Sunday, November 15, 2015

Drew Must Listen

Drew must listen. To me. Very closely. And then do as I say.

You may wonder why, so here's the story:
Last Wednesday, Drew sends me an email, asking about where to sail on Friday. The forecast was WSW or W, so he listed the obvious choices - Kalmus and Hardings Beach. Kalmus can be great in WSW, but if the wind direction is too westerly, it sucks - and Hardings is great. But Drew cc'd Marty, and Marty loves Kalmus.

I suggested Hardings for Friday, and Skaket on Saturday - starting at 10 am, before the high tide. A bit later, I discovered that the dry zip on my Ianovated suit was broken. It is getting a bit chilly here, with air and water temperatures around 50ºF (10ºC). My fallback suit is just a 4/3 mm wetsuit, so playing it conservatively and closer to home made sense, so I said "maybe Kalmus".

Looking on iWindsurf on Friday morning, the first thing I noticed was that the wind was indeed quite westerly, and the readings at Kalmus were very low. The pro forecast predicted winds on the Cape to drop all day. But the meter readings in Rhode Island and Connecticut looked great, with mid-30s near Sandy Point. The water temperature there is about 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit higher than here, and Sandy Point is a fantastic spot. The computer models predicted a slight drop in the wind, but nothing dramatic. So Sandy Point is was!

I live just 15 minutes from Kalmus, and 40 minutes from Hardings. Sandy Point is a 2 hour drive away - that's 4 hours total. I do not like driving much. So there have to be very good reasons to drive there. But there were. I sent an email to Drew and Marty, and another one to Dean, who was with us when we sailed there the first time, and loved it. I also posted on Facebook. But of course, Drew and Marty ignored me, and got skunked - first at Kalmus, and then at Hardings, because the wind dropped shortly past noon.

Sandy Point was, once again, very lovely, but challenging. We got there around 12:30, just as Dean came in to get bigger gear. The wind had dropped, and he reported that he was sinking on his 89 l board with a 6.6 m sail. I usually sail one sail size smaller than Dean, so I rigged my 6.5, and took out the 110 l board. A quick test run showed enough power to switch to my 90 l slalom board, and off to the sandbar we went. Here are the GPS tracks:
In the westerly wind, getting to the sand bar was very easy. The swell on the way was small and orderly. But at the bar, wind and tide levels did not quite play together. Going very close to shore required a mutation in the fear gene, which I do not have (or perhaps just balls several sizes bigger than mine). Where I found it safe to sail, the wind created quite a bit of staccato-chop. That slowed me down, but it did not keep Dean and Bart from going wicked fast - both reached top speeds of about 35 knots. I barely scratched 30. But I got one good pointer from Bart when I asked why he was so much faster. He had noticed that my front arm was bent a lot, even after I had downsized my sail to a 5.8 m speed sail. Here's a picture that illustrates the problem (while I was still on the non-cambered 6.5, which I could barely control after the wind picked up):

Thanks to Dean and Bart's amazing speed, the Fogland Speedsurfers for once are not fighting for the second-to-last place on the GPS Team Challenge - we are right there in the middle of the monthly rankings! This was also the first time our team had 4 windsurfers posting speeds above 30 knots in the same session. Did I mention that is was much warmer than on Cape Cod? Temperatures near shore where around 60ºF (15ºC), and even I was perfectly comfortable without gloves or a hood.

I think Drew would have liked that. He would certainly have liked the flat water and orderly little swell.

On Saturday, the wind turned to NW, which dropped temperatures into the 40s. I had tried to suggest Barnstable Harbor and the Providence Breakwater as possible flatwater avenues, but nobody showed any interest. So Skaket it was! Nina needed a break, so I went alone. A bunch of windsurfers had said they'd also come, but nobody paid any head to my suggestion to start at 10. Drew showed up about 10:30, just as I was ready to go onto the water (yes, I was late, too).

I hit the water with my 4.7, and had a few good runs - but then the wind dropped. I rigged up to my 5.0 (which is more like a 5.5 with respect to power). The 5.0 was good for about 20 minutes, but then, the wind increased to mid-30s (mph), gusting into the high 40s. Back to shore I went, re-rigging the 4.7. Just as I was ready to go out again, two guys came in, reporting that 4.7 was way to big. One of them was Marty, and he usually holds on to his 4.7 way past the point of sanity. Nevertheless, I tried to go out a little later, but even carrying the gear to the water was  a big challenge. Rigging down to 3.7 would have been the call, but I was getting quite cold in my 4/3 wetsuit. The tide was high, creating nasty shore break and big swell with lots of chop on the waves - that's survival sailing, not fun.

By then, only Ken's son Michael, who had rigged down to a 4.2 (with the help of a few others who held the sail down in the blowing sand), was out. I suggested to Marty and Drew, who had not even made it out onto the water, to join me for a jacuzzi warmup and then a session in Barnstable Harbor, but got no takers. However, I did exactly that. Here's a short video that shows the conditions:
A lovely session it was, indeed. Drew certainly would have had fun...

Today's forecast again called for WSW, but with a rise just before sunset. The iWindsurf pro forecast kept the range to 15-19 knots, so nobody from the Boston area bothered to drive to Kalmus. However, the meter readings for Pt. Judith jumped to high 20s WSW before noon, and the meters in Buzzards Bay soon followed. It was only a question of time until the wind made it to Kalmus! Once the meter here read 20 mph, we were on our way to the beach.

We opted for an Egg Island session to get some nice flat and shallow water despite the high tide. Nina tried a few Vulcans and Duck Tacks, but I stayed away from any freestyle: when getting off near shore early in the session, I had discovered that my baggy drysuit had a few leaks, and let quite a bit of water in. What a great excuse for lawn mowing (aka back-and-forth sailing)!

Over at Egg Island, conditions were perfect. The wind also played along, picking up to low 20s with gusts in the low 30s. Jibing heaven! Once again, we sailed until the sun went down and the wind dropped, but still made it back mostly planing. Here are today's tracks:
Four sessions three days - 3 sessions in the A to A+ range, and one in the "very interesting" category. I just love windsurfing on and around Cape Cod in the fall!

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