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My Watertribe Ultra Marathon

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A 62 mile sea race in Florida from Fort Desoto to Cape Haze marina What is the Watertribe Ultra Marathon? Well it is the ‘short’ 62 nautical mile race from Tampa Bay to Stump Pass at Cape Haze Marina in Sea Kayaks, Canoes and Small Boats. It is part of the Everglades challenge and that is a whole different story.

What is the Watertribe Ultra Marathon? Well it is the ‘short’ 62 nautical mile race from Tampa Bay to Stump Pass at Cape Haze Marina in Sea Kayaks, Canoes and Small Boats. It is part of the Everglades challenge and that is a whole different story. I am sorry for the lack of photos but I left my camera back on the beach and was focused on a bit more than the lovely scenery. See the link at the bottom for my course and go visit if you fancy.

As a bit of a sea kayaking and ultra-running athlete from Ireland it seemed like the perfect mix of paddling and endurance to me. To be fair I had previously raced the Devizes to Westminster nonstop in a two man racing kayak (K2) and numerous other endurance challenges but racing down the gulf coast of Florida in a plastic rental kayak I picked up the day before raised a whole new set of logistical issues. Starting with the paddling gear to transport across the Atlantic, and the fact I had never paddled either on that latitude or ocean created a headache. For example the sun goes down very quickly and dusk is extremely brief. As a paddler in Ireland you get a lot of notice before the sun turns the lights out and you are catapulted in to the pitch black of a bouncy sea.

Never the less, I better get on with the story. About two months before heading to Florida to help out a friend who organises a double Iron distance triathlon my wife informed me about a little paddling race called the Watertribe. After a lot of procrastination I entered and started assembling the required kit, boat and emergency equipment. Never having raced in the Watertribe or knowing anyone who had, my major fear was navigation on the seas in the dark especially where some of the navigation aids are the ‘wrong’ way around.

The Ultra Marathon is an unsupported, expedition style adventure race for kayaks. The distance is roughly 62 miles depending on your course selection which the weather and your ability, has a huge role to play in route selection. This means you arrive at the start line with multiple plans and a somewhat fluid strategy for your race. There is a time limit of 29 hours to make it to the finish line, midday on the Sunday (next day). Your safety and well-being are completely up to you as it is an unsupported expedition race; this means that there are no safety boats or support crews to help you during the race. You are not allowed to have a support crew meet you during the race either. This is another reason for the exhaustive equipment list that mirrors an equipment list for a major kayaking trip of more than a week. Camping equipment, food, water, safety, communication, etc. is required. My personal emergency bale out equipment attached to my personal floatation device (PFD) included a VHF radio, strobe, Emergency locator beacon, knife, GPS tracker, whistle, light and a mobile phone amongst other things.

So now that we have established that I flew trans-Atlantic with everything including the kitchen sink, I woke on the Friday before the race with the car pre packed and headed off to Sweetwater kayaks in St Petersburg near Tampa to pick up my boat. Whatever kayak or bath tub that it might have been. When I arrived at Sweetwater both Russell and Steve sorted me out with a lovely plastic Nordkaap. My own personal sea kayak for touring is a Cape Horn Nordkaap built in the 1970’s and the newer models of the Nordkaap have gone back to the classic design used for the original Cape Horn and Nordkapp expeditions. Its length is 18’ (548cm), width: 21″ (53cm) and depth: 14” (36cm), making its weight: 56lbs (25.5kg). This meant the boat would handle similar to my own despite being slightly heavier. The lads also sorted me out with a pair of back up paddles and PFD with lots of pockets to carry all my emergency gear. Steve even loaned me roof rack pads. I also landed at the pre-race inspection in Fort Desoto’s east beach with a list of paddlers to look up in case I felt lonely.

So back on the road and off to the pack to figure out my packing and pre-race inspection with a quick stop to pick up the race nutrition along the way. In case you’re interested my race was fuelled by peanut butter M&M’s, Gatorade and Cliff bars, when in Rome…

I landed in Fort Desoto Park with hours to spare for both pre-race check in, scrutineering and the race briefing. So I parked up on the East beach and unloaded the kayak. I had forgotten how heavy plastic boats are. With the kayak on the grass it was time to pack it for the race. I had a large box full of every possible piece of kit I could possible need and a clutch of dry bags and Ziploc bags in which to place it all. It took me a few hours to decide what to take and how to pack it in my kayak. I might have been distracted by meeting other paddlers and their lovely kayaks, ever so slightly. Thanks to my fellow watertriber’s for all the local knowledge and advice you shared and Mr D, for use of your wheels.

