Sunday, November 30, 2014


The forecast had looked fantastic: warm, sunny, wind around 20, even in the mid-20s according to one computer model.  I got excited. Woke up early. Waited for the wind to come up a bit more from the readings around 15, but then arrived at Kalmus around 10:30. Alex was already there, and a few others short up shortly thereafter.

But by the time I had rigged, the white caps that were visible when I arrived had completely disappeared. Alex went out on his 7.5, but never got anywhere close to planing. The wind had dropped to around 10.

Other wind sensors looked promising: Pt. Judith, Buzzards Bay Buoy, and Vineyard heaven all showed low 20s and a clear upward trend. Even Waquoit Bay and Duxbury were showing 20s! Clearly, there was some wind out there! Typically, wind that reaches the sensors further south arrives at Kalmus a little while later. So we waited. But the wind did not come.

I eventually gave up, derigged, and drove home, where the wise and lovely Nina had remained the entire time. I decided to try another close-by spot where the sensors did show wind - Waquoit Bay, 25 minutes the other way. Nina joined me, and so did Drew, who had just arrived at Kalmus.

Waquoit Bay is not a popular windsurfing spot, and we found out why: the dirt road that leads to the about 5 parking spots is clearly modeled after the access road to Sprecklesville on Maui. Potholes are huge, tree branches try to scratch the van, and the going is slow. But we made it through, and were rewarded with: wind!

I did not trust it, so I rigged quickly and big (7.0). Nicely powered on the first few runs, I loved how flat it was - speed territory! I changed to my big slalom board and started going a bit faster - 25 knots in 17 knot wind with 22 knot gusts. Not bad, considering that the sail was too small for deep downwind runs!

But before I could even start dreaming about going for a decent 1-hour run for the GPS Team Challenge, the wind started dropping. I switched back to my freestyle board because it's easier to sail underpowered, but gave up a short while later. I was getting to hot in my 6 mm wetsuit, anyway!

So yes, I got fooled by the wind. But I also did get to have some fun at a beautiful spot in warm temperatures, sailing with Nina and Drew. Not a bad day at all!
I jinxed Drew by giving him a GPS

Where is Nina?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Crowds on the water

It's windy, and I'm not sailing. Ok, I should add "yet" - I'm waiting a bit so that I'll start at the same time as some of my friends. We'll have crowds on the water again. No big surprise today - it will be warm, with water + air temperature > 100ºF (water 48, air 55). That's warm. I will be overheating on the water. I'll be glad when I blow my jibes. I might event have to try freestyle so I fall more often.

If you're windsurfing near Cape Cod, but stop in October, you're missing out big time. Today will be my 12th day of sailing in November - that's every other day. Wind averages were above 20 most days; two days ago, they were around 35. That was just a perfect day - fully powered on 4.0. Not a big deal for Gorge sailors or light-weight Californians, perhaps - but it was only the second time this year that this 195 lb sailor got to use a 4.0. Very much to my surprise, I was perfectly comfortable, even when it was still bumpy close to high tide. As the water level dropped, it got flat, with nice little waves to play with - perfection!

You can see how it got flatter in the GPS speed graph:
(Don't get exited - speeds are in kmh, not knots, silly!).

With air temperatures in the low- to mid-40s, there were a lot of Ianovated wetsuits to be seen. Towards the end of the day, the last 4 windsurfers all wore Ianovated suits. It's so easy to do 3-hour sessions when you can warm your hands with a few puffs into the warming tube! And now, you can buy the suit in the US, and Wind-NC in Hatteras. Beaches will certainly get more crowded on the cold days!

The wind stuck around another day, so we went for another session yesterday morning. Seeing Marty throw himself into loop tries, I conquered my inner chicken a bit, and went for a few tries myself. They were halfhearted tries, but better than not trying at all. At least, I got whipped around a bit:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

When I grow up I want to be ...

.. like Jerry. Here are some pictures Eddie Devereaux took of him yesterday at Harding's Beach in Chatham:

Well, at least I got to sail with him:
That's Jerry high up in the air, and me far in the background. At least my sail is about as colorful as his.  I even tried to copy Jerry's straight jumps, with limited success:
Hardie was there, too. This picture of him gives a good idea how the waves were:
Nina did her own thing, once she got used to sailing in non-flat water. 40ºF temperatures and full power on a 4.0 seemed just right for her to work on Shove-Its:

You have to realize that Nina almost never sails waves. When she later saw the pictures where Jerry jumped off the wave, turned downwind in the air, and landed back on the wave, she said "Oh, I should do that!". Yes. Wait until next time!

You might ask: were we cold? NO! Jerry complained about being hot, and took breaks on shore to cool off. Nina used open-palm mittens only for the first few runs, and then sail without gloves. My stupid hands acted up a bit, but were fine when I used my old open-palm mittens and the tubes in my Ianovated suit. No, really, they were fine! Even when my board got away from me, and I went for what seemed to be a very long swim. The GPS tracks later showed it was just 3 minutes.

