Sunday, February 28, 2010

Eye in the Sky! GoPro Camera Kite Mount Video

Northwest breeze this morning at Jaycee Park in Fort Pierce. Strapped a GoPro camera to my 12 m kite's center strut and went for a ride in the Indian River Lagoon. The angle wasn't exactly right and I had to crop and zoom a lot of the video for things to show up, but I still think it came out cool. Nice view from up there.

Eye in the Sky! Kite Mount Video from James Douglass on Vimeo.

The song is from The Neverending Story soundtrack. It's the one they play at the end when Bastian gets to ride the dragon through Fantasia.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Inlet Sesh

The trend of weird winds continues in Florida. The other day we had a Northwest breeze that was rideable from South Causeway Park in Fort Pierce for a short time while the tidal current was favorable. I started windsurfing with a 5.5 sail and a small board, then the wind lightened up and I did some kiteboarding. I took video with my GoPro camera mounted on a helmet. The video color and quality seemed to degrade a bit when I uploaded it to Vimeo. Oh, well.

Windsurfing and Kiting in Fort Pierce Inlet from James Douglass on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nightmares and Death

I was vacationing with my family at the beach in Brunswick, Georgia. My dad and I were standing at the base of a dune, looking out at the ocean and the windy conditions. For some reason it was my dad who was jonesing to go windsurfing, and not me. I didn't think windsurfing was a good idea at that particular time and place, because the beach was strewn with barrels of toxic waste and there were dead fish (mostly pufferfish) rolling around in the pollution-stained waves.

To make matters worse, dozens of large sharks had moved inshore to feed on the dead fish, and were splashing around in a savage frenzy. Some stupid tourists waded right into the water to take pictures of the sharks. At least one of the tourists had an underwater camera and was getting right up in the sharks' faces with it. I was wondering what to do about the tourists when I noticed a group of kiters approaching from upwind, doing a "downwinder" through the surf. As I watched them cut through smooth areas between the crumbling swells I noticed that the tide was going out fast, like a wave sucking back. Dead pufferfish and thrashing sharks were exposed on the bare, wet sand and the stunned kiters were stranded. On the distant horizon I saw a line of whitewater. It grew bigger, and I saw another line of white above it, then another and another, stacking up like a towering wedding cake of water. Tsunami! I didn't know where my dad was. I turned to run back along the path between the dunes, frantic to get to the trees and stilt houses where I might climb up to safety. I willed my legs to move faster, but DAMN, the harder I tried to run, the more it seemed I was mired in invisible molasses, stuck in slow motion!

And then I woke up.

Some dreams are hard to interpret, but this one was straightforward. Brunswick, Georgia was because my pal Marc had been talking the previous evening about how he'd been considering a job there. My family is always on my mind, and I guess I'm thinking of them in different places now because my folks are selling the house I grew up in and my sister and brother in law just moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. Windsurfing, well, that's obvious. The toxic waste is probably because I was recently in a discussion with some other windsurfers about the garbage and oil-strewn beaches in South Texas. Also, I almost stepped on a syringe at South Causeway park when kiting with Marc a few weeks ago, and I DID step on a dead pufferfish. (Lots of puffers died during the cold snap a while back, and even when there hasn't been a cold snap there's always a few dead ones rolling around the beach because fishermen catch them and accidentally / on-purpose kill or maim them when removing the hook.) The shark thing is also pretty obvious. The tourist photographer part was probably inspired by this scary (but later proven fake) photo series taken by a surf photographer. Kiters on a downwinder is because Marc did a downwinder on his kite Sunday. The tsunami probably came from older fear of tsunamis from living in the Pacific Northwest, plus lingering shock and horror at the Banda Aceh tsunami of 2004 and the more recent terrible earthquake in Haiti. I don't know about the paralyzed / stuck in molasses feeling, but it seems to a be a common thing that happens to me when I'm trying to run in a dream. I've been struggling to get certain things done at work so I can get on to certain other things, so maybe the paralysis feeling has something to do with that.

