This is a diary so to speak. Documenting the outdoor activities I enjoy. Currently I'm trying to master windsurfing so that subject will be covered extensively. If you read this don't expect award winning writing as it was never really a strong point for me. You may however find a cool photo or two.

Most photos can be enlarged by clicking and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rant and Rodanthefest

Uggh…. Yesterday it was windy (20+), warm (55 to 60) and wet. It was a perfect day to bail on work and go windsurfing. By the time my 5:30 appt. called to cancel it was too late to load up and catch a session before dark. Thank goodness Sunday at 12:04 UTC it's the winter solstice, my favorite day of winter, the beginning of longer daylight hours.

Here is a post from a session last week. Long read.....

I had been watching the weather forecast days in advance. All the weather outlets I rely on for planning a sailing day were in agreement we were going to have wind, warm wind and lots of it last Wednesday and Thursday. I wasn’t the only one watching. Dr. Bob was too, only he was focused more on the Outer banks forecast that was calling for even more wind.

The pieces were falling into place for what is referred to as a Rodanthe fest. Multiple sailors showing up for a windsurf session at his sound side home in Rodanthe. I decided early on I was going to do what I had to so I could go. This would be my first time making this type of daytrip.

The forecast was calling for 25 to 30 mph winds so I knew from my Tropical storm Hanna session that I would be sailing my 4.1 and the smallest board I could handle. I have a 85 liter board but don’t have a fin for it to work well in 4.0 conditions so I scrambled to try and find one. Thankfully I had several offers to buy or borrow fins from a couple of the local sailors. I also pulled out my other two boards to take with me just in case it wasn’t as windy as expected. Unfortunately I found some nose damage from a mast hit on my 102 liter board that I had done during my last session. The catapult that caused it must have been violent because the nose is padded with half a pool noodle and it still put a quarter sized indentation and 3 inch crack. The odd thing is I don’t remember doing it. I went out and got the proper materials to do some emergency surgery. I was really worried when I pressed on the crushed area and moisture came out fortunately the leak was confined to the underlying structural foam and did not get into the EPS core. I followed the board lady’s tips for fixing the damage. Thanks to those tips, I made a pretty darn good fiberglass and epoxy repair, what is more impressive to me is it is the first time I have ever worked with fiberglass.

I left the house Wednesday morning to make the three hour drive south. Everything was looking good the breeze at home was picking up and the rain showers were moving in. Every large body of water I drove by or over caused my level of anticipation to rise because the water states were showing wind on the surface. I drove over the Wright memorial bridge and the wind was kicking up and whitecaps were forming. When I went past Windmill point it looked like nice 5.8 sailing now I was just itching to get to Rodanthe and rig up. As I got close to the Bonner bridge spanning Oregon inlet I hit some rain. When I reached the bridge I couldn't see 100 feet ahead due to thick fog, even worse no wind. It reminded me of the fog I used to see when I lived in San Francisco. On top of the bridge the fog broke and the breeze was again prevalent but coming back down it was right back into the soup and still air; not a good sign. Driving through Pea Island there was a mix of fog and clear air so I surmised that it would be similar conditions at Bob's. I pulled up to Bob’s and It was socked in and barely a breath of wind. Gear was rigged but no sailors around. I found everyone inside watching the Weather channel. The fog had been here all morning.

The six of us that were there sat around and chatted for while waiting for the wind. Finally a rain shower hit, the fog dissipated and the wind did start to fill in. We all donned our wetsuits grabbed the biggest sails we had and headed out. I straggled behind to take a few photos. Unfortunately the fog rolled in again, this time it didn’t entirely kill the wind. We all sailed around in subplaning wind on sails from 6.5 to 7.5. I was really wishing I had brought my 7.8. I kept thinking if I had the extra meter I would be able to plane. As it was Marcy was the only one that actually caught a puff and planed. I was really weird to be sailing out in the fog especially when it got thick enough that you couldn’t see the shore. None of us sailed too far from this old wreck about 150 yds off shore. We had to keep a landmark in sight so we could get back if the wind shifted.

