Monday, June 30, 2014

Mile 37.5

The radio crackled "You are not authorized to provide assistance. Advise them to do everything they can to save their vehicle."
"Roger that, 10-4."
Me - "Julie. We are fucked."(see footnote)

I have this vision in my mind. The forecast is calling for 20-25 knots from the SE, 6-8 ft waves. We jump in the truck and cruise 60 miles down the beach to the Mansfield Jettys for side shore wave sailing perfection. I have had this vision for quite some time now but it never quite worked out. This last weekend however was setting up perfectly.

Check out the set-up. Oh baby, it's gonna be the best day EVERRRR!!!
Last time we drove that way the tide was low and we cruised down on smooth hard packed sand. This time, we banked a quick insurance session at Bird and headed out around 3pm, expecting to be on the water by 5:30ish.

It didn't quite work out like that. The beach was a thick carpet of rotting seaweed and the water was higher than I had ever seen. Most of the time we had to stay up by the dunes bouncing along at 10-15 mph in the deep soft sand. When there was some beach showing, instead of cruising along in comfort, we would hit these soft patches that were really disconcerting. The 4WD pulled us out of a few tight spots. After an hour Julie suggested that we ask someone if the driving conditions improved further south...after a couple of hours Julie suggested that we turn back..."Once we are past this part, I'm sure it will get better" I responded, on a mission.

Finally a section of beach opened up and we started to make good time cruising along close to the waters edge. "This seems better." I said smiling and relaxing a little. The truck slewed to the left. I fought to keep it straight and maintain our momentum but we stopped dead. I put the truck in 4LO but we didn't move. Weird I thought. "Let me see what is going on." but there was something wrong with my door, it wouldn't open. "Can you check it out?" I asked Julie. She jumped out and with a look of horror cried out "Mike, we are sinking!" as she said this a wave washed up against the drivers side door of the truck.

There we were. In the middle of nowhere. No phone service. Not a soul in sight. With the sea washing up against the truck as it sank deeper and deeper into a bog of watery sand. We started to dig. We didn't have any tools so we used our hands. As we cleared the sand from around the truck it was replaced by water, then a wave would wash up, reversing any progress that we had made. The true meaning of being in deep shit starting to become clear.

Then, a ray of hope. Someone was approaching. "It's turtle patrol!"

"I can call you a tow truck" she said. "It's a thousand dollars and they won't come out until tomorrow."
"But, the truck will be submerged at high tide. Isn't there anything you can do?"

She called us in on the radio. "They are at mile 37.5. Is there anything we can do for them?"
The radio crackled "You are not authorized to provide assistance. Advise them to do everything they can to save their vehicle."
"Roger that, 10-4."

Turtle Patrol - aka: Our savior!
After a pause..."There were some people camped out a couple of miles north. I'm really not supposed to but let me go back and see if they can help." she said.
"Thank you!"

It seemed an age. We dug some more, searched for wood to put under the wheels, cleared the water from the exhaust. "She's coming back. Alone." Our hearts sank. As she got closer the ATV turned into a truck, fully decked out for off roading. Is this a mirage I wondered. In the distance a second truck followed, also pimped out for serious 4 wheeling. No, not a mirage. The most glorious of sights.

In minutes we were hooked up to the winches. It took both trucks to get any movement but slowly our truck lifted up and out. No apparent damage and with the engine still running. We were saved!!

The Rescue Crew and Their Toys
Our savior cautioned us on going further south and talked about it being impassable by ATV. We quickly reassured her of our intent to head home and followed her recommendation to stick to the high route. This meant 37.5 miles of soft but neck achingly bouncy sand, the last hour of it in the dark. When we finally reached it, solid road had never felt so good. Rolling into North Padre we called the gang and were just in time to join them for a couple of Peruvian Iced Teas at Costa Sur and a story to tell.

**Sorry for the use of bad language, especially on the blog, but I did use those words and they reflect the gravitas of our situation.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

AWT Virgin

My heart beat was hammering. Sound muffled. My vision narrowed as though I were watching life though a long black tunnel. The green flag went up. I blew my outside gybe and found myself hyperventilating.

"Mike!! Get a grip!" I caught a wave, got a couple of weak turns. Sound slowly returned. I water started out of a back slapping forward. The tunnel vision started to recede. I got a good lip crack. I started to smile. A couple more fun backside/frontside combo wave rides and the red flag went up. "Already!!?"  The fastest and one of the most bizarre 12 minutes of my life.

Waiting for the green flag - pic off facebook American Windsurfing Tour

I have wanted to do the AWT for a while but there was always an excuse. Getting the season pass 'for Christmas' I found myself committed. With no wind in Santa Cruz I headed straight to Pistol River for some top notch sailing and then the competition.
So, how was the competition? It was a pretty awesome experience. The AWT team are all friendly and welcoming. I met lots of like minded wave sailors and got to see the pros ripping it up.

Should you do it? If you have a passion for wave sailing and want to improve, then it is definitely for you. I occassionally forward in starboard tack waves, when the moon is aligned, the ramp is steep but not too steep, I'm perfectly powered, the water is blue etc. And yet I busted a bunch in the competition. I don't recall the last time I took a hand off or tried a table top but there I was! Throwing one handed jumps and table top attempts.

Would I do it again? For sure. A combo family trip to Peru would be amazing and I have always wanted to check out Hatteras. Unfortunately, unless I can work some magic it doesn't too look good for the rest of this year. So, roll on 2015!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Jetty, Gold Beach

Me: Are there dolphins here? I saw one just floating 50 feet upwind of me
Steve: Not that I know of, it must have been a sea lion
Me: Weird, do sea lions have dorsal fins?
Steve: Sure don't...

This website link shows the spot. Page down to the fifth map for some info. Oh my...!