A Kruger of Course

MarkP of Kruger Canoes, also known as Manitou Cruiser of the WaterTribe, has graciously offered me us his Kruger Cruiser for the River Sections of the Ultimate Florida Challenge (UFC).  I can’t imagine a better  boat for us.)

My first encounter with Kruger Canoes was in 2005 when Mark invited me up to Michigan for a week long expedition in his DreamCatcher which he lent me for the 2006 UFC.  I wrote an article after that trip titled “I’ve been Krugerized“.   The boat then became my DreamCatcher after having won the bet of finishing that Challenge.

A Kruger Canoe is up for any kind of challenge.  Much bigger (it’ll hold my folding bike for the 40 mile portage) and heavier than your typical sea kayak, they are made to be strong and tough, the ultimate tripping canoe.  The Cruiser is also surprisingly fast doing extremely well each year in the Everglades Challenges when paddled by NightSong and NightNavigator (who have finished 7 challenges).  It’s also known for setting a world record racing the length of the Mississipi River.  Of course everyone knows speed if really about the paddler not the boat, yet I think Alan (SOS) and I will do well in this Cruiser, offering us the comfort, stability, and the toughness needed for this section of the challenge.

Even better, this canoe had done these Rivers before.  Mark paddled this boat in the 2002 Cross Florida Challenge (CFC), so it already knows the way 🙂   I can’t imagine success in any other boat on the Rivers.

Picture above of Marty (SaltyFrog) with his wooden kayak and Emily (who partnered with Mark) with the Kruger Cruiser during 2002 CFC.

Decisions Decisions

The unfortunate drought in Northern Florida has rendered long sections of the St Mary’s and the Suwannee Rivers to be very low, in some places even without water.   This has completely messed up Stage4 of the Ultimate Florida Challenge, making it almost impossible to complete as originally designed, and requiring some changes to the rules to allow participants to figure out how to make it work.

Picture taken by JollyRoger (Roger Mann) on his UFC scouting trip in November 2011, see his blog report here.

Chief of WaterTribe has now relaxed the rules completely for Stage 4, leaving competitors to decide what their own goals are for this section of the challenge.  He calls this relaxation of the official rules the ‘Daniel Boone Option”.

In a recent posting on the WaterTribe Forum, he says:

“You all can handle stage 4 pretty much any way you want that makes sense for your goals and your adventure. Heck, if your adventure allows you to flag down a passing pickup truck and hitch a ride along the way between Traders Hill and White Springs, I won’t say a word. Daniel Boone would be proud.”

My response, on forum, “WTF”,  was a bit rude.  It can’t be easy for Chief trying to organize a challenge when Mother Nature has thrown a huge curve ball, rendering many of the participants needing to ask for special considerations.   Participants spend a lot of time, energy and money to plan for this Challenge; he has been forced to be more accommodating, in order to keep the Challenge alive.

Needless to say this is wreaking havoc with Alan’s and my plans.  We had been working really hard to figure out how to do this Challenge in a Class 5 (multihull) trimaran.   This in itself is a bit different, since the Challenge was likely originally designed for kayak and canoe.  Interest among larger mono hull (class4) and mulit-hull’ers in the Challenge forced a slight change of rule to allow a boat switch on the Rivers, yet we still felt our “Mosquito” could handle the Rivers and we could paddle it.

Our latest concession is to switch boats.  Our trimaran would really only work for the entire Challenge under fairly normal River conditions, it is too heavy and with a draft that will be completely impossible to manage given the current River levels.

So I’ve been working hard trying to figure out our best options for the Rivers, and the portage, canoe vs. kayak, and who would lend us one that would hold the bike(s) for the portage.    Now with the newest and complete relaxation of rules, I may need to go back to the drawing board, as this could change things somewhat.

Need to talk to Alan to decide what we want to do.  So many decisions stay tuned.

