Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How to Shark Fish on a SUP

OK, I know that this site is about the Expedition Windsurfer® and its exploits. But I have to show you what my friend Alex Aguera did today on his SUP.

Take a look at the video he made. Crazy dude!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Professionally tested

Alex Aguera- a professional windsurf, kiteboard, SUP board builder and former world champion windsurfer tested the Expedition Windsurfer® while he was here in Florida promoting his latest SUP board design. Alex was very excited about the performance of the Expedition Windsurfer® stating he felt like he was on an America’s cup boat ripping through the water. He was surprised at the performance given the weight of the board (he is used to the high performance small sailboards he uses on Maui) but never the less he felt like he was cruising. “The board handles well and goes up wind great” were his words. He was also impressed with the retractable tail fin. He gave me some suggestions about the nose rocker and sail position that I will employ on the next proto-type.

Hey Alex- Thanks for the props bro.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nature Fest - this weekend

We will be doing demos of the Expedition Windsurfer and Alex Aguera's new SUP designed for fishing at this years Nature Fest at Hardee Lakes Park in Hardee County Florida.  The Nature Fest is this Saturday October 2nd.  I know it is a bit of a late notice but if you are in the area it will be a bunch of fun.
  Here is a link about the event:

Here is a photo of Alex's new stand-up-paddle boards The Hooked Sup.
This is a great board for everyone in the family to use.  It is wide and stable and easy to carry. 
Come out and try it on Saturday.

Great Adventures

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ancient Indian Mounds and Mysterious Mangrove Creeks

It’s been hot here in central Florida, well real hot. The temps have been in the high nineties and on some days even hitting triple digits. Add in the near 100% humidity and it makes things just a bit too uncomfortable for any type of adventure requiring a person to sleep in a tent without air-conditioning. Since I have not figured out how to put AC in my backpacker’s tent I have been very reluctant to do any overnight camping trips. So things have been pretty boring around here for a while.

But I did manage to get in a day of adventure at one of my favorite places to sail and explore, Bishop Harbor on the east side of Tampa Bay. The past week we had a high pressure ridge stationed over the Gulf of Mexico changing our typical weather pattern. The high was producing a westerly wind flow throughout the entire week. The day would begin with a light breeze out of the west and as the landmass of Florida’s peninsula heated up the sea breeze would improve and we would get winds in the 10-12kt range. Not anything to get too excited about, but enough to have some fun sailing the Expedition Windsurfer. With this type of weather pattern the potential for afternoon thunderstorms is reduced so I would not have to worry about getting off the water too early in the day.

So after wrapping up a few loose ends at home and packing a cooler of food and drinks, I headed for Bishop Harbor. The first stop on my adventure would be to try to find an ancient Indian mound hidden deep in the bowls of the tropical jungle. I would need to hike through the mangroves into the snake and spider infested jungle of Florida’s back country. As I made my way through the dense overgrowth, I was sure that at any moment I would rouse a large snake or even catch a glimpse of the ancient peoples who lived here centuries ago. As I stood atop the ancient mound I tried to imagine what life would have been like for those who built the mound. What was the fishing like? Was the water clearer than it is now? How in the world did they deal with the mosquitoes? I pondered these questions as I made my way back to the Expedition Windsurfer to head to my next stop.

I found a nice clearing on one of the mangrove islands to lay my 7.5 Zenith windsurfing sail on while I took a SUP paddle into a hidden mangrove tunnel. As I paddled around the island to reach the entrance to the tunnel I spotted a dolphin jumping completely out of the water over and over again just like you see at Sea World. I managed to get it on the Go Pro video I made, but he was too far away to be seen clearly. As I entered the tunnel the mangrove canopy was so low that I had to paddle from a seated position. Because of the denseness of the surrounding canopy and the overhanging limbs the air was stifling, no breeze to keep the temperature pleasant even with the shade. Fish darted here and there; water fowl looking for the next meal would take off making a loud ruckus. I spooked a raccoon as he was having lunch in the shallow water of the tunnel.

