29 August 2018
Today was a career ending day for me. I'm sad to report that I am no longer a windsurfer. I am at heart but after the past two days struggling with the new-fangled gear, I hurt! And it wasn't as much fun as I used to have.
I have struggled acquiring compatible windsurfing gear for the past two years. It started with an old Bic board. Then I announced on the morning cruiser's net I was looking for windsurfer mast, sail and boom. (In larger anchorages, someone does announcements of the upcoming activities, asks if anyone needs help and invites listeners for “treasures of the bilge” they want to buy or sell, kind of like morning announcements in high school.) I got the gear from a boat that just used their board as a paddleboard.
Did I mention compatible? The mast didn't fit into the board receptacle. I couldn't find anything that would fit, even with a trip back to the US. We were in Tobago and I stopped in to a windsurfer rental shack. Johnathon was so helpful. We talked about what type of board I should have. Modern boards are so different from the windsurfing “yachts” I used to enjoy. Modern boards are shorter, wider, and don't have a daggerboard. They plane quite easily when the wind exceeds 10 knots. Johnathan sold me the biggest board he had that was not a beginner board. It was 140 liters. I used to sail a 210 liter board. He only wanted $100 for the board and mast base. He threw in harness lines and other parts. He even loaded the gear into his truck and drove us the 5 miles back to our anchorage.
Lisa and I left the board on the beach, dinghied out to Uproar, and I paddled the old board back to the beach. An elderly couple was cleaning a mess of red snapper for sale. I asked, “Can I have a bag of fish for that board?” She gave the board a quick glance and handed me a nice bag of cleaned red snapper. With my bartered dinner, I paddled the new board back to Uproar.
Well, the boom and sail didn't work properly with the mast. I did sail a little but not well. In Guadeloupe a French sailor's anchor drug in a squall. He bumped into Uproar and broke a weld on our of our gate stanchions. He had a windsurfer boom onboard and further revealed that his board was damaged beyond repair. He gladly gave me the boom for the damage he did to Uproar. The repair cost me $300 in Antigua. That's an expensive boom!
Then we met a young couple in Martinique who sailed with us to Dominica. They had collected aid supplies for hurricane relief and needed to transportation. We became good friends. Nicholas is an avid windsurfer. Weeks later we had dinner at a beach hut next to his windsurfing club. The equipment manager sold me two very nice, used sails for $80. Now I was really ready.
Compatibility bites again. The mast was just too darn stiff for the sails. The sails were flat as a board and the battens wouldn't flip to the other side when I tacked. OK, I tried the rig off and on for the past year. Now we are in the beautiful, sheltered waters of Fakarava Atoll, French Polynesia. I told myself, “Now or never.” The past two days I have been fussing with sails and done some windsurfing. Today the wind was up and I had one good ride. But it is a struggle, not the windsurfing I used to enjoy.
I can blame equipment again. Those sails just aren't right. Perhaps a more flexy mast would help. No, better equipment is not the answer. I'm sore and I'm old! Lisa followed me into shore after my last ride. She knew I was struggling. I announced my retirement to her. But this just provides a good reason for tonight's retirement party.