Steven Akkersdijk: #Incontrol
9 hours ago
Sometimes I'm struck by how lucky I am. Lucky- to have my health, family, friends, and a drysuit with a pee zip. These are the things that make my life rich.
Chapin, Kitesurfed, W, WSW, 10-25, 10M/Skimmy, 17M/Mako150, with Dillon.
|Ben said, "Dad you never get sick!" He and Barbara just got over sharing a cold which I, luckily, didn't get. "It's the kitesurfing," I replied. "Every time I jump it boosts my imune system. That's why kiters call jumping boosting." Ben shrugged. He didn't say anything. It must be tiring living with a kitesurfer dad.|
Chapin gave me a boost today. I messed around in the waves on the sand bar then went into the marsh at high tide with Jean and a few others. I got a kick out of watching Jermy and Kristoff jumping onto a little dune on the sand spit and sliding back into the water. That should boost the immune system. Or break your legs.
Chapin, Kitesurfed, NNW, NW, 17-39, 10M Rally/Flx136, with Jean, Kristoff, Jermy, Mike, Frank, Jamie, Andrey, Colleen, Joe, Brad, Brian, others.
Kitesurfing to celebrate the day before Xmas is an ancient ritual going back thousands of years. I kited today to keep the tradition alive for the heritage of future generations. I was just doing my duty.
New Old Skimmy- This home made piece of scrap actually works! I can't believe it. I tried this board when I first made it. It seemed all wrong, didn't go upwind, didn't go thru lulls, didn't waterstart, didn't jump. But that was a year and a half ago so I decided to pull it out again to see if it has changed. Has it! The board has really improved. I skimmmed up the Chapin pond until the water got down to the depth of my big toe. It still can't jump but it did everything else well. Good board. If I ignore it for a few more years, maybe it'll learn strapless back rolls.
2 sessions- Mayflower morning, Chapin afternoon.
Mayflower, Kitesurfed, NE, 10-25, Mako150 & King/10m Rally, solo.
Chapin, Kitesurfed, NE, 10-25, Flx136 & Skimboard/10m Rally, Mike.
|Sunday 6:00 AM. I'm not looking forward to this kiting session as much as usual. It has something to do with it being dark, cloudy, snowy, air temp near freezing. It's the first day of the season with real Winter weather. The sane part of my brain questions getting into the ocean in these conditions. Luckily, that part of my brain is small and shriveled. |
My big surprise of the day? I'm really warm, even when the temp drops to 29 and the mouthpiece of my camelback gets crunchy with ice. I don't care. I'm in the zone. I can feel the sane part of my brain shrivel and atrophy to almost nothing. Now I'm ready for Winter.
New Old Drysuit- I just got my O.S. Systems drysuit back from the shop. They repaired 3 small seam leaks, several pinholes, new wrist seals, new socks. I know, I know, it's only 1 year old. Don't forget, 1 human year equals 15 drysuit years. So that makes my drysuit a teenager. I've go to expect some erratic behavior. Some mood swings. But no more leaks for now please.
New Mitts- 6MM Henderson/Hyperflex Oven Surf Mitts. This is the best cold temp handwear I've found. Even my dead lobster hands were only slightly numb in these. And I could still hold onto the bar a little.
Mayflower, Kitesurfed, N, 10-29, Gusty, 13M Octane & 10M Rally/ Mako150, with Paul, Igor, Brian, Junior, Chriz. Air Temp 32 to 29.
Paul took some video footage with my camera. Thanks Paul! I've just gotta figure out how to edit it.
|My son is a deer, a buck. He is standing in a room with other deer, young bucks mostly. They are waiting for their chance to prove themselves. They look bold, proud, excited. Some are nervous. They stamp they're hooves and throw their new antlers around. My son, I used to be able to cradle him in one arm, stands tall, strong. This is where he wants to be. |
It's noisy. The deer are shouting, cheering. My son is called forward by the referee. The Ref blows a whistle and my son charges, head lowered, clashing antlers with his opponent. My body tenses as I watch. They fall, rise back up, fall again. The match looks fierce, brutal, yet no one is hurt. It's a symbolic test of strength.
