Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Crabs - Dying from Pollution and Overharvest

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation just released a report today describing the dire situation for blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) in the Bay. The problem is two-fold:

1) Pollution from the land has damaged the Bay, so it produces fewer crabs. The picture below shows crabs forced to crawl out of the water to flee an oxygen-depleted "dead zone".


2) Large numbers of crabs are still being harvested; more than the damaged ecosystem can replenish.

Some of the "executive summary" of the report is pasted below. If you have adobe acrobat you can read the full version here. There's a picture of my postdoc advisor, Dr. Anson Hines, on page 7.


Bad Water and the Decline of Blue Crabs in the Chesapeake Bay


Blue crabs are not only the most economically important fishery in the Chesapeake Bay. They are also a powerful icon of the whole mid-Atlantic region— a symbol of our cultural roots in the Chesapeake. And they are an essential strand in the web of life that forms the nation’s largest estuary. For all these reasons, it is a matter of grave concern that the blue crab population has fallen to near record lows. Scientists say there are two causes of the problem: pollution and overfishing, especially of female blue crabs. (Overfishing means catching crabs faster than they can reproduce.) Here are some key facts:

° Less Crab Food- Low-oxygen “dead zones” on the bottom kill the food that crabs eat, wiping out or preventing the growth of 75,000 metric tons of clams and worms a year. That is enough food to support about half the commercial crab harvest, more than 60 million blue crabs annually.
° Less Crab Habitat- Sediment from runoff and algal blooms caused by nitrogen and phosphorus pollution are darkening the Bay’s waters, killing the underwater grasses that young crabs need as shelter from predators. More than half of the Bay’s eelgrass has died since the early 1970s.
° Overfishing- Because a diminished Bay can support fewer crabs, overfishing has become an even more urgent problem. Watermen have caught an average of 62 percent of the Bay’s blue crabs each year over the last decade—well more than the 46 percent that scientists say is sustainable.
° Regulation- If the Bay were cleaner and crabs more plentiful, watermen could continue to catch the same number of crabs they are harvesting today without exceeding the 46 percent threshold. Then, additional government regulation of watermen—and relief for them—might not be necessary.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Windsurfing, Babe



The windsurfing is being done in nice, 15-20 mph NE winds in front of my folks' beach house at Edisto Island, South Carolina. The air and water are in the mid 50s (Fahrenheit) - not too bad with a wetsuit and booties. The babe is my niece, Ayla Ojanen. It's interesting comparing the Ojanen family photo from this year with that from last year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Out of the Horse Latitudes?


Yesterday I drove up to South Carolina for a family Christmas at Edisto Island. I awoke this morning to 20 knots of SW wind, and ended up getting a good session on my smallest board (87 liters).

That really scratched an itch for me, since I hadn't sailed the little board, at least not for a full-on session, since early fall. There just weren't many, if any, 20+ knot wind days in East Central Florida. At least not many that occurred while I was there, healthy, and able to "adjust" my work schedule, which was most of the time.

I think it's because where I live in Florida is in the so-called "Horse Latitudes"; a region of crappy wind between the Westerlies of the temperate zone and the Easterly trade winds of the tropics. The region is also called the subtropical high, as shown on the global wind patterns map below. Wikipedia explains it better than I could.


I haven't seen this written, but I think that where the Horse Latitudes are located varies with season and with shorter term weather patterns. I.e. in the summer, Central Florida might usually be below the HL, and thus get more Easterly trade winds. And in the dead of winter, it will (hopefully) be enough above the HL to get more Westerlies and frontal systems. We'll see.

BTW- Does anyone know where I could find wind statistics for Central Florida? I know the (excellent) New England Windsurfing Journal publishes average wind stats for various locations from Cape Hatteras - Cape Cod, but I don't know of anything similar for Florida.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Inlet to Inlet Race Report

Last weekend's "Inlet to Inlet" long-distance windsurfing race, organized by Ron and Sue Kern of Fort Lauderdale, was the first race I ever did in Florida. Not only was it a great challenge, but it was a great introduction to the groovy community of sailors in South Florida.