The blown forecast was a major disappointment, even the fact we were sailing in warm weather in mid December was little consolation. Bob asked us if we wanted to say the night and catch the better winds forecasted for the following day. John and I accepted the invitation after conferring with our better halves. Billy, Thanks for feeding us. After dinner we played this game called Blokers. I know, your thinking a bunch of guys sat around and played a board game! This game was pretty cool it has simple rules, combined geometry, an ever evolving strategy and watching you opponents squirm. Plus you can drink beer while you play.

When we woke in the morning we expected to feel the house shaking and hear those wonderful creaking and howling noises the houses down there emit in a 20 knot wind. No such luck there was very little change same fog same light wind. At this point Bob was starting to worry that he had convinced us to come down to get skunked. I heard phrases like “It never does this not two days in a row” “it usually kicks in once the sun gets up” “Normally everyone is too tired to sail the really good wind at the end of the day.” Personally, I was starting to wonder if my wind jinx had returned.

The forecast was still calling for 15 to 20 knots so we remained optimistic and kept telling ourselves to give it a little while longer. We went to the local gas and grocery for some made to order breakfast sandwiches. After we ate, a quick look at the sound revealed diminishing fog and a definite darkening of the water with a tiny white cap here and there.

Finally!!! The wind had arrived but it built very slowly. We were all on the same sails from the fog session Bob on 6.4 100l, John on 6.8 and 115l, Billy on 7.5 and I think 120l and myself on 6.7 and 145l. The bigger board and sail combinations planed about 80% for the first 3 hours. Bob had the most trouble and on several occasions started in to grab a floatier board only to get halfway in then come right back out. Because of the air temp @70 and water temp @50 the wind wasn’t attaching to the surface in the deeper water, only near shore so it messed with your mind a little. The last hour of my 4 hour session the wind increased enough that I was powered to overpowered. Unfortunately the periods of schlogging had already taken its toll and I was getting tired. That coupled with the 200yard trudge through the calf deep water thanks to the proxigean tide and the resistance exercise I was getting from the 5 mil suit zapped my energy. Even after taking a break, I couldn't summon the energy to make the walk back out and sail once it picked up to solid 5.5 and <100l.

My first trip to Rodanthe to sail Bobs place was a little slow to spool but in the end I got to sail in December without gloves or a hood. I spent some time with some really cool people and hear some interesting stories. I hope we get to do it again real soon.

Day 1 Fog Session

Can you see the Three Sailors?

Rodanthefest Dec 08
Marcy, John, Billy, Dr. Bob, Wayne

Day 2

Jibe sequence. One of the few Bob missed.

Cool texture in this one.
Better slow down its Shallow

Too late......

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What are you thankful for?

Today is the day we all give thanks for the things we have Health, life, love and for some possesion and prosperity. I tend to use this day to be thankful for or all the memories I've acquired through out my life. With each of those memories I can see how my life has been shaped. The family memories tend to be the ones that pop into my mind the most from spending time with my parents, my grandparents and my extended family to spending time with my wife's family. I was blessed to have been brought up to appreciate the value of having a close family and though I have not had much opportunity to spend time with the extended portion of my family since the passing of my grandparents, they are always in my thoughts this time of year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Clearing winds at Factory

Yesterday we had a nice but squally S to SW day with temps in the mid to upper 70's. I didn't get out and from the sounds of it I didn't miss much. The mid 50 degree water temps were just a little too cold to allow the warmer wind to attach to the surface. Unless you were at a launch where the wind was blowing off shore or in close proximity to land upwind of you.

Today the air temp was closer to the water temperature allowing the westerly winds to reach the surface. Unfortunately they were on the gusty side. I arrived at Factory Point just after 11am. I rigged a 5.1 and a 5.8 and sailed both on the 102l Cross. Pete, Billy, Vito and quite a few others were all rigging multiple sails expecting the conditions to change through out the day. Several of us were worried we might not have brought small enough sails, the wind was well above the forecasted strength while we were all rigging.

When I first got on the water with the 5.1 I mounted the board and went to hook in but there was no hook, I forgot to put on my harness. When I got back out after donning my harness I was either way over powered or under powered as the winds were anywhere from the mid teens up to around 30mph. Once I got the harness lines set right I was able to handle it without getting catapulted.