I exited the mangrove tunnel into a lagoon named Moses’ Hole; an almost perfectly round body of water surrounded by mangroves. The fish were teaming. With no mangrove canopy, I was able to paddle standing on the Expedition Windsurfer which enabled me to see right into the water, spotting fish of just about every kind. I was wishing I had brought my fishing gear.

At the far side of Moses’ Hole I discovered another mangrove tunnel; this one deadened into a perfect place for lunch. At the end of this tunnel the mangrove trees were larger than in first tunnel providing nice shade and the sea breeze was filtering through, making the temps perfect.

After lunch I paddled back to my sail, re-rigged and did a 6 mile sail into Tampa Bay. On this leg of my journey I spotted numerous stingrays, it must be mating season. On my way back in I spotted something I have never seen before; a spinner shark. It jumped at least three feet out of the water spinning 3 or 4 times before disappearing below the water.

All this adventure in one day! Mysterious mangrove tunnels leading to strange places, Indian mounds with ancient history, wildlife of all kinds, and of course windsurfing. Who needs TV?

Take a look at the short video and let me know what your think. Sorry for the smudges on the lens.

Great adventures!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Days Like These

One of the best times of my life so far, was spending a long weekend with my son Jared sailing around on our windsurfers.  Time well spent.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Plans available- correction

On my previous post I inadvertently said to click on the link below, when I meant to the link above.

Sorry for the confusion.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Plans are now available!!!

Build your very own Expedition Windsurfer! 

Yes you can do this. 

Check out the link above for more details.

Adventure, fun, relaxation, increased knowledge of the world around you, all awaite you when you step onto the Expedition Windsurfer.

Shellkey Preserve- A great trip

My 19 year old son, Jared and I had planned to do the Florida 120 in north Florida, but work and family obligations took precedence.  So we decided to do a three day trip to Shell Key Preserve ( ) just north of the mouth of Tampa Bay. 

Here we are all loaded and ready to shove off for three days of sailing and exploring and fishing and just plain fun.
In the picture above Jared is discussing the attributes of the Expedition Windsurfer.
(click on images for larger viewing)
Here Jared is headed for the island- he was hard to keep up with!

After a long day of windsurfing a good meal hit the spot.  I liked the idea of Jared cooking dinner, but I had to do the dishes.
What a great way to end the day- good meal and great company.
In the photo above we made a sun block with the sails.  This provided a nice place to eat lunch and relax a bit out of the sun.
Sailing through some very skinny water...4 to 5 inches maybe.
So what do you do when the wind dies?  Go stand-up-paddling (SUP) of course!
In the mornings the wind would come out of the east, light and variable until mid-afternoon when a sea breeze would kick in.  The wind would shut down for a few minutes and we would do some stand-up.
Here the "old man" is doing his best to look cool. 
Check out the water color and the beautiful white sandy beach!  Wish you could have been with us.
Jared and I can hardly wait for our next adventure on the Expedition Windsurfers.

"Leave nothing but a wake"

Monday, May 10, 2010

Demo Day at Tierra Verde

Saturday we met a few fellow windsurfers at Tierra Verde in South St. Pete for some demo rides on the Expedition Windsurfer.  The video is a compilation of some of those who took it for a ride.  We had winds out of the south in the 18-20kt range.  As the day went along, the winds dropped to 10kts giving us a good feel for the board in various winds.  The reviews were all positive and everyone had fun.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Everglades Challenge- what did I learn?

The Everglades Challenge, so what did I learn?

After spending some time reflecting on my experience in the Everglades Challenge, a 300 mile expedition style small boat race down the west coast of Florida, and watching the racers in the Ultimate Florida Challenge and observing how they overcome various trials along the way has had me thinking of what I can do to make the it to the finish line in 2011.

