Monday, December 17, 2012

Windy Outer Cape Cod

In recent weeks, we have had a peculiar wind pattern here on Cape Cod: spots further out on Cape Cod (Chatham, Eastham, Wellfleet) get substantially more, and more consistent, wind than the mid-Cape (Hyannis, Chapin) or main land locations like Duxbury. There have been several days when Chatham and/or Skaket had great wind, while locations closer to the main land were stuck in low teens. 

Today, we had easterly winds, which usually are great in Duxbury. However, winds averages in Duxbury barely made it above 20 in the morning, and then dropped below 15 shortly after noon. In contrast, the Wellfleet sensor showed averages between 20 and 27 the whole day. This was not just a meter artifact - we sailed in Eastham today, and the wind on the water was close to the Wellfleet readings.

This does not seem to be dependent on wind direction, either - I've seen it on days with southerly winds, with today's easterlies, and the forecast calls for a similar scenario with northwest winds on Wednesday (low 30s in Skaket, but only mid-20s in Chapin, about 10 miles to the west). It's worth noting that recently, we had several days where the forecasts predicted wind for the entire day in Hyannis, but we only got a few hours - while the wind in Chatham or Skaket stayed up all day.

As I mentioned, we did the 40 minute drive east today. We wanted to finally sail our newly discovered slicks in east wind, and Nina wanted to try her new Falcon 89 that she bought from Dani this morning. Alas, our timing was less than perfect. Today's tide was very high (7 ft at the closest forecast spot, compared to typical levels below 6).  We were also running a bit late, and did not get onto the water until 3:15 pm, shortly before high tide. So the slicks were not quite that slick - but worse, the entire marsh and all little islands were completely covered with water. It was quite cloudy and drizzling a bit, so it was hard to make out where in the water the shallow areas began - and some of these areas must have been under just a few inches of water, raising thoughts of bag high-speed catapults. Speed runs right at the edge of the reeds were out of question since we could not see the edges! Instead, we encountered many floating islands of dead reads on the water, some big enough to cause sudden deceleration even with weed fins.

We did not quite appreciate this when we decided to rig. Since it was quite warm (50 F, 10 C), we thought it would be a great day for Nina to try a "proper" speed sail on her Falcon - my KA Koncept 5.8. She had sailed the Falcon (or slightly larger ones from Dani's collection) a few times before, but usually, she sails a freestyle board with a tiny fin and a non-cambered freestyle/wave sail. So between trying to dial in a very different sail and a new board, and worrying about things lurking inches below the surface, she positively did not have a good time. I tried to help a bit with adjustments to the sail and mast foot position, but the only effect of this changes was that some of her frustration was now directed at me. Well, this ended up as a short and non-so-fun session. Too bad, since the wind direction was perfect - a few hours earlier, and with more moderation in trying new things, this could have been a wonderful session. 

But at least, we finally see plenty of drool-worthy wind forecasts: plenty of red, brown, and pink shades for wind from the low 20s to the 40s. One has to be careful not to drool too early, since forecasts usually go down the closer we get to the promised wind; but if the forecast starts high enough, we sometimes end up with wind in the 20s or even 30s (mph). This time of the year, the most common wind direction for windy days seems to be west to northwest, which means bump & jump instead of speed surfing - but I'm not going to complain about wind if we get it! And in a few days, I should get my new tube-suit to keep my hands nicely warm even after frequent falls :-)

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