Workout Schedule

My “ideal” January training schedule for the UFC is detailed below.  I consider this my fairly serious training mode (last couple months before Challenge).   Ideal is not always reality of course :), there is no rest day since inevitably there will be at least one day a week I can’t pull it off, but at least I have a plan.

  • Mon: Trail Jog (am)
  • Tue: Swim (am), Spin Class (noon), Yoga (pm)
  • Wed: Trail Jog  (am), Weights/Core (noon), Pool Rolling (pm)
  • Thu: Swim (am), Spin Class (noon), Yoga (pm)
  • Fri: Weights/Core (am), Night paddle (pm)
  • Sat: Long Paddle
  • Sun: Bike long + Paddle

 Alan (SOS) my UFC partner just sent me this picture of his training regimen, He’s on a train from Vienna to Venice.  The picture was titled ‘Alan training hard’.


Time to Train

Time to switch to serious training for the 2012 WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge.  I paddle and expedition all year long, but come the 1st of each year, the training needs to ramp up quite a bit for my annual March Challenge.

Training over my years of WaterTribe has become a bit different.  The first couple of years I trained really really hard, needing the confidence and worrying I wasn’t fit enough.  For my 2006 UFC I created a website (very antiquated) and posted my then training log, I trained hard.   But, you learn quickly in a WaterTribe Challenge that while fitness is expected, it’s really your mind that gets you through it.

This year again will be very different.  Teaming up with my son Alan (SOS), sailing a trimaran he’s designed and is building for the 1200 mile race.

My last blog post ‘The Mosquito Floats’ was us testing out the trimaran in “River Mode”, with amas pulled in to 7 ft. (sailing width is 14 ft).

We needed to assess paddling vs rowing.  A double rowing station would clearly be fastest, however, we found she paddled well enough to eliminate the downsides of rowing; the extra weight of 2 sets of oars, figuring out rowing seats and where to locate oar locks.

I’ve started ramping up the paddling distances.  There will likely be no sailing on the Rivers (St Mary’s and Suwanee), and with 320 miles of Rivers to paddle, the paddling distance will be greater than the whole of the 300 mile Everglades Challenge.

Also back to biking, there is that 40 mile portage.  Drought in Northern Florida has the River levels quite low.  With our trimarans anticipated weight and draft, we may find we are adding many more extra miles of bike tow portaging.   The current plan is 2 bikes, one towing the main hull, the other the amas, distributing the gear, mast, sails, etc… between us.  Bike towing is the only way we can manage the portaging with the boats weight and size, even though the race requires we carry the 2 bikes and carts the whole 1200 miles.

Then there is the sailing.  If you’ve followed my blog over the years you’ll know I’m really a paddler, not a sailor.  But after Paul (DancesWithSandyBottom) and Alan built our “Dawn Patrol” for the WaterTribe Challenges they have done together, I’ve had so me time over the past few years to learn a bit.

That said, I’ve never sailed a multi-hull before.  Alan will Captain that part of the Challenge.  He’s quite experienced having completed a number of Tybee 500’s over the years.  Course his style of sailing is a bit more adventuresome than mine has been.

Cat launching off a beach on East Coast of Florida during a Tybee 500.

Alan told me he’s training too. Yea right!  The other day he hopped a train from Vienna to Venice as he vacations with his girlfriend in Germany, Italy, Spain, and wherever they feel like going.  He’ll be back home early February to finish building the boat.  And I hope in time for some sea trials.

Hello world!

A new blog!  I’ve been blogging since 2005 when I started training for the 1st  WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge (UFC) in March 2006.  That blog ‘SandyBottom’s Sea Kayaking and Other Adventures’, and it’s archive of many WaterTribe Challenges and adventures will continue.

However, as my son Alan (SOS) and I prepare for the upcoming March 2012 UFC, I’ll be posting here, and sending traffic from my original blog this way.

It’s going to be quite a ride, or should I say “Sail, Paddle, and Bike Portage, all 1200 miles worth.