I debated with myself about doing an article this year about the Everglades Challenge. I’ve done them for nine or ten years straight and I was busy with the last bathroom remodel and routing cat5e cable for today’s FIOS install. I pretty much decided to forgo the article until I saw this morning’s comment from Rob Waddell. He’s doing it, by God! The least I could do is publish an article in support of our adventurous fellow correspondent.
So, for the ninth year or so, I invite the SST Committee of Correspondence to follow this year's running of the Everglades Challenge and, especially, follow Rob Waddell’s bold adventure. Let’s cheer him on.
I discovered this event more than a decade ago. It remains on my bucket list, along with building the boat. The event is organized by a colorful group of adventurers who call themselves the Water Tribe. The Everglades Challenge is an unsupported, expedition style adventure race for kayaks, canoes, and small sailboats. It starts at Fort DeSoto in Saint Petersburg, Florida and ends at Key Largo. The distance is roughly 300 nautical miles depending on one's course selection. There is a time limit of eight days. Updates on the progress and tribulations of the participants will be posted on the Water Tribe forums. The boats are tracked by SPOT satellite. Their progress can be seen on this tracking map. Rob’s WaterTribe name is SouthernCross
Here’s Rob’s comment posted this morning:
In years past about this time TTG posts about the Everglades Challenge, an adventure race from Tampa to Key Largo for all types of small vessels. TTG's enthusiasm for this marine adventure has led this kiwi old salt to sunny St. Peterburg where the 21' Dovekie dory, Southern Cross, has been fitted out to undertake this (now confirmed by fellow competitors) perilous voyage to Key Largo. It's not a one leg trip; three shore based checkpoints along the way require navigational and sailing skill, physical strength and lots of luck with wind and tide We are starting the Everglades Challenge 2020 adventure race this Saturday at 0730 Mullet Cove Pinellas Park St Petersburg FL. One more day sailing practice on our Dovkie 21 then we are off! Winds are 16 to 18 kn from the NE which means a fast but hairy ride. More reports may follow if we survive. RobW from Southern Cross This link will take you a tracking viewer.
Here’s Rob’s entry in the WaterTribe roster, “SouthernCross (aka Robert Waddell and SouthernCrossJohnnyMac (aka John MacDonald).” The description of the boat, “21 Dovekie 21 ft semi decked dory with single mainsail and jib 3x previous EC challenges completed with previous owner.” And their parting comment, “Heading north from the land of the Southern Cross 2020. All the way.. well behaved… Just in case it slips away. Rob W & Johnny Mac.”
The Southern Cross on Fort DeSoto Beach awaiting launch
Heading into Chokoloskee with one reef
The winds are forecast to be generally from the northeast and brisk. That’s good for the Southern Cross. Of course, strong east winds means Florida Bay may be mostly mud. If that’s the case, I hope Rob takes the Southern Cross the long way around the bay to enjoy broad reaches in deeper water. To see Rob and Johnny Mac off, I offer these words of wisdom from Lyle Lovett along with an illustration from John MacGregor's "A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe on rivers and Lakes of Europe."
My younger son and I were in line for ZZQ barbecue a few weeks ago when this tune was playing. I couldn’t help but sing along and imagine I was ghosting along in my sailing kayak. Come to think of it, the Southern Cross is large enough for Rob and Johnny Mac to bring a pony with them. Fair winds and following seas, my friend.
Never had an interest in boats, but I read Joshua Slocum’s “Sailing Alone Around The World” a couple months ago and the topic has fascinated me since. I only found out about the manner in which Mr. Slocum exited this world after finishing the book, it profoundly touched me. Never payed attention to this challenge in previous years but I will do so this time around.
Good luck to Rob and his tribe. Thanks for the post. I read MacGregor’s book after your recommendation. It’s an enjoyable and interesting read.
A great song about the Southern Cross:
Recommend a book I recently came across: “Pacific Sail” by Roger Morris. Roger outlines the early explorations of the Pacific and attempts to re-construct the vessels they used. A difficult undertaking on all sides. Roger has been man, mate, and master of the HMS Bounty replica and is a pretty fair sketch artist. More than the ships is the outline of the story of those expeditions. An awesome bit of history, neglected because it’s painful to even think about.
SOUTHERN CROSS UPDATE
Rob Waddell and the Southern Cross reached check point 1 at Cape Haze Marina about 2130 hrs tonight. They appear to be heading south right now. This mornings launch from Fort DeSoto Beach was delayed several hours due to a small craft advisory for Tampa Bay. I added a photo of the Souther Cross on the beach to the mani article.
SOUTHERN CROSS UPDATE
The Southern Cross sailed into checkpoint 2 at Chokoloskee today shortly before 1400 hrs. They seem to be doing very well. The WaterTribe Facebook page noted a good number of DNFs due to weather decisions by the skippers and equipment failures. The winds seem to be honking and generally from the east. The Florida Bay will be blown dry so just getting into checkpoint 3 at Flamingo will be tougher than usual. Getting from there to the finish will be nigh impossible without heading south to catch the deeper water of the ICW. Good luck to Rob and Johnny Mac.
I’ve added a photo of the Southern Cross heading into Chokoloskee.
SOUTHERN CROSS UPDATE
SPOT satellite tracking data showed the Southern Cross just outside checkpoint 2 at Flamingo at 0520 hrs on 11 March. The next update was tonight at 2204 hrs just south of the finish line at Key Largo. He’s probably on the beach by now, or snoozing in that “luxurious” boat of his in preparation for a grand morning arrival. I hope Rob gives us an account of his voyage once he’s back home.