Wednesday, September 26, 2007

OBX Pilgrimage

Pretty much every year that I've been in grad school (don't ask me to count), the VIMS Sail and Paddle Club has done a fall trip to the Outer Banks, organized by me. We stay at a funky little campground in Rodanthe that caters to surfers and other lowlifes (like graduate students). This year we had our biggest trip ever, with 8 people (one year it was just me and my friend Keith).

It wasn't very windy, but since most of the people were newbies to windsurfing, that was no big deal. The weather was beautiful, and it was heavenly to glide over the Pamlico sound, looking down through the clear water at a mosaic of sand and seagrass. After s'mores on Saturday night the moon was so bright that I went for a nocturnal windsurfing session. WOW, what a neat feeling. (Don't worry mom, it was safe because of the shallow water, the lights on shore, and the complete lack of boats.)

Despite the idyllic beauty of the calm weather, myself and fellow wind-addict Sam Lake (a kiteboarder) were jonesing for more wind so we could get our adrenaline fix. It finally kicked in from the North while we driving home on Highway 12 across Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Of course we stopped at a pullout, ran out across the dunes, and frantically rigged up to shred in the ocean. I used my 6.9 sail and 114 liter board, and Sam used his 13 m kite.

Both of us were dialed, but Sam couldn't stay upwind because of the alongshore current, and he had to do "the walk" 3 or 4 times. Ha ha. The ocean was beautiful, tropical colors. At one point some small cownose rays swam by just under the surface in front of me, their graham-cracker colored backs contrasting sharply with the deep azure below them. Awesome.

I made it in and out of the surf zone without incident until the very last time I returned to shore, when I found myself in vanishing water in front of a rearing chunk of shorebreak that worked me pretty good. (See diagram) Next time I want to be just BEHIND the big wave instead of in front of it.


PeconicPuffin said...

Great photos! Love the moon, the sailing, the rays, even the drawing. I'm headed to Hatteras in three weeks myself...if you're thinking of heading back down let me know!

James Douglass said...

I'm always thinking of heading back down. If you email me your place and times maybe we can work out an overlapping session. :)

PS- I must admit I didn't take the moon and the ray pictures; I just dug them out of google images to match what I saw.