What do you do after you’ve completed a grueling 300-mile expedition-style adventure race from Tampa Bay to Key Largo in an 8-foot Eastport Pram? Most folks would pack up the boat, toss it on the car top carrier, and hit the interstate to get home to air conditioning, hot showers, clean sheets, and home cooked meals. And stay put for a while – maybe a long while – to cogitate on the adventure and share stories with friends and family. And then there’s our dauntless friend Marian Buszko.

At the end of March, just a couple of weeks after his successful completion of the 2013 Watertribe Everglades Challenge, Marian set off to voyage an additional 400 miles or so up the east coast of Florida from Key Largo to St. Augustine with the boat, Rocking Baby, which he built in 2011. This additional mileage probably makes him the first man to ever circumnavigate the Florida peninsula in an Eastport Pram.

On this leg, however, he wasn’t racing and took his time, spreading the voyage across three weeks instead of a mere six days, sailing and rowing a total of nine 24-hour passages up the coast in a range of weather conditions both favorable and less so, and spending weekends at home or at one of his children’s homes with the members of his shoreside support team: his family.

For the most part, he made headway “power sailing” – rowing and sailing at the same time for added speed – but there were stretches where the breeze cooperated to maximize sailing performance, as well as those where there wasn’t a breath and he had to rely on muscle power alone.

“I did have some very favorable winds, and some headwinds as well, and a share of with-the-current and against-the-current stretches,” Marian says. “The toughest were those into the wind and into the current and tide at the same time, but I am not complaining. It was a very joyous and rewarding ride overall.”

On this adventure, shoreside help was not only allowed but welcome from his wife, sons and daughter, who all pitched in to support Marian’s effort. At one point, near Satellite Beach, he says, “I received a very simple and sweet but commanding text message from my wife saying ‘Honey, get out of the water, tornado warning.’” Facing a rocky shoreline in developing waves and wind, he headed for safety. “Sure enough, [some] really bad weather passed over me not long afterwards, with fierce winds, heavy rain, and a spectacular display of thunderbolts, all in the early hours of the night.”

Also on the shoreside support team were two boating friends and Marian’s brother, watching his progress via the same SPOT reporting system used during the race, and sharing frequent e-mail and text communication with him. “This greatly added to the enjoyment of the trip and the increased awareness of the immense beauty of the surroundings and the ephemeral nature of certain events, like sunrise, sunset, passing boats, bridge crossings, overflying and chirping birds, and even specific smells that one encounters while passing by,” Marian says.

Marian described two passages as especially fast and memorable. “The first,” he said,” from Key Largo to Fort Lauderdale, a 70 nm GPS distance, took me just 24 hours, 2 PM to 2 PM the next day exactly. This passage included both the solitude and relative vastness of the Biscayne Bay, south of Miami, at night, as well as spectacular views of Miami-area bridges, high-rise condominiums, and single-family waterfront palaces.”

He finished the voyage with a second fast and memorable one-day passage from Daytona Beach to Saint Augustine, in 22 hours exactly, from 2 AM to midnight, enjoying what he describes as “perhaps the most exhilarating sailing in the last six hours of the trip, in the waters immediately south of St. Augustine.”

At left, the tent over the boom shields the interior of the boat and its skipper from the elements. Here at a marina in Satellite Beach, Marian found a comfortable place to wait out the storm and subsequently leave the boat for a week while the bad weather continued.

Below, the boat sits on a dinghy rack in St. Augustine at voyage's end, awaiting new adventures, slightly bruised after a head-on collision with a channel marker. “I was power-sailing at the time, at the inlet near Fort Pierce, at just over three knots,” Marian explains. “At the impact, I was knocked flat on the boat."  Damage was superficial, however.  "The watertight compartment at the bow was not compromised and I continued my journey.”


 



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