Monday, March 15, 2010

Adventure on the High Seas - Without leaving the Shoreline

First let me say, if I ever doubt Angel's advice on sail size again, please smack me upside the head.

I sailed in gusty, marginal conditions today at Hobie Beach for two hours, but I had a lot of fun with my 5.0 & 112 board. (Next time you see a golden sail and board together, you'll know who it is. Looks fabulous.)

At 3:00 the wind at Fowry was down to 14-17, so I re-rigged. I never re-rig so you know I had no choice. Sure, Angel told me the wind was supposed to pick up and sure I trust his wind observations, but this is a 6.3 Ezzy with tremendous range! I figured I'd give it a shot.

The wind had now picked up to 20, but it was do-able, nothing to worry about. Minutes later it was 25-27. The Ezzy hung in there, now totally downhauled and outhauled past its specs, but what could go wrong? The wind was onshore and the 112 is comfortable in the waves. To a point. Now that you've had this huge buildup, I'll get to the point.

Two and a half hours later I was still looking at the shore, which was probably never more than a football field away. After two and a half hours, I had only made it two-thirds of the way in. I must have waterstarted 40 times. Getting up was easy, but then the gusts would power me up instantaneously and send me straight up the ramp of a two-foot wave. That may not sound like much, but it was straight up and the wind was stronger up there, I'm sure. The port tack was better, but the long and the short of it is I really couldn't get back to shore. I tried just floating, body dragging and swimming. To little avail.

Finally, I realized the cops would close the area in just an hour so I decided to go for it and blast downwind as much as I could one more time. Finally I realized I could just hang in the waterstart position and let the wind push me to shore sideways. Good thing it was an onshore wind. Fortunately the tide was going out and I finally found shallow water at 6:00.

Most of the journey was fun and not frightening, although it wasn't really sailing either, just survival. It wasn't until I realized how late it was getting and how slow my progress was that I muttered a small profanity. (Mind you I was probably no more than 60 yards from shore at this point.) Then a strange thing happened. I was just floating, hoping the waves would carry me in when a shadow passed over me. Then another. Was it the angel of death? No. The sun was setting and the waves behind me were big enough to cast a significant shadow.

Well, I made it back. Rescue workers had to come and carry my equipment for me once I hit dry land. They knew I was MIA, but never expected me to be to the west. (I ended up almost to the east end of the big bridge where no one but the construction workers go.)

Lessons learned: 1. Waves do make a big difference. 2. Don't wait till the last minute to form an exit strategy. I was constantly planning ahead to get home safely. Fortunately, I didn't get too tired until I was fairly close to land. 3. Beware the off-shore breeze. 4. Know your underwater terrain. A big part of my problem was that once I got up and heading to shore, I had no idea whether I was rocketing into a sandbar.

The luckiest thing of all? (Aside from not abandoning my equipment, of course, or being eaten by a shark) the water was warm, a cozy 69 compared to the 58-degree+wind chill temperature out of the water.

Phew. Now I can rest.

Posted by Stacey Hanging on for Dear Life Again at 5:36 PM March 3, 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment