Chuck's EC Blog click here to read or make an observation about this  article
By Chuck Leinweber - somewhere between Tampa and Key Largo, Florida - as told to Sandra Leinweber

I will attempt to call Sandra each day and she will post my comments (more or less) here. The latest post will be at the top of the page.
(No, she did not follow directions--latest post at the bottom!)

Thursday, March 1

March came in like a lion here in Texas, and now the weather is heading for Florida. Hopefully, they won't get the violent stuff that is heading across Georgia tonight. Chuck is camped on the beach at Fort DeSoto--he met Skip there this afternoon and they took the proa out for further manuevers--ironing out problems, seeing how things worked. He mentioned a couple of concerns, but they were going to work on those. One thing was a problem with sailing downwind--let's hope that one is solved, or it will be a slow run south. One thing I know about Chuck is that if there is nothing to figure out, nothing to fix, he will get bored fast.

Tomorrow is check in day, and if there is time, they will get a little more sailing practice in. I am guessing that right now, they are sitting in camp, maybe with a fire, drinking a little vino, toasting the future and telling tall tales about the past.

Friday, March 2

Thunderstorms heading for Tampa this morning. Hard to tell from the weather map if they will hit or not, but Chuck reports the weather is iffy, and the Gulf looks treacherous. Last night he heard stories about 15 foot waves. Yikes!

They are waiting for Chief to show up and begin the check in process this morning. Last night uneventful except for the raccoons. One was so friendly it tried to climb into Matt Layden's lap, and another opened Chuck's ice chest and was making off with his granola. Chuck, who was already all comfy inside the tent and his sleeping bag, said he had to tackle the raccoon as it tried to make its getaway with the cereal.

FYI, he said Matt's new boat is an 8' pram, multi-chined w/leeboard, oars instead of a yuloh and a standing lug sail.

Wind is expected to shift to the north overnight and hopefully the thunderstorms will evaporate by tomorrow. Stay tuned. I forgot to ask about the bikini babes, but he would have probably fuzzed over that part.

Friday afternoon, March 2

Chuck's handle for the watertribe reports is razorback--actually, that is Skip's handle, but will serve for both. I will be posting their position when they give it to me. If he gets a chance to post any pictures, they will be on the Flickr site where he has been posting the P-52--look just above the comment section for P-52 photo album. He may not get a chance until Key Largo, and then only if he can get to a connection. They are supposed to have a good one there at the public library.

Latest report is windy windy windy--15 to 20, with 30 mph gusts. They are planning to stay inside when they take off in the morning. Last thing I heard was they were going to eat a real meal. Check-in complete and boat is in position at the high water mark.

Friday evening, March 2

Last thing I heard was Chuck eyeing the rainfly on the tent and thinking about making a downwind sail with it. He was going to sleep on the idea and get up at 5am and meet Skip down on the beach. They had a bit more gear to pack in. Wind was still out of the south, but considerably slowed. He said he would call after they got underway and tell me about the start.

Saturday, March 3

FINALLY heard from the guys. Was beginning to worry a bit, but they are doing fine. Next to the last to leave the beach, they rigged a downwind sail out of a tarp, and it is working well--they are almost to Sarasota (N27, 21.655 LAT and W34, 34.814 LON)

I can picture them now, lounging in the cockpit, watching the sail, watching the water,--they are using just the downwind sail--had the mainsail up earlier, reefed down, but said the downwind sail moves them just as fast. making 7 mph at times. On the EC website, I have read about at least one dismasting and one boat on shoals already. Tampa Bay is described as like a commercial washing machine and Sarasota Bay like a home washing machine (agitating). Wind is out of the north and about 10mph. They are staying on the inside for now--said they would call this evening with another report. Must be chilly, Chuck said he had his fleece jacket and pants on.

Note to Capt Ron: Ceremony photographed by Bill Paxton, and he is going to send photo link later tonight--I will post the particulars. Also photos of other racers and their boats.

Saturday, March 3

Oops. Looks like I was supposed to post new reports at the top of the page. Oh well, I am not going to move it all now. Never did take direction well, why start now?

Guys just called. They are in the Venice area, taking their time, did not think they would reach CP1 until tomorrow, what is the big rush anyway? Had to cut the call short to deal with a bridge, but Chuck said he would call back later.