So finally I made it to the beach and the pre-race inspection. So I pulled out most of the gear again and repacked the kayak for the third time in a completely different configuration. Thanks to the locals for warning about the raccoons which never dawned on me, so I unpacked the food and water and took it with me for the night. Sorry to the pesky raccoons who wanted to raid my kayak, I needed all my supplies for the race. After the race briefing in which the chief spoke at length about Jedi mind tricks and floating in the dark we headed away for the evening. Numb with the knowledge that only 40% finish the race. In my case I headed to the crab shack for a pre-race meal at the bar of some lovely sea food. Not quite carbo loading but great mahi mahi fish while watching the sunset.

The next morning I hadn’t slept a wink so I was one of the first at the park entrance and unloaded my food and water, I packed my boat for the fourth time and drove back to the boat ramp to park my jeep. Again the kindness of fellow paddlers ensured I didn’t have to walk the two miles back the road in the dark. I had changed at this stage into my thermals and was wearing my windproof layer as the sun wasn’t up yet. I stood on the beach watching the sun come up and illuminate the Skyway bridge, which was stunning. The sun shone and while I was day dreaming the Chief yelled go, go, go! So we slid down to the water and headed off across Tampa bay. The crossing is just short of 7 nautical miles (nm) and about ten or fifteen minutes in the rain followed the dark clouds and I went from sun glasses to hoping my cap would keep the rain out of my eyes. The gallant few headed for the gulf but my target was the Intra-coastal waterway (ICW). The ICW runs south from Tampa and I was informed that it is usually very busy over the weekend, with lots pleasure boats of all sizes in the narrow channels creating lots of wake but there was a Small Craft Advisory or Small Craft Warning to us Irish, in effect. This meant that I had a very clear run down the 60 mile (100km) ICW all the way to Cape Haze Marina.

I aimed at Anna Maria island from the parks east beach and drove straight across the bay to the entrance to the ICW and while I was hoping some other paddlers would do the same, I encountered very few people to chat to till I made it to the ICW. The US army had a huge vessel doing a 360 at the entrance to the ICW which gave me pause as to my route choice but I simply cut the corner on their outside and headed for my next GPS point, the bridge at Manatee Avenue. At this point I should mention that I had both charts and a GPS but as the GPS was borrowed I wasn’t quite sure of how to use it. By hitting the buttons anything could happen, and it did. I reverted to my tried and tested method of mashing buttons till what I wanted, or something useful came up on the little screen. I had plotted a route as straight as I could but I discovered by the time I made it to Longboat key that the water just outside of the ICW was extremely shallow. For my non paddling friends, shallow water slows down the kayak making it hard work. I also scraped my paddle once or twice off the sea bed which should give you a concept of how shallow it got. At this point I resolved to stay close or on top of the ICW and add the bit extra distance in exchange for the extra speed. This was made difficult by the ‘sister keys’ but it kept me focused on the job at hand.

The sun had come out again and dried up our spirits and I found myself traveling with the ‘cats’. Thanks for your cheer and conversation it made the journey through Sarasota bay so much shorter. Sarasota bay was interesting. After passing white key, the winds had picked up to about 25 knots and the swell had risen to a few feet all this along with the rain made it feel like a summers day at home here in Ireland. I know my poor Florida friends probably froze but it was perfect conditions for me. I saw that I had what seemed like 2 miles left and right to the sides of the bay and the bridge was dead ahead and it was another few miles away but with the waves and the wind behind me I started to surf my way there. I am aiming for the Ringling causeway and curving my way towards it when I realise that while this modern version of my Nordkaap handles similar it had one or two more features. For example this forgetful paddler discovered the skeg. Don’t laugh but I made this discovery half way to the bridge so I drop the skeg and instead of curving in an ‘S’ shape, I shot straight for the bridge and hammered it at speed, running from one wave into the next. I sped straight through the bridge and the wind and waves carried me on, at speed, to the next bridge as Siesta drive.

At this point I had hit Roberts bay and calmer waters. Even the sun started to beat down and brighten up my day, so I heaved too on a mangrove across from Siesta key for a spot of "lunch". Lunch consisted of a leg stretch and bailing out the kayak of the excess water I had taken in along the way and restocking my on deck food and water supplies. I like to keep my food close to hand. I started back on the water and at this point the strange surroundings seem to bring something new at each bend. I have to say I started to lose a bit of focus and my memories seem to have merged a bit and gotten a bit fuzzy.