A great session it was. Warm we were. The wind was strong and super-steady:

But my inner chicken won. I was not happy about that. Of course I have excuses. It took me a while to get used to the waves. I rarely sail my 4.7. I did not see 9 of Jerry's 10 loops. When I finally saw one his loops, I was really tired. And so on. Stupid chicken! Hardings often has perfect loop conditions, and yesterday was no exception. Did I say I hate that stupid chicken in me? It's in me, and comes out at the worst times. Don't know where it comes from - I'm a vegetarian!

Chances are Nina will loop before I do - and she has no desire to do so, at least not before she can Flaka and Shaka and Vulcan and Kono. But she also has no fear. Enough power for 4.0? Great, so much easier to duck! Does not matter if for a regular duck jibe in 45 mph winds, or for a duck tack in 35 mph. Her inner chicken either does not exist, or it is mute and invisible. So I maybe I revise my first statement: when I grow up, I want to be as fearless as Nina or Jerry. But my mother thinks I'll never grow up, and she may be right.
Many thanks to Eddie for taking the pictures, and to Jerry for demonstrating many loops. It was not Jerry's fault that I was usually looking the other way.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

First Encounter

In west to northwest winds, the iWindsurf meter that consistently shows the strongest readings is the "Hatch Beach" meter. It's a great mystery why it's called "Hatch Beach" - the beach it is on is the First Encounter Beach in Eastham. It you think of Cape Cod as an arm sticking out into the Atlantic that is bent at the elbow, the beach is darn close to the elbow pit. No surprise the wind likes going there!

First Encounter is a kite surfing beach. Windsurfers usually go to Skaket, or to places with better waves. But we tried First Encounter once, and Nina had a great session there. So when we got a wind forecast that promised straight onshore winds at Skaket, but side-on winds at First Encounter, that's were we went.

We arrived near high tide, and the water looked rather uninviting. "But it was so flat last time" said Nina. Well, the tide was about 4-6 feet lower then. With a 10-12 foot tide, the differences in water state are quite dramatic. We dawdled a bit, but eventually made it out onto the water. The Hatch Beach meter often overstates the wind a bit, so we rigged big - 4.7 for Nina, 6.0 for me. Nina ended up a bit overpowered. I like power and was just fine, thank you very much.

Here's a video from the session:

I won't blame you (much) if you call the video boring. I tried a few Carve 360s, but that was it, and those did not work. Otherwise, I was perfectly happy going back and forth. Since the water was quite bumpy at the start, I diverted from my usual straight ways and wove some curvy lines into the water. A little more than a mile out, there was some rather lovely swell for such "wave play" (although, admittedly, calling the swell "waves" is stretching it a bit). But for this straight-line flatwater surfer, it counted as serious fun, and kept me occupied for a while.

After an hour or two, the tide had fallen more than a meter, and it got flatter. I took this as an excuse to sail in a more linear fashion. If anyone had asked, I would have pointed to the GPS on my arm and called it "speed runs", but nobody asked. Just as is started getting really flat, my inner chicken reared it's ugly head and send me scrambling to shore. The water was still mostly more than knee-deep, but there were some shallower areas and shell fishing cages, and I was not sure were exactly all these were. Nina, who was a bit safer on an 8 cm shorter fin, came in shortly afterwards. After we had de-rigged, we took a final look at the water:
It had gotten buttery smooth, and I was a bit jealous of the kiters. Maybe I should order a 15 cm Delta Wing fin from Maui Ultra Fins...
For all the history buffs among my readers: the name "First Encounter Beach" reflects that this is where the Pilgrims first encountered Native Americans,  a little while prior to their settling in Plymouth. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014


20: days sailed in October.
Includes 2 weeks in Hatteras, one day with sessions at two different spots on Cape Cod, and 3 light wind days.

Hatteras Sunset

28: wind averages (in mph) when we decided to go windsurfing today, despite the rain
35: wind averages when we rigged
41: wind averages when we sailed
49: wind gusts when we sailed
3.4 and 4.0: our sail sizes today. It's rare that we get to sails this small - maybe 1-2x a year. Even rarer that we are overpowered on these sails. Happens once every few years. Tomorrow will be even windier.

24: top speed (in mph) today in 41 mph winds
28: typical top speed I have on a day when wind averages are 20 mph

6.7: distance (in km) I sailed today
52: average distance I sailed per day (with planing conditions) in October
138: maximum distance I sailed on one day in October
270: maximum distance I ever sailed on one day
742: distance (in km) sailed by Dennis Klaaijsen when he set the 24-hour windsurfing record.
He jibed 395 times, falling 5 times (98.7% dry rate).
Skaket Beach, Orleans, Cape Cod