Sebastian Here We Come !!!

Due to the fact that we had put in such a long day we decided to set the alarm for an hour later than normal. Ohhhh man that extra hour of sleep was so nice. Kind of amazing how a simple thing such as an extra hour of sleep had become so special and valued. I was pretty excited about the upcoming day because we were only about 35 miles  from Sebastian Inlet which was check point 2 of the UFC. I kept thinking about what would be waiting for us at this check point. Fresh food, a shower with hot water, a good 8 hours of sleep, and seeing my wife. I think this was the first time that I had my boat packed first and was waiting on Rod.

For the most part the paddle up to Sebastian was pretty non eventful. The wind was blowing pretty good but it was blowing from the east. Since we were in the intracoastal waterway we were pretty protected. That was until the last four miles where we entered a large open bay that was very shallow and exposed us to the wind. It is a little un-nerving when you can see the bottom so close and the more you paddle the shallower it gets. You start to worry about running aground within sight of your final destination. One of those “so close yet so far ” events. The charts said we should have more than enough depth to get to the Sebastian Inlet boat ramp so we just kept pressing on. Thankfully the charts were right and we had good water depth all the way to the boat ramp and the checkpoint for Sebastian Inlet. We arrived at the checkpoint around 5:30 in the evening which should have meant lots of time to eat, get resupplied, and get some needed sleep. Chief was there along with Mosquito Magnet (another UFC participate), Ed a friend of Rod’s, and more importantly Lisa. It was good to see her and did she had a bounty of food for us. Sandwiches, grapes, bananas, cold watermelon ( my favorite), fruit cups, apples, oranges, and oh chocolate covered Edmonds donuts.( another favorite). It all tasted so good and it seemed like I could not get enough of it. I just didn’t want to stop eating. Unfortunately there was still some work to do. I needed to repair my rudder and pack enough supplies to get to the next checkpoint at Ft Clinch. I had bent my rudder when we were leaving our camp site just before Biscayne Bay. Rod and I had bent it back but it still had a 20 degrees bend in it. We were both worried that the method we were using to bend the rudder could break it. Now I was pondering how I was going to bend it further without breaking it. Then an idea came to mind. Why not run over the rudder with the truck Lisa had driven over? This would be like a press and would have a much lower chance of breaking the rudder. So off to the boat I went to remove the rudder. As I was walking down to the boat I was thinking this should not be a big deal. Get it done, jump on the repacking of supplies, grab a shower and hit the sack. Rod being Mr. Efficient was already snoring away. As I was removing the rudder bolt I saw it. Something very unpleasant and something that was going to change my plans for the night. My port rudder cable had several broken strands of wire. I was lucky it hadn’t completely broken. As much as I kept saying this can’t be happening those broken strands stayed broken. I had inspected my rudder cables every night, had shot silicone lubricant on them at each checkpoint, and they were in great condition. Great !!!!! My nice leisurely schedule for the night just went down the tubes. So off came the rudder and after a couple of times of being run over it was straight as new.  I had a couple of spare rudder cables but had never changed one before. I won’t go into all the details of what was required to replace this one cable. What I will say is that it was a two person job, aluminum and stainless steel like each other so much that they grew together making disassembly a bear, and disassembly of the internal rudder peddle assemble was required. All that on top of the fact that it was dark and the mosquitoes and flying teeth ( No-See-Ums) were out in force making this task very unpleasant. Lesson Learned – Always carry spare rudder cables, give rudder cables the best maintenance you can, and modify your equipment to be able to change it out as easily as possible. For sure modify it so that it can be done as a one person job.

After several hours my boat was ready for the next day’s trip and now it was time to start repacking. As I explained in my previous post about checkpoint one ( Key Largo)  I had all my supplies organized into bins and marked so that Lisa knew which ones to bring. These bins were marked by stages/checkpoints versus what supplies were in them. Big mistake !  The errors in usage rates of the supplies from CP1 were now compounded here at CP2. I had throughly organized my supplies, with great thought on efficiency, into a mild level of disorganization and inefficiency. I was able to find stuff but it wasn’t easy. Thankfully we had a covered pavilion with lights and several picnic tables. I was able to spread stuff out and ultimately get some level of organization. When things get disorganized I don’t like it. I start to get anxious and grumpy. Maybe it was my time at a service academy, my time in the military, or the fact that being organized gives me the freeing I am in control. Whatever it is I don’t like disorganization. By the time all the repairs were done, all the repacking was done, and I had taken a shower it was close to 11:30 PM. My desire for a good long night of sleep was now a figment of my imagination. I really needed to try to get some sleep. The alarm at 4:30 AM wasn’t that many hours away and Rod would be fresh since he had been sleeping since 7:30. I hated to say good-bye to Lisa but there were no hotels close by and why sleep in the truck or on the ground with me if she didn’t have to. So we said our good-byes and I found a piece of ground to crash on. Thankfully the mosquitos and flying teeth had found some other place to be.

I had mentioned in my earlier post the importance of having a good support system to be able to do this event. This checkpoint is an example of how blessed I am to have the person that I do for my wife and the type of support she provided me. The food and supplies she brought to Rod and I were wonderful but she did so much more. She was the one helping me fix my rudder and replacing my rudder cable. Among the many things that I love about my wife is that she is very comfortable with tools, knows which tool is which, and knows how to use them. Oh and don’t forget that she was dealing with the un-pleasantries of doing something in the dark with biting bugs. She didn’t complain once about the bugs even though I knew they were biting her just as much as me. The bug spray wasn’t working. This is from a women who was a model and a ball room dance instructor before she was a mom and wife. If I stopped there I think you would have to agree that the support she was providing me was over the top. What I didn’t know at the time and I found out later was that instead of stopping at a hotel that night she drove all the way back to our home on the west coast of Florida. My wife is the primary care giver for her grandparents and they were having some medical problems at the time. At their age any medical problem is a serious one. So on the day my wife came over to Sebastian her day started out with the normal things associated with running a house with two teenage boys, doctoring a sick 90 lb labrador retriever that had eaten something and was trying to get rid of it out of both ends, ensuring that her two grandparents would be ok until she got back, driving 3 hours to meet me, packing all my resupply bins, stopping along the way to buy food, helping me fix my boat with biting bugs,  all the while smiling, telling me she was proud of me, that I was going to finish this thing and then driving 3 hours back home in the early morning hours. She needed to be back to deal with all the issues at home and ensure her grandparent’s condition had not gotten worse. If I knew half of what she was dealing with I would have found another way to get my stuff. She was dealing with way more than one person should have to. Really blessed to have her as my wife and she played an important part in my ability to complete the UFC.