Monday, October 11, 2010

Nahant Slalom Session, Intertidal Rock Stars

Well, after a month or so living in Massachusetts I finally got around to documenting a cold-water windsurfing session with my GoPro helmet camera. It was a propitious date, 10-10-10, with beautiful, blue sky, mild fall temperatures, and a puffy west wind averaging 15 mph. I figured a slalom session was in order since the breeze was offshore and there was no swell at my favored launch, the east side of the Nahant causeway. My slalom board was on the rack in my living room so I got to practice a new technique for loading and unloading gear; out the back window into the parking lot to avoid the hallways, doors, and stairs of my usual exit path. It worked pretty well.

At the beach I couldn't decide between rigging a 6.8 or an 8.0, but I went for 6.8 and it was fine. A nice windsurfer dude named Eric stopped by while I was setting up and I encouraged him to rig even though he had only brought a 5.7 and a freestyle wave board. He went for it and managed to plane a good chunk of the time, so that was cool.

Since it was a weekend day there were a lot of people out strolling the beach, flying kites, etc. At one point during the session I noticed a runaway, long-tailed rainbow kite with the spool skipping along behind it in the water. I happened to be on a good heading to intercept it so I bore off the wind and crossed the line just in front of the spool to snag it with my fin. It was windy enough that the drag from the kite didn't stop me from planing all the way back to the beach with the kite in tow. There I transferred it to some folks walking on the beach, who transferred it to the dude who lost it, who was a really friendly guy who thanked me after the session and told me the story about how the kite was a treasured gift from his sister in Hawaii and he was mortified to have lost it / delighted to have it recovered. Woo hoo!

Here's the video from the session, set to "I Feel Free" by Cream.

Nahant Windsurfing 10-10-10 from James Douglass on Vimeo.

In other news, I've been spending a lot of time doing marine biology fieldwork up in Maine. It's generally wet, chilly, and blustery up there with big waves smashing into the seaweed-covered rocks where my colleagues and I are scrambling frantically to take our samples before the tide returns. Part of what makes it fun, though, is that I get to use cool gear, like a metal detector to find the bolts in the rock marking our experimental plots, and heavy duty rubber rainclothes like the Alaskan crab fishermen wear in "The Deadliest Catch". This studly picture of me was taken Friday evening at Quoddy Head State Park, after we had finally surveyed the last plot at the site. Yeah!


The pictures in the slideshow below are borrowed from PhD candidate Genevieve Bernatchez who was there as a TA for a group of undergraduate and master's students doing the "Three Seas Program"; a year of challenging marine biology courses and real research projects in Massachussets, Washington State, and Panama. The three seas program is offered through Northeastern University but is open to any student who has the grades and motivation to get in and whose parents are willing and able to spend a buttload of money to pay for it.


Brian said...

Hi James,

I really enjoy your blog and videos. Isn't sailing on flat water super fun!

I currently sail mainly on a lake in NH with my longboard. That flatwater reminded me of my old stomping grounds at Lavallette and Barnaget Bay.

Thanks for the stoke!

James Douglass said...

Thanks Brian! Yeah, a spot where the chop is blocked but the wind still blows steady is really special.