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.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mid week vacation update.

Well what had looked to be a good week of windsurfing has followed this phrase titling one of my previous posts "The OBX is like a Box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get". Each day this week has fooled the forecasters the only day they got right was Monday when they forecasted light winds. Tuesday we were supposed to get a good SW flow topping out @ 20 it actually topped out at 12. The following day we were supposed to get NE 20 to 25 for a good portion of the day, E @ 12 would have been the accurate call. Wednesday we were expecting a good NE shifting to east and diminishing, then it was revised to ESE and building throughout the day to upper teens. Never materialized, only time it got over 15 was just before and during the couple of late day rain squalls. Here we are, it's Thursday and the forecasted upper teens wind has not materialized until right now during a thunderstorm that is going on as I type. I'm jonesing for some planning wind but I don't want to risk electrocution to do so. The real salt in the wound is it has been @ 20 the last couple days back home, What can you do?

The storm is upon us

That is not to say I haven't gotten out each day. I look forward to this vacation because I get to windsurf all I want and if there is enough breeze to move the board then I will sail. After my Kona Surf experiment I took it back and swapped it for the more beginner friendly Exocet Medium Cruiser. I rode that for an hour or so on Tuesday. That board makes for a really good first board and I believe with the right sized sail and a long fin it would end up being fun for recreational formula sailing.

On Wednesday I sailed my biggest gear again, there were just enough sustained gusts that you could plane every now and then. I tried to focus on sail trim to get the most power out of the available wind. Hopefully I learned something that will allow me to be more efficient in higher winds. I also practiced swimming my gear into waterstart position in the channel.

The bad thing is I messed up my wrist and ankle doing a light wind jibe in a foot of water. A gust backwinded the sail an knocked me off the board. I guess since the sail had power the additional force tweaked my ankle and bent my hand backward toward my forearm at an angle. The ankle is fine but the wrist still hurts, to top it off the strength is limited. I'm guessing it's just a mild sprain. It's definately not going to keep me off the water, if I can catch a break with the wind.

As far as non windsurfing activities I went surf fishing on Monday morning the weather was perfect. There was no wind which made the water glassy but the surf was awesome with chest high waves and some were even bigger in the sets. Kind of made me want to try surfing again. Andy apparently was out further south somewhere near the thunderstorm in the photos.

Sunrise on the OBX

Nice chest to head high sets and not a breath of wind

Thunderstorm headed offshore

I went fishing again Wednesday morning caught couple Taylor blues and a really weird fish it was a little over 2 feet long, really thin and 2 inches from top to bottom. It was a beautiful silver iridescent color it basically looked like a ribbon with teeth. Here is a cell photo, if you know what it is leave a comment.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Time to disconnect from reality

I'm down here on the Outer banks this week for our annual Family vacation. We stay in the village of Avon and live the island life for a week. No appointments, no schedules, no mentioning work, oops!!! broke my own rule. We pretty much go with the flow eat when we want, sleep when we want, windsurf when ever there is enough wind and drink plenty of adult beverages.

In other words a total disconnect from reality.

Saturday when we arrived we checked into our house, It a nice place directly on the sound. We spent an hour unloading our groceries and other stuff then another hour rigging up a couple sails and getting the boards ready, It's great to not have to rig and derig every time I want to sail. I did get out a little bit on my 7.8 and 140l Hifly for about an hour. Made a run way up past the transformers launch on the east northeasterly winds. That evening we went to a close friends house to celebrate his wife's birthday. Large quantities of Tequila, Vodka, Southern Comfort and Beer were consumed by all. Of course the price was paid the next day, several people were still quite groggy mid afternoon the next day. Thankfully I know when to call it quits.

Sunday was a light wind day only hit 10. I did rent a Kona surf for the kids to sail on. Of course I had to put it through the paces. I put the 7.8 on it rigged full. The board sailed really well, another mph or two and it would have planned. The glide was better than expected especially since it has less volume, less length, and less width than the Kona One. The dagger was sufficient to get you up wind although it is really stiff to operate. You can't deploy it while under way. The board I sailed does have the same dagger system as the Kona One, it's not the easy to operate Allgaier dagger that comes on the newest production models but it will stay in whatever position you put it in. All in all I would own it, it works pretty good for my 155 lbs in light winds. It was a little tippy for the lightweight newbies but they did manage, I ended up swaping it out for a Cruiser, a true beginner board.
I did SUP the Kona Surf. I really don't have anything to compare it too yet but I was able to do it with relative ease.

I did stop by Sailworld Avon and met Andy, seems like a great guy, and quite knowledgeable. I hope to see him out on the water Tuesday or Wednesday when we are expecting a N to NE 20+ day. I sure do hope it materializes.

