I'm back on the East Coast now, but I put together these two videos from windsurfing in the Gorge earlier this week. I will watch these and reminisce during Florida's doldrums. These and the pictures my dad posted on his blog.
Longboard Day- It was glassy when we got to the Hood River in late afternoon Monday 8/24. But I saw a windline approaching and rigged the "big" 6.5 Sailworks Retro for use on my dad's old longboard. The wind came up a bit and it worked out great. The Mistral Pandera, with it's adjustable mast track and "railing" footstraps, it quite fast and fun with the daggerboard up or down.
Shortboard Day- I got to put some good mileage on the Starboard Kode 86 I rented from Big Winds. The wind was "only" 5.0, but that was good enough for me. I really liked the board's combo of speed and slidey manouverability. The morning sesh was in Hood River at the new Waterfront Park. For the afternoon sesh we drove way East to Maryhill Park, out in the desert. The wind was erratic there, but the scenery was great. The beach was made entirely of river-sculpted "skipping rocks".
I'll post some pictures when I've had time to sort through them.
After Wednesday's glassy paddleboarding session on Eld Inlet, I would never have thought Thursday would bring 20 knots to the same venue. But it did, so I got a chance to really put my dad's old Bic shortboard through the paces.
The board is a lot longer and narrower than a modern shortboard and has lots of vee in the hull, plus relatively thin, sharp rails. It cuts through chop more than bouncing or hovering over it, and rolls through jibes like a train on a curving track. Very fun feeling. The only bummer was that the chintzy us-box for the fin is starting to bust out from the strain of holding the relatively long after-market fin my dad has to match a 7.0 sail. Oh well, my folks are selling the Olympia house and moving full-time to the Carolinas soon, so they would be having to get rid of the board anyway.
Below is a video from the session. Most of it was taken by me with my GoPro Helmet Hero Wide camera...
...and some was taken by my dad with his Canon S5IS digital camera. I edited it with windows movie maker:
Yes, woo hoo, indeed. Next stop, The Gorge!
(One last pic from the Eld Inlet session. I love the wall of green...)
I'm on vacation in Washington State now, staying with my parents at my childhood home in Olympia. Today we went paddleboarding on Eld Inlet, a part of Puget Sound near the house. It was very smooth and glassy. My parents did well. There more pictures on my Dad's blog, including some of a cute harbor seal that came to investigate us.
PS- On an unrelated note, congrats to Catapulting Aaron, who did a windsurfing forward loop for the first time recently. I've never had the guts to try it, but maybe now that Aaron has done it I'll try. Gotta have some wind first, though.
There's something weird going on in the tropical Atlantic. A few days ago we'd had no named storms for 2009, but now we've got Ana, Bill, and Claudette all churning away simultaneously. The weather associated with Claudette brought a little wind to South Florida this weekend, but it was frustratingly inconsistent for windsurfing in Fort Pierce. It always fizzled to below 10 knots as soon as I pulled up in the minivan. :( I could have gone for a shlogging or longboard session, or a swim, but the water was unappealing, to say the least, on account of a rotting stew of macroalgae smothering the beach.
The likely reasons for the massive, disgusting algae mass are:
1) "Eutrophication"; the over-stimulation of algae growth by sewage and fertilizer runoff 2) Lack of sufficient numbers of manatees, green turtles, and herbivorous fish and invertebrates to eat it up 3) The jetty interacting with the prevailing wind and swell to concentrate the algae on its south side
Anyway, I decided to brave the algae this morning because the wind looked good. iWindsurf was registering SE 19 mph with gusts to 23 mph at the Fort Pierce Coast Guard Station, so I excitedly grabbed my still-unused waveboard off the rack and stuffed it in the Red Rooster (new name for the minivan). Of course it was barely whitecapping once I got to the beach. Since the weeds and shorebreak looked unfriendly for formula windsurfing, and since my friend Marc was coming later to kite, I decided to blow up my 12 m kite. I'd just had the leaky leading edge repaired, so I figured everything was peachy. Unfortunately, I discovered two additional struts had developed leaks since my last kiting attempt. Doh!
I suspected the nipples. Kite bladders have very poorly attached nipples, which peel off easily, especially in hot, humid cars or minivans. Sure enough, when I removed the offending bladders back at my house, they both had peely nipples. Uh huh huh, huh huh.