About two pm or there close to it, while I was paddling away, humming some tune or other and watching the coast drift past, I notice a coast guard C-130 pass overhead. With the amount of Air stations locally I thought nothing of it till he passed twice more and a helicopter rushed passed. This was followed by the Sarasota sheriff and police boats along with the coast guard and fish and wildlife boats. I later discovered another competitor sunk and had to be rescued. All safe and sound I was thankful for the comfort of all the safety gear attached to me. On such a long trip, sometimes you can psych yourself out with trivial matters because your brain is bored.

I passed the Casey key swing bridge and once again spotted some fisherman chilling in the sun. I continued passed Dona bay into Roberts bay (another one, checked the chart twice) while admiring some of the lovely houses on the waterfront. For my Irish readers, think of the sun shining and warm water at the foot of your garden with your own dock. The perfect spot for a paddler to live in my opinion. I had entered the part of the intra-coastal waterway as it curved around Venice airport and it resembled a large canal. Unfortunately for my sailing friends it had a high bank and absolutely no wind at the time I passed through it. At this point I was heading for Lemon bay and had more or less switched off and was paddling on autopilot. I had a tentative plan to start looking for another spot to land approaching 6pm and set myself and the boat up for night time paddling as I expected the sun to go down quickly around 6:45pm. I entered Lemon bay after 5pm and as I passed the bridge at Manasota beach road and the lovely get out point just at its base, I realised that I had no hope of making it to the other side of Lemon bay before nightfall and not only that but the bay being wide and the ICW going down the middle meant that getting out would not be an option. I could have rigged most of the boat and night time gear while floating but it would take even more time and I had promised myself a leg stretch as a reward. So a short distance into the bay and with no visible landing point I turned right and headed for some mangroves. After wedging the boat into the mangrove I stepped out into waist deep water and started to crack night sticks and dig out my night time paddling gear and extra lights. Due to tiredness I made some errors and drop gear into the water which had to be recovered and cost myself time. As I watched out into the bay sails fluttered passed and this increased my anxiety to get moving. So I hoped back into my now bailed out kayak and took off across the bay.

The beach road bridge just never seemed to come any closer as I paddled and messed with my gear, still tugging it into comfortable positions and I started to see the dusk set in. I furiously studied the charts on my deck so that I would have much of the final bit of the route fresh in my mind for when it turned dark. It is also good practice to know if you have to bail out of your kayak in the dark, which way is shore and safety. Not that it was my plan to ditch and lose someone else’s kayak but being prepared for every scenario makes me feel at ease. I had my landmarks and transits sorted for when darkness hit me and I powered on into the night. I know from other challenges that I subconsciously slowdown in the dark so as the night grew blacker I tried to up my tempo to compensate for my subjective feeling of slowness.

I cruised past the bridge and I knew I didn’t have too far to go but for some reason my GPS had added four miles to my next leg on the screen. At this point my tiredness made thinking very hard so I fell back on my charts and started doing the math really slowly. This had the added benefit of keeping me entertained as the kayak floated onwards towards Cape haze and the finish line. When in doubt always return to the chart and work it out, as I discovered the error and probably due to my copious button pushing managed to add to GPS legs together. At this point I was hearing a faint noise and had disregarded it as sounds in the night can travel until a sail boat beside me switch on his lights and shocked me a bit. I had missed his running lights and he had heard splashing of my paddles and decided to investigate. I remembered from my charts and revision in Lemon bay that the turn into Cap haze had to be made correctly or I would end up on a mud bank and this I did. I floated to the dock and belly flopped on to it with relief. I could see the lovely inviting campfire calling but I needed to get myself and my kayak up and clear of the dock for the next boat coming in.

Needless to say I made it and made it in 12 hours and 34 minutes. The route I took and speeds are on Garmin connect for the nerds to view.
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/281093474

The 62 nautical miles were covered a lot faster than I had expected considering the plastic boat and the distance but the conditions were excellent and suited me perfectly. If the usual Florida heat had materialised, it would be safe to say, I would have melted. Instead I won the racing kayaks Ultra marathon and received the coolest prize of a mini wooden paddle which my son Darragh (a toddler) proceeded to beat me and anyone else in range with.