Anyway, I had a hard time getting back to sleep after the nightmare, because I started thinking about death and stuff. Why are we here?, what is this absurd thing we call life?, if there's nothingness before we're born and after we die what should we do with our brief window of somethingness?, how am I going to find a girlfriend and a permanent job?, what direction will the wind blow today?, etc. etc. The typical existential crisis kind of things that you think about after a bad dream at 5 am. I didn't come to any conclusions but I did sort of organize my best guesses about what happens when we die in a way that I was satisfied with. At least satisfied enough to go back to sleep for a couple more hours.

#1 Guess- Nothingness, like before we were born, which wasn't so bad.
#2 Guess- Seamlessly appearing in the "now" of some random other consciousness, in some random other universe, unaware of ever having been anything else, just like you started out here. Reincarnation, if you want to call it that.
#3 Guess- Some kind of afterlife or dream state more like we typically hope for and imagine. Heaven, if you want to call it that.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Long Lines

I've been on sort-of a kiteboarding kick lately. I don't know why, exactly. It might have to do with the fact that everyone I ride with is a kiter, so all the socializing, tech-talk, and gear-swapping I'm doing on the beach (or in the bar afterwards) is kite-centric. It's like I'm in the middle of the chain of kiteboarding stoke, learning from the good riders, commiserating with the dudes at my own level, and trying to help out the beginners.

Today was an interesting session. The weather reports and some of the inland sensors indicated a southeasterly seabreeze, but standing on the beach I could barely feel any wind. Far off in the distance, though, I could see Mike Gebhardt and Sean Farley's kites weaving around in tandem, meaning they had somehow found enough wind to do course-racing practice on their kite gear. One funny thing I noticed about Gebi's kite, and to a lesser extent Sean's, was that it was extremely high in the air. I.e. the racers were using lines significantly longer than the 20 meter default lines for most kites. That enabled them to tap into a layer of strong wind well above the surface level, and to a get longer "power strokes" when flying their kites. When the lads returned to Kimberly Bergalis beach where we were launching (in order to do some fin-changes on their course racing boards) I was amazed to see how high Gebi's kite actually was. My pal Marc talked to him and found out he was using 54 meter lines! So his kite was 177 feet up, almost as high as the top of the "wing sail" on Oracle's giant Americas Cup trimaran.

I optimistically decided to rig my own 12 meters squared kite, hoping my 20 meter lines would be enough to tap into the upper level breeze. Sure enough, even though it seemed like less than 10 knots on the beach, which usually means your kite is going to fall out of the sky, there was plenty of wind aloft to kite comfortably with my big 180 cm twin-tip kiteboard. I did notice that I lost much of my power when I flew the kite low to the water, which made sense.

Marc hadn't been planing to kite, since his two biggest kites are both busted at the moment, but he decided to double the line length on his 11 meter squared kite to (hopefully) give it a little extra pull. I was surprised how well it worked for him. He couldn't quite stay upwind, but it was still impressive that even though he's bigger than me he was still able to get going on a smaller kite. Part of that was his special board, a litewave "wing", which is very flat and wide at each end to help it plane early.

Here's the sensor reading from the nearest sensor to where were riding. I think the sensor must be fairly high up, since this seems to jive more with what our kites were feeling than with what we were feeling on the beach.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Bittersweet Ending for an Eponym


That's what they call it when you enter your own name in an internet search. It's terribly vain, but who can resist the opportunity to determine precisely how interesting and important he is, relative to other people with the same name? I certainly couldn't, but what I found when I googled "james g douglass" was more than I had bargained for...

I'm glad that my eponymous predecessor enjoyed the show, at least. Personally, I don't much care for opera, but if I could bite the dust at the symphony that would be pretty cool.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Norway- Liberal Utopia?

My mom has been a big-time Norway groupie ever since a high-school foreign exchange trip put her in touch with her midwestern scandinavian heritage. Our house growing up had lots of varnished wood things, straw animals, troll art, and other Norwegian knick-knacks, and around the holidays we always ate lefse, rice pudding, and funny little crackers spread with smoked fish and brown goat's cheese. Whenever we were hiking in the mountains of Washington State my mom would give a joyful sigh and exclaim, "Ah, this looks just like NORWAY!" We even hosted a Norwegian exchange student named Knut for a whole year while I was in highschool. I've personally never been there, but I have to admit, it seems like a pretty nice place.

