We Did It!

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Gus Presenting our Finishing T-Shirts

We launched today at about 1120 hrs. from the Fernandina Beach Harbor Ramp. The outgoing tide was ripping. Our kayaks ended up traveling about 6 mph in the moderate chop of the channel. Appropriate for the last day.

Before we knew it, we were at Fort Clinch and heading for the 14th Street ramp. Our friends and family lined the way and gave up a mighty cheer as we took our last paddle strokes.

Success! Our 1515 mile circumnavigation complete.

Afterwards, we enjoyed food, beverages, and camaraderie. Three other veterans of the trail showed up- Gus Bianchi, Carl Anderson, and Ian Brown. We had a great time talking with them and comparing trail notes.

Gus presented us with “Florida Circumnavigational Paddling Trail Completed” T-Shirts at the end. What a wonderful surprise.

Now it’s time to celebrate. Here’s our after paddle party song! (Thanks Jason).

Stay tuned for more updates and summaries in the days to come.

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CT Finishers Club (L/R) Marc, Carl Anderson, Jim, Ian Brown, Gus Bianchi

Special Thanks

We appreciate the generous hospitality of the Hampton Inn and Suites of Amelia Island for hosting our entire team during the finish. The facility is wonderful and the staff top notch. They took care of us the entire time we were there.

Advance Around,

Jim and Marc

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Landing Eve

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“The truth is of course is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.”
~David Bowie

The stark reality this adventure is ending tomorrow hit us as we paddled north from the Amelia Island State Park Put In. We began reminiscing. Talking about people we met along the way and the remarkable experiences we shared.

Of course we remembered the good times and the difficult. The big ocean swells and the placid waters. We laughed at some memories and cursed others. We became silent letting it all sink in. Man, what a ride.

We both admit there is part of us that’s ready for this adventure to be over. At the same time a little voice in the back of our head is whispering “You’re going to miss the achy muscles, the adrenalin rush of crashing a kayak through 8 foot sea swells, and looking up on a clear night trying to fathom those billion stars in the sky”.

Tomorrow, we’ll paddle slow and remember it all over again. Heck, from now on, when we climb into the cockpit of a kayak we’ll flashback and remember some moment of this trip. How lucky is that?

As we round the last bend and catch the first glimpse of all our family and friends on shore we’ll know our 1515 mile trek is complete. We will have arrived and departed all at the same time.

Advance Around,

Marc and Jim

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A Brass Monkey Walks into a Bar…

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Chilly Launch from Sisters Creek

Good golly it was cold this morning! We shoved off late due to the tide table and hoped the sun would provide some warmth. Marc shivered even though he wore a base layer, fleece cap, and his arctic paddling gloves. He attributes his cold nature to not having much body fat. Jim wore his usual attire. He just doesn’t get cold.

There wasn’t much boat traffic in this stretch and no aquatic life was spotted. The usual pelicans and shore birds were out trying to catch a meal.

The scenery has changed. More flatlands. Wide open spaces. We see lots of potential camping spots along the way too.

About halfway through our 9 mile paddle the water flow changes in our favor. Our speed increases and the paddling becomes easier.

We cross Nassau Sound and land near Amelia Island State Park.

Marc’s SPOT Gen2 Messenger failed again today transmitting only one OK message instead of the 3 he attempted. At the landing, the device began blinking a red light in the Power On button as soon as he hit the Custom Message button. Then the device shut down automatically. Same thing it did two days ago. All this is very frustrating and SPOT Tech Support offered no help yesterday other than to say it was bad batteries.

Big Surprise

As soon as we landed, Marc was shocked to see Bob and Marilyn, neighbors from back home walk up! They drove down to intercept us. What a fantastic surprise. After hugs, handshakes, and high fives they opened a cooler filled with cold beer, club sandwiches, and potato chips. We ate right there in the parking lot. The perfect tailgate party. Thanks guys for driving all that way. You made us smile.

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Marilyn and Bob with Marc at Nassau Sound Landing

Tomorrow we hit Fernandina Beach! We are right on schedule.

Advance Around,

Marc and Jim

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Waiting Out a Storm Front

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KA POW!!