My thanks must go out to all the race organisers and volunteers. You give up your time and efforts to ensure we survive and have fun. Also to the lads from Sweetwater Kayaks in St. Petersburg who sorted me with gear and advice. My wife, without whom, I wouldn’t have entered and if I had, it would have been a long walk home.
 

What is the Watertribe Ultra Marathon? Well it is the ‘short’ 62 nautical mile race from Tampa Bay to Stump Pass at Cape Haze Marina in Sea Kayaks, Canoes and Small Boats. It is part of the Everglades challenge and that is a whole different story. I am sorry for the lack of photos but I left my camera back on the beach and was focused on a bit more than the lovely scenery. See the link at the bottom for my course and go visit if you fancy.

As a bit of a sea kayaking and ultra-running athlete from Ireland it seemed like the perfect mix of paddling and endurance to me. To be fair I had previously raced the Devizes to Westminster nonstop in a two man racing kayak (K2) and numerous other endurance challenges but racing down the gulf coast of Florida in a plastic rental kayak I picked up the day before raised a whole new set of logistical issues. Starting with the paddling gear to transport across the Atlantic, and the fact I had never paddled either on that latitude or ocean created a headache. For example the sun goes down very quickly and dusk is extremely brief. As a paddler in Ireland you get a lot of notice before the sun turns the lights out and you are catapulted in to the pitch black of a bouncy sea.

Never the less, I better get on with the story. About two months before heading to Florida to help out a friend who organises a double Iron distance triathlon my wife informed me about a little paddling race called the Watertribe. After a lot of procrastination I entered and started assembling the required kit, boat and emergency equipment. Never having raced in the Watertribe or knowing anyone who had, my major fear was navigation on the seas in the dark especially where some of the navigation aids are the ‘wrong’ way around.

The Ultra Marathon is an unsupported, expedition style adventure race for kayaks. The distance is roughly 62 miles depending on your course selection which the weather and your ability, has a huge role to play in route selection. This means you arrive at the start line with multiple plans and a somewhat fluid strategy for your race. There is a time limit of 29 hours to make it to the finish line, midday on the Sunday (next day). Your safety and well-being are completely up to you as it is an unsupported expedition race; this means that there are no safety boats or support crews to help you during the race. You are not allowed to have a support crew meet you during the race either. This is another reason for the exhaustive equipment list that mirrors an equipment list for a major kayaking trip of more than a week. Camping equipment, food, water, safety, communication, etc. is required. My personal emergency bale out equipment attached to my personal floatation device (PFD) included a VHF radio, strobe, Emergency locator beacon, knife, GPS tracker, whistle, light and a mobile phone amongst other things.

So now that we have established that I flew trans-Atlantic with everything including the kitchen sink, I woke on the Friday before the race with the car pre packed and headed off to Sweetwater kayaks in St Petersburg near Tampa to pick up my boat. Whatever kayak or bath tub that it might have been. When I arrived at Sweetwater both Russell and Steve sorted me out with a lovely plastic Nordkaap. My own personal sea kayak for touring is a Cape Horn Nordkaap built in the 1970’s and the newer models of the Nordkaap have gone back to the classic design used for the original Cape Horn and Nordkapp expeditions. Its length is 18’ (548cm), width: 21″ (53cm) and depth: 14” (36cm), making its weight: 56lbs (25.5kg). This meant the boat would handle similar to my own despite being slightly heavier. The lads also sorted me out with a pair of back up paddles and PFD with lots of pockets to carry all my emergency gear. Steve even loaned me roof rack pads. I also landed at the pre-race inspection in Fort Desoto’s east beach with a list of paddlers to look up in case I felt lonely.

So back on the road and off to the pack to figure out my packing and pre-race inspection with a quick stop to pick up the race nutrition along the way. In case you’re interested my race was fuelled by peanut butter M&M’s, Gatorade and Cliff bars, when in Rome…

I landed in Fort Desoto Park with hours to spare for both pre-race check in, scrutineering and the race briefing. So I parked up on the East beach and unloaded the kayak. I had forgotten how heavy plastic boats are. With the kayak on the grass it was time to pack it for the race. I had a large box full of every possible piece of kit I could possible need and a clutch of dry bags and Ziploc bags in which to place it all. It took me a few hours to decide what to take and how to pack it in my kayak. I might have been distracted by meeting other paddlers and their lovely kayaks, ever so slightly. Thanks to my fellow watertriber’s for all the local knowledge and advice you shared and Mr D, for use of your wheels.

