by John Bell
Starting with a first paddle at the docks of the Bimini Big Game Club Resort and Marina to a final stroke landing just north of Haulover Beach in Miami Beach, Miami Watermen Bill Whiddon and Thaddeus Foote made history Saturday, June 9th, becoming the first to cross the Gulf Steam on stand-up paddleboards.
Thad Foote paddles towards Miami Beach skyline - Bimini Miami Blue Water Challenge
The pair, paddling to raise awareness for Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics campaign, battled rainsqualls, searing summer heat and the natural northern drift of the Gulf Stream, to complete the 60-plus mile epic journey in 17 hours, 11 minutes and 43 seconds from the first stroke to the last.
'It was paddle, hydrate, eat and paddle more,' said the 58-year-old Whiddon. 'We did battle a 40 minute tough squall with the first hour of leaving the Bahamas and the seas went from flat to three-foot swells breaking into us.'
Bill Whiddon encounters freighter in shipping lanes - Bimini Miami Blue Water Challenge
To counteract the north pull of the Gulf Stream, Whiddon said he and Foote, 38, started a heading more southwest out of Bimini and then after ten hours turned the course more to a due westerly direction that increased speed and pushed to the north.
'We only had one fish encounter when we woke up a huge sun fish basking on the surface,' Whiddon recalled. 'The fins on the fish were at least two feet long. We also had a school of dolphin swimming under our boards for a longtime, using the shade for some relief from the blistering sun.'
The cause behind the 'Bimini to Miami Blue Water Challenge' is to raise awareness for Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics campaign to reduce plastics in the ocean
Bimini-Miami Blue Water Challenge Logo - Bimini Miami Blue Water Challenge
'This crossing was a great opportunity to highlight the impact that plastics are having on our world’s ocean and how our actions, as a society, can make such a big difference,' said Foote.
C4 Waterman, a Hawaii-based adventure sports equipment company supported the crossing by supplying the paddlers with the innovative X-Wing Paddle. C4 is also dressing the paddlers from head-to-toe in their new line of performance apparel.
About Surfrider Foundation: Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organizations dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches. Local Miami Chapter efforts include lobbying for the enforcement of litter laws, beach dune restoration and K-8 environmental education. For more information on the Rise Above Plastics campaign visit the website.
About The Bimini Big Game Club: The historic Bimini Big Game Club, which reopened in the summer of 2010, is located on the main navigation channel in Bimini Bay. The resort currently features 51-rooms and a 75-slip marina capable of accommodating boats up to 145 feet in length. For more information, go to click here.
Thad Foote and Bill Whiddon arrive on Miami Beach, 17 hours and 60 plus miles after leaving Bimini - Bimini Miami Blue Water Challenge