Monday, July 27, 2009

And I Surfski-ed on Saturday!

Yes, I didn't plan it that way, but all the sudden there I was with an obligation-free weekend & I think I used it well! I can't believe my surfski hadn't seen the light of day since last summer, and it's almost the end of July. Sad! I guess it was partly that when it's raining and cold the way it was all the way through June & even into July, the Romany is a more comfortable choice; also just haven't been getting out of work early enough to paddle on weeknights & those 2+ hour, 8 mile, post-work unwind paddles I used to enjoy so much have always been the paddles where I take the surfski. I'm not going as far, I don't need the Full Kit or Provisions or really anything more than lights and one bottle of water (I do use my PFD but that lives at the club). In general, I just end up schlepping a lot less stuff to work & then spending a lot less time getting ready to go.

Weekend paddles, even on my own - especially on my own! - I tend to like to go farther, and I like to have the extra stuff for that, so the Romany ends up being the boat of choice.

Still, this past Saturday, I was happy with just a 5-mile jaunt on the ski!

I didn't even entirely set out to do it - but I took gear with the thought that I might. I think I'd decided to go sailing by Friday. There was a Sailing Committee workday on Saturday, a lot of the Sunfish we were sailing on Sunday had problems that were repairable, but were keeping the boats off the water until they were fixed. Since I wanted to sail on Sunday, I wanted to go help fix up the boats on Saturday. However, being a bit wiped out from yet another very long week, I didn't get going until the afternoon. I was sort of embarrassed at the thought of showing up so late, and I almost didn't go, but then I decided that it wouldn't hurt to see if there was still anything to do, and if there wasn't, well, I'd do a little gardening & take the surfski out for a spin.

So I got to the club I think around 2, I made a good-faith offer to help, many hands were already there & had made light work of the list, isn't Northern Lights Swiss chard pretty?

Yep, I was way too late to be of any use at all to the dinghy repair efforts, so I gardened for a while. That worked well, as just as I was wrapping up my gardening & starting to think , the clouds started looking ominous over the Paerdegat. The temperature dropped. The wind picked up. At first I thought I might just go home, but then I decided to wait for a while. Sometimes these apocalyptic-looking east coast storm clouds blow themselves out in 5 minutes & that's exactly what this one did - just like Sunday's squall (that's in the Picasa album from yesterday), 5 minutes of more rain than you can believe. Only unlike Sunday, this was a pure rain squall - no thunder & lightning.

Stayed pretty ominous-looking, clouds scudding by overhead, fitful blustery winds, but I decided I'd go on out & just do my usual surfski route - hugging the shore out towards the bridge.

This definitely wasn't the calm conditions I usually like for my first surfski run of the season! I think the forecast had been something like SW winds (right in my face going out) blowing 15-20 knots with gusts to 22 (no thunderstorms though, that was forecast for Sunday). There was a strong ebb that was going directly against the wind & the swell was quite impressive for Jamaica Bay - must've been a whole two and a half feet out towards the channel! Definitely NOT preferred first-time-on-surfski-since-last-summer conditions. But it was hot, I was wearing my lifejacket, I wasn't going anywhere where I wouldn't be in easy swimming distance from shore, so off I went, clawing my way into the wind, crashing through the mighty 2-foot swells & just generally having a fantastic, yarrrr-inducing sort of paddle. Knew I'd be getting home about twice as fast as I went out. Didn't get much past the public launch ramp before I decided it was time to head back; it had taken me a ridiculously long time to get there & although I hadn't gone swimming at all (yay) I'd been thoroughly reminded that keeping your balance on a surfski in any sort of conditions is a WAY better workout than managing the same conditions in a good ol' rock-steady Romany. I was totally feeling the burn & wanted to save something for the Sunday sailing.

Sure enough, with the wind & the waves at my back I started moving a lot faster. Not as fast as I expected - the ebb that was making all the swell was strong enough that it would push you back off the wave that you wanted to catch if you didn't seriously pour on the steam - but I did hit takeoff speed a few times, got the ski humming.

Literally, I mean!

when my ski gets moving fast enough - and it's only going fast enough when it's actually hit take-off speed & started surfing - the rudder must begin to vibrate & then the whole ski hums.

Almost sounds like a hum of satisfaction!

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