...to paraphrase my Dad's latest blog post, "No Boeing in South Carolina Please". I trust my dad's opinion on this since he worked as an engineer for the corporate giant for several years when he first moved to Seattle. Also, he makes a clear and eloquent argument in the post; an argument that could apply to any situation where a state or local government is over-eager to whore itself out to a soulless big business.
A week ago I wasn't sure whether or not I liked bluegrass music. I'm still not sure, to tell the truth, but I do know I had a good time over the weekend at the Magnolia Music Festival in Live Oak, Florida.
It took place at a huge campground in the woods around the Suwannee River, and it was well-attended by hippie-flavored rednecks, hippie-flavored yuppies, and hippie-flavored hippies. In addition to the music, there was lots of neat art and culture on display and for sale.
One of the headlining bands was a group called "Donna the Buffalo". At first I thought people were saying "Dawn of the Buffalo". This tapestry thing reminded me of that.
Besides the music and art and socializing, I got my nature and watersports fix at the actual Suwannee River, where there was an awesome sandy beach on one side and a cliff with a rope swing on the other side. It was high enough to be scary, but not high enough for me not to do it.
This weekend I went to a bluegrass music festival in Live Oak, Florida, near the border with Georgia. (I'll write about that later when I sort the pictures.) Apparently it wasn't windy while I was gone, but the breeze welcomed me back and I got nice after-work kiteboarding and windsurfing sessions on Monday and today. Today I went to the State Park on the North side of Fort Pierce Inlet, where the waves were interesting. (See end of the second video.)
I don't mean for my blog to be PURELY a watersports video dumping ground, but since the wind keeps blowing hard and I'm busy at work when I'm not on the water, I haven't had time to delve into any interesting social commentary or any of the other stuff I sometimes write about. Oh, well.
Today looked lighter than Monday and Tuesday, so I went out on a 106 liter board instead of the 83 I had used previously. Once I was out the wind came up a lot, but I added outhaul to my 5.5 sail and the 106 stayed fairly well behaved. I filmed an awesome jam session with my kiter friend Doug in the big waves and swells around the Fort Pierce Inlet. There was great, golden sunlight illuminating the green waves and whitewater, with an awesome purple-grey squall cloud and a rainbow in the background. At one point I was charging at a breaking wave and pinched upwind to avoid the whitewater, which accidentally initiated a super cool back-loop type thing where I got totally upside down and the board went nose first into the water. I didn't sail away from it, but it was fun, so I'm curious to maybe try some more. Especially since when I got to the beach I realized my camera batteries were dead and I hadn't filmed ANY of that cool stuff. Doh!
So all I have to show is some grey skies video from Tuesday. I organized it into four chapters / themes: 1) carving, 2) wave-assisted jibes, 3) kiters jumping, and 4) me jumping. Hope you enjoy.
After work today at the Fort Pierce South Jetty I saw a bunch of kiteboarders I hadn't seen since April, and one other windsurfer. I guess that means the windy season has begun. The breeze was NE and STRONG, but kind of up and down. The kiters were mostly on 8s and 9s. My 5.5 sail and 83 liter Starboard Evo worked pretty well, except I kept catching weeds on my fin. I need to find a good US Box weedfin for sails 5.5 and smaller.
Anyway, here's the video. It's kinda long, but I tried to actually pick good songs this time, and put a little more into the editing. There's some surprises in it, too. Hope you like it.
I had a good time this weekend using my smaller windsurfing boards in the W / NW winds from a cold front.
Saturday was sort-of the "warm up", with just a dying-light flat water session with 6.6 / 106 liter board. I was proud of my one completed duck jibe until I watched it on this video and realized it was the weirdest, wrongest duck jibe ever. Oh, well. My friend Marc was messing with his new kite and got a 10 second ride. Woo hoo!
Sunday was the glory day, with fun ocean sailing at the Fort Pierce Jetty. The wind was about 30 degrees offshore, and very gusty and shifty, which made it challenging. Yet, when a gust coincided with a jumpable or rideable wave, it was perfect. There were some clean swells coming through occasionally, and because of the wind angle, it was easy to do "front side" turns on the wave. That's where instead of just sliding down the face of the wave, you turn downwind and ride partway back up the face before redirecting and skootching down again. You can feel the "Gs" when you do it, and it's really fun. I started out on my smallest board, the Evo 83, but I switched to the bigger Exocet Cross 106 to better deal with the flukey conditions. The sail I'm using in the video is a 5.5 Aerotech Charge. Later in the afternoon I switched to the blue 6.6 sail and got some even funner wave rides, but the video of that didn't turn out because my batteries were dead.
