Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fat Lady days of Summer

The forecast for wind this weekend looked disgusting, nothing over 10 MPH anywhere, anytime.  So I loaded lots of alternative gear in my truck, big surfboard, SUP, unicycle, kitesurfing magazine, and I lowered my expectations for kiting.

Then I went kiting.  I rode the Fat Lady/ Mako King for a sunset session in Buzzards Bay on Sat.

On Sunday, another sunset session, Yirrell Beach, Fat Lady/ 6' surfboard. I downwinded to Winthrop Beach and back.

Summer winds are often light and fickle but the post sessions are the best. Drip drying in a bathing suit in the warm Summer wind, watching the sunset blend into twilight, lazily packing up my gear, no chattering teeth.

Buzzards Bay, Kitesurfed, ENE, 9-17, 17M Fat Lady/ Mako King, Solo.
Yirrell Beach, Kitesurfed, E, ESE, 8-17, 17M Fat Lady/ 6' Surfboard, with Stoke.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Pleasure Bay- I'm upwind of everybody, right near the wall, trying to stay out of the way of the good guys.

I'm doing your basic, garden variety back roll when my foot slips out of the strap. Darn, I think, I always forget to tighten my straps when I switch to smaller booties. I reach down and push the board off.

As I hit the water my kite is about to crash cause of my sloppy one handed flying.  So I pull the bar hard and I'm happy to see the kite go back up.

Then it comes back down. Then up. Did you ever notice that when you're in the water and you pull one end of the bar hard it can get hooked behind the depower rope and locked into loop mode?  I notice.

My kite is locked in death spirals, spinning through the power zone as fast as it's little legs will take it, and I'm teabagging straight downwind through the high traffic area.  I decide not to panic and to think carefully about my situation.  I have my mouth open, like a humpback whale straining all the water in the bay.  After careful consideration, I decide to close my mouth.

There is no way I can untangle my bar while I'm being jerked across the water like a marionette so I try to crash my kite to stop the loops.  I take a minute to marvel at how special this moment is, to be trying to crash my kite, on purpose, and I can't.  I enjoy the irony of my situation.

Then I discover that if I pull the bar hard enough, I can spin my kite down into the water. Yay, I've crashed my kite.

Such fun!  I have about 100 twists in my lines to unspin. I make the long body drag back to the beach. 2 onlookers walk up with my board a little while after I'm back. Thanks guys.

Kooking out at Pleasure Bay makes a strong impression.  I think people will take notice and maybe I'll make some new friends. Like the guys that brought my board back for instance. My current friends will act like they've never seen me before but I know that won't last. This sport is great!

P-Bay, Kitesurfed, 12-23, SSW, 14M Rally/ Flx 138, with Nick, Kristof, Dunoyer, George, Others. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wind Sandwich

Wind in the morning. No wind for lunch. A long lunch. Bodies were sleeping underneath they're kites kind of long lunch. Wind in the late afternoon.

The day was a wind sandwich. Delicious.

Harding's Beach, Kitesurfed, SSW, 10-25, 14M Rally/ Flx 138, with Frank, Sam, Andrey, Colleen, Nick, Chriz, Peter from Cal, Others.

Picture- Flysurfer Chriz in the middle of the sandwich.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Electrifying Kiting

I'm out at Nahant, having fun in the little waves. It starts to rain but I don't care cause it's such a nice session. I hear some very low rumbling. I can't tell if they've routed the planes to Logan over this area, or if it's thunder.

I notice there's nobody left on the beach. No lifeguards, no other kiters, no dog walkers. A few of the clouds look a little of dark. I'm wondering if I should stop.

I'm hitting these tiny one handed hops over the waves on the way out and I'm getting this tingling in my hand on the bar. Is it a nerve in my arm or what? Then I do a real jump and one of my fingers brushes the metal bevel in the middle of the bar. Wow, this time I get the tingle and I hear a crackling sound! Freaks me out.