Then it's over. My son's first match. I'm relieved that he's O.K. He seems relaxed now, happy. This is all new to him, and to me. The primal arena of High School wrestling. It's a brave new world.
Wrestling is a tough sport but Ben seems inexplicably drawn to it! I wish I had his passion for a challenge. Oh wait...
Smorgasboard of Gear- It's a warm, sunny day, for Dec. Wind is up and down, off and on, here and there. We have a good crew of salty characters plying the beach. It's perfect for passing some gear around. I loan some stuff out, borrow someone else's. We laugh at the crashes that ensue due to footstraps being too loose, gear unfamiliar, etc. Put a bunch of kiters on the beach and they quickly turn into one big happy dysfunctional family.
Paul's Speed3 21M Silver Arrow- Sooo fun!!! Wind was 10-14. I was super powered up on this when my 17M Zephyr was struggling to go upwind. I loved the jumps and back rolls on this big boy, (but the line twists from backrolls aren't so good). It's so lofty! I almost needed to pull the depower strap. Cool feeling. Still a scary kite though.
RealWind 85 Liter windsurfing board- Not as much fun as I expected as a kiters light wind weapon- not very turny and responsive compared to a kite surfboard, not as floaty in the lulls as it looks. Frank pointed out that the tail width is narrow. I like my 6' Caution surfboard better for kiting.
Frank's Door64- goes upwind slightly better than my Mako King but such a different ride, rides on it's edge more, doesn't break loose in transitions, hard to get it to release from the water for jumps and back rolls. Upwind machine.
Picture- Kristoff kites with helium balloons for extra style points. It looks like he's spawning.
W Dennis, Kitesurfed, 9-19, SSE, 17M Zephyr/Mako King, also RealWind 85, Door64, Flysurfer Speed3 21M Silver Arrow, with Igor, Frank, Sandie, Kristoff, Matt, John, Paul, others.
The wind didn't fill in until just before sunset so I squeezed every last drop of fun out of a brief dusk session. Packed my kite up in my headlights.
Picture- Big Jamie about to squish Little Frank because Little Frank can kite in 10MPH. Frank was O.K. I talked Jamie down.
W Dennis Beach, Kitesurfed, S, 11-19, 17M Zephyr/Mako King, with Little Frank, Big Jamie.
I was a teenager the first time I went to Deep Hole. My older brother, Greg, was giving me surfing tips. "How do you avoid the rocks that are just under the surface?" I wanted to know. My brother impatiently replied, "they're easier to see when you're standing up on the board and riding down the wave at them". That didn't really answer my question.
I rediscovered Deep Hole for windsurfing when I was in my 40's, trying to recapture some of that teenage bravado that I never really had. I had my best wavesailing days here.
Now I'm in my 50's. I fart a lot and have hair growing out of my ears. It takes bravado to look in the mirror. But I forget all that when I'm on the water. And wave spots like Deep Hole require more focus and commitment, which makes forgetting easier.
So I've been waiting for my kitesurfing to catch up to my windsurfing. I wanted to kite here when I was experienced enough to avoid endangering rescue personnel. I'm there, mostly.
How was it? The launch is meaner looking for a kite than a windsurfer, but it's fine as long as there is someone there to assist, still sketchy at dead high tide. The kiting was fun! Easy waves today, didn't hit any rocks, farted some and still had hair growing out of my ears but it completely didn't matter. I loved it.
Deep Hole, Kitesurfed, WSW, 17-30, 10M Rally/Mako 150, with Mitch, Steve, Chris E, Sergey, others.
Horseneck- Waves weren't big enough to be scary. It didn't keep me from getting knocked around though. I can't figure out how to do a fast enough bottom turn to shoot up the wave vertically, hit the lip just as it's breaking, but I am figuring out how to go over the falls and have some really fun crashes.
My Rally 10M feels so good on the waves. I can make all the stupid wave mistakes possible and that kite will just sit up in the air, lines completely slack, patiently waiting for me to smarten up and fly right. I think it will give me the confidence I need to get in some real trouble when the waves are big. I'm looking forward to it.
