Monday, October 10, 2016

Hurricane Winds

And there it was,  the thing that was wreaking havoc across the East Coast of the US,  was the same thing that was keeping me up at night, excited about finally being able to windsurf in some strong winds.

I watched the forecast for 10 days (actually)  I look at the wind forecast daily, sometimes multiple time per day.  The forecast was for strong winds in WNC on Saturday and Sunday. Miraculously,  we had nothing planned, and the wife was not working.  I had both days free to roam. 

Saturday, the winds rolled in and I decided to stay in the area and see what Lake Julian would deliver.  It turned out to be a battle with strong gusts in the 30 mph range.  I watched several sailboats on the brink of capsizing as I scooted around the lake.  The winds picked up mid afternoon, but since I had been out there close to 5 hrs, I decided to head in and save some energy for Sunday.

Sunday morning, I headed down to Lake James.  I had been eyeballing the area at the mouth of the Linville river and was excited to give it a try.  Wind around 10-15 mph with 40 mph gust was going to make sail choice tricky. 
 As I rounded the bend and could see the water, I saw whitecaps all the way across the lake.  I rigged my 5.5 sail and headed out.  The air temps were warm and the water is still warm from the hot summer. 

I'm always excited and nervous when I head out in a new area, and I start off shaky.  It take an hour or so to get settled in and feeling comfortable.  The wind was blowing and I was flying.  I was overpowered though so I headed back in to re-rig the smaller 4.5 sail.  Perfect. 

I sailed back and forth for a couple of hours before the wind let up a little, then I headed in for some lunch.  I decided to drive around the lake to find a better access point with onshore winds.  The Linville river access where I was is good, but with side shore winds, if something happened, it would be a fight to get back to the beach area. 

No luck so I headed back to the same place. The wind had calmed down pretty good with no whitecaps to be seen so I took a chance and rigged the 6.5 square meter sail.

 It was on,  the wind started to pick up again, but now the gusts were long and wide.  Rather than the quick bursts that I had this morning, the wind started to fill in and I could rip back and forth across the lake several times before it let up. 

I was feeling comfortable and was getting used to the area.  Windsurfing on the edge of Pisgah National Forest under the shadow of the mountains that make  the Linville Gorge was new to me.  It made me feel really small, but thankful to be where I was. 

 Windsurfing is a passion,  it is in my blood.  When I was in college, land locked in the N Georgia Mountains,  before my internet access days,   I had no idea where to go to windsurf.  Whenever the wind blew, I would head to Mt Curahee to sit on the edge of the cliff and just feel the wind.  The movement stirs up good childhood memories for me.  Memories of being the underdog and having to find my own way, to figure things out and pursue a passion.   
I stayed out until my turns got sloppy and the wind picked up some more.  I thought about going in to rig a smaller sail, but decided to head in and call it a day.  I was tired and my heart was full. 

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