(Learn more about these races here:

The Expedition Windsurfer®

The board performed reasonably well in the all the conditions we faced on Saturday. When the seas and winds picked up I never felt that the board was unstable or would capsize. Even as I was approaching Venice Inlet after breaking my mast base or u-joint the waves were nice and big and I had to luff my sail, I still felt comfortable sliding down the waves.

What I am not so happy about is the speed of the loaded board, both when sailing and when paddling. I am certain that the major reason for the lack of speed has to do with the fact that I put over 115 pounds of gear, water and food on the board. I will discuss this issue further on in this post.

The broken u-joint could have been prevented if I had replaced it before the race. I knew it was old, but it was not showing any signs of wear. I think that the size of the waves we had on Saturday and the added freeboard of the Expedition Windsurfer® combined with the age of the u-joint caused it to fail when I dropped the sail in the water. Replacing the u-joint before the race and being cognizant of the strain on the joint when the sail is in the water can eliminate this from occurring again.

How competitive can the Expedition Windsurfer® be in an adventure race such as the EC? That depends in large part on the weather, as always. The Expedition Windsurfer® was in class 4, competing against small sailboats and catamarans. The sailors of these boats are able to keep going for longer periods of time without stopping for breaks to drink and eat, or even use the head. On the windsurfer I needed to take a break every couple of hours to eat or drink. But even when doing that I was able to stay close to or ahead of other sailors in my class as we sailed down the coast. Another advantage to a typical sail boat is that the sailor can rest while still sailing. Not being of the same mettle as the legends of the WaterTribe like Wizard, ManitouCruiser, Pelican, Sandybottom, SharkChow and of course the Chief, all of whom can go days without food, water or sleep, when I take a break to be human those in small sail boats will continue towards the finish line. But I still think that all things considered the Expedition Windsurfer® can put in a good time and finish the race.

Equipment, Gear and Supplies

This is one area that I need more time and experience to work through. 115+ pounds of gear, food and water is way too much to load on the board, and I could tell when I got in the large seas that I should have packed lighter.

The obvious and easy things to change would be my tent, my clothing and my food. I also kept adding miscellaneous items as I was getting my gear together, most of which I would never have needed. There is a big difference in what you take with you when you go camping for fun and when you are camping in an adventure race. Typically when I camp for fun or leisure I can carry more than I need because I will unload the board at my campsite and then with an empty board I can go explore. In a race, weight is critical. With more time on the water and more time spent camping with the Expedition Windsurfer I can work out these details.

Food is still a big question mark for me. How much will I need and how will my body react to it. In this year’s Challenge I only ate protein bars which caused me to have a constipated stomach for the better part of three days, totally unlike my regular self. Again this where time and experience will play a roll. I noticed that one of the racers in the Ultimate Florida Challenge is using a product from Natural High Foods. I will have to try those.

Eat, Sleep, Decide and the proper Mindset

This is the most important area that I need to improve on. Everyone knows that important decisions in life should never be made hastily. We should sleep on them, think them over and explore all our options and consequences. In the crazy world we live in, deciding whether to drop out of the Everglades Challenge may not be the most important decision I ever make. But at the same time developing and maintaining the character of heart to see things through to the end is always going to lead to good things. Like a metaphor of life, the Everglades Challenge provides us with opportunities to put into practice skills that can help us face the real challenges that come our way in our busy lives.

The first lesson that I learned or need to learn is that, I need to have the mindset that “I can fix it when it breaks”. When my u-joint broke off of Venice Inlet the first thing I thought was; how can I get a new one? I never thought about fixing it in some temporary fashion to keep me moving. If I had had that mindset as I landed on Snake Island, rather than thinking I was done, I would have considered what can be done. I could have easily made the repair with what I had, and been on my way down the ICW in a matter of minutes. (See my previous post)

The other lesson I have learned is the importance of knowing my limits. I should have gotten off the water around 9pm and made a hot meal, some coffee and slept before I made my decision to quit. As it was I kept pushing myself to get to the first checkpoint. By 11:00pm I was totally spent and still had at least 10 miles to go. Ten miles does not seem like very far to go considering that I had just sailed and paddled close to fifty miles and as I look back I wonder why did I drop out. I was tired, cold, hungry and lonely and in a lot of pain. Sitting on the board and paddling with a kayak paddle for hours on end kills my neck. The pain feels like someone driving a knife into my neck. So rather than make camp I decided to paddle to Englewood Bridge and call my wife to come pick me up. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!