Horseneck, Kitesurfed, SSW, 15-25, Rally10/Mako150, With Walter, Jean, Johnny D, Tim, Paul, Others.
Brad, Gabe and I roll the dice that the wind will last long enough for us to do a downwinda from Skaket Beach to Chapin Beach, 10ish miles. It does, just barely.
We are excited tourists, gawking at the sights we see along the way. Flocks of birds ascend like a cloud as we kite through miles of waist deep water. Waves are breaking 1 1/2 miles out on the edge of the flats. We thread the interlocking maze of tidal pools on the inside, finding slicks, speed trenches, and endless sand bars to face plant on.
Brad has to be home early. He kites with us for awhile then strikes out ahead. Gabe and I explore the seascape, taking our time, alternating between waves and flats, whooping it up like we'd hit the lottery.
About 2/3 of the way in, the wind goes light, making us kinda nervous. No more whooping. We book straight past Cold Storage Beach and Corporation Beach, making a beeline for our destination. I can see the Chapin kites in the air from miles away like a beacon guiding us home. We have to sine our kites to stay afloat.
It's a relief to pull into Chapin, 3 1/2 hours after we started. We are happy tourists. We had our adventure and nobody got stranded, nobody got hurt. The only sacrifice made was my cellphone which was in a waterproof case that wasn't waterproof.
Also, my memory got short circuited. I forgot about the AMC windsurfing potluck that Barbara an I were planning on attending, got home too late. Damn! This downwinder took me to a foriegn country. It took me too long to come back.
Bottom Photo- Brad warming up for our journey.
Downwinder, Skaket to Chapin, Kitesurfed, NNE, 8-24, 13M Octane/ Mako 150, with Gabe, Brad.
|Nice Nor'Easter! It started out with sun and clouds, enough wind for my 10M, ended with driving rain, howling wind. I was happy.|
I was dressed for 31F, temp was 41F. I was toasty.
Just when I was thinking that the only thing missing was a little company, I looked up and saw another kite appear out of nowhere. What the!!? Where did you come from? Is this some ghostly apparition fashioned out of salt spray and fairy dust? Nope, it was Brad, kiting down from Peggoty Beach, about 1 mile slightly upwind.
Two local dudes came out after that for an abundance of company. I was happy, toasty, and at a kiting convention. We were hooting it up. Happiness loves company.
Astronomical High Tide- The entire salt marsh was covered and kitable. There was still enough pebbly beach left for self launch/land now that the Plover fence is gone for Winter.
Sand Spit, Kitesurfed, E, ENE, 14-31, 10M Rally/Mako150, with Brad, John, Eric.
|I bagged my first back roll in Dec of last year when Paul stuck a video camera in my face, which made my conscious mind switch off.|
I had some massive crashes the next time I tried and I decided to wait until the water warmed up in the Spring, then Summer, then late Summer.
Fear had crept in like a fog. The longer I waited the more fog. In my mind, the back roll took on the image of a wild animal. A large predator, like a T-Rex. I was yellow bellied.
It took the Martha's Vineyard trip, in September, to snap me out of my fog. 30 lunatic kiters were throwing their biggest crashes right in front of the bleachers. Nobody was killed.
I was inspired. I sought out the beast. I did battle. I crashed. I regrouped. I crashed again.
Then I did it. Just like that. So easy. Of course I could do it. This isn't a T-Rex. It's a Teddy Bear.
Now I'm a back roll fool, throwing attempts on almost every run. I love the feeling! Everyone avoids me on the water because of my big crashes. Friends cheer and shout from the beach when I achieve a particularly spectacular crash. It's very gratifying.
I can barely move after a back roll session but my brain shouts, "I did it"! I conquered fear. I slayed the Yellow Bellied Back Roll. My tired muscles whisper that the back roll is still winning.