I almost didn't make it down from Fort Pierce because of car troubles. As it was, I limped into the Fort Lauderdale Beach parking lot with the battery light flashing and a weird humming coming from the dash. I scrubbed the battery terminals and tried to put car-anxiety out of mind to make room for race anxiety.

There were 19 other competitors at the beach, mostly formula racers, but with Mike Rayl on a Kona longboard (like me), and Beth Powell on a mistral one-design longboard. The winds were light from the NNW at first, but at noon they clocked around to NE and surged to a generous 20 mph. The chop and waves also swelled to formidable size. Amidst the pre-race excitement I realized I'd forgotton my harness back in the shower at home. Damn! Luckily, Alex Morales, who is famous for escaping from Cuba on a windsurf, lent me one, and Peter Ifju, a famous University of Florida professor and high-tech fin maker, lent me a harness hook.

I set up my Kona with the 46 cm stock fin, and rigged a 7.8 Aerotech Air-X, which is currently my largest sail. I left the footstraps in the inboard position where I keep them for freeriding / waveriding, but tightened them a lot to put my heels further out on the rail. I screwed two u-joints into the mast track in case one broke and so I could switch the position forward or backwards depending on conditions.

Getting out through the breaking waves was tough, especially for the formula riders with their long fins that would snag on the sandbar. About 50% of the attrition occured during that stage, before the race even started. Poor Farrah Hall had a brand new 9.0 KA formula sail rigged but broke her mast in two places and was really bummed that she didn't get to race. I think something similar happened to her Olympian rival, Nancy Rios, who had rigged her RS:X Olympic board and sail. I got off the beach ok, but immediately had control problems with my sail because one of the boom cuffs was slipping. I jumped off in the water and fixed it, but was still jittery and uncomfortable using my big gear in the heavy conditions.

Once away from the chaos of the starting line I got a better feel for the conditions and my gear, and got dialed in to the routine of taking long tacks upwind towards the barely-visible Hillsboro lighthouse. The surviving formula sailors were way ahead, but I was close with the other longboard riders, whose presence motivated me to keep pushing. I'd never before raced a Kona in conditions where sailing without the daggerboard was the most efficient way upwind, but it seemed to work pretty well in the strong breeze. I started to get ahead of Mike, but Beth was blazing a high-line with the daggerboard down on her raceboard, and she pulled away from both of us.

Getting to the upwind mark was actually kind of fun, working past row after row of cartoonish hotels and condos, and watching flying fish scatter away from the crashing bow of the Kona board. Finally, I rounded the Hillsboro Inlet marker, jumped off to move my mast base all the way back, then went barreling downwind. The waves were really getting huge, and when you were sliding obliquely down a swell the acceleration from both wind and water power was crazy. I saw Beth Powell struggling not far south of the Hillsboro marker and gleefully zipped past. Mike Rayl caught up with me, and we traded places a few times as each of us fought fear and fatigue to stay speedy. Eventually, I opted for a slower, deeper downwind line with my back foot in the leeward strap, and watched Mike dissappear ahead of me and further out to sea. That helped me rest my legs and stay in control, but I still had a couple of oh-shit moments coping with the lumps and bumps out there. I found the Port Everglades Marker right where it was supposed to be, 11.5 miles South of the Hillsboro Inlet marker and about 2 miles from shore. I rounded with relief, and made the final beeline for the beach. A bunch of guys jumped into the water to help save my gear from destruction in the break, thank goodness. Onshore I learned I was the fourth finisher, having somehow made it past Mike on the downwind. Mike arrived a few minutes later, but said he had been really smacked-down by the conditions far offshore and had opted to come straight in instead of rounding the Port Everglades buoy. That meant I was 4th overall and the only longboard rider who finished the whole course. YES! The good vibes continued though the prize-giving ceremony, the miraculous temporary recovery of my car battery, and the sweet pizza party at Ron and Sue's house. Woo hoo!

