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


Kitermike said...

Great story Steve..glad everyone is alright


kitermike said...

There is an article in Cape Cod Times

scooper said...

KMike- Thanks. It's not a story I wanted to be telling but I think it's important to put it out there as a cautionary tale.

Chelsea Richards said...

To be honest I’ve never heard anything like this and it surely caught me by surprise! I’m just glad no one was hurt real bad… XOXO:D

Dunoyer said...

Holy Jesus, this wind dying out at Monomoy scenario occurred to a crew last Fall, which I believe included Peter Lyons, Amy, Haley, and KiterMike. It was a long way home. In winter, it raises the stakes significantly.

Peter van Amson said...

Nice write up. I spoke with Frank on Sunday. He did not as fully elaborate on the situation as you did in your article. Thanks for posting the details. It was instructive to me as well as others.

scooper said...

@Dunoyer- Hey, I know it was below freezing but the conditions never felt threatening to me personally. Maybe that's because I've done my share of Winter swims over the years, or maybe I'm delusional and you should never trust my judgement.

scooper said...

@Peter- Thanks! Even after being there and post processing it, I'm still amazed that it snowballed into a boat rescue.

Want to come kiting with us this weekend? We always have good luck and we never take risks...

I'll probably be kiting solo for the rest of the Winter.

Dunoyer said...

Scooper, you are the winter windsport veteran. And I know safety is always your first concern. That probably explains why you were the first to get out of the bad situation.

You don't have to kite solo, I can come with. Keep me in the loop. Although I am considering taking even more risk and trying my hand at drag racing across black ice on Lake Winnipesauke... I wonder what the Chatham cop would think of that liesure activity.

scooper said...

@Dunoyer- O.K. Maybe I'm not delusional. Or maybe you're delusional too. It would be great to have your company on the water if it works out.

I hear the smooth ice is fun but best with a butt pillow!

Dunoyer said...

Change of plan, we are getting a foot of snow, I plan on flying through the powder tied to a kite, is that a good idea?

scooper said...

Now that's a good idea! I might have to get my skiis out of the attic.

Igor said...

Well.. Sunday looks good for Chapin! But Saturday might fit only for windsurfing in some quiet like Fogland spot! I don't have such a small kite for Saturday :>)

scooper said...

Igor, you were the man with antifreeze in your veins! Are you still getting out there?

I may spend all of Saturday shoveling my driveway.