Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kalmus Season Opener

I went for the first windsurf session in Kalmus yesterday. Jeff, Graham, Chris, Martin, and a few other windsurfers also showed up, so we had almost a crowd, considering that the water temperature was about 38 F (4C), and the air about 42 F (6C). But it was sunny, and we had great wind:
The averages were between 30 and 35 mph for almost 5 hours, with gusts below 40 and lulls that stayed above 25 for a long time. That's nice, steady wind!
We all missed the first 2 hours; most of us hit the water shortly before 11 am, just when the tide was low. Chris and Graham went out on 3.5s and were nicely powered. I wanted to go for speed, so I rigged my 5.8 KA Koncept. But despite the low tide, the water was just to choppy for me to keep the sail controlled and sheeted it, and the wind was still picking up. I just was not comfortable enough to try and tack up a mile to the Hyannis Port harbor for speed runs, so I rigged down to a 4.2 m NP Expression.

Back out on the water, I was still fully powered on the 4.2, and tacked up to the harbor, which took about 30 minutes. Here are the GPS tracks:

The harbor is nicely sheltered by a stone wall, which makes for great flat water for speed runs. The wind direction was just a bit too westerly for totally flat water and top speeds, but I had a total blast everytime I got near the fall and went on downwind speed runs. Here, I paid for my caution: the 4.2 that had made getting there easy enough was a bit small for deep downwind runs. Of course, it's also a bit slower than the double-luffed, cambered speed sail, so my top speeds staid close to 50 kmh. Still, entering jibes at this speed in perfectly flat water is an absolute blast!

After a bit more than an hour of 700 m runs in the harbor, I decided to take a small break and then head back to Kalmus beach. Just in time, too - the wind was going down, and I was able to plane only about the first half of the way back. After that, the 82-l board was just a bit too small for my 200+ pounds (counting all the layers under the dry suit) and the Kalmus voodoo chop. The last 15 minutes were more work than the hour before that! By the time I made it back, my arms were starting to cramp up, so it was time to call it a day.

Talking about voodoo chop: my little cruise yesterday helped me understand why it is so disorderly in Kalmus. Since last fall, we took advantage of the the plethora of sailing sites in the area, and encountered nice swell in Duxbury, Skaket, West Dennis, and the Sakonnet River. In comparison, the chop in Kalmus yesterday was very chaotic, with almost no discernible patterns: the typical Kalmus voodoo chop. As I was sailing back from the wall in the harbor, I noticed that the swell picked up (no real surprise here :). At first, the swell was 100% driven by the wind, and therefore going in the direction the wind was going. I was a bit amazed how fast it built up - just a few hundred feet from the wall, the swell was perhaps a couple of feet high. But as I was leaving the shelter of the wall and approaching Kalmus beach, a second set of waves came into play: waves that were coming from the open ocean. These were parallel to the shore, and almost at a right angle to the wind and the wind-driven waves. As the two sets of waves intermingled, things became chaotic and unpredictable. I had actually made a somewhat similar observation in West Dennis recently: with a wind direction more parallel to the shore, the swell pattern there also became a bit more chaotic (although not nearly as voodoo-like as in Kalmus).

Still, I think Kalmus is one of the really great places to windsurf. If you don't feel like improving your chop hops or other skills in the vood chop, just sail out to the point for nicer waves (something I still have to do), or sail over to the harbor or Lewis bay for some nice flat water. Hope to see you there soon!

1 comment:

  1. Great summary with the GPS graphics.

    If you can with the data, a smmary of the speeds would be very interesting.

    Thanks, Ron C.