I'll definitely be back.

Full Race Results and Times: http://www.ronkern.com/2008_Results.htm

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Water Resistant 50 Meters" My Butt

As an unsupervised postdoctoral researcher, it can sometimes be tough to self-motivate. To help maintain a productive and efficient schedule, I decided to invest in a wristwatch. So when I was in West Marine last week I picked up a Timex 1440. I checked to make sure it was water resistant, and it was, to 50 meters depth, supposedly.


Well, I went windsurfing today and the dang thing got water in it. Now it's chirping like an epileptic sparrow and flashing nonsensical messages in an alien language.

Turns out "Water Resistant 50 M" watches can tolerate a static pressure equal to 50 m depth for 1 hour, but are actually not suitable for swimming at ANY depth, because the real-life forces experienced by a watch on a wrist are much worse than what it feels when motionless in a pressure chamber. Here's the the industry standards for water resistance, along with the real meaning, from wikipedia.

Water Resistant 30 m or 50 m - Ok for fishing, but not for swimming
Water Resistant 100 m - Ok for swimming, but not for "serious surface water sports", i.e. windsurfing
Water Resistant 200 m - Ok for anything besides scuba diving*

*There are other standards for scuba watches, but I'm not going to get into those.

Anyway, the point of my rant is that I think it's an evil marketing trick to display the misleading test rating (i.e. WR50M) on a watch, instead of its actual water resistance. I know they probably mention the practical usage recommendations in the fine print, but nobody reads that. It has to be something intuitive, right on the label. Any ideas?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Death Race, Fort Lauderdale

**UPDATE - The death race has been postponed until next weekend, December 13-14.**

Original post-

Windsurf racing is fun because it involves individual, man-vs-wild type challenges in addition to the peer-to-peer competition you have in all sports. Sometimes just finishing a race is victory enough, even if you place last.

I think that will be the case in the 2008 Inlet to Inlet Race taking place next weekend in Fort Lauderdale.

It's a 23 mile round trip from Port Everglades Inlet to Hillsboro Inlet, as the seagull flies. As the windsurf tacks, it could be significantly farther, depending on the wind direction. Also, the sailing will be way the heck out in the ocean, in offshore winds, with the competitors perhaps not even within sight of one and other. We're all supposed to bring cell phones in waterproof cases in case we can't finish and have to be picked up from the beach somewhere in no-mans land, or worse, break down and can't even get to shore.


The forecast is for 5-10 knots NW on Saturday and 10-15 knots NW on Sunday, so the race will probably be held Sunday with Saturday as a practice. I'll ride my Kona ONE longboard with a 7.8 meter squared sail. I think most of the other competitors will be on formula boards, so if the wind holds up they will finish much sooner than me. The record course time, set by race organizer Ron Kern, is 1:12 - 21 mph average speed! This year it will probably take everyone a lot longer.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Please Be Real

**UPDATE - It wasn't real. The actual wind was only around 15 mph and I was seriously underpowered on a 5.8. (Shoulda rigged the 6.6). Oh, well. At least I got wet and got some excercise before the long drive from SC back to FL.**

-Original post-

This is tomorrow's wind forecast for the Edisto Island, South Carolina area. Yellow is good, orange is great, red is radical, and maroon is EPIC:


I hope it comes true. I've had a wonderful time visiting relatives, walking on the beach, and eating good food here during this Thanksgiving vacation, but a sweet windsurf session would really cap things off. Stay tuned...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dating Etiquette: Say "No" or Say Nothing?


"If you've only been out with her once or twice, you're not really dating, so you don't have to break up. It's like, understood when you just don't call anymore."

That was the BAD ADVICE someone gave me in college. I followed it by ceasing to call a girl after our second so-so date. Then I happily went about my business, delighted with how simple and easy the not-breaking-up had been...

