Way back in the day my father built a boat designed by some guy named Jim Michalak. I was in college at the time and thought it was interesting that Bill built this boat. You have to understand that my father is a little bit of a renaissance man, good at a lot of things but not an expert in anything. He always had some project or fascination for a few months then carried on to something else. Here is very short list of some of the things my father has done. Spelunking, parachuting, car repair, piloting a plane, building radio control F3B gliders and competing internationally with them, motorcross cycle racing, building robots, programing, building things in general, bonsai, karate, Aikido, judo, flamenco guitar, photography, operating on skunks, snake handling, building alarm systems, escaping from Mexican prisons, and then, he built a boat. This was about 16 years ago. So needless to say I thought this was a passing fade and he would be moving on to breeding race horses or whittling walking sticks in no time. But something strange happened on the way to the forum. This hobby stuck. I guess there’s a first time for everything.
And I am glad that it did. For one thing, I really got the bug to build and sail my own boats, and so did my brother Sean. Secondly, it is something that we share and get to spend time together doing. If it wasn’t for boating I don’t think 80% of the conversations we have had over the past 16 years would have happened. So if I was a religious man I would call it a blessing, but because I am not I will call it awesome sauce.
Back then there was this new event being started called the Everglades Challenge. (http://www.watertribe.com/events/EvergladesChallenge/Default.aspx) It is a hellish race that takes place every year for people with a lot of money, training, and insanity. I wanted to do it to and had just been bitten by this bug. But reality set it. I just didn’t have the money to compete in this event, and my first boat wasn’t fit for something like this challenge. A few years later and the Everglades Challenge has now become an institution. Chuck Lienweber (founder of www.duckworksmagazine.com) liked the idea but I think he saw the possibility of doing a more informal event. Kinda like a rolling Messabout. For those who don’t know a Messabout is, it is simply a gathering of small boat nuts who get together to sail and poke around on the water for a day or two. Chuck is from Texas and decided to do a raid type Messabout event along the outer banks of Texas in the gulf. (http://texas200.com/) By this point in 2008 Bill, Sean, and I had the bug bad. As of 2014 between the three of us we have built 10 boats, many of which were prototype builds. For more information on that first Texas 200 and what happened to me and Bill please read this article : http://www.duckworksmagazine.com/09/gatherings/horrible/index.htm
Now its been a few years and Bill and I have done the OBX130 several times, the Florida 120 once, and the Texas 200. BUT we have always done these events is “large” boats. Large is a relative term. By most peoples standards the boats we sail are very small and to take them out for 5 days at a time ridiculous. We are talking about boats from about 14′ up to 18′ in length. Most sailors who go out for a week will be on at least a 26′ to 30′ boat. Well we are upping the anti this year and a bunch of like minded boat nuts will be doing this years event in an 8′ open sailing dingy. Thats about the size of a coffin in case you are wondering, only a little wider. 14 of us will be doing this and along the way raising money for Live Strong. These boats are called Puddle Duck Racers, or PDR’s for short. The 14 of us who are doing this are all very experienced sailors, and we need to be because this could be dagerous. The winds will be between 20 and 30 miles per hour. The heat index will be well in excess of 100 degrees. Sun stroke and dehydration are very real possibilities. We will be well away from civilization and help. We could get run over by very large barges if we aren’t careful. The four campsites we have to make it two make up 200 miles of sailing. In an 8 foot boat that means that we will be setting sail before dawn and getting into the next camp site around sunset. The other craft that will be doing this trip will have longer water length hulls meaning that they will have much shorter days and exposure. Added to that is another interesting factor. Because we will be in last place everyday any larger boat that founders will need help and we will be the ones on the scene to help them. You can read an interesting account of just this thing happening here : http://www.andrewlinn.com/2008/080609texas200/index.htm
SO all in all this should be very “fun.”
I hope you can join me and follow my progress. I will number my posts so you can keep track of my adventures. Last time I did this I had some reception here and there so I hope to send in some posts to my wife who will update this blog.
If you want to donate to the cause please use this link: http://tinyurl.com/pyntohb
To follow us on using a GPS tracker please use this link: http://tinyurl.com/MoffittLivestrongTexas200
This event starts on JUNE 9 and ends on JUNE 13