track from Cedar Key to Ft DeSoto
SPOT track from Cedar Key to Ft DeSoto


Cedar Key Arrival

Paddling south on the gulf coast from Spanish Bayonet Island,  SandyBottom and SOS arrived at the Cedar Key stagepoint Sunday March 25th, 9:27am.   They were welcomed by DancesWithSandyBottom, SaltyFrog, LilyPad, and two new friends, Dan and Ryan.
SB pressed the OK button on the SPOT on arrival
SaltyFrog, LillyPad, SandyBottom, SOS with the trailered and patiently waiting Mosquito 
Ryan, Dan, SaltyFrog, Lilypad
The official landing site is a beach of sand and shells covered by oysters on the west side of Cedar Key.  From there, SB and SOS prefered to continue around the waterfront to the east side which has a nice sandy beach fronting the public park.  Plus, a boat ramp and public boat trailer parking flanked the public park.
Beach near "Faraway Inn" was the official stage point
Rounding the boat ramp on the way to the public beach/park.
Cedar Key landing !
LilyPad, SandyBottom, SOS, SaltyFrog
Parking to the left, our room at "Park Place" (hotel/condos),  picnic area and beach
We were lucky to find accomodations at "Park Place" which provided a very affordable suite with great features, waterfront view, handy parking in back, and location, location, location.  "Park Place" was LilyPad's discovery.  Thanks LilyPad!   Such a nice place to rest, but SB and SOS took a look at the wind forecast and decided they could not stay overnight.  Their visit to Cedar Key lasted less than nine hours:  hot showeres, clean clothes, two meals, a 15 minute nap, rigging and loading the Mosquito,  and putting on drysuits for the wet ride south.    

The public beach/park and swimming area

Cedar Key:  official stage point on the left,  nice public beach on the right,  marina at center

Sunday morning Sharkchow wrote:   "Sandy Bottom and SOS made their triumphant arrival at the Cedar Key checkpoint this morning at about 9:30 a.m. after spending six hours on a beach on a deserted island a few miles north of Cedar Key to wait out some pretty nasty wind and rain. They are now preparing to switch back to their sailboat and out of the two-seat Kruger they took across Florida during the river portion of the challenge.  Their next leg is a 120-mile "sprint" to the finish. If the weather holds, they should have favorable winds that will push them back to Fort DeSoto and a happy end to their ordeal. I suspect they aren't celebrating just yet. It will be interesting to watch how soon they leave Cedar Key. With Dances With Sandy Bottom there (and all those restaurant choices) it might be tough to get away quickly."