...until about a month later when I ended up seated near the girl at a play on campus. I was with another date. The original girl saw us and didn't say anything, but looked miserable. When the lights came on after the show her face was flushed with tears and she hustled out of the auditorium. All of a sudden I realized what a jerk I'd been to leave her hanging. Though my not-calling had eventually conveyed that I wasn't interested, it had needlessly put the the girl through a prolonged period of distress. I can imagine her initial hopefulness slowly tainted with the anxiety of waiting - "maybe he'll call tonight... maybe tomorrow...", then sinking into ugly disappointment and hurt with the realization she'd been rejected in the most callous way. :(

Perhaps through the mystical justice of karma, I have since been on the receiving end of the "left hanging" treatment innumerable times. I think I have paid my dues in disappointment enough now to be able to write the following guide:

When to Say "No" and When to Say Nothing

Situation #1: You are politely propositioned in person, over the phone, or in an email or text message.
Best solution: Say "no" in a clear and polite manner.
Risky solution: Make up a false excuse like "I'm already seeing someone". This is tempting for people averse to conflict because it can dodge or delay the social awkwardness of rejecting and being rejected. Unfortunately, it can lead to even greater awkwardness and angst later if more lies are required and / or the truth seeps out. So it's usually better to give a truthful "no" to begin with.
Rude solution: Ignore the person, or reply in a cruel or condescending way.
Fake-nice solution: Give out your number or email as if you are interested, but then make up excuses or don't answer back when they contact you later. This can seem nicer than saying no because it avoids the initial awkwardness, but it's actually much worse because it gets the person's hopes up then prolongs the disappointment / rejection / frustration period.

Situation #2: You are politely propositioned for a date or conversation by a previously unknown person via an Internet dating service.
Best solution: Say "no" in a clear and polite manner.
Ok solution: Ignore the request. This would be rude in real life, but it's acceptable on internet dating services, where attractive women tend to get too many requests to answer adequately, and men tend to mass-email requests to dozens of women with relatively little hope little hope riding on any particular individual.
Rude solution: Respond with a harsh evaluation of the person's flaws and deficiencies.

Situation #3: You are politely propositioned for a date by someone with whom you have previously conversed via an Internet dating service.
Solutions: Same as #2, except that ignoring the request is no longer "ok" because it violates the precedent of civil discourse set by your earlier exchanges. You are now obligated to say "no".

Situation #4: You are propositioned in a rude or vulgar way, in any venue.
Best solution: Ignore, escape, report.
Ok solution: Confront, denounce.
Rude solution: Assault.

Situation #5: You make a date with a person, but change your mind or find something else you'd rather do.
Best solution: Call the person asap and tell him or her in a nice way that you've decided to cancel the date and are no longer interested in pursuing a relationship.
Risky solution: Wait until the person contacts you before before giving your "no thanks". This is sketchy because the person you made the date with may think the date is firmly set and therefore not think they need to contact you again beforehand.
Rude solution: Don't do anything, and ignore all pre-date communication attempts.
Horrible solution: Imply during your last communication that the date is still on, but then don't show, leaving the person literally "stood up".

Situation #6: You've been on at least one date with someone, and decide you don't want to date him or her anymore. The person you've been dating hasn't done anything horribly wrong - he or she just isn't your type.
Best solution: Politely and clearly explain your intention to cease dating.
Risky solution: Maintain communication, but subtly move the person into the "friend zone". (Note- this only works in the early stages of a relationship, and you shouldn't try it unless you really do want a friendship with the person.)
Rude solution: Cease contact inexplicably, or break up in a nasty way.

Situation #7: You've already said no but the person keeps bugging you, or you've broken up with someone, but he or she keeps clinging to the hope of romantic reinstatement to the extent that platonic communication is awkward or impossible.
Best solution: In this case, ignoring may be the only solution that works, because too much discussion around "no" will just exacerbate an obsession.

Hope that clears things up.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Most Officious Nautical Authority Figures

Thanks to all who responded to the "Worst Company at the Beach" poll. The final results were...