The decision to drop out and call my wife was made in a split second, and after I made it all I could think about was getting off the water and getting a hot shower and a warm comfy bed. Just before I made that decision I had started to paddle towards a place that I could have camped at. My intention was to eat, sleep and then decide whether to pull out or continue on, but my willpower vanished in a matter of seconds as images of my warm bed at home filled my mind. I failed to accomplish an important goal due to the short term pleasures of a hot shower and a warm bed. I am fascinated by how my brain works and how I make such decisions. How will I prevent this type of decision making in the future? Will I make other decisions in life based on short term pleasures or on long term satisfaction? Will I have the “grit” to keep going, working through the various problems life tosses at me or will I cave in and take a less difficult rout?

In the end the Everglades Challenge has taught me that I will never stop learning about myself. And although I did not even make it to the first checkpoint, I have memories that I will cherish for a lifetime.

So what’s next for the Expedition Windsurfer®?
April is a great month for camping and exploring ….humm.

Monday, March 22, 2010

How to fix a broken U-joint on the fly

Had I been thinking clearly, I would have used a small line like this one and made a temporary repair. It may not have lasted for the whole race, but it would have gotten me to the next checkpoint. This is why it is recommended to set up camp and get some rest before deciding to drop out.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A great experience- just wish it could have lasted

Home safe and sound, the equipment is put away and the board is all washed down and clean.  Here is a brief discription of my first (hope my wife dose not read this post) attempt at the Everglades Challenge on a the Expedition Windsurfer.
Pre race activities on the beach at Ft Desoto, Florida March 6, 2010
A number of strange and interesting vessels are always to be found on the beach before the race.  Here is Matt Layden's latest creation, Elusion.  Matt has developed a unique design for his mico-curisers.  To provide more interior room he has eliminated the dagger board and now uses the chine strips you see on the bottom of the boat.  I am not sure how they work, but they do.  Matt will be using this boat to sail around the state of Florida in the Ultimate Florida Challenge, 1300 mile race around Florida.
The "Yellow Thing"  another very interesting boat that was doing quite well even in the high winds we got on Saturday.

The start of the 2010 Evergaldes Challenge

Here I go.  As usual I am late, one of the last to leave the beach. 

The day started out with winds out of the North East around 6-8kts.  Here is Matt and his boat off Bradenton Beach Florida.  As the day progressed the sea breeze picked up and winds started to blow.  The NOAA weather bouys reported winds at 20kts gusting to 23kts.  What amazed me was the way the waves increased so fast. 
By the time we had gotten down to Sarasota the winds were in the 15-18kt range.  This picture does not do a good job of depicting the wind conditions at the time. I was having fun surfing down the face of the ever increasing waves when I saw the Yellow Thing go over.  I sailed over to see if he needed any help, but he had things in control and was soon back on board and headed down the coast.  I helped pick up a few of the things that fell overboard and tossed them to him before sailing on.