This is the first time I've really spent a lot of time on the Cross and I found it to be a little on the squirrely side at least as it compares to the Hifly. It took me about 10 runs to get a good feel for it. I think I'm going to like the board for moderate winds.

Even though the board makes the entry into jibes feel effortless I wasn't able to hit any, I just couldn't get past the sail flip. I did get a bunch of waterstart practice early on. The water depth was enough that I could barely touch so I made it a point of not cheating while getting the sail and board positioned. I spent some time steering the board in the prone position with both feet on the board. That was really helpful for keeping the board and sail in the proper position for the start. I did make several starts going both directions.

As the day went on the wind dropped off and the peaks and valleys got closer together so I went in and grabbed the 5.8. I ended the day on the 5.8 bagged out and the Hifly. I should have rigged bigger but I just didn't feel like it. I was still able to plane just not as well as the guys on their 6's.

I got to break in my new Promotion 5.3. It was awesome, I was nice and toasty all day. If anyone is in the market for a new suit you should check them out.
I think this suit will work well for me down to the 90 degree rule, beyond that I think it would be drysuit time or don't sail at all.

Almost everyone had on thin gloves and head gear because of the low moisture content of the air. The evaporative cooling was a factor especially changing out of the wetsuit after the session.

Here are the photos.
Click to enlarge

I finally met Bruce the new President of W.E.T.
He was one of the last to milk the dying wind and water.
He had to bring the board in upside down to keep from dragging the fin.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

He's Back!!!!!!!!!!

(Edit, video added 11/4)
Dr. Bob made his return to the water this weekend after spending the summer rehabbing his surgically repaired shoulder. No one really expected to see him out there till next spring but the will to windsurf is strong with this one.

The forecast Sunday was perfect for him to ease back into the cool clear water of the Back River. The winds started out NE to ENE in the low teens and built to the upper teens as the day progressed. The venue was Factory Point. When I arrived there were several sailors there all in support of Dr. Bob's return. Javier had his video camera and recorded the days events for posterity. The fanfare created reminded me of a heroic Knight guiding his steed under the outstretched swords of his fellow warriors on his way out of the castle to slay the dragon. Alright, you will understand when you see Javier's video. Hopefully I'll be able to link to it.

Mid 6 to mid 7 meter sails and floaty boards were the call. Bob schlogged on out and found a gill net stretching across our path of travel. Of course nets and pointer fins don't play well together and he found himself in the drink. Fortunately he wasn't planning as that could have been bad for the arm. Beyond that incident he sailed quite well he looked very comfortable out there. I think it's safe to say he is back.

Here is the video. Thanks Javier.

Doctor Bob Returns! from Javier Garriz on Vimeo.

I think the 7.8 I was on was the largest on the water. So as the wind increased I was able to plane sooner than the others. I even set about chasing down John C on his Ultra Cat. That lasted all of about 30 seconds. He caught the gust I was in and worked ahead of me. I was able to keep up with him for a while and I was starting to feel pretty good about it till he yelled back over his shoulder that he was dragging on the bottom. Once he had enough depth he steadily pulled away. I cranked my board into my first gibe of the day. This one happened to be the opposite direction of the ones I was working on a couple weeks ago and to my surprise I pulled it off no problem, not even a bobble. I wish I could say every attempt felt that way but I was able to complete and sail away from quite a few. Going fast sure makes them easier.

Over the next hour the wind peaked and I was sailing overpowered on the 7.8 so much so that the sail felt really unstable. I went in and took a break and contemplated re-rigging. Instead I just added some downhaul and a little more outhaul and got back out on the water. After the adjustment the sail was perfect again. I lit out away from the launch and encountered the same gill net that Bob had previously warned us about. I too had pointers on so the board went from full speed planing to a dead stop in only a fraction of a second. Needless to say the resulting catapult was quite spectacular. I believe it would have made Catapulting Aaron quite proud.

Billy and Mary M., Tom B. and myself finished packing up just as it was getting too dark to see. We stood around and chatted for awhile Bill and Mary talked about their place in Aydlett, I'm really looking forward to trying it out. Mary also mentioned that it was the first time she has sailed Factory Pt. and now she might have to keep some of her gear on hand locally so she can sail there more often.