Saturday, March 3, 8:30 florida time

Guys are in Lemon Bay--say they will sail for another couple of hours, and then call it a night. They plan to reach Placida (checkpoint 1) sometime tomorrow morning. Sound tired but happy.

Sunday, March 4, 9:30 Florida time

Chuck just called in. They had a good rest and are now sailing south towards CP1. He reported a pair of bald eagles sitting on a sandbar watching them go by. Said the wind is sporadic--they have the big sail up, and it is fine unless the wind picks up--does not work too well when the wind is over 10 mph. They hope to reach Placida by noon, and after check in will immediately head back out for Pine Island Sound and hope the wind is not too strong out there as it is more exposed.

Bill Paxton (bless you, Bill!) has uploaded photos to this site for all to see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/watertribe (did not do this right--not sure how to make the link active--please copy and paste)

More when they reach the first checkpoint.

Sunday, noon

Check Point 1 has been touched by Razorback and Chuck the Duck. They are the last Class 4 boat to arrive, but still going--some racers have dropped out. At least one fellow had to be rescued by the Coast Guard when his boat came apart. They tell me they were slowed somewhat by 4 or 5 drawbridges and 2 swing bridges encountered since the start of the race--have learned you must call the bridge by its proper name when you call to ask them to open it or they will just ignore you. And even then you may wait 30 minutes for it to open. No more bridges for awhile!

Wind is still out of the north, but speed is variable--their plan is to proceed down Pine Island Sound, and when they get to the end see what the wind is doing. If it is mild, may continue on thru the night, if not, will stop and wait until morning.

Sunday evening, almost 7, Florida time

After a "boisterous" day in Pine Island Sound, the guys have stopped for the night in a bunch of mangroves. Chuck said he had a headache all day, and finally realized it was caffeine withdrawal and drank a coke and then felt better. They are still about 50 miles north of Checkpoint 2, but determined to press on in the morning. Winds forecast for 10-15-20 tomorrow, so will see what it looks like when they get to the end of Sanibel Island and then decide what to do. They said it took them a long time to get out of the first check point as the wind was right on their nose. Stay tuned, more tomorrow morning.

Monday, March 5

The adventure continues. Chuck reports that the wind blew cats and dogs all night, and is still blowing this morning. They are pretty much stuck where they are--pinned by wind and waves into a nice little cove on (they think) North Captiva Island (fitting name) in Pine Island Sound, about 10-11 miles north of the Sanibel Bridge. There are shoals in the direction the wind will push them if they try to sail out.

The sun is out at least, and they are hiking around and finding sand dollars, and waiting for the wind to settle a bit. The forecast is for it to stay much the same, I fear, but you never know--weather can change pretty quickly on the coast. I am just glad they are safe and warm and have plenty of food and water. Chuck said they slept well. Now they just have to be patient. If you are reading the blog on Watertribe, it sounds like everyone is being beat up by the wind and waves. Even Chief said to tell the racers to remember they could declare a weather hold if they felt it was necessary.

Thanks to all the comments and those following the blog.

Monday afternoon, March 5

Alas, still in the same spot, wind howling. They are hoping the wind will calm down and let them continue down Pine Island Sound. Very frustrating, but they are being sensible, thank goodness. Will call later tonight to let me know if they did any sailing south.

Monday night--underway again!

The guys are underway! The wind has calmed for now, and they have a full moon, and they are sailing under the bridge at Sanibel, and if the waves are not too crazy, they are going to sail all night and head for CP2. They are well rested, well fed, and feeling their oats. They will call in the morning to report

Tuesday, March 6

They sailed all night and called this morning to say they were about to turn in towards Chokoloskee. The next call had them in trouble, with a damaged outrigger and asking me to call for help. I finally got the rangers at the ranger station to go and look for them--this was after another call that sounded a bit frantic, saying they were (I think--it was breaking up) in the water. The ranger found them, and they left the boat where it was--the ranger is taking them into the station where they will try to find someone to go back out and help them tow the boat in. They have officially left the race. Both are fine, and now it is a matter of recovering the boat and gear.

Later Tuesday

Boat has been recovered. Boys are disappointed, but safe and sound; they are spending the night in Everglades City and eating out tonight. Thanks to all who followed the race and wished them well! I am sure Chuck will have a tale to tell when he gets home. That will be a few days yet. Signing off for now.

Related links:

SAILS

EPOXY

GEAR
swiss wind meters

 

 

 

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