Just about a mile from Venice inlet I sat down on my board to get drink and rest a minute.  The winds were coming out of the NNW and sailing on an almost dead down wind run, I was having a hard time staying hooked into the harness. I snapped this photo of the waves in hopes of showing the size of the swell.  Its hard to determine the size of the waves from the photos but at this point the winds were up in the 20knt range and the seas were big.  I had seen a number of boats go in at Venice Inlet to get out of the big winds and I was trying to decide if I wanted to go in also or keep going on the outside.  The conditions were what every windsurfer yearns for, 20kts and a 3-4 foot swell, but I had been sailing since 7:30am and had covered 35 nautical miles.  It was now 3:30, with 8 hours of sailing and only a few 5 minute breaks, I was ready for a break from the big winds and seas.
Rather than try to pull the sail up in the large wave, I attempted a water start.  Having a drysuit and a PFD I felt comfortable getting in the water.  I had the board postitioned for a starboard start and was out of the water and sliding down the face of a swell. Before I could hook in and move back on the board an unexpected gust grabbed the sail out of my hands and slammed it down on the water.  I, of course, ended up in the water wondering what I did to deserve that kind of treatment.  As I grabbed the board I noticed something was wrong with the mast base.  The u-joint had come apart.  The webbing holding the two pieces together was all that kept the mast in reasonably close proximity to the track it was supposed to be in.  Any doubt as to whether or not to head in through Venice Inlet was gone.  I had to head in.  Lifting the sail and holding it by the mast I was able to get in through the inlet and land on a small island named Snake Island.   I rolled up the sail, set up my paddling seat and started paddling the 25 miles to checkpoint one.  I paddled into the night until reaching the bridge to Englewood at 11pm.  Cold and tired I called my wife to come get me.  
Here you can see the wear on the bard from the broken mast base.  I know, I know I should have bought a new base before the race and carried it as a spare.  I cant even tell you why I let that detail slip by, but it is eating at me like a cancer.  I cant stop thinking about it.  Man am I bummed!
On my next post I will discuss what I learned about adventure racing on a windsurfer, the good and the bad.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Check-in day

Today was check-in day for the Everglades Challenge 300 mile expedition style small boat race down the coast of Florida.  Here are a couple of pictures from today's activities.  One of them shows my boat at check-in and one shows other boats on the beach.  Race starts tomorrow at 7AM.  Follow us at

One day left- check in day

Today is pre-race check in day. We have to have our boats and all our gear inspected to ensure we meet all the safety requirements and that our vessels are seaworthy and registered in the correct class. At 3:00 we have a skippers meeting to discuss rules and safety issues. Today provides us the opportunity to meet other racers and ask questions from those who have done the race in the past.

Check out the new lettering for the Expedition Windsurfer®!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two days to the start of the Everglades Challenge

I want to thank Steve Baker for taking some photos of my last sail before the race.  I always have a difficult time getting shots of me sailing the board, none of my family want to spend the day on a cold beach while I go out and have fun sailing.  But on Tuesday Steve was going out for some kayak fishing and took these shots of me sailing off the beach.
Only two days remain before the start of the Everglades Challenge, a 300 mile expedition style small boat race down the west coast of Florida, from the mouth of Tampa Bay to Key Largo. I am the first racer to use a windsurfer.  Am I ready? I have all the equipment, food, water and the Expedition Windsurfer® is ready to go, the question is, do I have the physical and mental toughness to finish the race? That is what this race is all about for me. The adventure, the challenge truly begins and ends with what is in my head.
Click the link "map" next to the Everglades Challenge listing and drag your curser over the pirate heads untill you locate WindWalker, which is my race name.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Great sail into the Gulf of Mexico today!

With only four days left before the Everglades Challenge, I am feeling a bit stressed out trying to get all the last minute details worked out.  Trying to get all my chores done around the house and trying to tie up all loose ends at work and finalize all my plans for the race is having me wonder if it is all worth the effort.  Sure it is!
I got my sail back from Aerotech with two new zipper panels for reefing or reducing sail area while on the water.  I thought today would be a good day to test it out, so I headed for the coast and did some sailing in the Gulf.  With winds around 15kts and occasionally hitting 20kts I was able to test the adjustable down haul and out haul and the new zipper panels.  I also loaded the board with all my gear for the race and put on the dry suit just to see how everything would work together. 
I went out into the Gulf through Bunces Pass near Ft Desoto.  The pass was a mess with waves coming in from all directions making the sail out interesting. The Expedition Windsurfer did very well in the building swell and went down wind with control giving me a nice ride back in from the Gulf. You can check out my route/track from the SPOT tracker here at the WaterTribe website.  Look for WindWalker by moving your mouse over each of the little pirate heads.
This link will be operational durring the Everglades Challenge enabling those at home to keep tabs on me as I travel down the coast.
The GPS reading for today was;
Trip Odom-13.5nm
Max Speed  11.4kts
Moving Time- 2hrs50mins
Moving Avg-4.5kts

Not too bad for a fully loaded board and a two hundred pound (all muscle) guy.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

6 days to the Everglades Challenge

Only 6 days to the start of the Everglades Challenge.

