Everglades Challenge 2023

I’m attempting the Everglades Challenge again this year. Start is 10AM on Saturday March 4th from East Beach at Ft Desoto Park, St Petersburg FL. Finish is +/- 300 miles away at the Pelican Cottages, Key Largo FL before 7am on Sunday March 12th. I’ll be in Class 1 with a sail; I believe I am the only solo female paddler this year (there are usually a few, but this year it’s just me).

Info here: watertribe.com

I’ll post more info about the tracker maps when it gets closer but my Tribe name is MolaMola

I packed my food yesterday - a variety of Clif bars, Stinger waffles dried kiwi and mango slices, canned tuna snacks, Boost plus, peanut M&Ms, a few freeze dried meals and Chef Boyardee lasagna, homemade trail mix. Sunday I’ll do a final pack of all of my gear in the kayak; I made a few changes from last year but nothing major. I’ll try to take pics as I pack as I know some of you might be interested.

Weather is looking OK right now - lots of chatter on the WaterTribe FB page and forums about it of course! Still 9 days out so lots of time for the weather to change and change again.

Looking forward to seeing @gstamer on the beach as well! His 11th trip, I think??

Screenshot from my training paddles on the tracker map - haha, I think I pretty much covered the entire coastline of Pinellas county a few times over!


You forgot the Moon Pies.

I was always partial to gels, like runners use.

Most important thing I don’t see is hydration, you need a few gallons.

Good luck, you never know what you are up against until you get there.

I’ll have about 10 liters of water/Gatorade on board. Yesterday I was focusing on the food.

Moon pies sound like a perfect EC snack! They’d get pretty squished though. Still tasty.

Best of luck! Looks like a fast setup but doesn’t seem like much food. I don’t go stoveless, gotta have my coffee (albeit instant) in the morning.

How long do you have to go between faucets during the race? I’m used to paddling the Great Lakes where water is just a Sawyer squeeze filter away.

I do have stove (Jetboil), we are required to carry one. I don’t do coffee but will have a few freeze dried meals on board. I actually feel like I have too much food - it’s a tough balancing act!

Water is available at all the checkpoints, and theoretically the first 1/2 of the race (up to CP2) is in a heavily built up area so water isn’t that hard to find. Things may be a bit different this year since we are paddling through ground zero where Hurricane Ian hit, so places where water was available in past years may not be available this year. The stretch from CP2 to CP3 in Everglades NP is when you really need to have all of your water topped off as there is nothing out there at all.

Best of Luck! Thanks for keeping us updated! Looks like you are well organized, hopefully the weather will be reasonable.

Fair winds to you and KayakVagabond! Will be following the race from my snowy abode.

Fair winds and following seas. Be safe & have fun.

Nutritionists say we should eat brightly colored foods. Peanut M&Ms make way more sense than berries and greens and such on this adventure. Good call and good luck!

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Good Paddling!

I’m Looking forward to meeting you at the check in. I have been using Deep Zoom to figure out the tides and water depth for sailing over from Shell Key on Friday. I see the forecast looks like southerly winds of 22mph around noon on Friday, but on Saturday westerly at about 13 at launch time. The flood tide is doing about .5kn at 10 on Saturday and dropping to slack about 1 in the Mullet Key Channel.

Would you be using the sail in 13mph winds? Looks like the tidal current and wind will be on your starboard beam. Would you plot a ferry compass angle for crossing Tampa Bay, or just use the GPS to stay on a straight crossing?

Love the photo of paddling the coast of Pinellas County. As a Teen we went to Indian Rocks beach to swim. Living east of Tampa we fished the east side of Hillsborough Bay, and McKay Bay.
If we sail over, we will be in Rusty’s Blue Heron named Little Orca.

May you have fair winds and following seas and the best of luck.

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I can use the sail in 13 mph but could be a little dicey on the beam. I can reef it as well so that’s an option if it’s too windy. Once I get across the bay and turn SSE the westerly should be great - won’t be super rough in Sarasota bay as it would be with a northerly but still should be able to get some help from the sail. I’m slightly concerned that W really means SW but in any case the wind is supposed to slacken up overnight.

For crossing Tampa bay I’ll just go line of sight (I know where the ICW entrance is from the Ft Desoto side) or GPS if vis isn’t good enough. The current strength and direction will change enough across the bay that constant little adjustments are necessary. At least since we aren’t starting at 7am it won’t be dead low tide - less of a drag getting the boat down the beach!

It does look quite windy on Friday - if you do make it to the beach by boat there won’t be much protection from wind/waves. You can sail there from either direction but of course need to factor the fixed bridge going into the park vs the “offshore” route. We paddled from Shell Key to East Beach for boot camp a few weeks ago and decided the inshore route was shorter but got stuck in the mud in a crazy low tide - and this is somewhere we have all paddled a million times! I had never seen the tide that low!


Did my “final” packing yesterday - now just a million little details to wrap up this week. Weather looking iffy for Saturday but so far not bad after that. We will see if we get a normal beach launch or if we go to “Plan B” where everyone can launch anywhere before the first checkpoint.

Nice to do this all in the garage on a hot day!

On deck set up:

Everything out of the boat and into bags by hatch:

Bow hatch: mostly food plus toiletries, Jetboil and a few other things:

Paddling gear:

Day hatch: water, Gatorade, ditch bag, day “first aid” kit with bandaids, sunscreen, chapstick etc, spotlight

Stern hatch: tent, sleeping pads & quilt, clothes, a few other things:

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Seems like you’re missing something???
It certainly isn’t boats.
Good luck and have a great time!

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Haha there are two more kayaks that don’t live in that garage!

I’ve already remembered something that I forgot to pack yesterday - there will be more. I have a running list in my phone.

How do you have a garage when living on a sailboat? Good luck on your endeavor.

@coronaboy my parents house. 10 min away. For four years my kayaks lived at a fellow paddler’s house so this is luxury.

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Do you know the total weight of the gear that you’ll be hauling?

I haven’t weighed it but probably 60-70 lb including water. Fortunately the food (which weighs a lot) will go away as the race progresses.

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