"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
Ratty is definitely on to something. To be on the water in any kind of craft can be therapeutic. IMHO the sound of the surf can only be equalled by the sound of the wind in the pines. Both together… heaven. One of the saddest things I often saw on the streets of D.C. was the herds of young, ambitious suits with ear buds in their ears, eyes and thumbs glued to their smartphones, and totally oblivious to their surroundings. It is no wonder so much self serving and destructive idiocy is produced in Washington. As I said last year, I think we deserve a break... or at least a little vicarious diversion from the madness of politics.
I once again invite the SST Committee of Correspondence to follow this year's running of the Everglades Challenge which begins this Saturday morning. I discovered this event several years ago and have put participating in it on my bucket list. 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.
This year I will follow the progress of ChuckTheDuck and Lugnut in their John Welsford designed Walkabout. Both Lugnut, named after his love of the lug sail rig, and ChuckTheDuck, proprietor of Duckworks Magazine, have completed this challenge several times. Baring any catastrophe, these salty veterans should complete this year's race handily. I am especially interested in their boat. The Walkabout is a 16 foot rowing-sailing dingy with a balanced lug mainsail and a spritsail mizzen. Welsford designed the Walkabout with cruising the Maine Island Trail in mind. That would be sweet. I bought a set of plans several years ago. I take them out now and then, unroll them, study them and dream. One of these days, I have to decide on a design and start building.
If I was rolling in dough, I'd commission the Rappahannock Boat Works, less than twenty miles away from me by backcountry road, to build a steam launch for cruising the Cheasapeake Bay. I could imagine myself steaming up the Potomac, sipping on a good rum and harassing the political beasts lurking the riverbanks… just like Charlie Allnut.