I think we ended up with about a dozen sailors out there Sunday. Even though the forecast was off by a couple hours and few mph on the low side, it still turned out to be great day. I think I'm going to have to join the Twelve Month Club just to give me motivation to get out at least one day a month over the winter and continue my progression.

I didn't take a bunch of photos because I spent most of the time on the water. Here are a couple. They are mostly of Mary, she happened to be the last and only one on the water when I finally got the camera out. They aren't very good due to the low light conditions and the long lens.

Clockwise Jibe sequence

John C., Billy M. and Dr Bob

Friday, October 31, 2008

First time at Buckroe

We had great forecast for Saturday. Warm 65 degree SE wind starting in the upper teens and building into the mid to upper 20's and shifting southward. Now there aren't very many really good SE launches for an early intermediate windsurfer around here, especially one who is struggling with the waterstart.

I basically had 4 launches to choose from...

1. Buckroe, this place is as close to ocean sailing as I am comfortable with right now. It is deep right off the beach, open water and It's been known to have some pretty intimidating shore break. The positive is that there will be plenty of sailors around.

2. Anderson Park which is shallow, choppy and directly onshore in SE wind. Pretty safe but it may have the remnants of old pier pilings waiting to ruin your day as you parallel the shore. It also might be lonely.

3. York River Seafood which is an awesome SE launch, big water feel from being at the mouth of the river and no shore break for a side on launch. This would have been my choice but I would have ended up sailing alone.

4. Messick Point on the north shore of the Back River directly across from Factory Point. This
place is similar to Factory Pt. but deeper water.

After much deliberation Glenn talked me into giving Buckroe a shot. I Figured I'd learn how to deal with small shore break and work on waterstarting. When I got there Glenn was already out on a 5.2. I rigged up my 5.1, pulled the Cross 102 off the truck and prepared myself for a new experience. During the rigging process a bunch of sailors showed up. I introduced myself to the many John's, Bill, Wayne, another Chris, Derek, aka Dman, aka wind killer, Pete, the owner of Beach Sports, Keith and a few others sailors. I talked to Derek extensively about waterstarting while we were rigging. He offered to give me a hand and give an impromptu lesson in the water.

I donned my wetsuit and carried my gear on down to the beach. Glenn gave me some pointers on how to get out through the shore break, not that there was much but still enough to cause problems for someone who hasn't done it before. Then Derek walked me through the waterstart process again on the beach. He recommended that I stay close, practice the start in one direction sail 50 feet or so drop off, position and restart back to the beach. He recommended I not go to much farther so I wouldn't end up drifting through the pier or wash up on the rock jetty on the other side. After he mentioned that, doubt started to creep into my mind. The last thing I want to do is bust my gear up. I kept thinking back to the post John G put up about his gear crunching Buckroe experience just a few weeks earlier.

I made up my mind, I wasn't going to chicken out now. I worked my rig out through the waves keeping the sail flying and pointing the nose of the board into the wave face, seemed pretty easy. I forgot how chilly 60 degree water was in cheap wetsuit. Once we were deep enough Derek demonstrated the start. He gave me many tips the big one being... in breaking waves get the sail flying as soon as possible then sail steer the board into position to start.

The first attempt for me was nearly successful until a wave knocked me off just as I was getting up. I tried again and success!! I sailed out dropped off the board and went to position for the return. I got the sail flying immediately kicked the board around with my feet. I tried to get the board to point across the wind but I couldn't get it to do what I wanted. I tried using the mastfoot pressure to complete the board positioning but for whatever reason I just couldn't make it work. If tried to reach for the board with my feet or hands the sail would depower and the clew would sink. It was the same results I always get when I've tried waterstarting in rough water. I always end up fighting the gear to get it in position to start. Getting up is usually not the problem although I do have a tendency to round the board up into the wind on occasion. If I try to compensate for it and try to point off the wind that is when I get pulled over the board. While I was struggling to get up I was also drifting toward the beach so the waves were getting more difficult to manage.

