Race Day 14 and 15

No wind, fighting the tides, and HOT!  That pretty much sums up the last couple of days.  Trying some different things to try to help with fueling issues and waiting to see if it helps.  HUGE shout out to  Steve Born @ Hammer Nutrition who was so gracious with his time and knowledge with suggestions for Bill.  Great company, great product, great people.

Bill and Rod are expected to arrive at Ft. Clinch some time Monday.  Another racer, Pelican, will be pulling out upon arrival at Sebastian Inlet bringing the total number of participants down to 4.  Quite a year.

To give a visual…

Some people have inquired as to what Bill is doing this challenge in.  This is a picture from the start of EC2011, but nothing has changed.  He also has what I believe to be a pacific action(?) sail he uses.  Wish I could be more help but when I talk to Bill about his sails, I refer to them as “the big one and the little one.”  Am I doing my man proud or what?!?!? 🙂

Race Day 13

Not great sleep at Sebastian.  Just laid his sleeping mat on the grass and tried to get a few hours.  Bill has said the last couple of days that his fueling system is failing him.  There are times early in the day that he can’t keep his eyes open.  He and Rod (Riverslayer) have made the decision a couple of times to just stop, get out, and go to a restaurant along the water to get a good hot (fresh?) meal and that has helped somewhat.  Trying to put in at least 40 miles a day and hopes to be at Ft. Clinch this Sunday.  Bill and Rod referred to themselves as the tortoise team — slow and steady.  Whatever gets the job done and gets them to the finish line.

Just a little fun…

Imagine if you will….  It’s late at night, you are on a tiny little spoil island, thinking it is just you having a good time with a couple of friends around a campfire.  You have had a few adult beverages and relaxed a little with some “medicinal cigarettes.”  And then, from out of the mangroves, emerges THIS….



Race Day 12

The guys made it to Sebastian Inlet around 5:20pm.  I did as was told and brought the truck and lots of food — especially the grapes.  As the food was being unloaded, I pulled the grapes out of the bag and expected to be attacked.  Instead, Bill replied, “oooh grapes, good idea sweety, thanks!”   [Insert slap to the forehead.]  However, when I pulled the box of chocolate donuts out of the bag, I feared for my safety.

Then it was back to work.  The bent rudder.  When Bill was removing the rudder he noticed his steering cable was busted.  He let out a deep sigh then said, “Well, that would explain a lot.”  Took the rudder to the parking lot and, as much I hate to admit it, I found a little bit of joy in running that thing over several times to straighten it.  Success.  Then it was time to resupply.  I took a picture of the all the tables where Bill had his stuff spread out.  It never ceases to amaze me how much that Kruger can hold and still stay afloat.  I left a little after midnight for the drive home as Bill was deciding whether to pitch his tent or just sleep on his mat.

Race Day 10 and 11

Guess I am behind once again!!  Bill had another great visit along the shore and I can’t begin to tell you how much that means to him.  The current made it too difficult to make his way to the seawall so he wanted those people to know that he knew you were there and wished he could have stopped.  Talked to him last night around 1:00am and they were just stopping.  I could tell it had been a long day and sleep deprivation was at its best.  Completing a full sentence was difficult for him.  He was getting very frustrated trying to remember something he wanted to tell me to bring.  I was trying to help by mentioning different items I thought he might want when he finally blurted out, “grapes!!”  Then he felt it necessary to remind me to make sure I “brought the truck.”  Sure, hon, I will bring the truck (I literally have no other option).  He then explained he needed the truck to drive over his rudder.   He had my attention after that one.  I can only assume somehow his rudder has gotten bent and he needs to straighten it.  Bet you can’t wait for the next update!!

He was planning on leaving around 6:30am and should arrive at the checkpoint around 4:30pm.  Going to resupply, download new data on the GPS, then get back in the boat and find a place to camp.  That’s the plan anyway so I will let you know what really happens when I return. 🙂

AWESOME Surprise!!!

Some of the folks Bill works with at People’s Gas were able to catch up with him this morning in Ft. Lauderdale.  He was with RiverSlayer and they took a few minutes to stop and talk.  Bill was very pleased with the improved weather conditions they were having today.  Of course, being his typical self, he just HAD to ask the guys for an update as to how everything was going at work.  Now, had he not asked about work, I would be extremely concerned and be questioning whether or not he was mentally fit to complete this race.   After that the subject quickly changed to food and Bill saying he would really like a hot breakfast with some pancakes.  Hmmm, dehydrated pancakes — I’m on it!!