I stuck them back on with shoe goo, but then I didn't wait long enough to re-insert the bladders, and one of them peeled off again. Now it's just a mess, and I probably need to get the whole bladder professionally repaired or replaced. Kiting is a horrible aggravation, and I'm thinking seriously about quitting it altogether. Yeah, it's fun when the conditions and your gear are perfect, but that never happens. And the gear is intolerably flimsy and delicate for stuff so expensive. Grrr.
I salvaged some sort of session on my formula windsurfing gear, but by then it was too light to plane even on that, so I mainly just got worked in algae-soup shorebreak at either end of a long sweaty shlog. So yeah, definitely the year's worst session.
It's tough to be a fan of windsurfing compared to a fan of other sports because: 1) there are no televised competitions, and 2) there are usually no professional-level competitions in the United States. Magazines report event results, but there's always a big time lag there, and there aren't enough pictures, interviews, or play-by-plays to really get a sense of what happened. The internet is the only place where you can get daily coverage with results-as-they-occur, pictures, video, interviews, etc.
Back in, like, 2003 or so when I first got obsessed enough to start paying attention to the professional windsurfing association events, the online coverage was mediocre. But it has improved a little every year, and lately it has been fantastic. Like they've finally learned to maximize the impact of the internet format. The daily event write-ups are dramatic and juicy; not just glorified results listings. The videos are generally good, although they vary a lot in style. Some are splashy with quick editing cuts, some have more narrative, and others are complete action sequences, like a slalom heat in epic winds. I kinda like the latter kind; draws me into the competition more.
The best thing of all is the photography, though. Whoever does the shooting has really been unleashing his or her artistic creativity at the scene, going well beyond just documenting the windsurfing. **UPDATE - I think it's a dude named John Carter. He rules.**
The pictures really capture the beauty...
...and the drama of the sport.
They're also good about getting unique portraits of the competitors, like Israeli racer Arnon Dagan...
My dad is an electrical / mechanical / power-systems engineer who has taught me about volts, amps, ohms, etc. about once a year since I was a baby. He needs to keep reminding me because my knowledge of the subject fades faster than a cheap alkaline battery in a GoPro Helmet Camera.
Unlike a battery, though, which fades from overuse, my memory of electrical stuff fades from lack of use. Maybe that's what Dad was trying to prevent when he bought me a digital multimeter for my 30th birthday this year. It was apropos considering the slew of electrical problems I'd been having with my station wagon. When I replaced that lemon of a car with a less-old minivan last week I was looking forward to forgetting everything about electricity once again. I think you can see where this is going...
Today the @#$% minivan wouldn't start! At least not until I turned off the radio and the fan, took several deep breaths, and turned the key juuuust right. So I backed the car into my driveway in an easy-to-jumpstart-if-necessary position, took my multimeter out of the box for the first time, and called Pa' for my yearly electrical engineering refresher course. Here's what he said I should do to see if there's something wrong with the battery, cables, or charging system:
1. Set the multimeter to volts and measure the voltage across the battery terminals when the car is not running. It should be around 12.5. (It was.) 2. Have someone turn the key to start the car while you continue measuring the voltage. If it drops significantly below 12.5, like down to around 9, that's bad. (It didn't.) 3. Continue to measure the voltage when the car is running. It should be 14 or more to be properly charging the battery. (Mine was 13.55. That might mean the alternator [the thing that charges the battery] isn't working quite right.) 4. If the voltage is kinda low when the car is idling, rev the engine a bit and see if that brings it above 14. (I haven't tried that yet since I sent my car-starting assistant home before Dad recommended that test.) 5. Also, while the car is running, test if the battery cables are bad by putting the black (-) multimeter terminal on the bare metal of the engine and the red (+) one on the cable attaching to the (+) battery terminal. If that's lower than the voltage just across the battery terminals, there might be too much resistance in the cables. (It wasn't.)
1. My battery and cables are probably ok but my alternator might be going. I hope the alternator IS bad, because if it's not there could be a harder-to-diagnose and more-expensive-to-fix problem with the electrical system, putting me in the same place I was with my old car last year when its hellish behavior began. 2. I might actually remember about electricity now, thanks to all this hands-on learning experience. 3. I will probably stall on the side of the road tomorrow.