Just got back from a great week at Hatteras. Here's my weekly diary for those of you following my newbie adventures from last year:
It was a long 18 hour drive from Montreal. I took the advice of a couple posters here and took the 95 as opposed to the 13. I timed the routes to and from and the 13 is about 30 minutes quicker even with the traffic lights.
First observation: the US has a LOT of tolls. Aren't those roads paidfor yet?
Second observation: the US has many strange road sign expression like "NO HAZMATS" and "HOVS ONLY" (strange lingo).
We stopped off at a Days Inn in Norfolk when we saw an army of windsurfers parked there. Turns out they were having some longboard racing...and the rooms were only $35 for windsurfers.....most excellent. The fellow windsurfers were very friendly with the beer but when the conversation switched over to discussing their guns....I quickly ducked into my room for the night. I felt a bit nervous about my board's safety on the roof rack so my new Carve 111 shared the bed with me (they must have thought I was pretty twisted but I wasn't going all that way to get my new board ripped off).
Got into Avon at about 10AM and immediately rigged up my virgin Windwing Synthesis 7.5M. It went together tickity-boo and I was on the water in no time. What a sweeeeeeeet sail. You can't say enough good things about these new sails. If you don't have one made in the last 2 years, ditch 50% of the carbon out of your mast and boom and pick up a new sail with the money you saved.
Here's a photo of my new baby powered up for the first time in 15 kt winds in the Sound off Avon. Orgasmic!
I tried a few jibes but had some trouble. I guess it was either getting used to the new gear or rustiness due to my winter hybernation. Anyway, it was a little disappointing since I had the right gear to do it.
At supper the night before we made a toast: " here's to 30kt winds for tomorrow" we said.....be careful what you ask for!
The day started of around 25 kts but built up to over 30kts by afternoon.
"Time for my new 80L board!!!!"
I rigged my 1996 5.0m HOT AWOL I picked up from Brett at Sailworld the year before. It was the right sail for about a 1/2 hour but when the wind started to build and people were returning to rig 3.7m sails I realized I was about to die.
Surprisingly, I had no problem at all adjusting to the 80L Saxo wave board (sinker). It's only 53cm wide but felt right at home in the high winds with the small (but overpowered) sail.
I had friends tell me I was stupid to buy a 80L wave board in my first year windsurfing but I learned the year before that it's a great board to have in Hatteras. At only $450 Canadian with 2 fins...it was a steal! The lesson is.....right board for the right conditions. Screw the beginner board crap. The heavy indestructible thermoplastic was just ticket for my style of riding. I was jumping off chop like a madman and didn't have to worry about damaging my board.
I did worry a bit about my head though and picked up a helmet for some added safety.
Towards the end of the day I was burnt! Even though I was getting used to being overpowered on my 5.0m, I realized it was taking it's toll on me physically and I wanted to be able to sail the whole week.
I dug deep into my pockets and made a visit to my man Brett at Sailworld. He fixed me up with a sweet deal on a 2000 Hot SpiderSlide Wave 4.2M. Kevlar, PVC
bottom.... very strong and very cheap! I now had no excuse not to do some wave sailing......
Another crazy, windy day. It dropped a little to between 25 and 30kts. The waves were head high on the ocean side and the wind was blowing northeasterly on the back end of the cold front that pushed through the day before. The strong front had pushed all the water out of the Sound and there were sandbars actually poking above the water......weird stuff but Brett tells me it's not unusual. Needless to say, there were lots of broken fins.
I checked out Salvo and Ego beach but got intimidated by the conditions.
Someone recommended heading out to the channel on the sound side instead. I blasted out for about 3 miles not knowing what to expect. On the way out I ran into a friend who lost his fin and was trying to sail back by dragging his harness (not too successfully). He managed to find the fin but the bolt was gone. I got the idea of removing his uphaul line and looping it around his fin and backup around his back strap.....BINGO! My first rescue and it wasn't me!!!
Another couple of friends friends, Rich and Alain head out with me to show me the wave sailing "ropes".
The just in front of the channel is shallow and there are some chest high breakers. My friend Rich tells me to just hang out in the shallows and watch as he heads out to check it out. He tells me to watch what he does. So off he goes jumpin' off the first breaker he hits....what a nut. Well just look at the photo above and you'll see what I mean. He took this himself while sailing with one hand and snapping a photo of himself with the other hand....total nutball...the perfect instructor!!!
He's back in 5 minutes and tells me all is fine but that he'll watch me incase I have any waterstarting problems and get pummeled by the wash.
I head out and head my first wave....whoa! Bend those knees buddy. I'm still not in the harness or straps...but that's ok for me until I get used to it.
After about 10 waves I remember that he told me not to go out to far so I try a jibe but end up wiping out almost immediately. The waves are not breaking anymore and I waterstart easily. On the way back in I catch a nice wave and match the speed down the face. I accelerate down the face and I get a weird feeling as notice I'm going faster than the wind. The sail becomes all loose so I sheet it in cut across the wave "surfer style". I work the board by carving along the face of the wave for what seemed like 30 seconds (probably only 5 seconds). The wash crashes against my legs and butt and I can't see my board anymore. It seems like I'm going really slow since everything is moving the same speed as me. What rush!
I get back in thinking I looked like a total newbie dork. My friend Alain is almost as stoked as me and tells me how cool it looked as I was working along the wave. That was great to hear.
I head back out again and bail during my jibe again (man it's hard in the waves). This time I'm near some stupid looking polls and wires sticking out of the water. I got the whole damn ocean and I'm about to wreck my gear against the only obstacle within 50 miles. I don't panic, but instead tell myself, "easy does it....hit the waterstart the first time and no problem". Luckily, I waterstart off a rising wave (that really helps) and I'm safe.
