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by Dave Lucas – Bradenton, Florida – USA

Feb 2016

The 300 mile long Everglades Challenge kicks off again on Saturday March 5. We usually try to go to the beach at Fort DeSoto park on Friday afternoon to see all of the boats and crazy guys who do this.

Below are some of the warnings the Water Tribe give to try to prevent unqualified people from going out and getting into trouble. Last year a record number of boats entered and many had issues that caused problems. Just because these guys look like your average Joe with funny little boats don't be fooled, they are as hard as nails with the brains to match.


If you are not an expert paddler and/or sailor, do not enter this race. Even if you are a well prepared expert you may DIE - yes, you may DIE.

Let me try to explain this one more time. By entering any WaterTribe Challenge or event, you are agreeing that all the people, companies, and agents associated with the event owe you nothing nor do we owe you duty of care or service or any other duty. We promise you nothing. We do not and will not even try to make this event safe for anyone. This event is not safe for anyone. This is no joke. We won't even try to warn you about every known danger or hazardous condition, whether we know about it or not. If we do decide to warn you about something, that doesn't mean we will try to warn you about everything. If we do make an effort to make some aspects of the event safer, we may not correct other aspects, and we may even make matters worse! We and our agents may do things that are unwise and dangerous. Sorry, we're not responsible. We may give you bad advice. Don't listen to us. In short, ENTER AND PARTICIPATE IN THESE EVENTS AT YOUR OWN RISK. And have fun!

There are a couple of new foam boat projects in the shop. This one is my light weight 8 foot dingy. The fancy glass ones that you buy are solid but really heavy, 70 or more pounds. We have two of those around here and hate them. I wanted one that's light enough to handle but still be strong. I glassed this one with 20 ounce tri axial cloth, it came out to be about 40 pounds.

I just stack it up and glass it. Here I am filling with a home made filler made with latex paint, micro balloons and a little cabosil. It dries fast and sands easily.

The other foam project is a little more ambitious. Richard from Apollo Beach is making a 16 foot Melonseed from solid foam. We wanted him to do it here so we could see how it's done and we have the shop space available at the moment.

He takes these giant blocks of foam and using templates he made cuts the exact shapes he needs. I got a call from Bob from way up in Spring Hill to see if he could come down to see my foam kayaks and I told him "hell yes, come on down" and got him involved with some of this work. The hot wire makes cutting this 10 inch foam easy as pie.

It really is fun to do but like everything else it's taking longer than expected. There a lot of these sections to cut. There are now two piles of these stacked to the rafters.

Bob did get out in one of the boats and not only loved the boat but also the Greenland style paddle. He went home and made himself a paddle and ordered the full size patterns from Duckworks. I think Chuck only charges $25 for them.

We had visitors from Minneapolis last week. Penny and her sister Jill stayed with us for a few days. Penny and Helen shared a house in Virginia 45 years ago when they were both Army nurses and haven't seen each other since. We took boat rides every day; either on our river in Helen Marie or longer trips in the faster "Lurlyne". The weather was perfect all week. I liked Penny although I may have insulted her, I told her that she is just like a female ME.

She took this picture of sunset from our favorite water front hangout and got this heron with his mating plumage showing outside the fish house in Cortez.

Howard is making a little rocking boat for a new grandson. These little boats are not as easy as you would imagine. Paul Anderson had a shop fire caused by a cordless battery charger. He escaped with minor damage and smoke stink but what the hell, is nothing safe.

Richard Honan invited me to come up to Boston to join in the ice boat races on pretty much any Sunday this winter. Or should I say ice water boat races. How come he never invites me up for the giant beach clam bakes in the summer. Just look at all these nuts hopping right into these little ice breakers. I do have to admit these guys don't let winter slow them down too much.

Crazy Steve with his usual hand attachment being towed home after his new EPA approved fuel venting system screwed him and a sight you've never seen, here he is with his posse and no hat. Hell I didn't even know he had hair.

Washington Dan Rogers is mostly finished with his cabin cruiser and is the only person in the entire state of Washington who would launch a boat in almost frozen water. Dan really is a Superman, nothing stops him from getting it done. He's the same age as me and has most of the same ailments, maybe the cold weather numbs the pain.

I told you about getting a tracked Bobcat stuck down in my lower 40 marsh. Well my friend Lee has this giant tractor and said that he could finish smoothing off some dirt. Nope, he got stuck also. I have some really slick black muck that defies all modern equipment. It may be boots and a shovel next.

I'll finish with this shot of "Sweet Pea" that Judy from Apalachicola sent me. It's the Fenwick Williams 18 foot Catboat that Howard and I built. It's just out of the shop from getting some rehab work. Judy sure takes better care of her boats better than we do. I've never had a boat that you could see a reflection from it's hull and check out that straight water line stripe.

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