Thursday, February 28, 2008

Gusty and Fun

We've had some Really gusty and shifty winds the last few days. Some people might complain, but I kind of like the variations! I think gusty winds open up a session to way more opportunities. Helitack in a lull, then loop in a gust... Next time around, try the helitack in a gust, and a loop in the lulls, just to see what happens! If anything, shifty conditions will help you determine when to try what, and you can store it away for future reference.

Tuesday's forecasted cranking southerlies never really materialized, in a safely sailable manner, anyway... Billy, Jim K, George, Visiting Neil, and I windsurfed the Hole (5.0), while Pam and Lane joined us on their kites. Everyone caught a fun, but short, session before a nasty front pushed through. Lane snapped a few amazing pictures of the front (Thanks, Lane!):

Tough not to see that one coming...It extended across the entire horizon!It was easy to tell that all heck was about to break loose, so we frantically derigged and stashed our gear (and bodies) just as the wind clocked around 90 degrees and boosted into the mid 40s! Lightning, thunder, rain, fog, and gnarly winds persuaded me to hunker down with the keys in the ignition, just in case a quick escape became necessary... Luckily, it blew over quickly and harmlessly, and Neil re-rigged, re-suited, and re-entered the water for another bout of blasting!

Billy, before the frontHunkered down in the thick of it
Neil, post-gnarliness
Wednesday brought the clearing winds, sunny skies, and cooler air temps. Stuart, Neil and I hit up the Secret Spot for some morning freestyling. The wind faded quickly, so it was a short but fun sesh (5.0 again). In the afternoon, the wind returned with a vengeance, and a slightly different angle, so Billy, Neil and I hit the flats down in Buxton for some wicked freestyle action (and 5.0 yet again)! I'm stoked to claim the fastest, most powerful, cleanest, totally planing spock I've ever thrown! Chalk it up to the butter flat water, but if you had blinked, you would have totally missed it and thought nothing had ever happened! Unreal!

Stuart in the Secret SpotBilly Ain't Afraid to Throw Himself Around!Sunset Over the Shallows
Stuart and I braved the cold this morning, sailing short tacks back behind Island Creek (you guessed it, 5.0). Very gusty winds, again, and ice cream headaches if you got dunked. The water wasn't bad, but the 28 degree air put quite a chill on any exposed, wet skin. Luckily, I brought my portable hot tub to thaw out the hands and feet during our frequent breaks! Sailing in shallow water, taking short tacks, with a buddy, really thick suits (6/5/4), hot water waiting on the beach, buildings right on shore for shelter, and hot showers a stones throw away are what made our morning relatively safe and comfortably sailable in the frigid air temps!

I suppose that's just a testament to how much fun windsurfing really is!! We (the general windsurfing populace) often get excited, and brave some very harsh weather, just for some time on the water... Why wouldn't we, really?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Stand Up Surf Extravaganza!

Lots of great waves this afternoon, light breeze, crystal clear water, and blue skies! What a beautiful day! Drew, Stuart and I hit up ramp 34 for an afternoon of board swapping, although the SUP was the tool of choice on the weaker waves.

Stuart on a nice rightDrew drops in late
There were lots of curious dolphin in the water today, too! The vantage point from a SUP is amazing, especially when the water is so clear. Pods of dolphin were swimming up to, surfacing next to, and diving under us all afternoon. I almost got mowed over by a few set waves because I was too busy looking down at all the action underwater, rather than the horizon!

Drew bails on a closeoutMe, attempting to hit a lip and redirect to the right... miserable failure 1 second later!!
Drew lining himself up
All in all a great afternoon on the beach! Looks like we're in store for a few days of cranking winds, so come on down, or at least keep an eye open for a report in the next day or two!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fine Coastal Weather (Wind, Rain, Fog, and Sunshine)

We've had a good few days here in Hatteras, with some fine coastal weather...

Caught up with Chad surfing in Buxton Friday afternoon, after the rain passed. Fog was drifting in and out, with moderate offshore winds. Lots of current was ripping up the beach in the south swell. Kind of spooky looking out there.

Chad's somewhere deep within this wave:
Unknown surfer with a late backside drop:
I ended up rigging a 5.0 in the first parking area I found that wasn't foggy, with an hour of "daylight" left. Planing was effortless on my 108 liter freestyle board, especially in the butter flat water I ended up finding! It certainly wasn't an extreme session, but I got some great reconnaissance in for a sicko new freestyle spot, or maybe even a speed run in the right wind direction!

The foggy view while rigging:
Saturday brought light west winds and sunshine, so I surfed the leftover chest high swell from Friday morning's storm. Weird waves, with lots of invisible currents and small cross swells coming from virtually every direction. It got so bad that I felt a vertigo-like sensation from the random rocking. Nonetheless, some of the waves were really good, though few and far between. Sorry, no pics.

Now today, Sunday, was UNREAL at the lighthouse. A huge, macking swell kicked up in no time while I was out schlogging around on a 5.7. Dan snapped this pic of me dropping into a monster:

Fooled ya! Photo manipulation is just too easy these days! I did schlog around on a 5.7 today, got planing once, and the waves were less than epic, but it was a fun session anyway. I had the place to myself, although one kiter came out for about 10 minutes. Here are the unmodified pictures that Dan took (thanks Dan!)

