Special thanks to Bob for the 2001 Report!
The Misspelled Tour
9 - 15 June 2001
* The following bullet points are entries in my journal from this year's trip.
9 June 2001 - Day One - Castaways Againts Cancer Push Off
- Againts? Patrick noticed it last night. Our "against" is misspelled on the front of the shirts! So, who's the English teacher? And, who's responsible for the shirts?
- 4 am, I'm up and ready.
- "It's a chunker." Patrick's early chocolate shot-gun. We've had a great morning. We're lunching on Soldier Key - 11 ˝ miles out. Turkey Point is a distant mirage. The Elliott Key chain is already in sight. We're eight - nine miles from camp. We've seen dolphins, nurse sharks, rays and tarpon. More life already then all of last year's trip. Chad rows well and is infinitely enthusiastic. The water has been lovely flat. Soldier Key is a bird and turtle nesting site, so we are sitting on large drift wood in the water off the island.
- 6:15 pm. We've already set camp. We paddled exactly 20 nautical miles. OB and Patrick had a ray leap right at them, full wing span, open mouth, all of it. Chad and I missed it, but we heard the splash. Elliott Key has fresh water showers and drinking water!
- OB, Patrick and I just watched a gorgeous sunset as dolphins rolled by. Stellar. Chad's been asleep for an hour. Patrick and OB just laid down. The sky is a mix of oranges and purples… so I'm told. Whatever. Nothing like a sunset to prove that God exists.
- (After reading in the tent) Nice lightning storm tonight… but gooks in the wire.
10 June 2001 - Day Two
- The Curse of Jones Lagoon takes us to Rock Lobster
- 6 am... Wind has shifted a bit. Looks like it's out of the west instead of from due south. Due south could be bad.
- (In shaky, scraggled handwriting) 8:20 pm. The wind was out of the south. We spent twelve hours in the boat. Camping on a spit of high ground on the ocean side of Key Largo, three miles short of target. It's rocky. Lots of lobsters out of reach in the water. We're running low on water. In Jones Lagoon, I got us lost trying to find an inlet that is on the map but not on the planet. Had to backtrack nearly three miles. Typical day two. I'm exhausted.
In case you were curious...
- Saw a lot of sharks today.
11 June 2001 - Day Three
- Munching at the Whale Harbor
- 6 am - I hear wind. We've got 23 miles to go today.
- 8:45 pm - We did 25 miles. As we came in towards Holiday Isle we hit low tide, and we had to make a square around the channel markers to get in.
- Again we saw good numbers of sharks. Chad and I followed a nurse shark for 100 yards or so. We had a solid day. The conversation and laughter has been great; it makes the time go easier. Chad's parents met us here and bought us an all-you-can-eat seafood dinner. Way cool. The wind was still against us but not as fierce.
12 June 2001 - Day Four
- Bad Advertising for Honda
- Today will be our shortest day. About 13 miles. We will lunch at the Hungry Tarpon. The hotel stay is nice, but the next three nights are back in the tent.
- A heady morning. We're at Hungry Tarpon and have just ordered a championship breakfast.
- Before we started today, 69 miles had been paddled. What the map measurements say in the morning are always different than the reality. I had an egg and sausage sandwich on sourdough with bacon and hash browns lathered in ketchup. I'm ready for a nap but it's almost time to re-take the saddle. "Amy", the waitress, took our picture and got into one. The sun shines a brilliant reflection - God's great mirror.
- We're at Fiesta Key - white-trash haven... fat chicks, pink sunburns, Southern accents, but good music.
- Today will be our longest rest. Tomorrow will be our longest row. We've got a 3 am wake-up.
- We saw a spotted ray - three feet wide. Very nice. I always seem to miss the rays - I've never seen one that big.
- 13 ˝ miles today. 82 ˝ so far.
- "Sounds like a Honda using bad gasoline." OB on Patrick's snoring.
- Patrick was interviewing me when we heard a skid and thumping crash. We jogged out of the campsite to US1 and a little white pick-up truck was accordioned against a telephone pole. Five different agencies showed up in decent time. The driver, well-bloodied, was removed through his rear window on an orange hard plastic board. I hope the man is well.
- Patrick just called in his stories for tomorrow. He interviewed me about being the navigator. He is very professional - it's pretty cool to listen to him call in his stories.
- We could hear the car wreck on his tape - a faint dull clicking thump - like hearing the opening of a soda can from a distance.
13 June 2001 - Day Five
- Shark Infested Water? But They Live There!
- 3:30 am. Jeez, it's early.
- 5:10 pm. We're at Sunshine Key Resort in a nice trailer (unlike last year) having covered 27 miles. So, that's 109 ˝ nautical miles. Actually after a re-measure, it's 110 nautical miles. That's about 126 ˝ miles.
- We conquered the Long Key Viaduct before dawn. We took a break on conch Key and watched the sun rising through clouds - no one living or dead could have painted that picture.
- Chad and I saw four sharks today, probably lemon or bull sharks. We got real close to a 10 footer while OB yelled, "You guys are crazy!" Beautiful. Why do people always say, "Shark infested"? That gives an evil connotation to these evil creatures.
- The weather has been good all week - hot, but mostly calm.
- At 7:15 pm, I'm extremely tired.
14 June 2001 - Day Six
- Aren't All Turtles Green?
- 6 am. Had a great sleep - best of the trip so far. OB went to bed at seven-ish and just woke up. Chad is taking Advil to decrease the swelling in his hands.
- Lunching at Loggerhead key - we've made 14 miles in 4 ˝ hours.
- We went to Big Coppitt and not Sugarloaf. We added nine miles thus to our day and did 27 miles. We didn't lift the kayaks over the highway this year - we did the extra two miles around Shark Key. So, we only have 12 miles to do tomorrow. So far 137 miles.
- Dinner at Babalu's.
- Catch Phrases of the Trip:
- "A deer being shot in the eye with an arrow by OB." (Chad's dream.)
- "Two miles!"
- "Welcome to the Jungle" - Chad joins the Pineapple Coast Club.
- "Thanks Frank." Sand on Rattlesnake Key?
- "Gooks in the wire."
- WGAY Radio.
- "Was the turtle green?"
- "Holy----, that's a shark!"
15 June 2001 - Day Seven
- Visions and Signs
- Last day of the row!
- 3:45 pm. We're in Key West and OB just farted on me. We came in at 1:15pm. The Wyndam gave us two six-packs - they're gone. The party will begin.
- Visions and signs. I had each this trip. I see occasional popping flash-bulb light flashes out of my peripheral vision and upon looking... there's nothing.
- The morning of Long Key I saw a dragon fish diving. A dragon fish is a fictional creature that has a small body and a head like a Chinese dragon, you know, like you see at Mardi Gras. Anyway, the dragon fish looked at me as it was suspended in air inches above the water; it smiled and plooped back into the gray water. It was a sly smile, not facetious, a smirk really.
- Weather starting rolling in across our bow. Looked bad. We were clucking across the four mile stretch between Little Palm and Loggerhead - no landfall available in 30 minutes in any direction. Not a religious person, I do pray, a personal relationship with God, anyway. I was saying an "Our Father" asking that we'd be all right and not in danger of the weather. Half way through the prayer and thought a spectacular dolphin crested not 50 yards right in front of us. It rolled by, cresting three times. We never had any problem with the weather. The storm dissipated. Later, as we took a break on the Pineapple Coast, a powerful little electric storm cracked near us - we hustled into our cockpits and paddled away. Not five minutes later, the storm had evaporated... poof... gone. Our sacred dolphin watched out for us.
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