Backrolled, W Dennis, WSW, 10-20, 13M Octane/Mako 150, With Dillon, Frank, Andre, Colleen, Carmin, Others.
|Four of us pumped up our kites around the same time at Pee-Bay. This exerted a strange gravitational pull on the wind. It shifted it from nice SW to dirty rotten WSW. Four of us deflated our kites around the same time.|
"Looks good" Frank says about the wind when we arrive at Hardings. It looks a little intimidating- strong wind, water is gun metal grey with white foam, chop rolling in, some shorebreak. "Looks good", I say.
It takes me awhile to get comfortable out there. The chop is fun to play with once I loosen up. I imagine I'm carving up a real wave. My new 10M is maxed out by the end. It's my first time using it. Sand is blowing down the beach when I land my kite.
Frank and I agree that we both should have been on 7M kites, at least by the end. No one uses the word fear. This is guy talk. We talk about intensity. I feel a sense of accomplishment. "Great session!", I say as Frank is saying goodbye. "Yeah, great session!", Frank says.
Kitesurfed, Hardings, WSW, W, 21-36, 10M Rally/Mako 150, with Frank, Others.
I boated out to the Sand Spit in Scituate for a Summer kinda session. Wind, warmth, and sunnyiness were just like Sat at TD8.
I love this spot! It could have something to do, maybe, with needing a boat to get here. Like the harder you have to work to relax and have fun, the better the relaxing and having fun. Or maybe not.
How much work? I set up the inflatable, load kite gear, boat out, unload gear, realize I forgot my pump, jump up and down and curse like a 52 year old, reload gear, boat in, boat out, pump up.
I did get a little time to kite though, so I was happy. Really happy. After all that work I had better be.
Sand Spit, Kitesurfed, NW, 8-16, 17M Zephyr/ Mako King, Solo.
Summertime made a guest appearence at Phil's/Cabrinha/Masskiting's ThrowDown8 kite bash. It brought near record breaking sunshine, kiters without wetsuits, families with little kiters running around being cute, diaper bags left in the parking lot. It also brought Summer doldrum winds.
No matter. W Dennis had the biggest crowd of hopeful kiters ever seen pumping up kites in marginal conditions. The people with the biggest kites had the biggest smiles, but everyone seemed to be in don't-worry-be-happy mode. I had a pretty big smile.
A lot of gear never got on the water. I should have shared my 17M kite more and spread the love around but luckily this didn't occur to me until after the wind had died.
Then there was the pahhty, swag raffle, and unbelievable dinner at How-U-Doin's camp- oysters on the half shell, melt in your mouth marinated swordfish loins fresh off KiterMike's boat. Gourmet dining for 30. I just wish I could have stayed overnight to have some left over swordfish for breakfast.
Marginal wind, good friends, good laughs, great eats, good times!
West Dennis, Kitesurfed, WSW, SW, 8-15, 17M Zephyre/ Mako King & Frankenstein surfboard, with Masskiting & others.
|Brad, Tom and I went to Crane's Beach, asked if we could launch our kites. They said no, it's against the rules to launch anything.|
So we went to Pavillion Beach, in Plum Island Sound, where there's nobody to say nothing bout nothing.
Picture- Pavilion Beach looking towards the tip of Plum Island. Click on pic to see large.
Pavillion Beach- This area is on the wild side- big tidal flow, moored boats, mud, gravel, rocks, razor clams, voodoo chop, waves, slicks. All the ingredients of a good adventure.
It was gusty in close but cleaned up as we kited out of the sound into the ocean. We kited to the tip of Plum Island and over to a nice sand bar outside of Cranes Beach. We were satisfying our novelty seeking needs.
Tom's footstrap came apart so he landed on Crane's to fix it. I landed to make sure he was O.K. More kiters were there,("rules, what rules?"). I noticed some nice mounds of fresh horse manure waiting to fertilize any unsuspecting kites.
Tom started to relaunch but was met with disapproval from 2 horses with riders nearby. It was like someone had shot a gun in a wild west movie spooking the beasts. The riders struggled to turn them around and maintain control. Tom lowered the kite and shouted out an apology but who knew? Horses think kites are pterodactyls coming to eat them.
We eventually made our way back to Pavillion. We heard later that the kiters that had launched from Cranes were told to leave. Horses and kites mix like fireworks and fire, and the fireworks were there first.
