Finishing Progress

Hi Shorty,

Made a lot of little improvements to make the boat look sharper and make it better for the Everglades Challenge. First, I received the waterproof inkjet 8X11" stickers in the mail today and made full use of them. I first printed out the boat logo, let it dry, and soaked it in the sink for awhile with no ill effects. Adhesive held well when I stuck it on a plastic lid. Then, I printed out three boat name stickers, two hull number stickers, two stickers, and stickers to acknowledge Duckworksmagazine's support and Polysail international support. I put the stickers on the transom as requested and another one on the forward deck right in front of the name sticker. Anyway, I will enclose pictures so you can see placement and the overall effect. Have to say that the yellow of the duck came out as a perfect match for the yellow of the hull.

Second, I had shock cord material and deck loops so decided to put a web of them on the flat deck in front of the cockpit. Kayakers have those and find them very useful for storage. I figure I can tuck wet stuff up there to keep it out of the cockpit. I added two extensions to give me some place to tuck the oar handles when not being used and/or stick the mast when it is down. The oarlocks are solid loops and I drilled holes in the bottom so I can put pins to prevent them from coming out. This way the oars are stored so that they can easily be employed. This is a safety feature along with the easy to deploy anchor. Speaking of, the rode is just tucked beneath some elastic cord but my next project is a mesh rode bag.

Third, I had to redo my steering lines since I extended the cockpit forward. Basically used the same method that worked before but added two jam cleats to the sides of the cockpit giving me the ability to lock the tiller for hands-free sailing. Only will use in calmer weather and when I need my hands free for something. Not something I would normally recommend for a puddle duck but, when you are sailing for double digit hours, it is really nice to be able to let go of the tiller once and awhile without the boat immediately rounding into the wind. You can see the tiller locks along with the new seat and pockets in one of the attached pictures.

I also have been busy on mental preparation going over the route in exhaustive detail, watching video and reading accounts from previous everglades challenges, and downloading tidal charts. More than ever I am convinced that if I get the same conditions they had 2007 through 2010 I will be able to complete the challenge in the ECduck. It will be a challenge but she does have the speed if I don't face too long of periods of headwinds or no wind.

My collecting of gear and provisions also is proceeding well. My main caloric intake will be from a variety of 200 calorie energy bars with homemade jerky as a supplement. I do have four MRE and a chemical based heating pack (no flames) I can use even while underway to make a warm meal. I also plan on bringing some fresh fruit and resupplying this at the checkpoints when possible. Mother nature has some great packaged products (oranges, bananas, and apples) for boating. I will bring an esbit solid-fuel stove to heat water for tea to warm up if needed but this will only be used when on shore. An aluminum waterbottle makes a great teapot with an insulated coozie to be able to hold it when hot.

My sleeping pad will be the blue seat seen in the attached pictures laid flat. The foam on this seat is 3" thick so should be fairly comfortable. I have modified a sleeping bag so it can be used as a quilt by cutting off the hood. That hood as been sewn into a funky hat I can wear to keep my head warm. I have a thermolite reactor liner to augment the bag and should be comfortable down to 40 degrees. In addition, I am taking a cloth reinforced emergency blanket complete with a full set of grommets on the edges. I can toss this over me for additional warmth, use it as a wrap to keep moisture out, rig it as a tarp to sleep under on a beach, or use it as an emergency sail if mine mainsail should be shredded. I am also bringing a bivy sack head net to keep the biting insects out when sleeping. I am bringing an inflatable pillow for comfort.

For navigation I will be using a Lowrance H20c GPS with tracks from all of Gary Blankenships past succesfull EC runs loaded. Backup will be my smartphone packed carefully away in one of the side airtanks. I have a waterproof and shockproof phone I will be using for communications. Backup to my backup will be paper charts and a compass to steer by. Navigation lights consist of a LED all around navigation light Chuck and Duckworksmagazine supplied. It will be placed in a pocket at the top of the sail and fastened in and will stay on for the full duration of the challenge. I will not have deck height navigation lights as the deck on the duck is not that much higher than the water. For night navigation I have an LED headlamp with bright white or red settings. The red light will be great for looking at charts and not ruining night vision. I will have a few other flashlights as well. I will also have a SPOT satellite locator on the boat as required by the Everglades Challenge so folks can watch my progress in real time and compare it to the other challengers.

There will be no cotton clothes on the boat and especially no blue jeans. Cotton is great at absorbing moisture and odors, is slow to dry, and has no insulative value when wet. My legs will be covered by longjohns (wool ones) and nylon pants both of which are quick drying and easy to wash. For my top I will have quick dry sport shirts next to my skin then can layer up with a merino wool hoodie, a wool sweater vest, and a breathable raincoat over all of this. I will also have another synthetic hoodie. Keep in mind, my outer shell is my boat and dodger and I could easily sail the boat while still in my sleeping bag! I am relying heavily on wool, as the Vikings did, as it is somewhat water repellent and still has insulative properties even when wet. Problem will be smell but that only bothers people when I come to shore.

Well, that is enough for now. I am hoping to get out on the lake this weekend to test all of these modifications and the sleep system.