The board and rig got away from me so Derek came back out and gave more advice.... When you fall off close in get control of the rig. The board will be fine but the clew of the boom or your mast can hit bottom. If a wave hits when they are on the bottom it can break either one. Even in the small stuff. For what is supposed to be an easy Buckroe day I sure am getting a lot of info about how not to end up with broken gear. I walk/swim the gear a little deeper and try to head out again.

To sum it up I struggled a lot, wore myself out not just from positioning the gear but also swimming in the waves. I finally came in, walked my gear back to where I started and took a breather.

While I was on the beach I took some photos, I also noticed the wind was all over the place in terms of strength one minute the sand was blowing down the beach the next minute there was barely enough wind to keep the flag flying or the windsurfers moving for that matter. Watching the veterans was kind of comical, everyone would be on shore talking about "I'm going to rig bigger, I'm going to put on a bigger fin, I think I might try a larger board." They would make their changes and Blow would come up. The ensuing mad dash to the beach looked like the start of a track meet. They would get out fly around in every state from grossly overpowered to barely schlogging. Then come back in and contemplate more changes to the gear. Poor Pete rigged three different times and tried two different boards the conditions changed so much that he just couldn't hit on the right combination.

I did get back out an try a few more waterstarts but the up and down nature of the wind made it even more difficult than the first attempt so I gave up again after a few tries. I was told I was doing everything right and to keep at it. I guess there is something small in the mechanics of what I'm doing that is preventing success. The wind slacked up, 15 to 18 mph, for an extended period of time so I figured I'd grab the Hifly and make a few runs so I could at least do some sailing. As I headed to the truck to grab the board and fin it, the wind ramped back up and became even gustier than it previously had been. Every one headed out again for what would be the last hurrah. I knew it would be a rough ride on the big board so I chose not to go through with taking it out. When the crew came back in I heard many comments that the gustiness was unusual for Buckroe that Wiloughby might have been better today. I couldn't believe my ears. To some around here that is sacrilege as Wiloughby is known for its gusty conditions. Good thing Keith had already derigged and left. He may have had something to say about that.

I never did actually sail but I'm not going to complain. I got my first taste of Buckroe, learned a little about getting in and out in small waves and met a bunch of new people. The weather wasn't all that bad the rain stayed away except for a couple sprinkles. We were even rewarded with a nice rainbow to end the session. I'm going to get me a better wetsuit and wait for the next wind event.

Glenn and Derek if you read this thanks for the help!

Glenn on his new 5.2

Dman nicely powered setting up a Jibe

Keith spraying Derek. He blew the jibe right after he did this.

Pete & Glenn

The gear was tired, it needed rest.

8 sailors letting it rip

John H.
Bill and the rainbow. (I think that's Bill??)
Nice wide angle photo of the Rainbow.
Photographer: Glenn W

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Awesome day at Factory Point and a First.....

for me.

(Edit...Content added Tue 12:40am)

Today a couple things happened. It was a Saturday, it was sunny, there was a breeze and I didn't have anything to do. Perfect day to go windsurfing!!!!!

I had decided against a weekend trip down to Hatteras where good wind was forecast, a swap meet was planned and Mr. Naish himself was due to make an appearance. Instead I headed over to Factory Point, the most Hatteras like venue in our area.

On the way there a guy in a Trailblazer SUV about 7 cars ahead of me must have decided some excitement was in order so he proceeded to run off the inside shoulder of the Interstate at 70 mph. If that wasn't enough he then over corrected and spun his car completely around in the middle of both lanes coming to a stop sideways in the middle of the road. Amazingly no one hit him as we all made very abrupt and evasive braking maneuvers. It took him a few seconds to get his senses together and pull his vehicle to the shoulder. I guess everything was alright because as we all started moving again he slowly came back up to speed and rejoined the flow of traffic.