I spent today reviewing my gear and trying to get comfortable with the dry suit. I will have to spend the next few days actually sailing with the dry suit on to see how well it will keep me warm. Based on the past few months we can count on some rather cool temps as we traverse the west coast of Florida. The subtropical jet stream is delivering a cold front just about every 3 days which is good for providing good windsurfing conditions, but it keeps the water and air temps too low for this southern boy's thin blood. I remember back in March of 1993 when we were in a El Nino weather pattern we had a huge front move through that produced winds over 100mph and was called the storm of the century. I would not be surprised to see some great winds for the Everglades Challenge this year, though not that good.

I spoke with Steve at Aerotech sails about the alterations we are having made and the sail is done and I should have it by Monday. We put in two zipper panels in the upper panels to allow me to reduce sail size while still on the water. I also have rigged up a adjustable down haul and out haul that will also allow me to reduce sail size as well. I will put some photos up as soon as I can.

Chris, Ian and John thanks for your suggestions and support. Wish you guys were coming along on this trip; it would be cool to have some other windsurfers to team up with.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Only 7 days left to train- dry suit came today

Only 7 days until the start of the Everglades Challenge, an expedition style small boat race down the west coast of Florida. The race starts at Ft. Desoto near the mouth of Tampa Bay and ends about 300 miles south at Key Largo. I will be the only one to enter the race on a windsurfer, the Expedition Windsurfer®. You can follow the action in real time by logging onto the web site, and clicking the link "map" that corresponds to the Everglades Challenge. My tribal name is WindWalker. Post a message to help keep me motivated, my shore team will relay the message to me as I check in.

The dry suit came in the mail today. One of requirements of the EC is that if you have a boat that is open you must wear a dry suit. I have never worn a dry suit in my life, like most windsurfers I have always used a wetsuit. So this will be a whole new experience for me.

I shopped around trying to find a reasonably priced suit but the costs were way out of my price range so I found a company that rents Kokatat brand dry suits, Kayak Academy out in Issaquah Washington, USA. I let them know what I was doing and they worked with me to get the right suit for my needs. One of the sales reps, Barb, went out of her way to answer all my novice type questions and was very patient even when I asked the same questions numerous times. I got the suit today in plenty of time to get used to it and make any adjustments if needed. If you are thinking of purchasing a dry suit I strongly recommend you talk to the guys at Kayak Academy before you make your purchase. They sell and rent new and used dry suits and if you rent before you buy, they allow you to apply up to $150.00 towards your purchase. Check the out here;

Only 7 days to the start of the EC. I am getting nervous.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Training sail at Bishop Harbor-Just 10 days to the Everglades Challenge

Only 10 days until the start of the Everglades Challenge, an expedition style small boat race down the west coast of Florida. The race starts at Ft. Desoto near the mouth of Tampa Bay and ends about 300 miles south at Key Largo. I will be the only one to enter the race on a windsurfer, the Expedition Windsurfer®. You can follow the action in real time by logging onto the web site, and clicking the link "map" that corresponds to the Everglades Challenge. My tribal name is WindWalker. Post a message to help keep me motivated, my shore team will relay the message to me as I check in.

I was short on time so I decided to sail at Bishop Harbor on the east side of Tampa Bay rather than going all the way to Ft. Desoto. The winds were light out of the west northwest and as the day went on the sea fog began to move in from the Gulf. In one of the photos you can just barely see the Sunshine Skyway Bridge with a large freighter passing under it. Notice how clear the water is.