Race Day 9

Miserable.  That pretty much sums up Bill’s take on the day.  Going through Miami was terrible.  Boat traffic was crazy and full of extremely rude boaters who apparently have no respect for kayakers.  Even though the winds were starting to settle down, Bill said they were still dealing with 30mph gusts and at times, felt like they were being pushed backwards.  Hoping to get some sleep and head out early with better conditions tomorrow.

As for the race as a whole, 11 people entered to do the Ultimate Florida Challenge and, as of tonight, there are 6.  Bill looks to be in 3rd/4th place (he is still paddling with Riverslayer).  There are different classes of racers depending on the type of boat they are doing the race in.  Bill is in class 3.  I am always trying to think of something positive and uplifting to say to him at the end of our conversations, and I was almost at a loss last night until I blurted out, “Just keep doing what you are doing because you ARE making progress and I don’t mean to pressure you but you are FIRST place in your class baby!!”   Of course he is the ONLY racer in his class and even though he didn’t catch it then, I can only hope a couple of hours later it made him smile.  🙂

Race Day 8

Last year when Bill finished the Everglades Challenge, I was forced out of a deep sleep by Bill’s elbow smacking me across my head.  I realized he was “sleep paddling.”  Serious muscle memory?  Post-traumatic stress?  Whatever the case, I was prepared this time.  No flailing arms but I got kicked a few times.  (I believe he was still working the rudder pedals – LOL.)  After 3 hours of “sleep,” we were back at the beach.  I took a picture of Bill with SOME of the bags and gear that he puts in his kayak.  This pile represents probably half of what gets loaded into the kayak and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of room he has in that thing.

All week we have been wanting winds from the North and only got them one day.  Now, here we are, the day Bill is turning North, and what do we get?  Winds from the North.  No sailing today.  A quick hug, we prayed, and into the boat he went.  I took a picture of him as he left for this newest adventure.

I received a text from Bill last night and he stated he had stopped a little early to camp.  Said he had to paddle again all day so I’m sure he was pretty wiped out.  His plans were to leave around 6:00 to cross Biscayne Bay.  Tracking the last couple of days with the SPOT has been frustrating to say the least.    Damn solar flares.

Race Day 7

Ok, I think I left off with Bill reaching Checkpoint 3 in Flamingo on Thursday night.  He was so tired at Flamingo that he didn’t even pitch his tent.  He put his tarp down on the ground next to his boat and slept right there.  He left Flamingo for Key Largo at 6:30am Friday morning.  It looks so easy on the map, just a mere couple of “inches” east and he’s in Key Largo, right?  Paddling into an east wind made for a long day on little sleep but a mere 12 hours later he pulled into Key Largo, the finish line for the Everglades Challenge and now Checkpoint 1 for him.  This was the first time I have been able to be there when Bill arrives at a Checkpoint or finishes a race so I was ecstatic to have made it there in time to see it.  The picture I will post is Bill right after he got out of the kayak.  (It takes him in a minute, or two, or three, to get his “land legs,” so that’s why he is standing like that.)   I stood back and watched as his brethren of Watertribers swooped in and took care of him.  Helping him walk, taking his boat and anchoring it, handing him a beer, etc.  When he finally made it to me I was on a roller coaster ride of emotions… I was so happy to see him, but I didn’t want to touch him and was wishing I was downwind from him.  So maybe it is  not such a bad thing to not get there when he arrives but maybe after he gets a shower?  I got a big kiss and wished I had had some tequila and lime to go with all the salt!!  🙂 After arriving at the hotel, I was getting a good idea of how he was doing both mentally and physically.  Mentally he was great.  Physically, I would have liked to have seen less damage.  Mostly his hands are really blistered and one nail got smashed.  He does wear gloves but he thinks the day he had to hold the sail rigging did a lot of the damage.  Our daughter, Caitlin, is an Athletic Trainer, and did that degree ever pay off.  She had trained both of us on how to treat his hands should this happen and we were grateful.  Other than his hands, a boat wake pushed his kayak into him while he was beaching and it knocked him onto a rock giving him a bad cut/scrape on his knee.

He began the process of unpacking and repacking gear bags.  (I personally would have made laundry the number one priority.  Not enough Tide in the in the world to get some of that stink out.)  Then it was off to the store to restock.  How’s this for a grocery list?  King size PayDay candy bars x10, orange juice, Coke, beef jerky, and Cheeze-Its.  Is this a race or is he moving in to a college dorm?  Wasn’t sure what he was going to want for dinner.  In the past he would be having his celebratory steak dinner. I asked if there was something specific he wanted for dinner and I pretty much got that “deer-in-the-head-lights” look so I made an executive decision of bringing back pizza and salad.  You would have thought I brought him the immunity idol from Survivor.  It’s the little things.  🙂