Everglades Challenge 2024

It’s that time of year when I invite the Turcopolier Committee of Correspondence to check out this year’s running of the Everglades Challenge. I discovered this event well over a decade ago. I still have dreams of participating in this challenge or the similar Blackbeard Challenge in North Carolina. 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. The tracker at RaceOwl has proven to be a bit less quirky than the Water Tribe map. There’s also a Facebook group. It’s a private group requiring a sign up, but it pretty easy unless you’re a bot or a complete jerk.

In 2020 Rob Waddell, his equally salty compatriot and their spouses made their way from New Zealand to Florida, bought and fitted out a boat and successfully completed the challenge. He said my annual reports on the Challenge inspired him to give it a go. So, even if I never make it to Florida, I take solace in knowing that in some meager way, I’ve contributed to the Water Tribe ethic. Rob has given me some very practical advice and guidance since then which focused my dreams. I still hope to enter the event one of these years and will probably do so with my younger son in a pair of sailing kayaks or something along those lines. Two separate boats, but we will sail as one. It’s what I know and what SWMBO may allow. She will never allow this now old man to do this on his own. She’s had enough of my reckless, lone wolf shit. Plus, I am aware of my own mortality and limitations.

Speaking of mortality and limitations, I noticed two Water Tribers mention such thoughts in their roster comments.  First, there’s Sponge Bob sailing a “SOS designed TI crushing trimaran” (whatever that means):

If Angry Beaver is back with a new boat how can I not test him. Now if I can only stay awake long enough! This Challenge gets harder after your 75 birthday. Going for another record run!

Another old timer, Jarhead, made a similar comment:

Possibly my last EC. Weather permitting, I intend to enjoy it. No Plan B. 21”cat ketch with black hull and red trim.

Years ago I noted that Jarhead was over 70. Both he and Sponge Bob have years on me so I can’t use that as an excuse. These two, and probably others, are some tough sons of bitches with magnificent attitudes. And I call them that with great admiration and respect. They remind me of my late father. He was planting flowers and looking forward to the coming fishing season less than a week before he passed at 92. He kicked Death in the balls several times and when he finally came for my father, I’m sure he came whimpering and with great trepidation. That’s the way to live and die.

I see Crazy Russian is back with his self-designed shunting proa. I followed him closely last year because of my interest in shunting proas. Another interesting entry this year is AquaSquatch in a modified Hobie Oasis Tandem. The modification, which puts him in class 6, is solar propulsion. He’s using a 400W @ 24V solar PVA. Looking forward to seeing that set up. He sounds like another crazy SOB.

Tell a backwater Alabama shipyard worker/kayak fisherman that substantially solar powered craft have no feasible place in the expeditionary personal watercraft craft world… challenge accepted… and the hybrid Frankenyak 1 has been shocked to life to attempt to harness the various forces of nature.

I implore everyone to take a little time this week to follow this. It will be good for your sanity and soul. And it’s a far better use of the internet and social media than wading in the river of sewage that often passes for news and commentary. God, I long for the days of FidoNet and BBSs.


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11 Responses to Everglades Challenge 2024

  1. Peter Hug says:

    It would be fun to try that once – now you have me thinking about possible boats and crew.

  2. Fred says:

    The weather projections are better than the last couple years.

  3. Lars says:

    I have been following the Tribe for a few years, mainly on Facebook. I used to live in Lee County, FL and I am familiar with the area’s waterways. What they are doing is remarkable and fun to watch.

  4. jim.. says:

    TTG…..It brings back good Memorys every year…Way Back..To Even The Good
    Colonel Lang..writing about his Drives to Boat Shops and Interest in ..to Quote a
    Nice ..Mole Goal….”Messing About In Boats”,,,Indeed…Worthwhile..For a Smile.

    Mr. G…..You Find Ways To Keep Balance..And Set Sails..on Good Winds..
    Be Well…Sailor.. Cheers..and Beers..

  5. MJ says:

    A passage of spring / Of brave men in water craft / Glory to the sea

  6. TTG says:


    The first day is coming to an end and conditions have been… leisurely. Winds are light and on the nose. The seas look tame. Not what the speed freaks want, but it looks delightful to me. There are some good photos and videos on the FaceBook page. I saw the electric trimaran of AquaSquatch on the start beach. That solar panel is one big SOB extending from ama to ama horizontally across the bow. As long as conditions are as mild as they are today, it should work fine. I’d hate to have waves break over that huge expanse of solar cells or have a gust catch it just right. We’ll see how it goes.

    I saw CrazyRussian’s shunting proa, Drama Queen, launch smoothly from the beach and sail off. There’s a short video of him and another long-asses trimaran pacing each other. The trimaran looked like it has strong Hawaiian sailing canoe roots. The good thing about these multihulls is that they can carry a lot of canvas (or dacron) compared to their wetted surface. I don’t know how close they can sail to the wind, but they should do okay tacking into light winds.

    SpongeBob and Jarhead are doing just fine. They are keeping up with the pack. They definitely support the notion that age is nothing but a notion. Debilitating disease or severe injury is another story, but age… nothing but a notion.

    • Peter Hug says:

      I just realized that a friend of a friend of mine is sailing this. He’s Russian and has a proa, and posted a few videos on FB of him and a trimaran, so he may be your CrazyRussian.

      I guess the world is sometimes a bit smaller than we tend to think.

      • TTG says:

        Peter Hug,

        That is probably him. There aren’t any other Russians sailing proas in this race. His real name is Vladimir Eremeev. From some articles around last year’s EC, I gather he lives somewhere on the waters of the upper Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

        BTW, CrazyRussian made it to Cape Haze, the first checkpoint.

  7. Lars says:

    I, for one, am pleased with the current weather, coming after the coldest, wettest and windiest winter I have experienced during 57 years in Florida. But every year brings different challenges to this group and it is amazing how well they adapt.

  8. TTG says:


    We have winners. The overall winner is a monohull sailboat built for the EC. Spawn was built for sailing speed, but some of that sailing efficiency was sacrificed so that it would also perform well under oar power. That came in handy this year. They rowed across Florida Bay. Several multihulls and a kayak have also made their way into Key Largo. I thought there would be more pure paddlers in the early winners. Those multihulls did some damned fine sailing given the unfavorable wind conditions.

    Crazy Russian has left the Chokoloskee checkpoint enroute to Flamingo. He endured a squall on the way to Chokoloskee with 40 knot winds and a heavy chop. Another sailor was dismasted in the same squall. Big switch from the mostly mirror like seas of the last few days.

    That Hawaiian sailing canoe that Crazy Russian was pacing is also going strong. It is a Holopuni canoe made in Hanalei, Kaua’i. A magnificent craft in my opinion.


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