1st Worst: Jetskiers - 42% of votes
2nd Worst: Kiteboarders - 33% of votes
3rd Worst: Fishermen - 16% of votes
4th Worst: Surfers - 9% of votes
5th Worst: Beach goers / Looky Loos - 3% of votes
Least Worst: Windsurfers - 1% of votes

I've just posted a new poll with a similar theme. This time, though, it's not evaluating the recreational users of the water, but rather the authority figures who supervise us. These folks are charged with protecting us from each other, the harsh environment, and our own stupidity. Yet sometimes it seems they are only protecting their own sense of self-imporance. Which group is the most "officious"?

It it Lifeguards? (Video Funnyness Grade = C+)

Park Rangers? (Video Funnyness Grade = B+)

Marine or Beach Police? (Video Funnyness Grade = D+)

Or is it the Coast Guard (aka the Coasties)? (Video Funnyness Grade = F+)

The poll is in the sidebar.

Friday, November 21, 2008

World's Longest Windsurfing Board

The excesses of the 1980s extended to the windsurfing arena, apparently...

Thanks to Clyde from the East Central Florida Windsurfing group for sharing the link.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gay Rights Struggle: From California Tom

Hey readers. Most of you have probably heard about California's "Prop 8", an anti-gay-marriage ammendment that narrowly passed during the recent election. In my opinion, it was a terrible step backward in our American society's journey towards true freedom and equality.

Anyway, my friend Tom, who is gay and lives in California, has been lobbying and protesting hard for the state to rescind the bigoted ammendment. He sent out this letter and these pictures, and said I could repost them here. I hope you find them inspiring. In Tom's words...

Dearest Friends and Family:

This is a very important time of change. While I am thrilled by the election of Obama, I am personally insulted that in this modern day gay people are still denied equal rights, especially in a country that claims to the land of the free and the leader of the free world. It seems odd to me that other countries that don't make these kinds of claims have to show America how to be free. Somehow homosexuality is being called a threat to national security and a sign of the coming apocalypse. In truth, it is that kind of ignorance is a far greater threat to our global security! For how long are we going to deny the realities of the world in which we live? This is no time to make false accusations and encourage superstitions.

Please enjoy the photos I have attached from a few of the world-wide protests that have taken place since the elections. Some of these photos I took myself, others are ones the press took. All of these images are from protest marches that I took part in at West Hollywood, Hollywood, and in Downtown Los Angeles. The numbers of people who come out to make themselves heard and the energy of those who participate is very inspiring. Let's ALL join together and take a stand once and for all for equality.

Thank you and my best wishes to each of you,

Tom H.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Fixed, Enriched

Last week I was in a bit of a tight spot, as described in the post "Broke, Broken".

Yeah, well, now it's all better thanks to a perfect storm of good fortune. (Be warned, the ensuing post is a bit of a shaggy-dog story.)

It started on Thursday when aspiring Olympic Windsurfer Farrah Hall stopped by Fort Pierce on her way to Miami for a regatta. She took me to meet one of her windsurfing mentors, 5-time Olympian, 2-time medal winner Mike "Gebi" Gebhardt. I knew Gebi lived in Fort Pierce, but I hadn't met him yet because he had only recently returned from Luderitz, Namibia. Down there he was coaching world-speed-record-breaking kiteboarder Rob Douglas. (Kiteboarders recently took the speed record away from windsurfers and will probably keep it because they can generate more power with less drag.)

Anyway, Farrah and Gebi are really into to natural foods because of their athletic training, so the first thing we all did together was go to Publix to buy a bunch of organic fruits and vegetables.


While we were having dinner at Gebi's house his neighbor Mike, who is also a windsurfer, came over to say hi. Mike offered to give me his 460 cm mast on an indefinite loan because he has become a wind snob who never uses the large mast anymore. I gladly accepted. That was the first bit of good luck.

