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  • Writer's pictureErin Spineto

Official Rules for the 2011 100-mile Solo Sail

Someone else has developed most athletic endeavors you sign up for. You choose a marathon or a triathlon or, if you are really up for an extremely daring undertaking, you sign up for the Florida Challenge, a 1200-mile paddle around the whole state of Florida.

The rules are set, the course is chosen, and all you have to do is show up. You are given a copy of the rules so you know the criteria you have to meet to consider yourself a winner or even a finisher.

With my own sailing challenge, I need to set up some rules to make sure I achieve what I set out to achieve. Some of the rules are for safety purposes, to ensure I stay on the boat long enough to make it to Key West. Others are to make sure I don’t take the easy way out when things get rough. And still others are there to make sure that everyone who is watching is able to enjoy the journey as I take it.

So here they are, the Official Rules of the 2011 Insulindependence Florida Keys Challenge.


1. Erin Spineto (heretofore called Sailor) must take a 22’ Catalina from the Key Lime Sailing Club in Key Largo Florida to Garrison Bight Harbor in Key Largo Florida in the four days bounded by 22 February 2011 to 25 February 2011.

2. There shall be at no time any passengers aboard save for the mosquitoes that are known to haunt the area.

3. It will be considered necessary to sleep each night on the boat, despite available hotel rooms with fresh, dry linens and warm motionless beds.

4. It will be deemed acceptable to stop each night at a boat slip and use marina facilities, but any other stops during the day will be prohibited. It will be acceptable to restock supplies at each stop and to eat one hot meal at a restaurant at each stop.

5. The motor will be allowed to dock and leave dock if deemed necessary but sailing into and out of port will always be preferred. The motor will not be used for any other purpose unless it is for safety concerns.

6. At each checkpoint, some object of significance will be left to signify Sailor’s accomplishment.


1. Sailor’s location will be shared with those following her progress on Sailor’s GPS position will be posted to the map every thirty minutes.

2. Sailor will hourly tweet some 140 hopefully deep and inspirational characters, although they will probably turn out a little more sarcastic and silly.

3. Sailor will try to upload two videos to her blog each day. She will try to make them more than just a bobbing horizon line that will cause the viewer to become seasick. Maybe she will even capture a manatee to share with the world.

4. Sailor will try to post blog updates nightly on the day’s activities assuming the sunset had not stolen her last bit of attention before she passes out for the deepest and most restful sleep one can get after spending the day bobbing on the water and retiring to a floating bed for the night.


1. Sailor will wear a life vest at all times when underway. This life vest will be tethered to the boat to prevent her from falling overboard with no one left on board to turn the boat around to rescue her. This way her husband and mother will be reassured of her continued safety.

2. In the very rare chance (let’s hope it’s a negligible chance) that the boat sinks, Sailor will wear a Personal Locating Beacon which will report her sunken status to the Coast Guard who will hopefully respond by sending a highly trained team to rescue her from the water.

3. An “All OK” text will be sent to shore contact every three hours to reassure those onshore that there is no reason to worry about Sailor’s condition and that her diabetes is well controlled and she is doing just fine.

4. Sailor will do all things necessary to prevent heat exhaustion in the lovely seventy-degree weather with tropical sunshine beating down on her all-too-fair Irish skin. This includes limiting herself to one, count that, one, Diet Dr. Pepper each day.

She will need to drink actual water (something quite difficult for her on land) and Propel during her time on the water. She will wear sunscreen and a hat and resist the temptation to work on her tan, knowing that she will only turn into a creature resembling the nightly special at the restaurant attached to the fancy hotel where she will not be staying.

5. Sailor will check the weather report twice daily and will use the weather prediction skills she has taught to countless sixth graders in her Earth Science classes while laughing to herself that she was, in fact, right when she told them that they would one day really use this stuff.

6. Sailor will not be too proud to admit if the weather has gotten too dangerous for her to continue and will console herself by finding the closest pub to grab a bite and work on the memoir she is writing about this very trip.

She will watch the skies and wait for a weather window to try to make up for lost time, but will not beat herself up for things that are beyond her control, reminding herself that had she not gotten gravely ill last year when this trip was originally planned, she would have been sailing on the very day that the first hurricane of the 2010 season hit.

7. Sailor will try to enjoy herself at all times and realize what an amazing opportunity this is to take on a challenge like this.

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