Overall it was a good session. Horses and Pterodactles aren't what I had expected but you can't choose your adventure. Your adventure chooses you.
Pavillion Beach, Kitesurfed, NNE, 15-28 plus, 13M Octane/Mako 150, with Tom, Brad, Dillon, Joe, Paul, Skipper.
|The wind came in late. Most of us arrived early. We had a good crew of dreamers waiting around, hoping to pull some magic out of a bad forecast.|
The wind gave us teasers all day, keeping us interested. Bugsy, the dog, kept us entertained on the beach during the lulls. Jay pulled out his home made rum and spice beef jerky and we didn't care if there was wind or not, it was that good. Bugsy thought so too. He didn't waste time chewing it.
When a stronger wind blessed us with it's company in the late afternoon we were all sooo excited. You'd think 14-18 was the pinnacle of kitesurfing. It did feel good though. I didn't wasting time chewing. I got right down to back roll practise.
By the end of the day, we were a happy crew. All it took was a little sun, fog, clouds, more fog, and a dog eating rum and spice beef jerky to bring in the wind.
West Dennis Beach, Kitesurfed, SSW, SW, 6-18, 17M Zephyr/ Mad Cow & 6' Surfboard & Flex 138, with Fred, Frank, Andre, Colleen, Paul, Bugsy, Tom, others.
Gregor and I planned a fantastic 15 mile downwinder from Head of the Meadow to Coast Guard Beach based on the solid NE wind forecast. Stupid us. We got E wind. That makes it an upwinder to start, then a sidewinder. And the wind was light and flukey. But the two of us were too stubborn and lacking in any sense whatsoever to give up on our trip just because the wind was wrong. Why let 1 little detail ruin such great plans? We dropped off the vehicles. We pumped our kites. We struggled to get off the beach in the shorebreak and then didn't have the power to go upwind. We kited, going nowhere. We struggled. We walked. We tried again. We cursed...
At 1:00 we gave up and drove over to Mayflower, where the wind was strong, steady, and NE. There was a big crowd and everyone was happy. We were happy too, now that we were acting like we had some tiny shred of sense in our heads.
Head of the Meadow, and Mayflower Beach, Kitesurfed, 10-25, E, ENE, NE, 13M Octane/Mako 150 & 6' surfboard, with Gregor, others.
I did a mad scientist experiment with an old windsurfing board. I lopped off its rear end, glassed up the wound and called it a kiteboard, no straps, no fins. Yeah, I knew the lack of fins might be a problem but I wanted to give it a try. No way. It was about as stable as riding a surfboard backwards, and upside down. Alright now I've got to paste some fins on and try it again.
After my test pilot runs on Frankenstein board I had a very respectable light wind session on my surfboard. Not enough wind for jumps, but I still had fun working on tacks and jibes.
Mayflower, Kitesurfed, NE, ENE, 8-20, 17M Zephyr/ 6' Surfboard, Mostly Solo.
I knew something was wrong. We had 30 people going to Martha's Vineyard for 3 days of kiting and camping and the forecast was for nearly perfect weather- blue skies, warm temps, windy... For 3 days in a row. It was like reverse Murphy's law. Whatever can go right will, and at the best possible time.
So, of course, I'm waiting for something bad to happen to mess it up.
Saturday is great! Great weather, secluded barrier beach, kiting inside in flats, outside in waves, or in the tidal inlet. Everyone is completely psyched to be here, pulling off their best crashes right next to the beach in the offshore winds. Nice dinner and bull session around the campfire apres kite.
Sunday is great! Repeat of Sat. This is making me nervous. I do some pain free backroll practise in the shallows. Upwinder in the bay, walk over to the oceanside for a downwinder to the inlet, upwinder in the bay back to where I started, good company, so fun.
We counted 19 people on and in the truck for the 4 x 4 ride out to the launch.
Monday starts great! Then the wind gets flukey. Ahh, now I feel better. I could stop worrying about a natural disaster striking us. Although flukey wind is pretty bad, at least it's a disaster I'm familiar with. We all get some water time to stretch our tired muscles.