The next bit of luck was when Farrah took my for-sale board down to Miami with her and for-sold it, putting moolah back in my pocket. That moolah joined some more moolah I made moonlighting Saturday as a windsurfing instructor at the Jensen Beach Sailing Center. I felt so rich I treated myself to a subway sandwich - I even splurged for the combo meal. (I was actually going to treat myself to a hotdog from a quaint roadside stand in Jensen, but I overheard the quaint proprietor telling a really nasty n-word joke to some guffawing redneck repugnicans in line ahead of me, so I peeled out of there and will never go back. If any of y'all are visiting Jensen Beach, skip the racist hot-dog stand just north of Mulligan's bar.)

Then yesterday I ran into John P. (the guy who sold me the bum mast) at the beach and told him the story about the mast breaking. He was such a gentleman that he refunded most of my money before I even hinted at anything. Shucks, all I was gonna ask for was a subway sandwich.

In honor of honest-John, here is a picture of him riding my gear the other day.


The End

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Worst People at the Beach

The ocean is huge, but not huge enough, apparently, for everyone to share it nicely. When there are a lot of people who want to use the water in different ways, conflict among opposing groups is inevitable. But which group of water users is the worst; the grouchiest, the grumpiest, the most obnoxious, territorial, self-absorbed, reckless, annoying, and/or dangerous? I'll let YOU decide, with the new poll in the sidebar and the "voters guide" below.

VOTERS' GUIDE - Note: Visual aids have been selected for entertainment value and may be only vaguely relevant

*Is it recreational fishermen? Camraderie among the brotherhood of anglers is usually pretty good, uniting generations, ethnic groups, and once-in-a-while gender. Yet, recreational fishers can have a somewhat inflated sense of entitlement with regards to "their" fish, "their" turf, "their" water, etc. Occasionially this leads to "rod rage" (the cousin of road rage and 'roid rage). Why, just the other day at the Fort Pierce Jetty, a fisherman irked by the close-passes of some kiteboarders deliberately cast a heavy lure at one, horribly entangling it in the woman's hair.

*But maybe it's the kiteboarders' fault? They do tend to get awfully caught up in their own showing-off, they take up a ton of space on the water and on the beach, and whether they're in control or not, they always seem like an accident waiting impatiently to happen.

*It's hard to turn a critical eye to ones' self, but windsurfers like me might not be the sweetest sharers, either. Our sail-side blind spots and myopic, zoned-out speeding make us like errant asteroids on collision trajectories with whoever or whatever else is on the water. Even on the beach, our scythe-like fins, battering ram boards, and swinging mast-lances are a menace to passers by.

*But what's up with those aimless beach-goers and looky-loos crowding like lemmings around the water's edge, right in the way of our more serious recreation? Why must they torment us with their blank stares, and the same, stupid questions over and over. "Lotta para-boarders out today, huh? Are there any sharks in this lake?"

*One group most people can agree to hate are the jet-skiers. Noisy, stupid, instant-gratification water-play for those without the skill to bait a hook, the fitness to pull a paddle, or the focus to balance on a board. But darn if those overpowered water-hornets aren't fun when you actually ride one yourself.

*The opposite of jet-skiers are the surfers. Surely they must be the most peaceful, low-key, in-tune players in the ocean? Nope. They've got a ridiculous, Lord-Of-The-Flies - style pecking order for who gets "their" waves. They're quick to administer verbal assaults and aquatic beatdowns among their own, and even quicker to gang up on other water users who might stray into their turf.

So, who is it gonna be?

Broke, Broken

I knew this month would be an interesting challenge when I spent most of my money on a new windsurf board last weekend.

It got more interesting this morning when I broke my only 460 cm mast.


It was a cheap, used one that I bought to replace the one I gave to my dad to take to South Carolina. It kinked at the joint when I was pumping my 6.6 sail in marginal conditions. Fortunately, I was able to sail back to the beach and didn't rip the mast sleeve.

