Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Windsurfing Point Judith

Last Sunday, we went windsurfing in the Point Judith Harbor of Refuge for the first time. We had picked the spot because the weather forecast called for very warm winds, which often decouple in Kalmus and Fogland at this time of the year. Point Judith sticks out into the water and is surrounded by water from 3 1/2 sides, so decoupling is much less of a problem (as the wind graphs from warm days from the previous weekend showed).

The launch is at the Salty Brine State Beach, right next to the Block Island ferry. From the suburbs west of Boston, the driving time is about the same as to Kalmus in Hyannis, 75 to 90 minutes. Here are some pictures:
There's a decent sized paved parking lot, and more parking right next to it at George's Restaurant. The beach is sandy and more than a mile long - plenty of space for kiters and windsurfers:
The sailing area is surrounded by jetties, which create a protected triangular area that is about 2 km long:
In addition to the hope for steadier winds, we had been attracted by the jetties, hoping that they would create flat water for speed runs. But when I went sailing, I discovered that the harbor had a nice, long, rolling swell that was just too much fun, so I never bothered sailing up close to the jetties. I did go for a bit of long distance speed, and got some numbers that were pretty good for the conditions (22 knots for the nautical mile and 17.8 knots for 1 hour).

I thought that the place was amazingly easy and fun to sail, and the other advanced sailors all like the spot, too. However, pur newbie Jeff, who only started windsurfing about a year ago and is still working on getting comfortable in the straps, found the conditions not quite to his liking. It did not help that the shore break got the better of him when he came in, and broke his mast. I did not see this happen, but the shore break did not really look bad enough to break masts - I think he had a lemon, and some bad luck. Here are a couple of pictures that show the shore break a bit:

Like Sabah in the picture above, Dani had a lot of fun even though he arrived after the wind had started to go down:
Fred caught a wave on his way in and was smiling ear to ear about it:
The wind died down in the afternoon, and only the guys on the bigger gear were still planing. In the morning when we came, some of the very friendly local sailors had been out on 4.2 - 4.8 m sails, but the wind drop had been in the forecast. We did not get any of the huge ups and downs that Fogland and Kalmus had the same day, so the "no decoupling" definitely worked as expected. On the downside, this means that Pt. Judith won't get thermals in the summer - but then, the somewhat small parking lot would be filled with beach goers, anyway, and I am not even sure if windsurfing even is allowed during the summer season. But for the remaining 9 months of the year, Point Judith is a great spot! At some parts of the harbor, for example near the openings in the jetties, the swell ramped up to chest high, and got pretty steep; it also had a bit of cross chop there, great for jumping, but not nearly as "voodoo"-like as Kalmus can have.

It was great to once again see so many members and friends of the Fogland Speed Surfer team show up, including Fred, Bart, Dani, Sabah, Jeff, Graham, and of course the lovely Nina. The spot definitely has potential for long distance speed, and maybe even for top speed under the right conditions. The water felt quite a bit warmer than on Cape Cod, as can be seen on the sea surface temperature image:

 We will definitely be back!

1 comment:

  1. "Back in the Day" circa '86ish while living in RI, Pt. Judith was the spot for me. I can still remember some great fall days there.