SandyBottom's  (aka Dawn Stewart)

    Ultimate Sea Kayaking Challenge


 March 4 - April 2, 2006 - a 1200 mile small boat expedition race


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                                                My Bio

Born and raised in Hawaii, I have a love of the outdoors, the beach, and the ocean.  My first sea kayaking  experience was actually on a sit-on-top in Kailua Bay on the Island of Oahu in 1987 while visiting my family.  Two children and years later, a chance opportunity to try sea kayaking again in 1996 resulted in a love and passion that provides me with fun, excitement, relaxation or exercise, and most of all, adventure.

I am now 52, a wife (23 yrs) and mother of two (17 and 19 yrs), a biostatistician at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and dare I say it, an athlete (though actually I'm really just an active person).  It was not until my late 30's that I started regular exercise, more for fitness and weight control than anything else (now post-menopausal, a constant losing battle)  For motivation, I "race to train".  Finding an annual running or triathlon event helps to keep me staying active.  I am not a very competitive athlete, my only goal is to finish, preferably not last.  I'm not very fast.  I compete for the personal challenge and for the fun and social aspects.  I am a distance or endurance athlete (a poor excuse for being slow and steady).

As I get older, running is harder on my body.  I've enjoyed bicycling, multi-sport and triathlon events, and finished a 1/2 Ironman in 2002.  Unfortunately the longer races have too much running for me now, and the current popular format seems to be for the shorter, faster events, which I'm not very good at, or interested in.  In sea kayaking, I've discovered a whole new world of sport endurance, expedition sea touring.  Incorporating long distance kayaking, navigation, camping, and new adventures, it's a non-impact sport, that is ideal for the older athlete who over the years has learned patience, pacing. and has a good awareness of their skills and limitations.

Then, about 5 years ago, I happened upon the Water Tribe website.  I've not looked back since.  I spent 3 years  lurking and learning from the Water Tribe forum, I began paddling regular 20 milers, paddled the 40 mile Lumber River Race in 2002, a 100 mile expedition at the NC coast in 2002, and a month long expedition to Newfoundland in 2003.  Thousands of paddling miles later, I felt ready to try the 300 mile Water Tribe Everglades Challenge (EC). 

My first EC in 2004 is detailed in an article I wrote and published in the magazine section of the Water Tribe site   During that challenge I was lucky to team with another women paddler, tribal name TurtleWoman who was attempting her second try at finishing an EC.  A great experience and with lots of stories; including the last day paddling the 37 mile crossing of Florida Bay to Key Largo with TutleWoman and AlaskanSeaHorse in strong headwinds that finally had us hunkering down in the lee of a mangrove key 8 miles from the finish, sleeping the night in our boats.  Still, before I finished at Key Largo, I was already planning the next years EC (not uncommon among the participants), which I completed this March.

This years EC, March 2005, was even more fun.  We again had a few days of bad weather, though not as challenging this year as last.  Four of us teamed up on the water for the paddle,  ArcticDoc, BilgePump, RescueRandy, and occasionally RubberDucky joined us.  Lots of laughter, stories, and friendship resulted from our diverse group. (Note: WaterTribe members give themselves 'tribal names').  And again I immediately new I would repeat this adventure again in 2006.

Then Chief, head of the Water Tribe, announced the Ultimate Challenge.  1200 miles around Florida in 4 weeks, I was hooked before I even finished reading about it. 

 Why? Why not!  I want to see if I can do it.


                       Please email comments or suggestions to Dawn


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