Portly documentarian Michael Moore, who is reviled by the right wing but seems like a pretty good guy to me, was also impressed with Norway, as revealed in this short documentary. It's been around YouTube for a while, so maybe you've seen it before.

One thing that isn't quite perfect about Norway is that they're one of the three countries left that still kill whales on a regular basis. (The other two countries are Iceland and Japan.) Personally, I don't think that extremely rare, long-lived, intelligent animals should be killed for food. Especially not whales, which are some of the rarest, longest-lived, most-intelligent non-human animals on earth. It's also impossible to kill whales humanely...

In conclusion: Norway, A+ on the social justice for humans, but F- on the treatment of marine life.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Messed with the West

The nice, steady winds for windsurfing and kiteboarding in Fort Pierce are the ones that blow from the ocean, i.e., N, NE, E, and SE. It's an easy decision to launch in the lee of the South Jetty for N, NE, and E winds, and it's an easy decision to launch in the lee of the N jetty for SE winds.

Gusty NW, W, SW, and S winds, which blow from across the land, are another story. There are plenty of places to launch in those winds, but none are without considerable disadvantages, so it's hard to decide where to put in. You can:

a. Sail the ocean.... but the wind will be extra gusty, there will be a wind shadow near the beach, and you could get blown out to sea if you break down.
b. Sail the inlet... but that only works in NW or W, and only on an incoming tide. Otherwise the tide will sweep you to sea in a heartbeat. You also have to watch for boat traffic, and there are purportedly high abundances of sharks in inlets.
c. Sail the lagoon... but the kite launches are narrow and sketchy with no downwind exit areas if you can't stay upwind, the water is shallow and weedy, which is bad news for big windsurfing fins, you can't go barefoot because of the sharp rocks, sticks, and oysters, and if you park your car along Rt. A1A it's liable to get broken into.

After work today I chose "c", launching from Jaycee Park with my buddy Marc. Local kiters Dave and Mike were there when I arrived, and said they were struggling with the gusty conditions. Professional kiteboard racers Mike Gebhardt and Sean Farley were also there, training for the North American Course Racing Championships, coming up in Mexico next month. The boards they use for that are really strange looking compared to a conventional kiteboard, but Gebi and Sean were making them work, riding close together and going way upwind and downwind all over the lagoon.

I thought the wind looked too strong and gusty for kiting, so I rigged a 5.5 windsurf sail and put it on my floaty 106 liter shortboard. That was fine in the gusts, but the wind seemed to be dropping a bit, and I was going real slow in the lulls, so I gave in and blew up my 12 m kite. I rode my new mustard-colored kiteboard for a while, then switched to my tried-and-true brown and orange kiteboard, which works better in light winds. Don't ask me why I picked such ugly colored kiteboards.

Chasing the Gusts at Jaycee Park from James Douglass on Vimeo.

Marc crashed his kiteboard while bouncing through the voodoo chop created by waves reflecting off a concrete bulkhead. Then he dropped his kite in the water and couldn't get it back up because there was a lull. Then his kite drifted into the bulkhead and self-destructed on sharp barnacles and stuff. It's a pretty big bummer for Marc, since he was already on his "spare" 14 meter kite. (The first was attacked by a wave when Marc tried to rinse the sand off it in the shorebreak.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, West winds. Why do I still bother chasing them? Probably the same reason any hobbyist or athlete takes on a challenge- the pursuit of the reward is a reward in itself.


Woo hoo! A paper from the research I did in graduate school has been accepted for publication in the journal Limnology* and Oceanography. The title is "Seasonal and interannual change in a Chesapeake Bay eelgrass community: insights into biotic and abiotic control of community structure." My co-authors are Kristin France, J Paul Richardson, and my former advisor J Emmett Duffy. The paper describes findings from the Duffy lab's ten years of monitoring animal and plant life in a Chesapeake Bay seagrass bed. I'm not sure what issue of L&O the article will appear in, because there is often a lag of a few months to a year between acceptance and publication.

*Limnology is the study of inland waters, like rivers, lakes, and estuaries.

This is a picture from an old post in which I describe some of the research.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dirt Surfing

It wasn't very breezy today, but it was a safe day to let my roommate Antonio try flying a big kite on the beach. (He has flown a smaller trainer kite a few times.) Here's Antonio "dirt surfing".

