Monday, March 5, 2012

Riding an Eagle, clutching a Phantom

It’s a frigid Tuesday in Boston but I’m still glowing warm from a wonderful week in Florida.

The trip was an economically convenient coincidence of work-related travel and real vacation. I took care of the work part on Tuesday while Lady Notorious explored the beaches of Fort Myers. On Wednesday we admired gators, egrets, and exotic flora in the everglades, eventually making our way to the Keys for the night.


Almost all of Thursday was spent at Pennekamp Park on Key Largo, where we snorkeled from the beach before taking a boat to an offshore reef for more serious coral peeping. I was charmed to see that the park still had the glass-bottomed boat I remembered from my previous time there, as a first grader in 1986. Though the reef was covered in colorful life, it was worrying to note that its skeleton of Acropora palmata was entirely dead. Without fresh growth of that key structure-forming coral there won't be much reef to see in another 25 years. I don’t want to get too sidetracked from my happy personal account of the Florida trip, but if you want to learn more about reef decline you can read this article and come to the author’s public lecture at the Northeastern University Marine Science Center on the 27th of April.

Live A. palmata (orange) over dead (white)

After the Keys we headed North through Miami and Palm Beach to the Fort Pierce area where I used to live. My windsurfing friends Brandon and Lisa graciously put us up in their awesome Florida house with a screened-in pool. Friday was supposed to have light winds, so we took a Kona ONE Longboard and a 118 liter Fanatic Eagle freeride board to a flatwater venue called the Stuart Causeway. As soon as I coaxed Lady Notorious to give windsurfing a try, the onshore Southeast wind whipped up to 20 knots and generated a wicked, short-period chop. Oops. The focus then shifted to Brandon and I taking turns blasting around on the Eagle with his 6.8 Aerotech Phantom sail. The combo was perfect. I had forgotten how much I liked the feel of pushing for speed and easily zipping up- and downwind on a well-balanced freeride board. The sail started to get a little backhanded in the strong wind, but Brandon re-tuned it with maximum downhaul and it regained its perfect feel. Stoked!


Friday night we hit up "Friday Fest" in Fort Pierce and did some good eating, drinking, and people watching. Saturday was another sunny and windy one. We started by visiting the open house at the Smithsonian Marine Station, where I got to say hi to a lot of the folks I used to work with. Then we headed to Jaycee Park for relaxed beaching and another round of epic flatwater windsurfing on the Eagle, this time in Southwest winds. SO AWESOME. Prospects of an early morning flight home kept us from partying late with my old work buddies, but we had a nice dinner with live music at "Archie's" biker bar on the beach.

It would have been kind of depressing coming home on Sunday, but sitting next to your sweetheart on the plane makes it a lot easier. There are also high-50s temperatures forecast for later this week in Boston, so it's possible my tan and hand callouses will even last until my first-of-the-spring windsurfing session here. Woo hoo!



Johnny Douglass said...

Hey! Wonderful report on what looks to have been a wonderful vacation.

Catherine said...

To remember you discovering Florda marine life as an enraptured first grader and now to picture you there with Lady Notorious - still enraptured. Who'd have thunk it?

Lady Notorious said...

When we were in Florida, James was definitely in his element. The weather, wildlife and windsurfing agreed with him! :)