So, that makes me a wind-snob for the rest of the month. The biggest sail I can rig on my next biggest mast is a 5.8, which takes close to 20 mph to work right. Dang.

On a not-totally-unrelated note, I still have a board for sale, some fins for sale, and I'm offering beginner windsurfing lessons evenings and weekends! All cheap.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


This blog post is made up of scraps, each, in itself, much too boring to merit an entire blog post. My hope, however, is that by tying the disparate pieces together under the common theme of "changeitude", I can create an integrated whole that is less uninteresting than the second most uninteresting thing you might read on the Internet during the course of a day, thereby meriting your attention.

I'll start with the obvious: WE WON! Happy happy joy joy! How awesome that FLORIDA and VIRGINA went blue, too. Makes me happy to have lived and voted and sneezed my liberal germs all over both those places. The future of this country might actually be pretty good. Although progressives still have a lot of work to do, including undoing the stupid anti-gay laws that passed in several states.

Next up is an exciting (to me) change in my habitations that I have hinted at in previous posts: the giant board rack that my dad built for my apartment. Johnny Douglass prides himself as a connoisseur of racks - with this wonderful creation he successfully defends his reputation. Thanks, dad.

The final change to report is also windsurfing-related. I bought a new board! I have to live the rest of the month on peanut butter and crackers to pay for it, but I rode the thing Tuesday after work and have to say - it was worth it! The board is an Exocet Cross II 106 2008 (the blue one in the picture), and it replaces the Fanatic Skate 63 2001 (the white one in the picture) that was my favorite moderate-wind shortboard up until Tuesday. The main difference between the Cross and the Skate is that the Cross is shorter (242 vs. 263 cm) and has slightly less volume (106 vs. 114 liters). It still planes early, though, because it remains wide, especially in the tail section where it counts most.

The fin for the Cross (right) is really different from the one I've been using on the Skate (left). Its longer and skinner, with a higher "aspect ratio" as they say. Normally that makes a fin faster and more efficient, but more susceptible to spinning out. Also because it's not raked, it won't shed weeds. And because it doesn't have as much surface area it won't balance out as large a sail. Anyway, I'm going to try the old fin on the new board next time I go out to see how that works.

PS- The Skate (still an awesome board) is for sale, and I need to sell it quick to afford the peanut butter and crackers. I put an ad here on the Treasure Coast Windsurfing Forum.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Windsurfing Pictures - Dad and Me

I didn't think it was windy today. It just looked rainy. So I had a lazy day of reading and helping my dad build a board rack. That is, until my mom came back from a walk saying she'd just been at the beach where it was windy and there were "five windsurfers!".

Naturally, pops and I hustled down to the beach as fast as we could. There was no sign of the mystery windsurfers anymore, but there was still some side-off breeze. We rigged up 7.8 and 6.6 msq sails for our respective longboards and set out. Though the winds were marginal for planing, there was a big, smooth swell making things interesting. A squall started looming towards the end of the session so we quit before too long. It was fun, though.






Saturday, November 1, 2008

Windsurfing Pictures - Me, me, and me

On Wednesday my folks drove down from South Carolina to stay with me for a week. It's nice having them here. A lot of stuff I'd been putting off, like fully furnishing and decorating my apartment, has now gotten done thanks to parental guidance. Also, I got to go windsurfing with my dad on Thursday, and he liked the big board I bought for his middle-aged re-entry into the sport (a Fanatic Viper 85 from Calema Windsurfing).

On Halloween Friday the wind and waves were rougher and my dad was complaining more than usual about his chronic hand eczema, so I didn't make him go windsurfing. I went after work, though, and my mom took some pictures from the jetty. Thanks, mom.

The pictures-

Going out. I was sailing a 6.6 Aerotech Charge on a 114 liter Fanatic Skate. That's my go-to setup for a typical breezy Fort Pierce day.

Coming in...

Carving - maybe a jibe initiation?

Life is rough in Florida.