I'm off the water quick. Great session. A little short but I'm still alive.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Yirrell to Revere

I don't realize how tired I am until I launch at Yirrell Beach. My legs feel shaky. My arms feel stiff.  I've kited or biked every day of this vacation week so far. I decide I had better take it easy today.

I do a few runs, then head downwind to Revere, stopping to play at the 5 sisters pools and at the Revere breakwater. I'm taking it easy. Sort of.

There's a big crowd at Revere and the wind is great. I notice that my arms and legs haven't fallen off yet. I have a long session with lots of jumps and crashes.  I'll take it easy tomorrow.

Yirrell to Revere, Downwinder, ESE, SE, 15-22, 14M Rally/ Flx138.

Picture- Leo? at Yirrell Beach.

Thanks for the ride back to my truck Frank!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fat Lady with a Mad Cow

Yirrell Beach- This is extreme kiting.  Extremely stupid.  I'm on my biggest kite, The Fat Lady, on my biggest board, The Mad Cow, and I'm barely moving.  I have no power to jump.

So I decide that, if all I can do is cruise, I might as well cruise to somewhere.

Skinny Lady with a Mad Cow
I slowly work my way upwind, using the occasional gust, to the point. I round the point and think about heading to Winthrop Beach, which is downwind in this wind direction.

I'm wondering if the wind will last long enough to make it worth the trip when the wind dies. Those fist size rocks at the point are painful to walk across.

I take my time packing up.  As I'm leaving, I notice that the flag in Winthrop Harbor is blowing from the SW. Oh. Wind shift.

Pleasure Bay- I stop at P Bay on the way home. It's getting kinda late but the water is soo smooth.  I ignore any misgivings about the diminishing light and pump up The Fat Lady. The sun is just dissapearing over the horizon when I launch on my Flx 138.

Ahhh, I have enough wind to jump and rotate. Feels so good.

The water just behind the rock wall is as shiny as black glass.  On my return run I'm heading into a spectacular sunset that reflects off the water like an impressionistic painting, broken only by small ripples spreading out from my previous run. Beautiful.

I kite for an hour, stopping before it's too dark to see my kite to land it. I'm so glad that I took the chance on this sunset session. I enjoy the warm night air as I pack up my gear.

Sometimes the wind makes fools of us puny kitesurfers.  Sometimes not.

Yirrell Beach, Kitesurfed, ESE, 8-14, 17M Fat Lady/ Mad Cow, Solo.
Pleasure Bay, Kitesurfed, SSW, 10-17, 17M Fat Lady/ Flx 138, Solo. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

First there were Three

Three kiters in happy land.  Brad, Jay, and me.  We're so excited to be exploring a new kite spot, Saquish, at the tip of the Duxbury peninsula.  We look like drunks on whiskey mountain.

Jay is the first one out, hitting his big jumps, loops, and rolls. His harness rides up on a crash, tenderizing his rib cage.  He's the first one in.

Brad and I set off down wind for 1 1/2 miles, then back, then up wind.  We go around the point towards Dux harbor.

Brad is hitting his smooth 1 handed back roll transitions.  His kite rips in half on a crash.  Right down the middle. He has a 1/2 mile walk back.

Now there's just me.  Hitting my tiny little jumps and rolls. What the?  This day is jinxed.  I'm afraid to do anything.  Either my body will fail or my kite will fail. Or both. I head in.

Three kiters in happy land.  We had our adventure.  It wasn't quite the one we had planned. Started as three, ended as one.  That's kitesurfing.

Saquish- A gated community.  You need to be a homeowner or guest to drive in.

Saquish/ Plymouth, Kitesurfed, S, SSW, 15-30, 10M Rally/Mako 150 & Flx 138, with Jay, Brad.

Picture- Jay putting on a show.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

20 Minutes of Fun

It's been 2 weeks since I've kited. That's about 2 months in kitesurfer time. I forget which end of the kite goes up and where to attach those stringy things.

I finally figure it out and get on the water for 20 minutes. Then the wind dies. It's a perfect welcome back to kiting. A fickle sport.

