The Everglades: Without a Plan
Corey and Sean are back together for the second installment of the Beneath the Surface podcast, The Everglades: Without a Plan. This time, they talk us through the craziest SUP camping and long distance paddle adventure of a lifetime. Over the course of what should have taken five or six days, they paddled 100 miles from Everglades City to Flamingo in just four days.
This podcast episode is not for the faint of heart. The guys discuss the animal that is their dear friend Clint, along with real wildlife, like raccoons, saltwater crocodiles, and bull sharks. This episode of the Beneath the Surface podcast will have your skin crawling and your sense of adventure on high alert. So sit back, press play, and enjoy.
COMING AT YOU DIRECT, FROM THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, TO THE CENTER OF EVERYWHERE.
Who's In The Episode
Lead Designer, Co-Founder, and CEO at BOTE, Corey Cooper is a licensed engineer hailing from Auburn University. Corey is the pioneer of the DarkRoom, assisting with the design of the machinery, concepting the layout and ultimately developing the workflow used in DarkRoom production. Corey’s passion for this project is so strong that on any given day, regardless of how busy things are at BOTE, you will often find Corey working in the DarkRoom.
Sean Murphy is the Director of Photography at BOTE and a world-renowned photographer based in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. After spending most of his career based in Los Angeles, shooting for brands like Adidas, Red Bull, and Toyota, just to name a few, Sean moved back to the Redneck Riviera. You can find Sean capturing gritty America and spontaneous moments that translate into visually stunning photography.
Clint Brown is a lifelong Floridian, long time friend of both Corey and Sean, and the Manager of BOTE Grayton Beach. Ethan Luppert is a former BOTE team racer and ambassador.
“Describing this adventure is not easy. There are so many layers. Can I just write a super long run-on sentence? I don't consider myself a writer even a little bit. Come to think of it, I didn't think of myself as a paddle boarder either, but I just paddled a little under a hundred miles in the Everglades in four days." – Sean Murphy / Director of Photography
“Within a couple of weeks, I witnessed and experienced so much cool shit. Corey made a paddle board that resembles a hybrid of a Columbian cocaine smuggling submarine and a cigar boat. Then we drove to the Everglades where in some respects we were prepared and some we were not. Shark-infested waters, sand spurs the size of golf balls, fearless raccoons, alligators and crocodiles, and near hypothermia are just a few things we encountered along the way. The last day, which happened to be my Birthday, we paddled thirty-five miles (mostly against the tide) surrounded by a lot of shit that wanted to eat us. My kids will never hear the end of it.” – Sean Murphy / Director of Photography
“Describing this adventure is not easy. There are so many layers. Can I just write a super long run on sentence? I don't consider myself a writer even a little bit. Come to think of it, I didn't think of myself as a paddle boarder either, but I just paddled a little under a hundred miles in the Everglades in four days." – Sean Murphy / Director of Photography
Within a couple of weeks, I witnessed and experienced so much cool shit. Corey made a paddle board that resembles a hybrid of a Columbian cocaine smuggling submarine and a cigar boat. Then we drove to the Everglades where in some respects we were prepared and some we were not. Shark infested waters, sand spurs the size of golf balls, fearless raccoons, alligators and crocodiles, and near hypothermia are just a few things we encountered along the way. The last day, which happened to be my Birthday, we paddled thirty five miles (mostly against the tide) surrounded by a lot of shit that wanted to eat us. My kids will never hear the end of it.
Corey and Sean are back to take you beneath the surface of the first of many epic adventures.
00:01:21 The Idea Was Born
100 miles. No food. No phone service. Also, no plan (obviously). Just a few friends who decided they wanted to paddle through the Florida Everglades.
00:03:36 To Set The Stage…
The idea resurfaced in November and they decided to make it happen. Corey was adamant he would design and make a custom stand up paddle board for the long distance SUP adventure in just a few weeks, which eventually turned into what we now know as the Traveller. They packed the essentials, mostly knives and machetes, along with Sean’s photography gear and Clint’s mayonnaise sandwich. Oh, and lots of clean water.
00:08:58 Off to a Rocky Start
With gear packed and everyone accounted for, the crew set out for South Florida in one vehicle (clearly not considering who would pick them up on the other side of the SUP adventure) and showed up at the Everglades National Park with close zero plans. After finagling a loose game plan and convincing the park ranger they weren’t completely insane, they found the boat ramp and got the party started.
“You know who doesn’t have a lot of gear on their board? Clint. Ya know, I was the least in shape and I had the most gear. And I said to Clint, ‘Clint, can you please carry something of mine, like one camera case?’ and I remember him looking at me and going, ‘no, man, that’s your stuff. That’s your problem.’ Thanks, Clint.” - Sean Murphy / Director of Photography
00:12:28 Zero Planning
Without considering the weather or the tide table, the motley crew heads to the first chickee hut, which is basically a floating dock with a portalet on it. Not exactly photo-worthy or the ideal place to get a good night’s sleep.
00:14:19 The First Night
The crew was equipped with clothes for stand up paddling in the daytime and mild sleeping temperatures. It didn’t occur to them to bring long sleeve clothes or anything other than hammocks for sleeping. Well, the first night it got down to 38° (arguably colder) and the chickee was shared with a (possibly) honeymooning couple nestled into a canoe on a romantic excursion in the Everglades. Needless to say, no sleep was had and hypothermia was a legitimate concern.
00:15:59 The Next Day
After making it through the first night, they grabbed their maps and GPS and started paddling down Lostmans River about 15 miles to Mormon Key. Unfortunately, the tide was against them the entire trek, playing cruel jokes on Sean by pushing him backwards every time he paused to take a picture.
00:18:24 Mormon Key
After realizing the chickees weren’t going to work, they stopped at Mormon Key for some SUP camping and R&R after a long day of stand up paddling. But this is when shit got weird.
“We’re sitting around the fire, no food, shells everywhere, and animals start coming out of the woodwork… raccoons are coming up right next to us, we have rats pushing and swinging us in the hammocks. It was like Dr. Doolittle.” - Corey Cooper / CEO and Co-Founder
00:20:37 Highland Beach
Next up was Highland Beach near Shark River in the Gulf, a 20 or 25 mile paddle from Mormon Key. Aside from bull sharks circling the island and the guys turning save on each other over supposedly hidden jars of peanut butter, it was a somewhat uneventful night.
00:23:09 I Think We Can Make It
Realizing the lack of sleep and increasing levels of distrust were turning the crew on each other, Corey rallied the group by flat out lying to them. He convinces the guys they can make it back the whole way, essentially paddling two days’ worth of padding in one day. They would need to paddle about five miles through the Gulf to cut up Shark River to reenter the Everglades National Park.
00:25:19 Looked Like Jumanji
Aside from being duped into a 35 mile paddle from what was originally supposed to be 20 miles, there were also giant white pelicans and crocodiles staring at them like they had never seen humans before.
“If you fell off your board, you’re gonna die.” - Sean Murphy
00:26:51 The Final Stretch
The goal was to make it to Flamingo Canal, but the sunset was against them and they had no idea what they were paddling into. After the sun went down with several miles to go, they turned on their headlamps and all they could see was eyeballs everywhere. Sean was falling asleep mid-paddle, Clint was shooting at everything, and Corey was on the verge of having a panic attack. But then, there was literally a light at the end of the tunnel (canal).
00:30:34 Now What
So the journey’s over, right? Well, remember when we said they only brought one car? Good thing that had Clint with them to bring things to the finish line. Oh, and a nearby Denny’s to celebrate the end of the wildest SUP adventure anyone could ever have imagined.
Never again? Not exactly. See ya next time.