A storm front passed through today dumping heavy rain and causing power outages in the Jacksonville, FL area. The temperature dropped as well.

We decided to lay low and not paddle in the rain. It was a good excuse for Jim to rest his achy foot and keep it dry. Elevating it helps too. The swelling continues to go down. Looks promising.

Our paddle continues tomorrow. Closer to the end, bitter sweet emotions are starting to manifest. Fighting off post travel depression will be in order. Marc’s already considering ping pong or speed stacking lessons.

We are still on schedule to finish Saturday March 1, 2014 landing around noon at the North End Boat Ramp at Fort Clinch. The ramp is also known as the 14th Street Ramp and the Dee Dee Bartels Ramp.

Advance Around,

Marc and Jim

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Headed to Sisters Creek

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Today was an early day. We awoke around 0530 hrs. in order to make it to the launch site at the Palm Valley Bridge by 0730 hrs. We expect to do another 20 mile day and land at the Sisters creek kayak launch. This is solely because of the tide table and our concern for crossing the St. John’s River. A flood tide begins around 1130 hrs. and we want that rather than an outgoing tide which will carry us towards the ocean.

Foot Update

Jim’s foot injury started draining yesterday. He’s done a good job of keeping it clean, dry, and covered with a gauze pad. The swelling appears to have subsided. Marc helps him launch and land his kayak so the foot stays dry. We haven’t let our guard down and continually monitor it.

Big Fish

After we launched, our friend Gus went kayak fishing near our pick up point. He caught a 32 inch redfish but had to release it since it was too long to keep. Wow! He managed to catch a sea trout too but it was too small to keep.

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SPOT Update

Marc’s SPOT stopped working yesterday. The Power On button showed a red flashing light which indicates either a self-check hardware fault or low battery problem. He wasn’t able to send a Custom message yesterday upon landing. Funny, the device shut off automatically too.

This morning he installed new batteries and got a green OK light upon turning the unit on. However, none of his OK messages transmitted. The device flashed red again at the end of the day and would not transmit a Custom message. Very frustrating that the unit decides to crap out at mile 1485 of a 1515 mile journey.

He replaced batteries three times afterwards and called SPOT Tech Support. No help. The device now shows a green light upon powering on.

Hopefully it will continue working.

Advance and Ooze Around,

Marc and Jim

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Leaving St. Augustine, FL

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Our Friend Gary LeVeille (middle)

For some reason we couldn’t sleep last night. Both of us tossed and turned. Perhaps it was the fact that we had to do a 20 mile day today and worried about how Jim’s foot would hold up.

Our buddy, Gary LeVeille, met us at the motel at 0800 hrs. with egg mcmuffins, hash browns, and coffee. It hit the spot. By 0830 hrs. we were dragging the yaks through thick grayish black mud along the shore at low tide. Somehow Jim was able to get inside his boat without getting his injured foot wet. With a wave goodbye we set off.

The scenery along this stretch reminded us of the paddling in the panhandle. Lots of flatlands and sawgrass.

We had our closest encounter with a dolphin today too. This one was very curious of our yaks and swam underneath both boats before surfacing on the right then the left of us. So close it made us a little uncomfortable.

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One of the many derelict boats we paddle by everyday

Around 1030 hrs. the flood tide caught up with us and our speed increased to 4.5 to 5 mph. That made a big difference. We landed at the Palm Valley Road Bridge. Gus was there to pick us up. Yea!

Tomorrow is another day. We are probably going to do another long day while the tide table is favorable.

Advance Around,

Marc and Jim

Note- Marc’s SPOT device failed to send an end of day ping from Palm Valley Bridge and shut off automatically. New batteries may be in order.

Also, Jim forgot to turn off his InReach. Thus the crazy track.

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The Low Down

Here’s the Latest Update:

Jim went for a follow-up visit at Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine, FL. this morning. The doctor ordered an X-ray to make sure there wasn’t an insect stinger still inside the wound. That turned out negative. Afterwards, Jim got the green light to continue paddling with some cautions. The doctor said this is still a serious infection that must be monitored. Everyone at Flagler Hospital has been remarkable.