Revere Beach, Kitesurfed, ENE, 10-16, 14M Rally/ Mako King, with Frank, Andre, Colleen, Paul, Others.

Picture- Andre should be an Olympic kiter. He has the look. 

Into the Great North Woods

Allagash River.  The Wilderness Waterway.  We go through the Maine Woods check point and onto the dirt logging roads.  We're not far from the Canadian border.  It feels like we're leaving civilization.

When we round the last bend in the rutted road, the river stretches before us like a shimmering ribbon of silver and blue.  I suggest that we may be the first people ever to attempt to paddle this remote stretch of water. Ben rolls his eyes.

Our rental canoe and kayak are waiting at our starting point along with several others.

It's tranquil, peaceful on the river.  The gurgling sound of the canoe bow splitting the water and paddles dipping rhythmically mingle with cricket and bird calls.  Pine and Cedar trees predominate the shore. Suburban life melts away.

We settle into new routines. Paddling, swimming, setting up camp, gathering firewood, smore's after dinner.

The three of us sprawl on a grassy knoll of our campsite, watching the sun set over the river and talk about life, love, and the shape of clouds.

This is as good as it gets! For me anyway. Sharing this beautiful wilderness with the chipmunks, 3 moose, one Rambo rabbit, and 2 of the people that I love most. I don't need any more than this. I feel moments of deep contentment.

I enjoy a challenge. This trip has it. Paddling hard for 4 or 5 hours a day takes good technique or a tolerance for burning muscles.  We dodge rocks and gravel bars in the low water and test our skill at reading the riffles and mini rapids. Below Allagash Falls the rocks become an intricate maze to pick our way through. I love it.

The whole trip takes teamwork, setting up camp, cooking, everyone pitching in. There's lots of give and take but we're all on board. It seems to bring us closer together. I'm astonished by the lack of conflict and complaints. Am I dreaming?

Almost rolling a loaded canoe in a rapid creates some excitement. Oops. It tests our closeness in the moment but gives us something to kinda laugh about later. It happens more than once.

At Taylor's Landing we hear a moose visitor clomping through the river at night when we're half asleep. It sounds so loud and close! I get out of the tent and sit for a long time waiting for the full moon to come out from behind the clouds so I can see it.  No luck. The moose is still there in the morning, posing for us in the distance while we eat our breakfast.

Our last day starts great but gets tiring at the very end. Allagash Falls is a high point and the paddling below the falls is particularly fun, more current, more rocks. But we have the portage, 15 miles of paddling, and unloading at the take out. This is the only time when weariness seems to set in, even though we arrive early in the afternoon.

Everyone is ecstatic to take a real shower in the hotel room! It seems crazy to have so much water for lathering and rinsing. I feel guilty about using a clean, dry, unshared towel.

I go for a walk from the hotel at sunset. We're right near the border checkpoint in Fort Kent. I sit on a grassy bank of the St John river watching the lights from the Canadian side turning on. I'm feeling nostalgic.

I think about family vacations from the past when our kids were little and everything was hectic and messy.  Already Josh is off on his own. Ben will be in college in a few years.

This could be one of our last family vacations. Time slips through our fingers like water over the falls.

Details- in case we wait another 20 years before we do this trip again. 

July 29 to Aug 3 2012, 62 miles
Sunday-  drive up, camp at Churchill Dam.
Monday- paddle to Sams campsite, 13 miles.
Tuesday- paddle to Turk Island campsite, 15 miles.
Wednesday- paddle to Taylor Landing campsite, 18 miles.
Thursday- paddle to Allagash Falls, portage, paddle to Allagash Bridge, 16 miles.
Friday- drive home.

Water depth at start upper 400's CFM, at finish lower 400's.

Driving on logging roads- because it was Sunday we didn't have to worry about making way for logging trucks, good planning. The CRV was perfect for this drive.

Crowds were pretty good.  On the first day there were groups in front and behind us but we never saw them. On most other days we saw a group or two and occasionally had to pass up a campsite that was already taken but we mostly stayed at the sites we wanted and never had to share a campsite.