I sailed for about 3 hours and traveled just over 7.5 miles. It was a nice day on the water.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fully packed paddle- just 11 days to the EC

Only 11 days until the start of the Everglades Challenge, an expedition style small boat race down the west coast of Florida. The race starts at Ft. Desoto near the mouth of Tampa Bay and ends about 300 miles south at Key Largo. I will the only one to enter the race on a windsurfer, the Expedition Windsurfer®. You can follow the action in real time by logging onto the web site, and clicking the link "map" that corresponds to the Everglades Challenge. My tribal name is WindWalker. Post a message to help keep me motivated, my shore team will relay the message to me as I check in.

Here are a couple of photos of the Expedition Windsurfer® packed with all the gear I will need for 6-8 days of camping…and then some. I have some adjustments to make before I am comfortable with the set up. I need to reduce weight (as usual I am over packed) and organize the windsurfing gear on the deck to improve paddling performance and comfort, all minor things at this point.

Tomorrow, no make that today, (I cant believe it is this late already) I will be at Ft Desoto to do some sailing and see how the board sails when it is fully packed. I will also par down some of the un-needed gear to lighten the load.

I heard from Gary in Dunedin who also built a board similar to the Expedition Windsurfer® back a few years ago. This is totally cool because when I started this project I thought I would be the only one who found the expedition style exciting and fun, but now I see I am not the only one. I hope to see a few more of us at the start of the Everglades Challenge next year. Or better yet we could just have some fun doing multi-day camping trips around Florida. Who knows!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gear- to much or not enough? Only 12 days to the start

Only 12 days until the start of the Everglades Challenge, an expedition style small boat race down the west coast of Florida. The race starts at Ft. Desoto near the mouth of Tampa Bay and ends about 300 miles south at Key Largo. I will the only one to enter the race on a windsurfer, the Expedition Windsurfer®. You can follow the action in real time by logging onto the web site, and clicking the link "map" that corresponds to the Everglades Challenge. My tribal name is WindWalker. Post a message to help keep me motivated, my shore team will relay the message to me as I check in.

It's time to pull all the gear together and toss out what I don’t really need. Trying to keep the weight down and still get all the required safety gear, food and water is going to be tough. I can refill my water along the way and at the check points along the race rout. The only unknown in regards to the amount of water I will need to store on the board will be from Everglades City, checkpoint two, down to Flamingo. There are no stores along that part of the trip to restock if needed so I will need to be sure I have enough before leaving Everglades City.

The photo is of my gear that I would carry on a normal trip of a few days. I will need to go through it and eliminate some of the extra items to reduce weight and to improve the organization. When I am tired and have been on the water for a few days I don’t want to have to try to remember where I packed my tooth brush or which dry bag the tent is in. Sleep deprivation can make the simplest tasks seem like rocket science.

Hi Peggy thanks for the question about water- yes I have to carry water, but I will not be using a purification process on this trip.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Everglades Challenge- 13 days to start

With just 13 days to the start of the Everglades Challenge, a 300 mile expedition style small boat race down the west coast of Florida the days seem too short to get everything done. I will be the first contestant to attempt the race on a windsurfer, the Expedition Windsurfer®. Trying to get all the details put together and get in some training before time runs out is a challenge in itself. Everything seems to be coming together; I have all my gear and most of the food figured out and the board is good to go. All I need now is to get the sail back from the sail maker and get more on the water training done. I am getting very excited. This race has been one of those personal goals I set for myself six years ago and it looks like I will at least be at the starting line on March 6th.

