Sunday, October 7, 2007

September 2007 Trip Report: Saturday

I woke early Saturday to watch a storm pass through downtown Corpus Christi. After the storm left, I got coffee and breakfast at Agua Java.

When I arrived at Worldwinds, the wind blew weakly, maybe 6-10 MPH. Storms floated on the horizon, occasionally distant thunder could be heard.

I rented their new Fanatic Shark 145 liter board and a giant 7.5 meter sail. The 7.5 is the largest sail I've ever used. I guess I'm getting used to big sails -- it didn't seem too much larger than the 7.0.

The Fanatic Shark had an interesting contraption to protect the nose. Rather than a hard plastic bumper on the front of the board, the board was equipped with a device attached to the mast base -- the deviator. This little gizmo is basically a little raised projection with a roller on top. If the mast falls towards the front of the board, the device deflects the mast away from the nose. The deviator works well, and definitely looks nicer than a nose protector. But it also makes it much more difficult to lift the mast over the nose when in the water -- you have to lift it much higher to clear the roller.

The Fanatic was a fine light wind board. Despite the iffy wind, I let the fun of sailing lure me out well past the buoys. I was alright for perhaps an hour before the storms got closer and the wind started acting shifty. At that point I started tacking back in towards Worldwinds.

I got perhaps half way back to Worldwinds when I lost power in the sail. I figured that the wind must have changed directions, so I tacked. The tack went fine, but I still had no power. I tacked again. And again. And again. No luck. The wind seemed to have vanished. Oh no.

I jumped off the board and started swimming in. As I was swimming back in with the mast over my shoulders, I watched the storm move closer. It looked like I might get rained on. I continued inching towards shore where there was a bit of a crowd -- how embarrassing.

As I continued swimming, I felt a little breeze on my face. Would the wind save me? I turned to look in the direction of the breeze -- and storm. As I watched, a sheet of darkness moved across the water towards me. Wind. Maybe 30 mph. Maybe 100. Either way, it immediately stirred up a nasty chop.

I decided not to attempt a waterstart. I thought my 7.5 meter sail might launch me to Mexico. I climbed on the board and uphauled. A gust immediately tore the sail from my hands. I uphauled again and was thrown from the board.

Frustrated, I floated in the water collecting my wits. Third time's the charm, right? I climbed up, hoisted the sail, and quickly hooked onto the boom with a two-hand death grip. Even without sheeting in, the board started moving.

Somehow I managed the sail by staying back and low, cutting as much upwind as possible. The board rocketed forward and covered the remaining distance to Worldwinds in seconds. If I had sheeted in more, I probably could have shot up the ramp and into the garage. I was just happy not to have to swim any more. Now I know what the calm before the storm is.

Lesson learned: stay close to shore in weak wind and stormy weather. I would have kissed the ground if it wasn't so dirty.

As I left Worldwinds, I learned that Matt and Karen, Justin and Yun all decided to skip the beach today on account of the storm. I returned to the hotel to clean up. Afterwards, I met them all for dinner at the Water Street Oyster Bar. Afterwards, we had a few drinks at Havana.

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