Come Hell or High Water

We mapped out a paddle schedule last night. Our goal is to finish in Fort Clinch at the Georgia/Florida border around noon on Saturday March 1, 2014. We will land at the north end boat ramp in the park (N30.6958 W81.4600).

Our friend Gus has offered to assist us with shuttling during these last few days similar to what we did in the Keys. Gus has been nothing short of amazing in his support. Words can’t express our gratitude.

Kudos

We’d also like to thank Gary LeVeille for all his help in St. Augustine. He drove Jim to the urgent care and hospital. Then took us to eat and get supplies. That means a lot!

Advance Around,

Marc and Jim

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Oldest Wooden School House in the USA

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The Basilica in St. Augustine

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Sign in Window of Ann O’Malleys- St. Augustine’s Oldest Irish Pub

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Take Two Pills and Call Me in the Morning

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St. Augustine

We’ve been monitoring Jim’s foot to see if we can tell of any change. Getting better? Getting worse? Not sure.

One thing is for certain, a follow-up at the hospital is set for tomorrow morning. We are anxious to see what the doctors think. Mainly to determine if the right antibiotics were prescribed.

The follow-up will also determine our paddle schedule and finish date. Stay tuned.

WOOT WOOT!
Marc celebrates his birthday today!

Advance Around,

Marc and Jim

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Doctor, Doctor, Gimme the News…

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Bobcat tracks were all over our camp site this morning. We ate and packed up quick to catch the tide out. We were also trying to beat the rain forecast for later today.

Jim’s foot was swollen, red, and on fire. It hurt him to put on his paddle booties, even more to push against the foot pegs of the yak. We’ve come to realize it’s probably infected.

The 14 mile paddle went quick. We somehow outran the rain. Our motel is the Edgewater Inn on the northeast side of the Bridge of Lions. There’s a beach so landing was easy.

Our friend and former co-worker Gary LeVeille met us here. He’s a professional photographer in St. Augustine so he grabbed some good pics as we arrived. Also here is our paddling friend Gus Bianchi. Wow!

After checking in, Gary drove Jim to an Urgent Care facility while Gus and Marc drove to a nearby laundromat to wash dirty clothes.

Bad News

The doctors at the Urgent Care will not treat Jim’s foot. It’s in too bad of shape. Instead they refer him to the the ER at the main hospital.

Once there, he’s shuttled in immediately and doctors diagnosed his foot as having cellulitis. Jim’s also running a fever. Their concern is the infection spreading to his blood stream. A very serious situation. Originally, the doctors wanted to admit him but when his white blood cell count came back only slightly elevated they began a course of IV antibiotics, pain meds, and Tylenol.

20140221-210645.jpgOuch!

Jim was released several hours later and given a prescription for two different types of antibiotics and a painkiller. He’s on orders to follow-up with the hospital in 24-48 hrs. Immediately, if the redness spreads further. Yikes!

So for now, our plan is to stay in St. Augustine, re-visit the hospital on Sunday, and shove off Monday. We only have 70 miles left. So close yet so far.

We are fortunate to have Gary and Gus here to assist us during this little setback.

Thanks also to everyone who’s sent well wishes. It means a lot!

Special shout out to the doctors and staff at Flagler Hospital especially Charles and Tim. You guys rock!

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Jim tried to draw our route around Florida for the Doc’s on his foot. Crazy!

Advance Around (with a sore foot),

Jim and Marc

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Foot Loose, Fancy Free, and Double Digits

Jim woke up last night to throbbing foot pain. We thought his foot injury was getting better but it has yet to resolve. Red and swollen, we worry about infection now.

So as soon as we hit St. Augustine he will go to a minor emergency clinic to see what the doctor says. Our hope is for some strong antibiotics so he can get back to dancing around the fire at night.

That means we still have to paddle 14.5 miles tomorrow. But he’s been dealing with the pain for the past 5 days. Just no where to get medical attention. Pretty hard core on Jim’s part.

Tonight we’re on Mellon Island. It’s super nice. Land donated for conservation purposes by the Mellon family. Thank you!

Earlier we had a fly over by a curious helicopter just checking us out. Thanks guys.

Oh,and we hit the Double Digit Midget Countdown Zone today. Only 86 miles to go! Yeehaw!!

Advance Around,

Jim and Marc

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