One of the really cool things about this race is that you can follow all the action in real time by logging onto the web site at and clicking on the "map" link on the home page next to Everglades Challenge. My tribal name, the name I use for all the WaterTribe events is WindWalker. Follow the action and post a message, it will keep me motivated.


aka: WindWalker

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Night Paddle on the Peace

In trying to get in some training for the Everglades Challenge, I did a night paddle today.  I loaded the boat with my gear and headed up river for two hours. The temps are still too low for me, but I did manage to work up a sweat.  When I stopped for dinner I started getting pretty cold, so I started a nice little campfire.  I brewed up some coffee, ate some chili my wife made and started paddling again.  The river was beautiful.  Even without the moonlight I was able to paddle without the use of a light by following the reflection of the night sky on the water.  The shadows of the trees along the bank provide a dark contrast on the water enabling me to stay in the middle of the river just by observing the subtle changes in color between the two.  At times the Barred Owls would launch into a chorus of squawks and barks and yowls as if they were having a party.  The stars were out bright and the air was fresh and crisp.  It was truly much better than anything on the TV.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Training in the waves-sorry no photos:(

Saturday was a training day and test day. I sailed the Expedition Windsurfer® out Bunses Pass near Ft Desoto into the Gulf. At 12:30pm winds were out of the NW at 24kts gusting to 29kts. I sailed until a little after 4:00pm with my maximum boat speed of 17.4kts with an average boat speed of 6.6kts. I may have been able to get more speed out of the board if I had focused on that, but my main goal for the day was to see how the board would handle the waves.

As I sailed out into the Gulf, the seas were a mess. There was a SW swell from the day before and the strong NW winds were kicking up a new swell causing the mouth of the pass to be in a state of confusion. On the south side of the pass is a shallow sand bar that seemed to be the least chaotic. The sandbar blocked most of the new swell coming in from the northwest. I headed out on a WSW heading pushing through the small waves on the inside. The waves at this shallow point were tame and easily managed, as I sailed further out into the Gulf the swell became rather large and a bit foreboding. I sailed out to where the large southerly swell was breaking on the outside and decided that I did not want to push things too much since I was sailing alone. I jibed and came back into the pass on a beam reach, racing with the 2' waves and having a blast. The Expedition Windsurfer® handled the waves with ease. It would not be the board of choice for wave riding but I was able to demonstrate that it is possible to get in and out of a shore break of moderate size. More wave testing to come though.

I am pleased with the new dagger board gasket I installed. I used 5200 and it is holding better than the "super glue" I used the first time. The new material seems to be working as well; I did not get as much water blowing up into fin well as before. And it was considerably cheaper.

I had hoped to get some video but my camera stopped working on me. I hope to get some video this weekend.

I am sending the sail off for some alterations. I am having two zipper panels installed to meet the sail reduction rules for the Everglades Challenge.

Great Adventures,


Friday, February 5, 2010

Bottom of the EXPW2010

Here are a couple of images of the bottom of the Expedition Windsurfer®. It looks rough from use and I am replacing the fin well gasket. I'm trying to use a different gasket material and different glue. We will see if it works. I hope the photos aren’t too clear so you see all my flaws.

Although it is impossible to build a boat that will do everything and does it well, I think we have come pretty close.

Our goal was to design a board that we could use for long multi-day camping trips, similar to what you would find on a real expedition. To do this we wanted the board to paddle well in all conditions. We accomplished this by designing the bow with a V, similar to a kayak. We also gave it enough rocker to make it easier to turn. We also recognized that length would be important to paddling efficiency so we kept it in the 15'-16'range. An added feature that improves this boats performance over other sit-on-top kayaks is the dagger board. In a cross wind or when paddling the dagger board helps in tracking. To make it a good windsurfer we designed the tail section to be flat and giving the outline a proper shape was also important for shedding water. From the first prototype we discovered we needed more freeboard to keep the rider dryer and also enable the board to be packed with gear easier. We also found from using the first prototype that we needed a retractable fin to get the loaded board through the shallows and up onto the beach without getting into the water to remove the fin. So far I have been very pleased with the results.

I will be out on Tierra-Verde Saturday to hopefully get some video and some action in the waves.

Here is the National Weather Service forecast:










Great Adventures-Trey