Above photo taken by Steve Domjan at the Bowl. Thank you Steve, you could have been sailing you

  • Above photo taken by Steve Domjan at the Bowl. Thank you Steve, you could have been sailing yourself instead of taking photos of me.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The winter Crew.

I love sailing, surfing, and just generally being in or on the water in the winter.
We have no access problems,[other than the occasional driving through a blizzard, or navigating the ice] most beaches are not being used. So we basically have free rein over all of them.

Occasionally you will meet up with an overzealous Authority; they usually come around and realize that we aren’t hurting anyone, and are not a danger to our selves.

Then there are the conditions: during the summer we have to rely on your basic South Westerly thermal. They tend to blow on the south shore from 3:00 till 7:00 in the afternoon. There are some spots on the Island where it blows 5.0, but the spots close to me tend to blow7.0.

In the winter we are blessed with fronts all the time. Warm fronts bring 4.5 westerlies, or 5.0 southerlies. If there are tropical storm systems spinning around the Atlantic, we get big clean surfable saves to play with. If the system gets to close…then we have VAS Victory At Sea condition, so we will sail on one of the many bays or sounds.

One of my favorite winds is the Northwesterly; usually associated with a Cold Front; Northwesterlies can blow as hard as 3.5. They can kick up great Back Side wave riding, Bump and jump, and even flat fast water for all you Freestylers.  So dress warmly, and get on it early, Northwesterlies have a tendency to blow themselves out before noon.

Then there are the Nor’easters…these are the bane of anyone arrogant enough to build on the waterfront. Nor’easters can pack a short punch or better yet blow relentlessly for days. As they travel the coast of the eastern US, they can produce waves, as well as wind. My favorite are the ones that chose to spend a few days off the Carolinas pushing water to build a big [logo to mast high] long period [10 seconds or more] swell. This way, even if we don’t get a wind event, we get clean easy swell. If the Nor’easter tracks up the coast [as is usually the case]; we get a day or two of Easterlies. Easterlies can make even the most jaded anti GSB [Great South Bay] sailor hoot and holler.

If the Nor’easter stays spinning just east of the East End [which it can do for days] on its journey to Cape Cod and Nova Scotia… Then we are in for a real treat. There are two basic scenarios
1-     The storm funnels water into Long Island sound creating DTL [Down The Line] “Mysto Waves”. The Mysto appears because the LI Sound goes from over 100 feet deep, to about 20 feet at certain spots. You can sail this as a rolling swell, or where it actually starts to break. The wind is side, or side on, shore; and can blow anything from 4.0 to 7.0
Or        2-  Lastly the conditions I’ve sailed the least in, but I dream about the most. This occurs when the Ocean holds its long period south swell, and the wind blows a perfect side off. Timing is essential here, as is local knowledge of the break. I however can think of nothing greater than dropping in on a logo to mast high “true DTL’ wave with a 5.0 to 6.0 sail. Simply perfect.

But perhaps the greatest thing about winter sailing here on the Island, is the people. For the last 25+ years I have had the privilege to sail with some of the greatest people in the world. The most generous, genuine, and positive tribe I have ever had the pleasure of sharing the water with. Whereas we tend for safety reasons to all sail together in the winter… I miss my crew in the summer, when we all scatter for different parts, or when we are outnumbered by all the seasonal Watermen.

One of this groups greatest attributes is its positive vibe. No one ever feels the need to make themselves feel better by putting someone else down. As a result, we all feed off of each others positive energy. There are no show offs: great sailors, not great sailors; we all sail together, we watch out for each other, we compliment, and help each other. Maybe we are just so stoked by sharing the experience that we just don’t have the bad stuff in us.

This is pretty rare in today’s world: especially on line. For the most part, my participation in on line posting boards is only in groups where I know the majority of the posters in real life. I use them to communicate with my friends. It is faster, and much more efficient, than the 50 phone calls we would need to decide where we are sailing, surfing, or whatever…

It became acutely apparent to me that this is not the norm during the last few weeks. I have been fighting a tenacious sinus infection the last month and a half, so I have had more time to read those boards that are made up of people I have something in common with, [Cape Dory Sailboats, Fishing, etc.] but where I only know a fraction of the participants.

There is a real tendency among posters on these boards to put down, or trash talk others. I can only guess this is so the trash talking poster can feel better about themselves at the  expense of someone else . Sometimes it’s blatant, mostly it’s more subtle. It usually comes from someone who feels the need to prove their superior knowledge by arguing every minute point someone makes. Or, it’s the guy who rights a dissertation on every subject complete with their credentials. This poster rarely actually answers the initial posters question: but instead does their very best to ramble on with tons of unintelligible data, and opinion, usually hijacking the thread as his bully pulpit.

Boy I am glad I went sailing yesterday, and last weekend as well. I heard the surfing was great yesterday, and we had some great windsurfing last week, but missed it, because I want to fully kick this sinus thing before I leave for Hatteras.

I feel lucky that I found this crew. They have become the best friends a guy could have in this day and age. Real, genuine, caring, fun, people.

Thank you guys.