Sunday, February 24, 2013

On the Rocks, With a Twist

Looking N, towards the point

Grey day. I'm kiting out on the point with Alex and Brad, playing on the smooth, overhead ramps. Wind is N, straight sideshore, making for clean set waves with almost no chop. Beautiful waves!

It also makes for a nasty landing on the rock wall at Deer Island if something goes wrong on the outside. I glance at it occasionally, far off in the distance, lurking like a bad dream.

The waves are big enough to warrant a little caution for me. Light rain is starting to turn into snow. I do a low back roll and my lines remain slightly twisted. I think to myself that's how this session is! Slightly twisted.

That thought is a cue for Brad's kite to go down. His DD is broken. He releases everything and swims in to the point. He's safe. I try to rescue his strapless surfboard, and also get to his kite which is drifting away, without much luck, or skill.

Then Alex's kite goes down.  A bridle line broke. He doesn't reach the point before being pulled downwind. What the!?

For awhile we're all over the place. Brad and I are chasing gear that is scattered down the beach. Alex has wrapped up his lines and is swimming in on his kite. I lose my board near the beach and don't bother dragging for it because I'm rushing to reach Brad's kite before it gets munched in the shorebreak. We look like the 3 stooges. Can it get any worse?

Looking SE, Deer Island and the rock wall
Leo has a house right on the beach. He sees Alex's kite from his house but he doesn't see Alex. He calls the Coast Guard. "No, no, Alex is on his kite!" we tell him.  He calls off the Coast Guard. What next?!

Leo and I kite out to help Alex. Leo tries to bring Alex's kite in but it flips and blows out of his hands, towards the rocks. He brings in Alex's board and I pull Alex away from the wall. He was probably going to miss it anyway but I want to be sure. His kite lands in a tiny cove in the rock wall undamaged.

Everyone's fine! A heavy wet snow is coming down as we walk back to our vehicles. The waves out on the point look tiny from this distance.

We're philosophical about the day. Brad is pissed that his DD will cost $150 to replace. Alex says that he needed the self rescue practice. "It's a cold day for that", I say! Cold and slightly twisted. Sounds like a drink. One that only a Winter kiter would enjoy. And even then, only in moderation.

Yirrell Beach, Kitesurfed, N, 12-18, 17-30, 14M Rally & 10M Rally/ Mako150, With Alex, Brad, Temp 36F, Waves 7'?, mid tide.

Click on pics for full size

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Late Bird Gets the Worm

This session is a nice surprise. Yee Haw! Squeezed in between Ben's track meet and a drizzly Winter sunset. Brad and I are both thrilled that the wind comes up just in time and Mayflower provides a much nicer playground than expected. Temp is a balmy 36F!

The parking lot at Mayflower is chained so we park on the road.  There is a little erosion to the dunes from Winter storm Nemo, not too bad.

We start late, so we kite late. I can't see much by the time we get off the water.

I've been wondering if I could open up the larks head knots and detach my lines by feel. I've only undone those knots a few thousand times since I started kiting.

It's a little slow in the dark but doable. From now on I'm going to close my eyes when I pack up my gear. If I get good at doing it by feel, I can kite all night!

Mayflower, Kitesurfed, N, 10-22, 14M Rally/Mako150/Caution 6' Surfboard, With Brad.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Life after Nemo

Winter storm Nemo brings 2' of snow, a driving ban that I break driving home from work Friday night, and a question about whether I can get some kiting in this weekend.

Sunday morning- I roll out of bed just before sunrise. It's 10 degrees F. outside. Downy snow glistens in the predawn twilight through the window.

Common sense would say go back to bed. Fortunately, I don't have much of that. I have horse sense. Horse sense says go to Chapin and kite with Igor. Igor has horse sense too.

The road to Chapin is closed. The road to Mayflower is unplowed. Bayview is open! It has some power lines down across the path and the dunes have erosion but it's accessible, and windy!

It's warmed up. Maybe to low to mid 20's? Igor and I lie to each other, saying that we're perfectly warm and comfy in our drysuits.

Igor may be telling the truth. He has a secret weapon. Igor's new drysuit has hand warming tubes allowing him to breath warm air into his 2mm Glacier Gloves. He does looks perfectly warm and comfy. Especially his hands.

My secret weapon is 6mm neoprene mitts. They're very tight and restrictive. My hands are warm enough but after a couple of hours my forearms are useless. The muscles have completely failed, leaving 2 limp rags where my arms used to be. Igor's secret weapon beats my secret weapon.

How low to go?- Kiting in under 27 F. means saltwater will freeze. You won't be able to scrape up any sand to anchor your kite because the beach is concrete. You'll slip on wet ice getting into the slushwater before you can waterstart.  Spray will freeze and coat the floats and ends of your lines. Your depower rope will keep slipping in it's cleat. And your hands will fail from wearing 6mm mitts. It's fun! I recommend it to anyone who is strong of heart and hand.

Bayview, Kitesurfed, NNW, 14-25, 14M Rally/ Mako150, with Igor.

Ianovated drysuits

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Winter Swim and a Boat Ride

Sam is stranded on Monomoy Island with his kite. It's 1 1/2 hours  before sunset and light snow is coming down. Air temp  is about 30F. Water temp around 35.

The police officer is very professional.  He doesn't say what most people would say in this situation. You guys are stupid. I know he's thinking it. He's more restrained. He asks, "why do you think it's a good idea to go kitesurfing on a day like this?" He asks it three times, apparently not satisfied with our stupid answers.

We had started at First Encounter Beach. The wind died, then shifted. It was supposed to do that.

We drove to Hardings. The wind picked up nicely. It was supposed to do that too.

We kited out to the Monomoy flats. Wind died again. It wasn't supposed to do that. The tide is coming in fast. Oops.

I'm lucky. I have the biggest gear. I walk across the disappearing sand bars and kite back to the mainland. The other 3 guys don't have it so easy.

Frank- Walks across the sand bars, downwinds it to Stage Island, swims across the channel using his kite as a raft. I pull him in on the mainland side. He's tired but fine, worried about the other 2.

Andrey- Stays with Sam for a while but his hybrid drysuit isn't keeping his legs warm enough. He wraps his lines, rests on 1 wing of his kite and rides the current and wind to Stage island. Then the wind picks up enough for him to kite back. He's fine.

Sam- is a great kiter but he has the smallest gear. He starts crossing the sand bars with us but his kite goes in the water and the current slacks the lines. He swims to his kite. He doesn't realize that his foot has snagged some lines. His lines are a hopeless spaghetti mess. He's the furthest away from the mainland and decides that the safest thing to do is go to Monomoy and wait on land. He's plenty warm the whole time.

Frank and I, and the police officer, watch with binoculars from the Monomoy Refuge Station on Stage Island as the Harbor Master gets Sam. The officer is being nice as we thank him profusely. He says, "well, we help folks out around here all the time, just not always on such a cold day."

Afterwards, the four of us numbskulls talk about what worked, what didn't and what we can do better in future catastrophes. Some colorful words come up. There's no consensus but we mostly agree that we should fine tune our risk assessment of Winter conditions. We definitely agree that we don't need to stop Winter kiting altogether. That would be crazy!

Hardings, Kitesurfed, WSW, SW, 12-20, 2-6, 14M Rally/Flx 138, With Frank, Andrey, Sam. 

Cape Cod Times Online Article

Click on the aerial photo to see it full size