The call came at 5:30am. Hugh was ready to go, I needed a blood
transfusion and about 4 quarts of coffee, but the truck was loaded, so
what the heck. At 6:30am, Hugh Bosely, John Parker and I headed to
Saint Georges Island a mere 90 miles away.
Driving half asleep through the pounding rain, I was wondering about the sanity of our venture.
As we neared SGI, the rain abaited and the wind appeared to be in the 20-30 range.
We were soon joined by Gary and Fred Hawkes, two accomplished wavesailors.
The state park was closed, so we rigged just outside the gates.
The day was reminiscent of ABC 'Wide World of Sports' intro:
The Thrill of Victory........
The agony of defeat !
The first picture is pure stoke. Gary nails the run and smiles at the whitewater.
On the flip side, if you blow up the second image, you can just make out traces of Gary's rig. Everyone spent a good amount of time swimming for their gear this day.
I was the first guy on the water and my first run was a success, priming my ego for massive deflation as I watched others get pummeled in the break as I adjusted my gear. My next four runs were dismal failures as I'd lose power in the impact zone about 100 yards out, then get trashed.
Getting out became largely a matter of luck, as good wind through the
break meant a good run, and a single 10 second lull at the wrong time would
leave you swimming hard for your gear.
Hugh had his mast snapping almost immediately, and was left to jury-rig
a sail built for a 400 mast on a 460 mast.
John Parker was fearless, and shared my first run success followed by repeated
pummelings in the impact zone.
Having a bad run, he was struck in the head by his gear on a wipeout.
We ran down the beach and retrieved his gear.
If you want to see the big picture of what being the only guy on the water feels like in a hurricane: Click here Note his gear on the far right of the picture.
There was almost no shorebreak and no current just off the beach. This was compensated for about 100 yards out where the impact zone was.
Once down, the current was fierce, and the wind seemed to laugh at us as we'd sink, then blow bubbles and hang on to our gear.
The conditions and weather varied massively from minute to minute.
There were incredible moments on the water when everything would blow sideways in the gusts and the sea seemed angry with huge, disorganized waves on the outside and ripping current on the inside.
10 minutes later, it would glass out for a time, the wind would lull, and the skies would clear.
There didn't seem to necessarily be a time when it was 'better' to go out. Making it out was mostly a function of wind and luck, and the random placement of you vs the incoming break.
Many thanks to Fred Hawkes for taking the bulk of these pictures.
Fred decided to save his gear and not head out into the sketchiness
that was sailing this particular day.
Hugh won lunch from me during this storm.
He was walking to the water with a 65 liter board, when I inquired whether he'd gone insane.
Hugh replied that he thought he'd be fine, and proceeded out through the break without so much as a ruffled feather.
As an ironic note on this particular launch:
Gary, the undisputed best wave sailor of our bunch, took off at the same time 50 yards upwind of Hugh. In the light fluky winds Gary managed to hold off the assault of about 3 sets of better than head high white water before getting trashed.
At the same time, Hugh calmly sailed over the shoulder of all three sets and to the horizon. At the last line of waves, Gary was about 10 yards upwind of Hugh and getting blasted as Hugh was just at the edge of the waves shoulder.
At about 12:30pm, the rain came up hard and the wind died to about 10, signaling the end of our fun.
A quick meal and trip east to find more wind yielded rain and police blocking costal access east of SGI.
Thinking I'd had enough fun for one day, I pointed the buggy north and eased through the debris strewn roads.