Where the Everglades were wild and remote, the section of the intercostal that we were heading into was very populated and built up. In the Everglades it was hard to find a place to stop due to the lack of solid ground. Now it was hard to find a place to stop because the sides were solid sea walls and private property. We were entering what Watertribers call the “Concrete Canyon.” Having now paddled this section of the course I do understand why they call it that. There was one positive to it and that was there are a lot of speed zones. Those boat captains who seemed to be either ignorant or indifferent to their wakes, now had to slow down. In fact, we found ourselves leap-frogging these boats. They would pass us and then have to wait for a bridge opening. We would pass them and then when the bridge opened the whole process would start over again. Wonder how it feels to be on a $2 million speed boat and have two small canoes pass you multiple times. That was our revenge. Especially when the bikinis on the deck point out to the captain that we were passing them again. Ahhh, the simple victories of life.
The other positive to this section of the water was that I didn’t have to use my skirt and I could open up my cockpit to the sun and fresh open air. This is what I needed to heal the wound I had been trying to manage since the first day of the UFC. Since Key Largo I had been following a protocol of applying neosporin and changing the bandage frequently. It seemed to stop the progress of the infection, but it wasn’t healing completely. Bottom line, it wasn’t getting enough time to dry out. The four to five hours at night wasn’t enough for nature to put its protective band-aid on it — you know — a scab. With my amas out I could pretty much put my leg wherever I wanted.
As we were approaching a bridge, I heard and saw two male figures standing on the west bank of the intercostal. They were pointing and waving at us. Hey!!! It was two folks I work with who work locally. It was so great to see them and was such a moral boost. This is a picture they took. Notice the smile? We didn’t stay long at that bridge, but the few minutes talking to them was priceless. Thanks guys!
Now I think it was at this stage of the race that I started to understand just how serious Rod was about stopping at restaurants to eat. Rod’s interchange with my fellow co-workers was something like, “Hey guys. How are you doing? We are doing Great. Hey, where is the closest restaurant that is on the water and serves breakfast?” Rod was on a mission and it was a tactic that got more and more interesting the longer we had gone without a bath. My co-workers didn’t know of one but it wasn’t long after we passed under the bridge that Rod found a place. The funny part is that when we got into the place, they couldn’t serve us because the county was doing some kind of inspection. Glad the inspector didn’t see us. Don’t know which would have been worse, the kitchen or us. I am sure (at least I hoped so) we were dirtier and stunk more. We did buy a bunch of pastries and juices. I needed to keep taking in as much high fat foods as I could. I was still losing weight at an alarming rate.
The rest of the day was spent paddling through one concrete canyon after another, house after house. And I mean huge, big houses. Where does all the money come from? It was pretty boring paddling, but it was progress. It was starting to get close to dinner time when Rod started to get the urge again. I could tell when he started to move from one side of the channel to the other. The restaurant blood hound was on the hunt. Hey, we have stopped once already today. I know that it wasn’t a great meal stop, and it was early, but right now it was suppertime and Rod wanted a meal. Oh, by the way, we were in one of the more expensive and exclusive parts of the east coast. These people are rich and up-scale folks. Now Rod was an aide to US Senator in a previous life, and had some time in politics, so he doesn’t meet a stranger. I, on the other hand, am a lot more reserved and until I get to known you, I am perfectly ok with staying strangers.
I couldn’t believe it. Rod has identified this restaurant that had a sign on the dock telling people if you needed docking assistance to call them. Oh gee, I bet they have guys in white shorts, shirts, and deck shoes to run out and help tie you up. Oh, and look at all the open air booths with folks sitting and drinking their martinis and fancy drinks with those little umbrellas. Really?! We are going to stop here? Oh yeah! We will dock our mega boats and really impress them by docking without calling for help. The real trick is not the docking, but not falling in the water getting out. Well I couldn’t believe it but Rod walked right up and asked for a table like he owned the place. Now get this, they not only seat us, but they seat us right next to this well-dressed couple celebrating her birthday. I was way out of my comfort zone, but the thought of a cold Coke and fresh food overcame my desire to talk Rod in to a take out order. I am not sure they do that sort of thing at this restaurant but I figured they might have made an exception to get us to leave. Well, by the time I got back from the bathroom — you know, the whole Mr. Clean thing — Rod has made friends with the couple. The woman is taking pictures of us and is showing us pictures of her dogs on her cell phone. She has actually pulled her chair up to our table and the guy she is with is asking all sorts of questions. Unbelievable, but as I found out during the race, this is not unusual with Rod. He makes friends easily. I must admit that Rod’s tactic of stopping and getting some fresh food was a good one. I felt so recharged after those stops and I think they really helped in slowing down my weight loss.
Other than the start of the day, it really wasn’t a bad one. We had reached our mileage target and then some, had pretty much avoided the wind, and had a good meal in us. Now if we could find a good camp site. We were in luck in that we were able to locate a spoil island called Fisherman Island in the West Palm Beach/Lake Worth area. So we were paddling in high-end areas, and we might have been eating in high-end places, but for sure we were not sleeping in any high-end hotel. Really couldn’t complain though. The winds had picked up quite bit which made pitching the tent a challenge but it sure kept the bugs off. The folks in this area either didn’t seem to trash their island or they had someone come out and clean the trash off of it. Either way, it was clean. Luckily it was an island not close to shore and that meant no worries of anyone hassling us. It is always interesting to me how easy it is to locate something on the map, how close everything appears on the map, and how clear it looks on google earth versus how things and distances appear at night in real life. Nothing is as close as it appears on the map and nothing is as clear-cut as on the map. I guess that is the reason why so many people get lost even with a map. Well, another day had come and gone and we were making progress. Wonder what tomorrow will bring?……….
I just want to let you know how much I’m enjoying your stories of your UFC journey. Learning of your newest story is not like the arrival of Christmas morning, which is anticipated and longingly awaited for by so many. Rather it’s like a charming and delightful surprise gift by a very thoughtful friend.
We’ve never met in person. I only know what I know of you and the other Watertribers who faced the challenges of the EC and UFC from my diligent research of all that I could find during the UFC. During the challenge, I became intensely intrigued by the challenge and mesmerized by the planning, commitment, persistent effort and resourcefulness of Watertribers and their followers. I frequently wondered what you were facing, how you were coping, how you were juggling what must be done immediately, with what must be done soon, with what might be done, given the right opportunity.
I thankfully accepted what I could learn from the SPOT trackings and blog postings, but I constantly felt a longing desire for more information from you and the other Watertribers on the challenges you faced, the things you learned, the preplanning and preparation efforts that were critical or highly beneficial to your success. what worked well for you, what you think might work better if you attempted to do this again, what drove you to accept this challenge and what drove you to complete this challenge. Your stories are satisfying my thirst, but not quenching it. The more I learn the more I dream and wonder.
Thanks again for taking the time to reflect on your ordeal and share your memories via your posts. I wish more of the Watertribers would share their stories of their EC or UFC experiences.