Once I arrived at Factory Point I found a couple sailors already on the water most were on 6 to 7 meter sails. There were also a couple kiters. The forecast called for the wind to be in the 17 to 22 mph range so I rigged a KA 5.8 anticipating an increase in wind speed. I did pretty well on that sail considering I should have been on a 6.5 or better. Most were sailing gingerly as the tide was really low and this spot is notorious for catching fins on a low tide. I sailed along without any trouble on the twinser Hifly. A couple sailors found the ENE wind direction prefect for speed runs along an old boat channel that parallels the spit and island. Pete had his GPS and recorded a speed of 28 mph, pretty darn good considering the wind wasn't gusting over 17 at the time. I think these guys might have found a positive for sailing this spot when the tide is low on easterly winds.

The wind didn't build, it actually dropped into the 13 to 17 range so I went in and rigged up a 7.8. Most of the others had already packed it in, sail size and water depth were the issues. Three of us, Doug, Javier and I did stay and continued sailing. I had a blast I felt really comfortable planning in the straps so much so that I even tried a couple jibes near shore. Most of the attempts were terrible. Then Javier pulled out his camera and something weird happened. I almost made one. A few more tries while the camera was back safely in its bag ended badly. Then he pulled the camera out again and there it was.... my first completed jibe. I couldn't help but let out a "WooHoo" as I sailed away. Now mind you it wasn't pretty, not even in the realm of textbook, but it was successful. The best part is Javier snapped a photo sequence of it, the entry, mid jibe and the exit. I'm just so stoked that I got my first one and that it was documented.

Here is the sequence. Thanks Javier.

Man I need a hair cut!!

I also found that the sub planing sailing I did in Hatteras during vacation did pay off. I was able to optimize sail trim so I could get planning sooner and stay on plane when the wind would back off.I believe there is something to be said for sub planing sailing and using it to improve your skills.

Here is a little video of me doing just that

Here are a couple more photos I took.
Click to enlarge all photos

This one I noticed the broken boom

Photo by Javier....
Doug dialed-in on his 7.0 and mid-90's vintage 130-liter Mistral Explosion. This was after the rest of the crew left for the day.

Pete's GPS tracks. The tracks to the east were where the speed runs were occurring. The combination of the sandbar and low tide smoothed out the water. The small channel they were running provided enough depth for the fins.
Note the high upwind angle he was able to achieve from the launch at the bottom out to the island... on slalom gear!! Also note the course deflection on the long reach from the tidal current flowing through the main channel.

This used to be a nice sail boat. Obviously it still floats, it showed up here about a week ago. I wonder if this was the one stranded in the marsh after Hurricane Isabel? Could be they are using the inexpensive old time method of intentionally grounding the boat to do hull maintenance.

The social scene.

C-130 doing a grid pattern the earlier pass he went right over us.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Missed it.......

This week, well actually the last two weeks, had several days in a row of good wind during the middle and latter part of each week. This week was by far the windier of the two thanks to the subtropical low that spun off the coast.

Friday, Sep 26, 2008

Thursday, Sep 25, 2008

Wednesday, Sep 24, 2008

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2008

Monday, Sep 22, 2008

I unfortunately missed every single day due to work. Normally I can adjust the schedule to accommodate at least a half day but not this time. Even had to work a good part of Thursday in the subtropical downpours. I can only hope for some wind Karma to come my way in the near future.

This guy did get out and even got some positive local news coverage.
Look at Thursday's graph to see the conditions. Nice job Keith.

Video link

I did get a chance to catch a little wind last Saturday morning at Factory Point. It wasn't spectacular like it had been the previous two days. I was on a 6.7 but I should have had my 7.8. (note to self.... don't rely on the forecast when loading the truck.) A longboard could have been helpful too, That has to be next on my wish list along with a new wetsuit, sails, trip to exotic WS destination.... Ok now I'm dreaming.

The 10 or so other sailors that showed rigged anything from low 6 to mid 8. Everyone had a similar experience, plane some, schlog some, turn around and do it again in reverse... except for Pete, the guy on the Kona 11.5 and the kite couple from Richmond, they were killing it. Here are some photos.



Waterstart practice


Lisa's husband on the Kona 11.5

C-130 Taking off from Langley.
I thought the vapor trails of the props were cool.

The new strap position on the Hifly did work a whole lot better than the previous configuration but it looks like it may be a little while before I get to test it in more consistent conditions as the forecast for the next seven days does not look too good. The bright side is the Fall frontal winds should be arriving soon.