The Original Pic:

Wish I had been on this one!
Setting up for a knee high wave:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Warm Sunset, Disappearing Moon, Freezing Dawn

Wednesday brought warm(ish) South winds, and Ego beach was crowded with 5 sailors out!! Amazing, considering there were no waves in the super high tide... Anyway, killer sunset session, bump and jump (4.7-5.5) at Ego then a quick freestyle sesh in the hole to rinse the sand off the gear! Billy, Stuart, Jim K, Jeffro, Visiting Neil and I caught the warm afternoon breeze! There was tons of energy out there, with Stuart going for some loops, Billy throwing backloop attempts off nothing, Jim going huge as always, and Neil in the Graveyard of the Atlantic for the first time ever! Personally, I got a few great forwards off, some 360s in the "soup," and tried to toss some spocks in the ocean chop (unsuccessfully)!
Sunset BlastingBilly behind the one set of the day!Jeffro Mach 5 Jibe

Turns out there was a lunar eclipse Wednesday evening! Here in Avon, we were able to catch the first half before it clouded over. I snapped a few pics and tossed 'em together for y'all:
Eclipse Montage

Thursday morning brought MUCH colder temps (35F) and North/NNE winds. Stuart and I hit the Lighthouse for some big jumps and some variable but fun wave rides. The waves were mostly waist to shoulder high, and peeling down the beach! A few lined up for 4 or even 5 bottom turns, and both backside and down the line hits! Really fun session, but I'm sure glad I brought that cooler full of hot water to thaw out the hands afterwards! Dale grabbed a few pics while walking his dogs (Thanks Dale!!):
Backside Lip Hit!Stu in the Bowl
Onshore Bottom Turn (switch stance/clew first)
I took a turn behind the lens as well:
Stu on a Wall
Stuart in the SoupLifegaurd BeachThe Only Witnesses

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

34 and The South Sigh-eeed

Ocean sailing in Hatteras comes with it's perils. It's all sandbars here, so there aren't any well defined channels or safety zones to help you get out. Here's what Stuart and Billy had to face when schlogging their gear out for Monday's Point session:

Thanks to Dan for the pics! And again, major props to these guys for simply stepping off the beach!

On to Tuesday! Ramp 34 had the PERFECT swell height, direction, and tide setup for SUP surfing today. The bigger sets were barely peeling over waaay outside (like 50-75 yards off the beach), then rolling in all the way to the inside bar where they would finally jack up and throw. The moon's pretty full right now, so low tide was a bit lower than usual, allowing the waves to roll all the way in between the bars without petering out. The biggest sets were about shoulder or head high. My SUP gave me enough juice to catch them and work the sections back and forth for what seemed to be about 30 second rides before I would kick out on the inside section. The wind turned on a bit too strong, albeit straight offshore, which kept today off my list of Top 10 SUPing days. Had it been glassy, today would have absolutely been in the #1 spot!!! Here's a chest high set of 4 rolling in from outside:

Luckily, a little wind never stopped me from having some fun! Stuart and I decided to roll on down to Isabel's for an afternoon wavesailing session. 5.7 and 95 liter waveboard, planing 60% of the time. Isabel's was waist to a little overhead in the biggest of sets. A good bit of current. Virtually dead sideshore wind, just a touch off. This session was really surprising, and way more fun than I thought it would be! Among the top of the distractions list: The nearly full moon rose just behind the Hatteras Lighthouse and over the Frisco Pier! It was pretty much right in my face when looking down the line at the wave I was trying to sail... very distracting... Anyway, the pics tell most of the story. I took the pics of Stuart (white/blue sail), he took the pics of me (green Worldsail):

Stu on a long oneI'm diggin' in!A fraction late on the camera duties... Sorry!Making the dropFull Moon's a RisingStu trying to slow downI'm a little late (but I made it, I think?)Stuart noticed a balloon floating by and nabbed it! Adding that to Anne's stash of recent trash pickups makes 12 balloons in 4 days!!! Hooray for valentine's day! Well, maybe they saved the lives of 12 turtles and fishes? Who knows?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Letdowns and Surprises!

What a day. Highs, lows, rain and sunshine.... I started off the day waiting for the rain (and lightning) to pass, playing phone tag with everyone while looking for a window of opportunity. Eventually, we settled on waiting out the storm at the point. The waves looked reasonable there (head high and organized as opposed to a mast high washing machine), with side offshore wind filled in all the way to the beach.

Boy were we wrong. The waves were way bigger than they looked, and the wind was most certainly not filled in... I simply didn't feel "right" about the session, but Stuart and Billy E charged it as soon as the rain cleared!

Stuart's big bomb!
Billy on a solid one!
Major props to these guys for schlogging out through the logo high sets! They definitely took a few major bombs to the head, but it was all worth it for the few rides they got! Just look at Billy's mug shot once he made it back to the beach! Says it all, really!

As the afternoon faded on, I stopped by the Jetties and saw Dan and Chad out surfing the head and a half, warbly, choppy, current riddled mess of an ocean. Man, these guys deserve major props, too, for dealing with all that garbage for the few rides they got!

Dan Bottom Turn
Dan's 75 yard righthander!
By this point I was really feeling like a chump for sitting out the wave sailing, then skipping the surf sesh too... But with an hour of daylight left, I checked the Hole on the way home. There was wind! And lots of it! The forecasted 20s to 30s finally filled in for an amazing sound side sunset session! It's pretty awe inspiring to watch such a huge front pass overhead, with a distinct line between low and high pressure cutting the sky, revealing the sun on the western horizon. To top it all off, the almost full moon showed it's face through the clouds for the final 15 minutes of fun, easing the transition from daylight to dusk.......

Thanks to Stuart for snapping some pics:
Jim K mid jibe
Yours truly, feeling the slide
Visiting sailor Neal laying one down
You can always find an "if only" to use as an excuse in this world, and I really hate to use that phrase, but, man... if only that wind was there earlier to hit the ocean on a well powered 5.0......