Note: Click on pics to see full size.
I like the way Dunoyer summed up the trip, "those sweeping views of sand, sea and birds will stick with me for at least another year..." I hope so.
Thanks to Eric F for bravely leading 30 crazed kiters to a salty canvas waiting to be painted with kite tracks and rooster tails.
Martha's Vineyard- Katama Bay, kitesurfed 3 days, 8-28, SW, SSW, 13M Octane/Mako 150 & 6' Surfboard, with Masskiting, others.
I was watching live hurricane coverage. The commentator was railing against thrill seekers who go out in the hurricane and get themselves in trouble when they should be staying at home and watching live hurricane coverage. I didn't want to be one of those pesky thrill seekers.
Reports were coming in that all beaches were closed, north shore, Cape Cod, R.I.
We decided to try P Bay. On my way there I had to stop to clear fallen branches blocking the road. A waiting motorist thanked me as he drove through. I imagined that his wife was going into labor and that my being there allowed him to race her to the hopspital just in time. See, I thought, this is why I'm out. Not to windsurf. To do good.
16 to 60 in less than 60 seconds- We had 7 or 8 hardy do-gooders windsurfing in the bay. The bay was ours, no lifeguards to kick us out. Winds were mostly 30-50, getting increasingly crazy and gusty near the end, which was 12:30 when the environ police arrived. They kicked us out.
On most runs the wind would fluctuate wildly. You could see the gusts, the patches of white water rolling across the bay with mist and pelting rain, but the lulls were just as tiring. I was bouncing around in those conditions like a puppet in the hands of a drunk puppeteer. Overpowered, underpowered, overpowered, just right go for my jibe, overpowered, underpowered, rest. Still it was good fun! My best windsurfing session in the last year or so, numbskull that I am.
Back at home we had some trees down in the neighborhood. Leaves and twigs were scattered everywhere. There was a brown out/power outage for most of the day which snuffed out my computer. I think I was safer on the water.
More pics of Antoine in Boston Harbor.
Pleasure Bay, Windsurfed, ESE, SE, 16-60, 3.5M Sail/RealWind85, with Igor, Sean, Dean, Antoine, Scott, Bill, others.
| My last 3 or 4 windsurfing sessions have been kinda frustrating- underpowered, overpowered, chop but not enough for decent jumps, rocks where I don't want them to be, sun that sets when I want it to stay light. I used to think I knew something about finding good sailing conditions and rigging the right gear. Now I'm not getting any love. It must be a conspiracy to sell me more gear.
Picture- Everyone was having fun at Ned's. Everyone had bigger sails and boards than me. I was very happy in the gusts.
Ned's Point, Windsurfed, SSW, 13-23, 6.2/ Acid94, with others..
Tubing on the Deerfield River, Charlemont- This was a lot more fun than expected, carefree, funny, enough whitewater to be exciting at times. I actually enjoyed this more than the zipping, go figure.
Our 2 day mini-vacation to Western Mass was really nice. These family adventures are the best! It's funny to think back about the stresses of traveling with our kids when they were younger, fighting over car space, who gets which color sippy cup. Now it seems almost too easy and pleasant.
Sometimes I have a hard time connecting the present to the past. Are we really the same family? Same life? Or were those busy days of young children just some blurry, frustrating, messy, happy dream?
Zip It Up- Barb, Ben and I zip lined at Zoar Outdoor in Charlemont, MA. This was more fun than a barrel of monkeys, but not as much fun as kitesurfing. Doing it with my loved ones tipped the scale towards the zipping, though, and anyway I love to try novel outdoor activites.
Zipping wasn't as scary or thrilling as I expected. It was pleasent, scenic. The canopy of trees almost felt like a floor that we could step out onto. We had sturdy harnesses and lines hooked in the whole time so we could lean way out over the platforms without fear of consequences.
Seeing a bear cub walking around below one of the zips added some additional novelty and excitement. I wanted to see the bear cub harnessed in and zipping with us but the zip leaders said that was out of the question.
We stayed at the Hawk Mountain Lodge at Zoar.