One of the guys in the cottage with us is this radical Quebec City windsurfing dude named Martin. He's duck jibing all over the place while I'm trying to save my ass from the rig shredder. Here's a photo of him doing some kind of weird "head drag" maneuver that sent up a lot of spray after the photo was snapped.
Some other guys from our cottage show up....with their hockey helmets on!!! Seriously! I tell them they're not helping to dispell the Canadian stereotype. This guys looked like the bloody Mighty Ducks! Just too funny! I almost pissed my wetsuit but remembered about the reading the effects of urine on neoprene and held back........I didn't get a chance to scan a photo of these guys but I'll try and post it later.
Anyway....I headed out only about 5 times and then decided it was enough for my first time. I'd go back, get some more advice, and think about it before trying again.
On the way back I noticed I snapped my mast base tendon (hourglass).
The damn thing was less than 1 year old! I guess the surf beat it up pretty good. Brett fixed me up with a new one.
Another day of cruising. Pure tourism.
I was almost relieved after to days in around 30kts. All the muscles were tired but my hands had no blisters at all. Last year it was very different. I attribute the lack of blisters to lots of "Bag Balm" and using the harness correctly. Man that Bag Balm is amazing! I can't recommend it enough. Like I always say, "If it's good enough for Shania Twain's breasts it's good enough for my hands"
I rig my sweet baby, the 7.5 Synthesis, on my Carve and head out to
nail some jibes.
It's funny how it takes a while to adjust from the 80L and 4.2m sail back to the 111L and 7.5m. But after about 1 hour (and about 10 attempts) I hit a jibe and slowly wobbled out back on a reach. After a few minutes I hit another....then 2 back to back.....now we're talking! I completed about a dozen that day and even managed to carve out of a couple as well. Still, I was hoping to get my jibes up to 50%....but I still got a ways to go. Just so many things have to go just right. Very frustrating at times.
The things that made the biggest difference in jibing were:
1- Slide the hand back before you sheet in and bear off.
2- Flip the sail earlier than you think.
3- Keep the mast normal to the board (even when the board is leaning
All the knee bending stuff I heard didn't seem to do much for me.....but anyway.
Not much wind today as you can see in this pic:
I had a friend try to get me to try his GO. He suggested I put I bag over my head to hide the shame in case someone recognized me. It would have made a good photo but I passed it up. I have my principles you know.
I had what I thought was a better suggestion where we ferry 2-4's of beer back an forth across the canal to the other cottage using his GO board. He didn't GO for that either so I just did some shopping and cooked the boys supper for the night.
I tell you, shopping for food and drink in the US is always fun.What's with this "brew thru" thing anyway. You drive in a load up your car with alcohol with stepping out of the vehicle??? Only in the US! And what's with the "brew thru junior" is that for minors or something?
I stop at the local Texaco and pick up some great salmon steaks for the bar-b-que. That right! Texaco! Some guy named Stoney sells fish there.....ummmmm, ummmmm! Stoney must be one of those guys with 10 fishing poles and a cooler mounted on his pickup's front bumper.
Played tennis in the morning.
Went to the light house in the afternoon and checked out the surf from up top. I ask the guide lady at the top what the wind speed was. She whips out this ancient windmeter and says "about 30 mph"....yeah right...more like 3 mph.
I headed back and poked around the cottage for something to do. I found an old "rock and roll" board at another cottage and used it as a kayak. I didn't have a paddle so I used an old poll that was lying around to push myself "gondola style" down to Wind'n'surf. You can go amazingly fast with just a poll and a windsurfer once you get the technique down. OK...it's pretty obvious that I'm starting to get stoned from too much sun and lack of wind.....but I hear they're promising 20kts for Friday afternoon....wooooooooh hoooh!
Friday (last day)
It starts off light but by the afternoon it's built up to 12 knots. Rich rigs his "bitch" (also known as his Supersonic) and we're off on the water.
I have the Carve and the 7.5m Synthesis again and I'm feeling pretty comfortable.
Towards the end of the day the wind builds to about 20 knots and people start switching to 6.0 sails. I want to avoid derigging so I stay on the Synthesis and outhaul it flatter. It's truly amazing! I'm holding down this 7.5m sail no problem and zipping past all these guys on 6.0m sails. What a great sail. Just so damn stable!
Towards supper time, I finally came in. I rehydrated and re-rigged my 1999 5.9m Supernova. The light sail feels nice but it is immediately apparent that this sail SUCKS! It's just way to backhanded. I pushed my harness lines all the way back and it still wouldn't settle. I tried more downhaul (to the max setting) and less outhaul but I just couldn't get comfortable on this rig. I have tried other no-cams in this size and felt similar effects but nothing near this bad. I like the light feel of the no-cams but it made me realize that not all no-cams are the same and you really need to sail before you buy! Well, to be fair, it is NP's "bargain" sail so I guess I shouldn't expect too much. I'll never try to cut corners on a cheap sail purchase again. I'll stick with Windwing or Sailworks from now on! For the smaller sails, under 5.0, I find that you can save a buck and it makes no difference (except in durability), but NOT on the bigger sails.
I rode for as long as the sun stayed above the horizon. As it was setting I headed back to the line of cottages on the shore and noticed I was the only one left on the water. I turned around and looked at the white wake behind me turn to orange as it blended back into the seascape. I took one last mental "snapshot" and said to myself, "this is as good as it gets". The ocean agreed with me and gently clapped the bottom of my board as if to signal the end to another glorious Hatteras vacation.