Coast Guard halts Everglades Challenge

Published on March 7th, 2015

The Water Tribe Everglades Challenge, an unsupported, expedition style adventure race for kayaks, canoes, and small boats, started Saturday (Mar 7) in Tampa Bay, Florida, with approximately 135 boats of various sizes and more than 240 people taking on the 300 nm course to Key Largo, Florida.

They didn’t get that far.

After the Coast Guard saved 12 people from the water near Englewood, Florida on Saturday, the event was terminated by the Coast Guard due to numerous cases of people capsizings, people with various stages of hyperthermia, and the weather on scene deteriorating with 4-foot seas and 20-knot winds.

“Our number one concern is safety of life at sea,” said Chief Petty Officer Rob Davis, a search and rescue coordinator at the sector. “With the weather deteriorating quickly, no manifest provided to the Coast Guard and unknown safety spotters on scene, we will unfortunately have to terminate the event.”

The Coast Guard terminated the event at the first check point at Cape Haze Marina in Englewood, just over 60 miles from the start in Fort Desoto Park located on Mullet Key in Tampa Bay.

“We always want people to have fun on the water, we just want them to be safe doing it,” said Chief Warrant Officer Rob Swanson, a search and rescue coordinator at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “We can’t stress enough how important it is to always be safe out there. The sea is unforgiving.”

The annually held event, which must be completed within eight days, requires entrants to carry all equipment and supplies needed to complete the course in which they are allowed no safety boats or support of any kind.

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