Saturday, September 6, 2008

Florida is Pretty Cool

A week ago today I pulled out of my driveway in Gloucester Point and left Virginia behind. I was in an uneasy state of mind, melancholy about leaving a good community of friends at VIMS and around Tidewater, nursing a considerable hangover, and paranoid about crashing the 16' Penske van with my car towed behind it.

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Fortunately, I avoided serious mechanical, physical, or psychological breakdown, and made it safely to my Aunt and Uncle's house in Charleston, SC that night. We saw my dear, 90-something year old Grandmama in Summerville the next morning, then I left on the second leg of the journey. By that point my spirits were lifting with good vibes from the family and increasing excitement about the trip into the unknown.

I stayed the next night with my older generation cousins in Daytona Beach. Cousin Tom is a newly retired highschool marine biology teacher. I'm hoping to do some Florida fishing and scuba diving with him sometime soon. Tom is also supportive of my windsurfing addiction; he took me to see the local shop, Sandy Point Progressive Sports, which was really nice and had gear for every water and land-based board sport imaginable, plus a bunch of kayaks and stuff. I had my eye on the ultra-wide Exocet "Cruiser" boards for my dad's re-entry into the sport.

It wasn't a bad drive from Daytona to Fort Pierce, and I soon found myself at my new doorstep, admist exotic plants and stylish stucco walls crawling with Cuban Anolis lizards.

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I paid some local teenagers a couple bucks to help unload the truck, then I unhitched my car and went windsurfing / swimming in the Fort Pierce Inlet. (Zoom in on the map to check out the inlet.)


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The outgoing tide was against the East wind, so it was easy to zig-zag my way all the way out between the jetties and into the exciting waves of the Atlantic. There wasn't enough wind to plane except when riding a wave, but it was still fun on the Kona.

The first night at home was pretty miserable, because I was sweaty, hot and salty with no utilities hooked up yet to bathe or air condition myself. Fortunately, they had showers at the Smithsonian Marine Station (SMSFP) so I got one at work the next day. Compared to VIMS, SMSFP is very small, but the folks there are a nice, close-knit group who have welcomed me with open arms. There has been some kind of group social event every single night since I've been here!

It has been a bit chaotic around SMSFP this week, because everyone is watching the storms, wondering if we'll need to put up shutters and evacuate etc. Fortunately, all we got from Hanna was good windsurfing on Thursday in 15-20 knots from the NE. I launched from the ocean for the first time, and was suprised how easy the launch was from the lee of the jetty at Jetty Park.

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These pictures were taken the next day when it wasn't windy, but it really wasn't much rougher than this even during the big wind, at least not until you got out past the end.

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I rode my 114 liter freestyle / wave board with a 6.6 sail, and was the only windsurfer amongst about 10 kiters. I reckon it's cool to be different, and I don't have any immediate plans to switch sports.

Anyway, that's what's up with me lately. As usual, I'll keep posting rants, nerdly musings, and windsurfing stories as they come to me. Hurricane Ike looks like it could provide some nice sailing, as long as it stays at a safe distance.

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6 comments:

liquidwater said...

Welcome to Fort Pierce.

Steven Bonda said...

Haaaa, Fort Pierce! Don't forget to check out Theo Thudpuckers, located right there close to the jetty: cold beer and great seafood...

John said...

Hope you enjoy it there man seems nice. going to be weird this fall with out you around. I'm having windsurfing issues. everytime iv gone out windsurfing since iv been back iv broken something just as i finally got all the shit i need. 460 mast has a crush repairable, 490 mast broke in half and blew out the luff sleeve of my 7 with it (bc i took it into 3-5' shorebreak at buckroe), dinged my formula board, and put a rip in my 10.9 sail (just taped it up). im scared to go windsurfing now lol

Outdrsmn said...

That's a good omen, wind upon arrival at your new abode. I too sailed Hanna's winds. I'll be putting up blog post on it soon enough. 30+ knot gusts on a 4.1. Crazy, man. Your advice was right on the money about the boards.

Farrah said...

Hey James,
Glad you made it to FL safe and sound. Seeing your pics is bringing back memories of the mad Halophila johnsonii sampling I did in Ft. Pierce :) I'm the queen of the ICW. Anyway good luck with it all. I'll see you in a few months.
Farrah

James Douglass said...

Liquidwater- Thanks!

Steve- Theo Thudpuckers, eh? I'll have to check it out. Seems like there's quite a number of cool bars and restaurants in this lil' town.

John- Dang! Well, just remember that every time you fix something you learn something. Pretty soon yer gonna be a windsurfing genius.

Outdrsmn- I just checked out your blog. Cool new updates! Kudos on braving the storm.

Farrah- The first time I see some Halophila I'll be sure and think of you. :P