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Downwinder

Windsurf pictogram

DOWNWINDER

Casa Nora has always had interesting house-guests. 

Downwinder 1

One evening, over a glass of wine and a cigar, Hunter tells Big Al that he wants to do a downwinder – a long, downwind sail, from Point A to Point B. Several glasses of wine later, this seems to be a fantastic idea, and they decide that two days later, they, Miriam and I, will do this sail. Frankly, at the time, it sounded like an adventurous idea. Not much more was said about it, until the day of the sail – at breakfast.

Hunter and Al decide that we will leave at 2:00 pm, that the ride should take no more than an hour, and that we should arrive at an abandoned beach (the location of which only Al knows) at the same time that our pick-up team would arrive. Al drew a sketchy little map of said abandoned beach for our pal from Toronto, who would be driving our truck to the pick up location,  and who of course, had never been to this part of the island.

The boys were thrilled with how the plan was coming together. They made a call to the Vela centre to get a wind update, and they were told that the wind was light, and would continue to be light for the duration of the afternoon. So, we decided to take our largest sails. Perfect.

Going

Al gets to work loading the truck with Al’s and my gear. And Hunter and Miriam take off for the Vela centre to get their gear. As we are loading the truck, at the last minute, I wrap my cellphone in 4 plastic baggies, and stuff it into Hunter’s harness pocket. I give Al’s cellphone to our pick-up team. As we are pulling out of our house, I’m thinking….hhhmmmmmm…. maybe we need some other safety measures, but it was too late. Oh, did I mention that the boys had planned the downwinder on the day that we had invited 25 people over for a bbq at 6:30 pm that evening?  

Nora launching

Al

 

Al and I arrive at our launch location and meet up with Hunter and Miriam on the water, and Miriam takes off like a rocket, on a severe downwind angle. Downwind sailing is an entirely different proposition than regular, slightly upwind sailing. The stance is totally different, the speed is incredible, and the chances of a catapult are huge. It took me several reaches to figure out the required stance. At this point I had separated from the group. In fact, I could no longer even see Al’s sail.

Sea

The wind did not stay light, in fact, it picked up …… a lot. So, we were all over-powered. After several catapults, I realized that it was every man, woman and child for him/herself, and I started cutting severely downwind.

 

Swells

Battling the huge swells, the incredible wind, and a rising sense of panic, we all kept going. Finally, somewhere out in the ocean I meet up with Al. I’m trying to figure out where this beach is, and he kept pointing downwind. I am exhausted, but I point my board towards the shore and just go.

Al and I finally reach the beach, and drop our gear, totally exhausted on the beach. We look out into the ocean, and there is no sign of either Hunter or Miriam. We look at the beach, and over the sand dune, and there is no sign of our pick up team. One of the locals that had gathered to check out us crazy gringos, offered me his cellphone (a latest model with a camera). That was very sweet, except that I don’t know Al’s number off by heart, as it is programmed into my phone, which currently is somewhere in the ocean in Hunter’s harness pocket. The locals start asking about how we navigated the reef. Reef?

What reef? And then they ask if we spotted the shipwreck.

shipwreck

What the f*#@! Mercifully, we encountered neither the reef, nor the rusted out and incredibly sharp shipwreck.

Now, it is getting late, and it is cold. And still no sign of either Hunter and Miriam, or the pick up team. With the help of the locals, Al and I pick up our sails to give Hunter and Miriam some kind of a visual indication as to where we are. Some ten minutes later, we see the fading sunlight glinting off of their sails, way out in the ocean. But, they are heading right for us. As they draw closer, I can see Hunter’s big ass grin! Both of them are heading for the beach at top speed, not knowing that the water level changes dramatically…..it gets shallow…fast! And they both get catapulted about a metre off the beach!

Downwind team

Finally, we meet amidst hugs and a lot of relieved laughter. Then the stories began. Miriam had been sailing behind Al, when she spotted two big black fish swimming in his wake.

2 fish

In fact, his fin hit one of the fish. Thereby creating chum. Not good.

With visions like this in her head…

Sharky

…Miriam freaked out, sailed to shore, and contemplated staying there. Hunter had to promise to sail right beside her, and to sail with her right to the abandoned beach. And they made it!  

While we are exchanging stories, I see our pick-up truck making its way around the sand dune, onto the beach. Unbelievable.

Girls

Surf truck

We de-rigged our gear, packed the truck, and made it home with one hour to spare before our bbq. We were all showered, the food was ready, and the beers were cold 10 minutes before our guests arrived…!  That’s how we roll at Casa Nora!

Al

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