The next step for him is to get a lesson from a real instructor and try it in the water.

Short Video + Gear for Sale Summary

It was pretty chilly in Florida yesterday, with a high in the low 50s. But there was a strong Northwest wind combined with a significant ground swell, which offered the possibility of catching an elusive "side off" wave ride. The wind was unreliable near shore because of turbulence caused by obstructions on land, so I used my floaty 106 liter board. It was tough to find the perfect spot, because the wind was better offshore, but the waves were smoother and steeper at the reef breaks nearest to shore. I was also stressing about my GoPro camera fogging up again, and about a piece of outhaul line flapping in front of the lense. I didn't want to hop off my board to adjust the outhaul because of shark attack fears, and I didn't want to go back to shore to de-fog the camera because I was worried it would get contaminated with salt and sand when I opened it up. So the result is a short video where I'm just riding some mellow, non-breaking swells. It was still fun, though.

Quickie Side-Off Windsurfing Session from James Douglass on Vimeo.

I'm selling some windsurf and kite gear now. I'd prefer to sell locally and not have to ship, but for the right price I could ship the smaller items. Here's the list:

1. F-One 6'6" Directional Kiteboard in good condition with 3 fins and 3 footstraps. Pictures and description in my post from a week or two ago. $50
2. 5.2 Ezzy Wave SE 2004 sail in fair condition (has some tape in spots, and a dime-sized hold in the luff sleeve). $50
3. GoPro Helmet Hero HD with cables, mounting accessories and 8gb sd memory card. $160. (Was $300 new not including the memory card.) Lense on the housing has some scratches from sand, so you will probably want to order a new one from GoPro for $20.

My email is

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Miracle on the Bathroom Floor

Apparently the return of my sea-faring camera was not the only miracle to bless the Douglass family today. See my father's latest blog post: Image of the Virgin Mary has Appeared in My Underpants

Camera Recovered After Two Weeks Adrift!

I was standing in line to order a sandwich at Subway this afternoon when a stranger rang my cell phone.

"Hi... James?"

The caller turned out to be a beachcomber named Walt Parkins, who had just FOUND the waterproof GoPro camera that I lost while stand-up paddling fifteen days ago. Woo hoo! Even luckier, it turned out he found it only a few blocks away from the Subway, at the Fort Pierce South Jetty. That meant the camera had been transported several miles North from where I lost it at my secret spinner-shark sandbar spot.

I postponed my sandwich ordering and zoomed straight to the jetty, where I met Walt. Like a true gentleman, he refused the cash reward I offered, saying he was just happy to see the camera get back to it's rightful owner. Thanks Walt!

The housing was fairly scratched, and the head strap assembly was encrusted in algae and sand, but the seal had held and the camera was still perfectly dry and functional!

Since I already have a replacement camera I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this one. Maybe sell it to another local windsurfer or kiteboarder for about half of what it cost. Let me know if you're interested.

PS- Here's a 43 second clip from the footage that was on the camera. Horrible.

Terrible Stand-up Paddleboarding from James Douglass on Vimeo.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Death Metal Foot Fetish Video

On Sunday I tried mounting my GoPro camera on the end of my kiteboard. I was riding in 10-20 mph North winds in the lee of the South jetty in Fort Pierce, Florida. The kite is a 12 m Cabrinha Crossbow and the board is a 180 cm litewave twintip. I think the video looks pretty cool, if you can ignore the fact that my feet are in your face the whole time. The music is a heavy metal song by a band called Ministry. If you don't like that sort of thing, mute the volume and put on some Jonas Brothers, or Celine Dion, or whatever it is sissies like you listen to.

Kiteboard Mounted Camera from James Douglass on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Life goes on, windsurfing, etc.

There was a "paddle out" memorial for Stephen Schafer today in Stuart. A paddle out is a tradition in surf culture, where the folks mourning a lost friend paddle out into the ocean on their surfboards and form a circle where they remember and honor the deceased. I didn't go because I never knew Stephen, but some of my buddies who knew him went and said it was pretty emotional.

