Sunday, January 12, 2014

A slow start

2014 has gotten off to a slow start. The first 10 days were too cold, windless, or nasty & foggy, with no session for me. Yesterday and today were windy. Hardie had fun at Coast Guard with Team Abide yesterday, and at Skaket today. Nina had a great session at Skaket today, planing through jibes and duck jibes, and even trying 360s. Me - a different story.
The lovely Nina in the background, after demonstrating a planing tack

With wind in the forecast for the entire day yesterday, we wanted to sail in the afternoon, when the tide was low. I had second thoughts in the morning, when the wind picked up to around 25 mph, the rain held off, and the fog was thin. I forgot one of the most important rules for the wind addict: never skip wind in hope for wind! I tried to be clever, looking at the radar map and calculating when the rain would come. My conclusion: here by 11, gone by 12 - so noon seemed like a good starting time. Ha!

We drove to Kalmus around noon, only to see maybe 150 ft of ice and slush at the usual launch area. So off to West Dennis. When we arrived, Patrick just came off the water, and told us he had had a great 2-hour kiting session. But now, the fog was coming in, and so was the rain. Too nasty for Nina, who decided to stay in the van. I went out on my 5.5, and the first run was ok - the floating ice was only close to shore; my 7 mm boots were warm enough for the almost freezing water; the rain did not really hurt (yet); and the fog allowed for runs of about 500 m before I lost sight of the shore. But things changed rapidly - the rain got worse, the fog more dense, and the wind picked up almost 10 knots, to 35 mph averages and gusts near 40. In wind like that, a 4.5 m sail starts to feel big, and the 5.5 was getting hard to control. Given the low visibility, I probably should have considered it an advantage that I was the only one left on the water, but thought of "what if stuff happens out in the fog, invisible from the shore, noone else around" kept creeping into my head and killed the fun. So I called it a day after just a few runs.

Today's forecast called for a bit less wind and slightly lower temps, but sun. But it was Sunday, and my lovely wife likes to sleep in on Sundays. I woke up early and checked the wind meter readings - nothing worth getting out of bed for. At 9:20, Hardie called - "I'm going to Skaket, it's blowing 23!". So we crawled out of bed, but it took us more almost two hours to also make it to to Skaket (it's a 40 minute drive for us, while Hardie lives much closer). When we arrived, Hardie was out having fun - on a 5.8, easy to see because he had let his sail bag hang out of the car for us. Plenty windy on the beach, so we rigged 4.5 and 5.5.

Just as I made it out, the wind dropped to below planing for a 15-minute period. I was about to go back in for bigger gear when Nina finally made it to the water, and the wind picked back up for her. A few runs upwind to get away from the oyster beds, and the fun could begin! And then ... my harness line snapped. That was a bummer, I am 99% sure I had replaced the harness lines on this boom just a few months ago. So back in it was - a longer walk now, with the tide dropping. 15 minutes later, I was back on the water with a new line. But on first planing starboard tack, there goes the harness line again! Or so I thought. Yes, the harness line was indeed broken. But as I discovered later after examining my leaky memory and the GoPro video from the day, I had replaced the harness line on the wrong side! Now there's an act of brilliance that I challenge you to compete against!

By now, the tide had fallen so low that the walk back in took even longer than before, so once again, it ended up being a very short session. But at least Nina and Hardie had fun...

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