Friday, February 5, 2010

Back in the Water

All day yesterday I was very upset about the fatal shark attack in Stuart, and definitely in no mood to get in the water. Nevertheless, I eventually decided that I would continue to windsurf, and maybe kite, just a bit more carefully. Though there's no way to completely eliminate the risk of shark attack besides never going in the water, I think I can minimize it by:

1. Never riding alone or in poor conditions where I might be stuck in the water a long time.
2. Never riding a "sinker" windsurfing board or kiteboarding in light or uncertain winds.
3. Never going too far away from shore.
4. Never riding without a buddy capable of initiating a speedy rescue.
5. Never riding in obviously fishy or sharky situations.
6. Trusting my instincts to retreat to the beach when something doesn't feel right.
7. Coming back to shore before the crepuscular hour.

Today a big wind from the southeast afforded me the opportunity to test my bravery / stupidity at Fort Pierce Inlet State Park. A couple kiters were already on the water when I arrived, which was reassuring. I rigged a 5.5 sail on my floaty 106 liter board, even though I could have used a smaller board, because I wanted to be able to climb on the board to escape sharks if necessary. The bigger board also helped with getting out through the breakers. Towards the end of the session my windsurf buddy Jon, and another windsurfer whose name I couldn't remember, showed up. After I de-rigged I took some pictures of their stuff on the beach, and some action shots of the only kiter who was still out (see slideshow below).

I also got some video with my replacement GoPro Helmet Hero HD, although I stopped filming after the first 20 minutes because the lense fogged up horribly. I'm not sure what to do to prevent that from happening. Someone said to put silica gel beads in the camera case, but I don't know where the heck you get silica gel. Another person said a piece of toilet paper in the case would do the same thing. Anyway, here's the video:

First Windsurf Session After Fatal Shark Attack from James Douglass on Vimeo.


sailingjoe said...

You must have had some French if you use the crepuscular hour instead of dusk. Was the shark fatality the talk at Ft. Pierce?

PeconicPuffin said...

James, your list is a good one. If you stick to it you'll further reduce the already extremely small odds that you'll be attacked.

I got cruised by a seven foot shark last June while barely shlogging. Scared the hell out of me. Since then I make much shorter runs in the ocean and stay closer to my friends. The fear has largely subsided over time, but a part of it (and the awareness that sharks are out there) has remained constant.

Since the I started stand up paddling in the ocean, so overall I'm probably spending more time near bad fish than I used to, but I figure the surfers are lower on the food chain than the paddlers. Duh.

Take care, and have fun!

Johnny Douglass said...

Got a colorful float and your phone number on that new GoPro? Lens fogging will occur if the dew point of the air in your camera and case when you sealed it shut was higher than the air and water temperature where you sailed. Dew point is a function of both temperature and relative humidity. Both should be low. You might try leaving your camera open in a well air conditioned SECURE room for several hours before sealing the case shut. Avoid the refrigerator because the sudden cooling might condense water in the electronic circuits. You could also try placing the open camera in a very large and tightly sealed plastic bag full of super dry air from a SCUBA tank for several hours prior to sealing it shut.

boardsurfr said...

I had a problem with my GoPro HD fogging up, too, when I used it in Tobago. Discovered a solution by chance: switch the camera on at least 15 minutes before you put it into the waterproof case. The camera heats up when it's on, even when not filming, and that drives the moisture out.

James Douglass said...

Joe- Yeah, everyone was talking about the attack.

Puffin- Yeah, I remember your post about the shark. Scary stuff. From some of the stories I've heard about close encounters with sharks where the shark didn't attack, I think being associated with a big board and sail, or having a buddy nearby, makes the sharks a bit wary and less likely to attack.

Dad- Yep, I zip-tied a rolled-up red neoprene strip to the camera and tested to make sure it floats.

Boardsurfr- Sounds like a good idea. I'll try that next time. I put toilet paper in the case the most recent time I filmed, which seemed to help a little but not a whole lot.

peggy g said...

Very nice video. You captured what many of us are feeling. Glad you got the replacement video.

Aaron said...

Sorry to hear about the attack...Awful. Glad you're back in the water. Switching topics, what size isyour floaty board? The vids are awesome and it would be god to kbow some details about your board/sail quiver and how much you weigh to put the vids in more context. Great blog!! thanks. Helps the winter pass quicker here in NJ. UUGGGHHHH...can't wait till spring.

James Douglass said...

Peggy- Thanks! I'm definitely enjoying the filmingmaking, so I think the cameras have been worth it.

Aaron- The floaty board is a 106 liter Exocet Cross, 2008 model. It works real well with my 6.6 and 5.5 sails, although I'll often ride my 83 liter Starboard Evo when it's 5.5 conditions. (The red sail is the 5.5). I weigh about 160 lbs.

JSW225 said...

Bull Sharks, which can easily swim up a fresh water river, absolutely love to hunt at River deltas after a heavy rain. (All the eatable fish get washed down to the mouth).

A lot of shark attacks can be tracked to these conditions, or so a Discovery Channel program told me.

As for being absolutely safe on land, it's just not true: Dangerous Shark.

James Douglass said...

JSW- I love it! Some much needed comic relief. "Telegram..."

Outdrsmn said...

James stop by a shoe or leather shop they usually have the little packets of silica gell lying around. Marine supply stores might have something that will work too.