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, 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.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

This weekend I met Hanna.

This weekend was an eventful one. RIR hosts the final Nextel Cup race before Chase the first Saturday night in September. It is one of the events I look forward to all summer. It ends up being a "Guys day". We go to the track early to tailgate. We grill some good food, drink beer and take in the sights. The sights are usually worth the price of the ticket. There is something about racing, alcohol and warm weather that lowers the inhibitions and brings out the exhibitionists. It is great fun and gets better when the drinkers inevitably go from just being drunk to being stupid drunk. I think of it as a people watchers paradise.

This year Hanna paid us a visit. No, I'm not referring to a woman at the track I'm referring to Tropical storm Hanna. She arrived Friday afternoon and commenced to stop all race activity till Sunday afternoon. It was actually a blessing because I would be able to try some high wind sailing. It may seem stupid that a person of my limited skill would look forward to sailing in a tropical storm but how else do you improve if you don't push the envelope. Of course I always take proper safety precautions. Don't sail alone, flotation vest even though the water was shallow, sail in safe location, etc... I even went out and got a helmet just in case.

The really good local sailors headed out early to catch the Southerly winds at Buckroe beach. A place that is well beyond my skill level. I held back a bit and waited till around noon. I knew that as the storm center got closer and the wind would start to shift and allow me to sail at Factory Point, one of the safer launches, in extreme conditions.

I did drive by Buckroe on my way to Factory Pt. just to see what it was like and to snap some photos of the action. The winds were SSW averaging 25 to 30 when I took these shots.

Click photos to enlarge

Unfortunately for me the crew that was there earlier had already packed up and headed home so I didn't get any action shots. There wasn't a whole lot of post session chatter but what I did read was this. (Please bear with me as this is my interpretation of the cypher.) The conditions were extreme it was all or nothing, no time to be timid. Some made it, some didn't, some ended up with busted gear.

When I showed up at Factory Pt. I expected there to be some people out sailing. Not a soul was there. The wind here was slightly offshore and really strong. It was averaging 28 mph on my handheld anemometer. There was no way I was going out alone so I sat around and waited. After about an hour A couple people showed up, looked at the conditions and determined it to be to strong and off shore for them and headed back home.

I really wanted to sail so I waited a little longer hoping the wind would drop off or someone else would show up. About 3:30 there was a message on the Letsrig mailing list from Alexander looking for a place to sail. I relayed the conditions where I was, now WSW averaging 28 and continuing to clock more west. While I was waiting for him to show the wind went due west and increased averaging 35 with gusts well over 40 for a good 20 minutes. I was thinking that I wouldn't get the chance to sail at all because there would be no way I could hold down my smallest sail, a 4.1 in those winds.

35mph average on the Back river

This is the highest windspeed I recorded. several much stronger gusts rocked the truck while I waited.

The winds did start to come back down and another sailor showed up. Craig was traveling through on his way to Myrtle Beach, SC. and decided to stop based on what he had read on the WET website regarding this launch. Alexander and John Quinn drove up in quick succession. Now it was on, 3 of us rigged our 4m sails and John rigged 4.5. Craig was the first out and it looked like the sail choice was right.

Craig setting up for a Jibe


John finishing rigging his 4.5
Almost forgot the fin.
John did well holding down the 4.5 and even had it bagged out by the end of the session.

I first tried my Cross 102. I beach started and immediately went for the straps, the tail sunk the fin dug into the sand bottom and the wind dumped me. I tried again. This time I'll try to plane first then get in the straps then hook in. That attempt ended with and explosion of spray as the sail was ripped out of my hands by a gust as I blasted across the water. Next attempt plane, hook in, then straps. Result, catapult before I could get to the straps. I decided I didn't want to destroy my board so I headed back to the launch for a board change. I was dunked twice on the way back in but did manage to sail in control a good bit of the way, no straps or harness I just kept hanging off the boom like a monkey.

I grabbed my big board the 145L plastic Hifly Matrix, put the smallest fins I had on it and set out again. I know you might be thinking... More volume in those conditions???? I did this because I was told by a wise instructor to sail what I am comfortable on when trying something new. Now I'm not one to take baby steps so I had to at least try to use the smaller board first. The problem was I could have gotten in more sailing had I heeded his advice.