Today the wind was a no-show, but I worked some with my dad on building a board rack. It should be cool when it's done.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Belize Photo Extravaganza

I didn't bring my camera to Belize, but my pals did, and they're much better photographers than me. Here's the story of the trip in photos...

This is all of us except Chelsea (the photographer) on the porch of the main lab building at Carrie Bow Caye. From left: Auburn PhD student Kathy Morrow, Smithsonian postdoc Kate Semone, Belizian cook and caretaker Martha, Me, U of F PhD student Mary, Smithsonian scientist Raphael Ritson-Williams, Station manager Dan.

The "wet lab" at the station. The floor is sand so you never have to clean it. Nice!

Me and Kate on the Carrie Bow Caye dock. The weird floating structure is Kate's algae fertilization experiment.

It looks like Raph is seasick, but he's just ducking out of the way so Kathy can get a more awesome picture of me driving the boat.

Raph and Kathy underwater. These two are both very experienced and graceful scuba divers. I think Raph has more than 1000 dives.

Two of the most important coral species in the Caribbean are Acropora palmata (the elkhorn coral) and Acropora cervicornis (the staghorn coral). They add a lot of structure for fish to hide in, and their growth is really important for building up the reefs to keep up with erosion and sea level rise and stuff. They almost all died out a few years ago because of a disease, which may have been a secondary effect of other stresses like unusually high temperatures. You can still see some live Acroporas here and there, but it will take a long time for them to be what they once were. And if global warming continues, they might never recover!

There were lots of signs of disease on other coral species, as well, like the black band disease killing these brain corals. The red fuzz is a cyanobacteria (blue green algae) associated with the disease front. Cyanobacteria and other types of algae often have toxic effects on corals.

Kathy Morrow was testing the effect of some of the algal toxins on the corals. This is her experimental setup here, with algal extracts in agar plates strapped to the coral head. Cool, huh?

Kathy took this picture of a school of Jacks.

Raph took these close-up pictures from the reef. The first is the feeding apparatus of a "Christmas Tree Worm" peeking out from a brain coral. The second is a spotted moray eel. The third is an anemone, I think.

That's it. :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Culture Shock and Stolen Elections

On the tiny island of Carrie Bow Caye, Belize, I had no problem sleeping on a sandy salty bunk with no air conditioning. Not even in the blustery rain from Tropical Depression 16, which dampened our final days there.

But when I got back to my own apartment last night I couldn't rest. I think I overdosed on tv news. It was particularly stressful to learn that Obama was losing his lead because of overblown gossip about ACORN, while no one was paying attention to the very real election-stealing of McCain and the repugnicans - i.e. their efforts to suppress democratic voters in swing states like Ohio and Florida, where the last two elections were stolen.


Here's some links that describe what's really going on. They were collected by MoveOn.org, a progressive activist group I belong to, but they come from a variety of non-partisan sources.

1. "States' Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal," New York Times, October 8, 2008

"Check-off box delays thousands of voter registrations," Denver Post, October 14, 2008

2. "ACORN defends efforts amid voter-fraud allegations," Associated Press, October 14, 2008

3. "In 5-Year Effort, Scant Evidence of Voter Fraud," New York Times, April 12, 2007

"The Truth About Fraud," Brennan Center for Justice

4. "The Truth About ACORN's Voter Registration Drives," ACORN

"Group Answers Charges of Voter Registration Fraud," New York Times, October 14, 2008

5. "Voter Group Admits Mistakes, Defends Work," ABC News, October 14, 2008

"Is there ACORN fraud in Florida?" Orlando Sentinel, October 15, 2008

6. "'Fraud' vs. 'Suppression'," Politico, October 14, 2008

7. "After A Surge in Registration, A Surge in Suppression," Brennan Center for Justice, October 7, 2008

"Democrats fear GOP will turn away foreclosed voters; GOP won't rule out using residency change to challenge a ballot," Indianapolis Star, October 3, 2008

"Vote-scam fliers target black neighborhoods," Philadelphia Daily News, October 2, 2008