Saturday, November 27, 2010

Skaket Beach - The west wind spot

At this time of the year, we get a lot of fast-moving front passing through, where the wind turns from SW or WSW to NW within a few hours. This has posed a problem for us - where to windsurf? We like Kalmus and West Dennis for SW and WSW, and Kalmus is also ok for W - but as soon as the wind turns WNW, it tends to get weaker and really gusty in Kalmus.

Unfortunately, computer models and iWindsurf metereologists are bad at predicting the exact timing of the direction shift, so we have gotten skunked by an earlier-than-expected turn several times. Today was one of these days, with computer models in disagreement about the exact wind direction. After seeing good SW readings in Chapin recently, we thought we'd give it a try. But the wind showed up later than forecast, and at 11 am, the Hatch Beach sensor had much better readings than Chapin. We also saw Ron C.'s post on the iWindsurf forum where he predicted a great day for Skaket Beach, so we decided to give it a try.

The first surprise was that the drive took about the same time as the drive to Chapin (and just 15 min more than driving to Kalmus), even though Skaket is further out on the Cape. But most of the drive to Skaket is on Rte. 6, while the drive to Chapin includes a long, slow stretch on Rte. 6a and then through residential areas.

When we arrived, the wind was down a bit, but a few whitecaps could be seen, and we rigged "big" (7.0 for me, 5.0 for Nina). After the first few runs, the wind picked up, and we were planing all of the time. By 2 pm, averages where in the mid-20s, the chop/swell had built up since we were getting close to high tide, and the sails were getting a bit big. Nina sailed for 1 and 1/2 hours without a break, but ended up getting catapulted while in both straps, and landing hard on the mast, but she made it out ok. I took her 5.0 sail out for a run, and was fully planing with it. Since I'm about 50% heavier than Nina, it's obvious that the sail was too big for her.

Air temps were only around 38 F (according to the Hatch Beach sensor). However, we were nice and warm, thanks to dry suits, 7 mm boots, gloves resp. mitts, and hoods. At the beginning, when the sun was out all the time and the sailing easy, I was actually sweating for a while. Nice!

Skaket has quite a few things going for it in addition to the great fetch, and the location further out on the Cape (where the winds are often stronger this time of the year). When we started, the water was shallow for a few hundred yards out, and nicely flat. As the tide came in and the winds picked up, so did the chop/swell, but it's definitely much more orderly than in Kalmus, and easier to sail. Towards the end, there was a bit of shore break and a few semi-breaking waves on the outside, but nothing bad - just enough to practice if you're not an expert wave sailor, and to have some fun. Another thing that I loved was the long runs you can take. I always turned after about a mile or earlier, but you could do 6-mile runs across the bay, and end up behind a sand bank that probably makes a great speed strip. Will have to try some other time.

Below are my GPS tracks for the day, and a couple of pictures we shot before leaving. Thanks, Ron, for helping us discover this great spot!

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