There were several kiters rigged at the beach, but only one of them went out, and only for a little while before ending up way downwind, because the shifty conditions were bad for kiting.
The stagnant heat of Florida's long-lingering summer has been banished at last by the first cool front of the year. A gentle breeze rustles the blinds, filling my room with fresh scents from outdoors. 74 degrees of perfection.
The weather came yesterday with a West wind that was still hot, but strong and long enough to signal a change from the usual. It was also strong and long enough for me to rig a 5.5 sail and to baptize the 83 liter "Evo" waveboard that has been sitting on my rack since I bought it in May. (Remember this post?)
I played it safe and used the board in the lagoon, where the wind was onshore, rather than in the ocean where it would have been offshore. I think that was a good call, since it was plenty gusty in the lagoon, from about 10 - 25 mph, and would have been even gustier in the ocean.
The Evo shlogged well for its 83 liters, and when puffs rolled through it would pop up on a plane with no complaints. The main improvement I noticed over my previous small board, an 87 liter F2 Maui Project Style, was that the Evo had better turning and jibing characteristics. The carves were smooth and easy to initiate, and the board seemed to carry speed and stay planing even during my sloppy jibes. I can't wait to try it on the ocean side, maybe tomorrow. The wind is supposed to be NW shifting to North, which will be somewhat less offshore. I'll need a wetsuit, though. The high is only going to be 72!
Consummate heat under a bright, empty sky. Light wind from the west, shifting south.
The work day inches along; frustration, progress, coffee, frustration, progress, peanut butter and jelly, check the weather.
12 mph southeast at the St. Lucie Powerplant, a good sign. Marshmallow clouds piling up inland. 14 mph at the powerplant. Text Marc- "seabreeze is on!"
Receive text from new neighbor- "house painting party after work" - whoops, deleted. :P
A few more things to get done, now roll out in the red minivan, east up Seaway Drive... Who's that jogging? The cute blond teachers who hang out at the Tiki Bar! I wave, one waves back - yes!
Kiteboard Ray's Jeep is parked by the beach- it must be good! Looks breezy but Ray can't stay upwind on his 12. Indecision about what to rig; kite or formula? In the meantime, rig longboard beginner stuff for friend Jen.
Ray still complaining about wind so I go for formula. Some guilt for leaving Jen while I rig my own gear, but she's tough, I rationalize.
Beach start and WOW it's great! Two tacks and I'm out past the jetty. Formula flying on the fin, hydrodynamic harmony, hiked out with full power. Late day sun golden through boiling clouds, my pink sail looks BOSS. Upwind, downwind, then take a breather to help Jen and Marc.
Props to Jen for gutsing it in the choppy water. Props to Marc for getting upright on his kiteboard, briefly. My work is done here- back out for formula round two.
Zip, zap, back and forth, semi-planing jibes. The sun dips lower, squall clouds loom, that's that. Exit the shorebreak, schlep the board, schlep the sail, mind the fire ants in the grass. Fat raindrops pop on the sailcloth, melt salt and sand from my skin. The water is fresh and tropically warm. No rush now- can't get any wetter. It's dark when the last item is stowed and I'm smiling invisibly.
The other day I got hold of this scary report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). It estimates how the land use and population of Florida will change by the year 2060. Right now we're at about 18 million people- crowded as it is. But by 2060 the population is supposed to DOUBLE to 36 million people! That's a whole 'nuther Miami, a whole 'nuther Orlando, a whole 'nuther Tampa, St. Petersburg, Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Daytona, Melbourne, Panama City, Key West, etc, etc. Holy crap!!
That's going to be a huge strain on the natural ecosystems that support both human and animal life in the state. Where is our drinking and irrigation water going to come from? Where are we going to put our poop, pollution, and garbage? Will there be anything left of our already-dying coral reefs? Where are the endangered species like panthers, bears, burrowing owls, and gopher tortoises going to live?
The map below shows how almost all the wild, undeveloped lands in the state will be developed by 2060. Pretty much every patch of nature that isn't already designated as a reserve will be converted to human use if trends continue. Dang. We really need to stop population growth and development before it comes to this.
The full report has lots of pretty pictures and juicy info, going into other problems the state will have, like sea level rise and stuff. You should look through the pdf here. It's not too sciency at all.