So finally I made it to the beach and the pre-race inspection. So I pulled out most of the gear again and repacked the kayak for the third time in a completely different configuration. Thanks to the locals for warning about the raccoons which never dawned on me, so I unpacked the food and water and took it with me for the night. Sorry to the pesky raccoons who wanted to raid my kayak, I needed all my supplies for the race. After the race briefing in which the chief spoke at length about Jedi mind tricks and floating in the dark we headed away for the evening. Numb with the knowledge that only 40% finish the race. In my case I headed to the crab shack for a pre-race meal at the bar of some lovely sea food. Not quite carbo loading but great mahi mahi fish while watching the sunset.

The next morning I hadn’t slept a wink so I was one of the first at the park entrance and unloaded my food and water, I packed my boat for the fourth time and drove back to the boat ramp to park my jeep. Again the kindness of fellow paddlers ensured I didn’t have to walk the two miles back the road in the dark. I had changed at this stage into my thermals and was wearing my windproof layer as the sun wasn’t up yet. I stood on the beach watching the sun come up and illuminate the Skyway bridge, which was stunning. The sun shone and while I was day dreaming the Chief yelled go, go, go! So we slid down to the water and headed off across Tampa bay. The crossing is just short of 7 nautical miles (nm) and about ten or fifteen minutes in the rain followed the dark clouds and I went from sun glasses to hoping my cap would keep the rain out of my eyes. The gallant few headed for the gulf but my target was the Intra-coastal waterway (ICW). The ICW runs south from Tampa and I was informed that it is usually very busy over the weekend, with lots pleasure boats of all sizes in the narrow channels creating lots of wake but there was a Small Craft Advisory or Small Craft Warning to us Irish, in effect. This meant that I had a very clear run down the 60 mile (100km) ICW all the way to Cape Haze Marina.

I aimed at Anna Maria island from the parks east beach and drove straight across the bay to the entrance to the ICW and while I was hoping some other paddlers would do the same, I encountered very few people to chat to till I made it to the ICW. The US army had a huge vessel doing a 360 at the entrance to the ICW which gave me pause as to my route choice but I simply cut the corner on their outside and headed for my next GPS point, the bridge at Manatee Avenue. At this point I should mention that I had both charts and a GPS but as the GPS was borrowed I wasn’t quite sure of how to use it. By hitting the buttons anything could happen, and it did. I reverted to my tried and tested method of mashing buttons till what I wanted, or something useful came up on the little screen. I had plotted a route as straight as I could but I discovered by the time I made it to Longboat key that the water just outside of the ICW was extremely shallow. For my non paddling friends, shallow water slows down the kayak making it hard work. I also scraped my paddle once or twice off the sea bed which should give you a concept of how shallow it got. At this point I resolved to stay close or on top of the ICW and add the bit extra distance in exchange for the extra speed. This was made difficult by the ‘sister keys’ but it kept me focused on the job at hand.

The sun had come out again and dried up our spirits and I found myself traveling with the ‘cats’. Thanks for your cheer and conversation it made the journey through Sarasota bay so much shorter. Sarasota bay was interesting. After passing white key, the winds had picked up to about 25 knots and the swell had risen to a few feet all this along with the rain made it feel like a summers day at home here in Ireland. I know my poor Florida friends probably froze but it was perfect conditions for me. I saw that I had what seemed like 2 miles left and right to the sides of the bay and the bridge was dead ahead and it was another few miles away but with the waves and the wind behind me I started to surf my way there. I am aiming for the Ringling causeway and curving my way towards it when I realise that while this modern version of my Nordkaap handles similar it had one or two more features. For example this forgetful paddler discovered the skeg. Don’t laugh but I made this discovery half way to the bridge so I drop the skeg and instead of curving in an ‘S’ shape, I shot straight for the bridge and hammered it at speed, running from one wave into the next. I sped straight through the bridge and the wind and waves carried me on, at speed, to the next bridge as Siesta drive.

At this point I had hit Roberts bay and calmer waters. Even the sun started to beat down and brighten up my day, so I heaved too on a mangrove across from Siesta key for a spot of "lunch". Lunch consisted of a leg stretch and bailing out the kayak of the excess water I had taken in along the way and restocking my on deck food and water supplies. I like to keep my food close to hand. I started back on the water and at this point the strange surroundings seem to bring something new at each bend. I have to say I started to lose a bit of focus and my memories seem to have merged a bit and gotten a bit fuzzy.