On the Matrix I still had the same problem, every time I went for the straps I would explode into the water. I went back to the beach and moved the straps to the novice position and problem solved. Made a couple runs, completed some tacks even attempted a jibe or two, all with only a few minor crashes. John did give me some high wind sailing advice before I got on the water that really helped. He told me to sheet in the sail instead of out to spill power in the gusts. It worked like a charm. I was starting to get comfortable but the wind was getting holey and the water was getting pretty shallow so it was time to call it a day. It was pretty cool though. I can now say I've sailed a Tropical Storm and I also got to use my 4.1 sail. Alexander mentioned it was good that I got to use it because it's the sail most likely to collect dust around here.

Just before we left we did spot a couple people sailing the Messick Point launch and I snapped these photos. Don't know who they are but they were flying across the water.

( Edit: 1 sailor identified, Dave T. )

There were a couple things that I learned. First, the over sheeting advice from John for sailing high winds was priceless.

Second, and I have to thank James for pointing this out as I certainly would have left the board at home. For learning something new or sailing in different conditions than your use to, it may be better to use a board that you are comfortable with rather than one that is more in line with the conditions. Now this may only be true in this specific instance because of the boards design or because of the venue but it was definately easier to sail the big board. The reason I say the venue might have helped is because even though the wind was upper 20's to mid 30's the chop and swell didn't get to bad.

That brings me to the third thing Factory Point is definitely a friendly venue especially if you are working on improving you skills. Just be mindful of the tides because of shallow water.

We did get to enjoy the race on Sunday. The tailgating was not nearly as fun as usual because of the midday start and the absence of my friends Rick and Frank. They both had to work Sunday so the postponement was bad news for them, fortunately they didn't have to eat the cost of tickets. The biggest disappointment other than Johnson winning, was having to listen to the Cleveland Browns get beat by the Cowboys while sitting completely stopped in post race traffic for 2 hours.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Vacation is over

--This is a double post. The older new post is just below this one. I got lazy and didn't plug the photos into the previous post till now--

All in all it was just what I needed as far as R&R. The wind definitely could have been better though. On Thursday, After I wrote the previous post I was blessed with 3 hours of planning wind. Once the storm cleared out we got some gusty SE in the 14 to 18 range and I even got use my 6.7 instead of the 7.8. That evening we went to our friends house for part two of our 8th annual seafood night. We bought way too much food for the previous night so we had to do it again.

Friday the wind was again light so we packed up the 4x4 and headed out to the beach nearest Hatteras inlet. I haven't done this in a couple years, I had forgotten how much fun it is. The surf was a blast to play in. The larger waves came in around 3 feet. The area where we were had a gentle sloping bottom and the tide was low. That combination allowed for some pretty good rides for the kids on the boogie boards.


That evening when we got back to the house there was a little wind, S 12 to 15. I grabbed the 7.8 again and made a few runs on the Hifly. Since the Cross hadn't been wet all week I put the 7.8 on it just to see what would happen. 7.8 is the largest recommended sail for the 102l Cross so I didn't have much hope of it doing anything with the 9.5 Surfgrass fin on it. Once the board got some forward momentum (schlogging) it just wanted to go upwind. I was really expecting to have to walk the board back upwind with the smallish fin and big sail. Strange thing was it actually schlogged upwind better than the Hifly with the 7.8 and twin 29 cm weed fins. I went ahead and sailed out to where the wind was stronger on my previous runs. Unfortunately the wind had dropped off so I couldn't get the board to plane up. Being that the wind was light I tried to tack the board to get back in. With the big sail on the small board naturally I fell in. I struggled for 15 minutes trying to get sailing again. I was bound and determined that I was not going to walk/swim the board back the 1/2 mile or so I sailed. The wind was too light to do a deep water beach start and the sail was to big to uphaul on that board. I'm sure with practice I could do it though. Finally I caught enough of a gust to mount the board. With great effort and what felt like a hula dance I was able to get enough momentum to get balanced and sail back to shore. I had to push hard with the rig to make the board go downwind, I managed to sail within 50 yds of my launch area. I would have never imagined having to do a downwind walk but that's what happened.

One of the other great things about being on Hatteras Island is the abundance of wildlife. The number of small crabs scurrying about after the rain surprised me. The kids found turtles, hermit crabs, skates and even had a water snake swim much too close while wadding in the sound. I saw a small sand shark swim by while in the ocean. There were numerous species of seabirds including the resident ducks and a crane. There was a possible Sasquatch sighting, we even had a Hornet doing ariel maneuvers directly behind us over the sound.

For those of you who don't believe in evolution here is the proof.

Sorry, I know I shouldn't poke fun at anyone but I couldn't resist.

FA-18 Hornet out of Oceana doing dog fighting maneuvers

I thought this Old growth juniper was pretty cool to look at.

It would make a great jigsaw puzzle.