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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The WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge

The UFC is a 1200 mile unsupported expedition style adventure race.  The race is contained in 5 stages, each with designated checkpoints.  Challengers must navigate with compass, chart, and GPS, choosing their own routes depending on weather and tidal conditions.

The race starts at Tampa Bay Florida, travels South along the West coast to Key Largo (routing with the  Everglades Wilderness Waterway earns you special recognition).  From Key Largo, North up the East coast to Ft Clinch Georgia, and onto the St Mary's  river.  A 40 mile portage, all to be done by human power only, and by having carried any portage equipment from the race start (i.e. roller blades, bicycles, boat carts), takes the challengers to the Suwannee River, across Florida and back to the Gulf, then South back to the start at Ft. DeSoto on Tampa Bay.   See for details.   There is more to the challenge than just paddling distance, read this.

Stage Start Deadline Days  Miles  
1 Fort Desoto to Key Largo
Everglades Challenge Course
7 300
2 Key Largo to Sebastian Inlet 3/11/2006
7 230
3 Sebastian Inlet to Fort Clinch 3/18/2006
7 225
4 Fort Clinch to Cedar Key
Okefenokee Challenge Course
6 380
5 Cedar Key to Fort Desoto 3/31/2006
2+ 100









Map photo courtesy of Wayfarer, fellow WaterTribe member Marek Uliasz,




News on the portage 8/10/05:

Watertribe Member Pelican sent me some photos from his scouting of the 40 mile portage.  The road is straight, 2 lane, flat, and paved, but has no shoulders to provide any safety.  There is lots of water and marsh off to the sides, but he felt there was also lots of dry camping areas that could be found.  It looks to be a good surface for biking, but there are no shoulders on the sides for safety, and it is a road used by logging trucks.  He also said there is a big surprise waiting for us at the take-out on the St Mary's River, see photos below.


Probable take out under bridge

40 miles to go

Probably launch site at Fargo

Will this surprise still be waiting at the take out on the St Mary's ???


Boat Tow Training 12/10/05:

I've decided to do the 40 mile portage towing the Dreamcatcher with a bike.  It means I'll be paddling with more weight as WaterTribe rules require you carry all portage equipment the whole race, but, unlike some who will tow using roller blades, I prefer to have brakes.  To fit inside the Dreamcatcher, Dahon, a folding bike company has offered me sponsorship with their Presto Lite folder.  This bike is super light (18 lbs), super compact (folds to the size of a large shopping bag), 3-speed, with all weather brakes, and a rigid aluminum frame will provide a stable ride.


Paddleboy Designs has offered their Heavy Lifter, a stainless steel hull cart with 10" x 4" pneumatic tires that can carry 400 lbs with no axle (9 lbs).  One of it's best features for me is the way it comes apart for stowage.


Once all my equipment arrived, it was time to see if I could actually tow the Dreamcatcher.  Further experimentation will be needed to work on the best and simplest towing rig, but first I needed to reassure myself that I could indeed do this.



I live in a very hilly neighborhood.  My home has a steep driveway on is on a steep cul-de-sac.  I can usually bike out of the garage and up the cul-de-sac in a very low gear.  But, with the boat on tow, it was just too hard and I ended up having to walk it up the hill.

Once up the top of the hill all was okay, the cul-de-sac opposite mine is much flatter and allowed me to test out the tow rig.

It feels better than I would have imagined, I have good control, and feel very stable.  Time to take it where I can bike some distance and play with turns.

Later that day I took it to the local Middle School track for some training.  The track offers a flat surface with no traffic.  Repeating the 1/4 mile loops to train distance provides additional mental training, it's so boring.  I added 30lbs of weight to the boat for this training day (I expect I'll have 60 lbs during the challenge).

Pedaling in a somewhat relaxed mode, I was able to maintain an 8 mph pace for an hour.  I can get it up to 11 mph but I'm not planning to do this challenge in race mode.  I'll be extremely happy to do the 40 mile portage in 5 hours.

It's pretty clear that just continuing my regular rides, road biking the hills of Orange County, and mountain biking on the trails around my neighborhood offers great training.  I don't think there is much need to actually train with the bike in tow, except to work on the actual tow rig, practice additional maneuvering, and trying it out fully loaded to work on the balance needed.


Please email comments or suggestions to Dawn

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