About two pm or there close to it, while I was paddling away, humming some tune or other and watching the coast drift past, I notice a coast guard C-130 pass overhead. With the amount of Air stations locally I thought nothing of it till he passed twice more and a helicopter rushed passed. This was followed by the Sarasota sheriff and police boats along with the coast guard and fish and wildlife boats. I later discovered another competitor sunk and had to be rescued. All safe and sound I was thankful for the comfort of all the safety gear attached to me. On such a long trip, sometimes you can psych yourself out with trivial matters because your brain is bored.

I passed the Casey key swing bridge and once again spotted some fisherman chilling in the sun. I continued passed Dona bay into Roberts bay (another one, checked the chart twice) while admiring some of the lovely houses on the waterfront. For my Irish readers, think of the sun shining and warm water at the foot of your garden with your own dock. The perfect spot for a paddler to live in my opinion. I had entered the part of the intra-coastal waterway as it curved around Venice airport and it resembled a large canal. Unfortunately for my sailing friends it had a high bank and absolutely no wind at the time I passed through it. At this point I was heading for Lemon bay and had more or less switched off and was paddling on autopilot. I had a tentative plan to start looking for another spot to land approaching 6pm and set myself and the boat up for night time paddling as I expected the sun to go down quickly around 6:45pm. I entered Lemon bay after 5pm and as I passed the bridge at Manasota beach road and the lovely get out point just at its base, I realised that I had no hope of making it to the other side of Lemon bay before nightfall and not only that but the bay being wide and the ICW going down the middle meant that getting out would not be an option. I could have rigged most of the boat and night time gear while floating but it would take even more time and I had promised myself a leg stretch as a reward. So a short distance into the bay and with no visible landing point I turned right and headed for some mangroves. After wedging the boat into the mangrove I stepped out into waist deep water and started to crack night sticks and dig out my night time paddling gear and extra lights. Due to tiredness I made some errors and drop gear into the water which had to be recovered and cost myself time. As I watched out into the bay sails fluttered passed and this increased my anxiety to get moving. So I hoped back into my now bailed out kayak and took off across the bay.

The beach road bridge just never seemed to come any closer as I paddled and messed with my gear, still tugging it into comfortable positions and I started to see the dusk set in. I furiously studied the charts on my deck so that I would have much of the final bit of the route fresh in my mind for when it turned dark. It is also good practice to know if you have to bail out of your kayak in the dark, which way is shore and safety. Not that it was my plan to ditch and lose someone else’s kayak but being prepared for every scenario makes me feel at ease. I had my landmarks and transits sorted for when darkness hit me and I powered on into the night. I know from other challenges that I subconsciously slowdown in the dark so as the night grew blacker I tried to up my tempo to compensate for my subjective feeling of slowness.

I cruised past the bridge and I knew I didn’t have too far to go but for some reason my GPS had added four miles to my next leg on the screen. At this point my tiredness made thinking very hard so I fell back on my charts and started doing the math really slowly. This had the added benefit of keeping me entertained as the kayak floated onwards towards Cape haze and the finish line. When in doubt always return to the chart and work it out, as I discovered the error and probably due to my copious button pushing managed to add to GPS legs together. At this point I was hearing a faint noise and had disregarded it as sounds in the night can travel until a sail boat beside me switch on his lights and shocked me a bit. I had missed his running lights and he had heard splashing of my paddles and decided to investigate. I remembered from my charts and revision in Lemon bay that the turn into Cap haze had to be made correctly or I would end up on a mud bank and this I did. I floated to the dock and belly flopped on to it with relief. I could see the lovely inviting campfire calling but I needed to get myself and my kayak up and clear of the dock for the next boat coming in.

Needless to say I made it and made it in 12 hours and 34 minutes. The route I took and speeds are on Garmin connect for the nerds to view.
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/281093474

The 62 nautical miles were covered a lot faster than I had expected considering the plastic boat and the distance but the conditions were excellent and suited me perfectly. If the usual Florida heat had materialised, it would be safe to say, I would have melted. Instead I won the racing kayaks Ultra marathon and received the coolest prize of a mini wooden paddle which my son Darragh (a toddler) proceeded to beat me and anyone else in range with.

My thanks must go out to all the race organisers and volunteers. You give up your time and efforts to ensure we survive and have fun. Also to the lads from Sweetwater Kayaks in St. Petersburg who sorted me with gear and advice. My wife, without whom, I wouldn’t have entered and if I had, it would have been a long walk home.