Lightwind sailing the Kona Surf with a 7.8.
James, note the stance

Kristen sailing the Kona Surf

The Kids Standuping the Exocet cruiser and Kayaking

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Another great day of sailing

Last Saturday was an awesome day for sailing enough wind to make experienced sailors happy and challenge aspiring intermediate sailors such as myself.

First, I have to say I've officially sailed more times over the last 12 months than I have in the last, well close to a decade of previous sailing. I know that sounds like it should be a huge number of sessions but considering I would get out a couple times a year, it's not.

The additional TOW has allowed me to progress and I'm actually starting to feel like a windsurfer. I'm getting comfortable sailing powered to slightly overpowered. I can sail in the straps when the board is set up properly, I can tell when the board isn't set up properly and I'm starting to understand what I need to do to fix it. I'm also finding I want to try riding my smaller board when the conditions warrant it's use. There are things I still have to work on, like committing my full weight to the harness, positioning the sail for waterstarting, properly setting up the gear before getting on the water etc.... But I am getting there.

On this day the planets were aligning. Usually there is wind when I have something I have to do. This day wasn't looking any different. I called my buddy to firm up plans for racing and found out he wasn't up for it. With Car Chief duties set aside I started to keep an eye on the IWS York River East sensor. The official forecast was calling for 10 to 15 SE with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. We got 15 to 20 SE and one brief rain shower, not even enough to get off the water other than to roll up the car windows.

I loaded up and rolled about 3:30 wind was 16SE and still building. I spent an extra 20 minutes driving around the vacationers that were parked on Interstate 64, most headed to the Outer Banks. I showed up at YRS around 4:50 by that time the wind was 18 SE. James showed up soon after and we rigged 5.8s. The launch area in this wind direction gets choppy but not unruly then about 100 yds out you get into some decent swell 3 footers give or take, beyond that is a flatwater paradise behind Allen's island. Great for practicing Jibes.

I had trouble getting comfortable on my Hifly Matrix. I just didn't feel right in the straps at all. If I kept my feet just in front of the straps everything felt great though it did result in a couple of catapults. All the discussion on the IWS Forum regarding helmets kept popping in my mind after each dunking. I don't wear one but I also never let go of the boom when I get tossed, I'm usually still hooked in. I did find out that a cup could have been beneficial after one trip over the bars.

Despite not getting in the straps I did get some good runs. I played around on the swell accelerating down the faces and then turning back to the top to do it over again. That acceleration was an intense feeling. I can only imagine what it feels like on a real wave I'm getting stoked to try it.

Riding small swell

I didn't do any tacks during the session I only practiced jibes. I was able to make one but I guarantee it wasn't pretty like this one.

Waterstarting was another thing I worked on today. I still have a difficult time getting the sail positioned and cleared especially in the swell. It is just exhausting even with a vest on. Something always gets out of position or the sail will loose lift when I'm in the trough then the clew will drop back down in the water causing me to have to re-clear it. If I'm able to just barely touch my toes on the bottom I can set up just fine and get under way. It's having to swim things around that gets me. The odd thing is I have very little trouble waterstarting my cammed 7.8. it's also the only sail I use a regular diameter mast on. Wonder if there is a connection?

After a while I pulled out my Cross 102 to give it a try.

James sailed it first and looked like he was really enjoying it. (Most of the photos are of him on it.) I jumped on, got right in the straps went blazing across the water until I went off the top of the first big swell. I don't know what happened but I ended up pointing the other direction board and all. Had the wind suddenly gone 180 I would have been in position to just pop up and sail away. As it was I wore myself out trying to get the sail in position to waterstart, again!
Once I drifted to an area where I could get my toes on the bottom I got back on the board and sailed no problem. I made up my mind that instead of burning the last of my energy trying to waterstart in the deeper water I would just sail closer to shore and get comfortable with the board. The wind was getting a bit more of a southerly component to it so I just had to pinch up wind on starboard and run slightly downwind on port to stay in the shallow areas. I was impressed with way the 9.5 True Ames Surfgrass fin went upwind. The jibe attempts even seemed easier on this board. It won't be long before I'm hitting my fair share.
Can't wait for more wind.

James launching off a ramp. That is the same boat in the earlier photo
but this is about three minutes later. I guess the conditions were too rough for them.
No were not in China. This foul smelling decomposing algae bloom greeted us at the launch.
Thank you urban sprawl. The seagulls seem to like it though.
This photo of James down in the swell shows the conditons. Nice white caps in the background, sail powered up and twisting off the top.
The swell is actually bigger than it looks. My vantage point for the photo is 12 feet above the water. That one was waist high about 3 to 3 1/2 feet.