I've talked about the attack with several of my marine biology colleagues who know more about sharks than I do, and the general consensus is that the culprit was a bull shark. Dr. David Portnoy, a fish biologist who I went to grad school with, said that it's hard to guess the movements and whereabouts of bull sharks, since they don't form predictable, easily-observed aggregations in the area like spinner, blacktip, and lemon sharks do. In terms of reducing the risk of attack, the things I wrote in my last post are probably your best bet.

Today didn't look like much of a wavesailing day, since the wind was due west and there were no waves. It turned out to be a fantastic day for windsurfing in the Indian River Lagoon, though. I filmed about 20 minutes of sailing with a 4.7 sail, then switched to a 4.2- the first time I have used that sail in earnest for over a year. Woo hoo! From where I launched at South Causeway Park I could make short tacks across the main channel of Fort Pierce Inlet, or sneak through the lee of a spoil island to access a big, open seagrass flat on the north side of the channel. Doing a full-speed jibe on a 4.2 in very flat water is sooooo fun.

View Larger Map

Here's the video of the first part of the session where I was sailing 4.7. I didn't bother to film the 4.2 part, because I was starting to have problems with the camera fogging up and stuff again.

Big West Wind Windsurfing in Fort Pierce Inlet from James Douglass on Vimeo.

Later in the day my kiteboarding buddy Marc showed up. The wind had dropped a bit by then, and Marc likes to be well-powered, so he rigged his 11 meter squared kite. I took pictures. It has been fun to watch Marc really start to "get" kiteboarding the last few times he's been out, after he spent quite a long time struggling in the beginner stage. Today he was really blazing upwind, which is one of the harder things to learn on a kiteboard. The only thing he probably needs to work on is his stance. My back hurts to look.

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.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Stuart Kiteboarder Killed by Sharks Yesterday


The first shark attack fatality ever recorded for Martin or St. Lucie county occurred yesterday in Stuart. The victim, Stephen Schafer, was kiteboarding. I believe this was the first ever fatal shark attack on a kiteboarder. The news report from the Palm Beach Post is here. My heart goes out to Schafer's friends and family.

I expect a lot of errant speculation about the circumstances of the attack until the full story emerges, but here is my current synthesis of the gossip and published news:

1. Stephen was kiteboarding about a quarter mile off shore, at the south end of Stuart Beach, when a lifeguard noticed he had dropped his kite and wasn't relaunching it.
2. Through his binoculars, the lifeguard saw Stephen was clinging to the downed kite and signaling for help.
3. When the lifeguard got out on his rescueboard, Stephen was being circled by sharks and has been bitten multiple times, but was still conscious.
4. Paddling with one arm and holding Stephen on top of his upside-down kite with the other arm, the lifeguard made his way through the rough water to shore. It probably took a long time, since the wind was blowing sideshore and wouldn't have helped move the kite, and Stephen and the kite probably created a lot of drag in the water. The lifeguard's actions were extremely brave, but in hindsight he may wish he had loaded Stephen directly onto the paddleboard and ditched the kite in order to get back to shore faster.
5. Stephen was still conscious but in very bad shape when he reached the beach. He died somewhere between the beach and the hospital.
6. No one knows if the shark leapt up and attacked when Stephen was just riding along, causing him to crash the kite, or if the attack occurred when Stephen was down in the water for some other reason, like after crashing a trick or experiencing a kite malfunction.
7. Some of the bite marks on Stephen's lower body were big- like 8-10" in diameter, which would indicate a shark larger than the small spinner sharks common in the area. Bull, tiger, or hammerhead sharks are the likely suspects, but juvenile great white sharks may also occur in the area this time of year.

This matter is of serious concern to me, because many of my friends and I windsurf and kiteboard in the same sharky waters where the attack occurred. Thus far I have had a cavalier attitude about the risks of shark attack, but I think increased caution may be warranted. At the very least, I want to learn more about the seasonal migrations and aggregations of the potentially dangerous shark species in the area, so I can avoid going out at especially risky times and especially risky locations. When I get that info together, I'll post it here on my blog.

PS- I kiteboarded for a bit yesterday afternoon, too, at Fort Pierce Inlet, 20 miles north of the attack. It was uncomfortably windy for me to be kiting, though, so I switched to windsurfing on a 5.5 sail and 83 liter board, and had a real good time. Such a bummer to have the joy of windsports marred by this fearful tragedy.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Good Sessions and New Toys

Hoo boy, there sure have been some good days on the water lately. I'm not writing my sessions down on the calendar this year, but they still stick in my memory.

Wednesday 1/27- Fresh 14 knot wind from due North that lasted until after Sunset. No waves, but super slick flat kiteboarding in the lee of the jetty at Fort Pierce Inlet. My friend Marc, who has been learning kiteboarding for a while, had his best session ever, by a long shot. He was going fast and steady and staying upwind like a champ, most of the time. He also let me ride some of his smaller twintip boards; a 158 cm Cabrinha Prodigy and a 148 cm Cabrinha Prodigy. Compared to my huge 180 cm Litewave twintip the Prodigies were nicer to jump and ride hard, but required more power from the kite. The 148 had a nice way of digging and slicing during a fast transition.

Thursday 1/28- Windiest while I was working, and faded to a marginal 10 knots from the Northeast by the time I got on the water. Still salvaged a kite session, and had some good runs testing the efficiency of Marc's special lightwind board; the 153 cm Litewave "wing" twintip. Even though it's a lot shorter than my big twintip, the "wing" planes better because it's very wide at each end and has a totally flat rocker with four fins on the heel side.

Friday 1/29- About 14 knots again, but from the Southeast this time. After work I met up with some young kiter dudes from the local community college and rode in disorganized choppy water conditions without any big waves. This was the sesh where I got to try a "directional" kiteboard for the first time. A directional looks like a miniature windsurf board or a surfboard with straps. I got this one as a freebie that was given to Marc, who didn't want it, who gave it to me. I spruced it up and covered up some epoxy work I did on the deck by painting a big red circle on it.

The tricky thing about the directional kiteboard is that you have to jibe it to reverse directions. I had a hard time with that, so I mostly ended up just crashing and putting the board on my feet the other direction when I had to turn. I think the main advantage to this directional is supposed to be the way it slashes turns and rides waves, but I couldn't really try that in the disorganized chop on Friday. I'll give it a few more tries before I decide whether to keep it or find it a new home.

Saturday 1/30- There was a light and gusty Southwest wind and a small swell that was only breaking well at my secret, spinner-shark sandbar. Even though the wind was unstable, it was from the perfect side-off direction to go "down the line" with "frontside" wave rides. I had only gotten a handful of decent frontside wave rides in my life, so it was a real treat to get a ton more on Saturday. I used a 6.6 sail and 106 liter board.

Sunday 1/31- Rocking, 20-25 knot wind from due North! As usual for North wind, the water was totally smooth in the lee of the Fort Pierce jetty, but decent waves developed on the outside by early afternoon. My windsurf buddies Jon P and Dave Z drove up from Stuart to sail "my" spot, which was super cool. Dave usually sails the flat water in the Indian River Lagoon, but he did well adjusting to the ocean and trying some wave-oriented gear this day. Jon, who is a very experienced and committed windsurfer (he lives in an RV that tows a trailer with about 20 boards between the Gorge and Florida, seasonally), was killing it, doing rocket-high jumps off the steepest ramps on the outside. I was powered on my magic 4.7 meters squared sail and Evo 83 liter waveboard, and got some fun jumps and frontside wave rides. Jon rode my board and diagnosed the stock starboard Drake 23 cm fin as prone to spinout and cavitation, which I had also suspected. (See fin on the left).

At the end of the session, following a lot of nerdy fin discussion, Jon sold me the Curtis fin on the right for cheap. Even though it's the same length as the Drake fin it has a wider "chord" and thicker "foil" which makes it more powerful, theoretically.

Monday 2/1- It rained all day while I was at work, but lightened up enough at the end of the day that I was able to grab a session at the Jetty in strong East wind conditions and big surf. I was super stoked to be able to try the new fin just one day after buying it, and I was not at all disappointed with how it performed. It had much more power and predictability than the Drake, but still felt very nimble when doing quick turns on a wave. The waves on the outside break were really quite big and thrilling, so I regained some of confidence I had lost during the previous week's "denial" session.

I need some time off the water now to let several possibly-infected scrapes on my feet heal up.