Thursday, May 29, 2008

Where to Windsurf at Edisto Island

If you're ever vacationing in Edisto Beach, South Carolina and you want to windsurf or kiteboard there, go for it! But first, check out this guide I made, in response to an inquiry in an old post.

Edisto may not be a great spot for "real" waveriding, but it is a good spot for intermediate windsurfers to get comfortable sailing in the ocean for two reasons: 1) The waves are usually small enough that once you wade out into chest deep water you are past the breakers and can uphaul safely, and 2) The west side of the beach is on a sheltered inlet where you can launch with no waves at all. The currents at Edisto can be pretty strong, though, so in addition to selecting a spot on the beach with the amount of waves you are comfortable with, you need make sure you pick a spot where the wind and the current are not going in the same direction. Fortunately, there are enough beach access parking areas that you can find a good spot for almost any wind and tide conditions. In the summertime, the wind usually comes from the SE, S, or SW and gradually picks up from morning to afternoon.


If you want a spot with no waves, launch from a beach access near either #1 or #2 on the map. If the wind has some W in it, it will be blowing onshore at these launches, so you won't have to worry as much about current. However, if the wind is more S or SE, then these spots are only sailable on an outgoing tide. (You can get tide and wind forecasts from the weather channel in your beachouse.) The only advantage of spot #1 over spot #2 is that if the wind is from the N or NE you can still find sideshore conditions if you go to the very last beach access at spot #1. It's a good "chicken out" spot to sail if the ocean is nasty with a NE storm.

Spot #3 on the map, White Cap Street, is my favorite place to launch at Edisto because it works in just about any wind and gives you access to interesting water conditions. There's a sandbar that extends southward from the point, which is a fun (but challenging) spot to play in breaking waves and voodoo chop. It's also a good spot to be if you know the tide is going to switch during you session, because you can easily switch from the E to the W side of the point to keep the current in your favor.

Spot #4 is not an exact location, but could be any beach access along the SE facing main beach of Edisto. The only difference between spot #4 and other access points further to the NE end of the beach (up by the Piggly Wiggly and the State Park) is that the waves tend to get smaller the further S you go towards the point (spot #3). This is due to the wave-breaking action of the sandbar at the point. So basically, if you want big waves you should launch closer to the State Park, and if you want smaller waves you should launch closer to the point.

Have fun.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Three Types of People

My dad says that there are two types of people in the world:

1. People who are deliberately trying to screw you.
E.g. marketers, televangelists, republicans

2. People who don't care whether or not you get screwed.
E.g. employees of large corporations, foreigners, renters

I have found this to be true, at least for interactions with strangers. But some recent discussions with friends have convinced me that at least one more category needs to be added to the list.

3. People who may care, to some extent, but who are bound to screw you anyway by virtue of their incompetence or misdirection.
E.g. newbie windsurfers who borrow your mast for the weekend and get it permanently stuck together because they rigged it sloppily on the beach and got sand in the joint


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Outdoor temp: 72 F, Office temp: 60.8 F

Here's a splendid example of Virginia taxpayer money at work. For the last half year of my graduate student career I've had the excellent privilege of being one of the first to move into the Virginia Institute of Marine Science's BRAND NEW Andrews Hall. It's a state of the art building with the best in climate control, safety, and security technology.

That means we have key card readers that won't swipe, vending machines that refuse your money, a noxious-gas evacuation system that comes on at odd times and sucks so hard it makes your ears pop and blows a hurricane through the doors (once you get ten men to push them open), and best of all a manic depressive AC that makes it 90 degrees on the 4th floor and 60 degrees in my ground floor office.

The only thing worse than being in one's office all memorial day weekend typing one's dissertation is doing it bundled up in a ski jacket and not having any snacks.

Friday, May 23, 2008


**UPDATE- I just got an email from Rick. He does sell weed MUFin's; they just aren't on the website yet. Also, he says the correct size for a MUFin for a particular sail size is 2 cm shorter than for a conventional fin. You can determine the correct size for a conventional fin from my Sail/Fin/Board Calculator, then back-calculate from that.**

I saw something really interesting today on the Windsurf Journal website.

It's a new line of windsurfing fins called "Maui Ultra Fins" or "MUFins". The fins are designed on a fancy computer by a German aerospace engineer named Rick Hanke. Mr. Hanke has thrown out a lot of the common assumptions about how fins should look, i.e that wave-riding fins should be curved in a sicle shape, in favor of sticking with what the math says will work best. The upshot is that all his fins have a similar, simple shape, regardless of whether they are intended for slashing up a wave or for speeding in a straight line.


The only thing missing is a "Weed MUFin" (one with a 45 degree rake angle that can shed seagrass).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Way of the Future

"MCMINNVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - High gas prices have driven a Warren County farmer and his sons to hitch a tractor rake to a pair of mules to gather hay from their fields. T.R. Raymond bought Dolly and Molly at the Dixon mule sale last year. Son Danny Raymond trained them and also modified the tractor rake so the mules could pull it. T.R. Raymond says the mules are slower than a petroleum-powered tractor, but there are benefits.

"This fuel's so high, you can't afford it," he said. "We can feed these mules cheaper than we can buy fuel. That's the truth."

And Danny Raymond says he just likes using the mules around the farm.

"We've been using them quite a bit," he said.

Brother Robert Raymond added, "It's the way of the future.""


With some predicting gas prices to rise to $12-$15 per gallon, I may be following Robert Raymond's lead and investing in some mules to pull my windsurfs. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles? Heck, just give me a mule cell vehicle! At least they don't have radiators.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Well, Dang


I was supposed to be an intructor at the W.E.T. Intro to Windsurfing today but my car broke down on the way to Fort Monroe. The tow cost $125, which is small change compared to what it's probably going to cost to fix the exploded radiator. Sigh...

Sam Lake cheered me up when I got back by giving me and my gear a lift to York River Seafood for a late-afternoon windsurfing / kiting session. Thanks, dude.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

When Turtles Attack

Donatello the Diamondback Terrapin is our mascot here in the VIMS Marine Biodiversity Lab. Some construction workers found him and brought him to us a couple years ago when he was just a wee hatchling. Donny adapted to captivity pretty well, and quickly grew to full size for a male. He is easily goaded into snapping at fingers through the glass, providing good entertainment for young visitors to the lab.

Diamondback terrapins are in the same taxonomic group as freshwater turtles, but they are unique in being the only species to live exclusively in brackish estuaries like Chesapeake Bay.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bay Tree Beach - Windsurfing Again

Last weekend was a big blast of wind as a major storm rolled over the East Coast. I sailed hard on Sunday, for the first time after 8 days off, and gave myself a weird dehydration x overexertion x stormwater-in-my-sinuses headache that lasted most of Monday. I guess you could call it a windsurfing hangover.

This afternoon was the healing, post-storm session in a moderate breeze from the North. I almost skipped it, but Sam Lake was jonesing to kite because he'd missed the weekend, so we took off work a little early and headed to Bay Tree Beach. I know a nice couple who live there who let us launch from in front of their beach house.

The high tide was washing over the marsh. Bay Tree Beach is eroding rapidly, much to the concern of the folks who live there.

When Sam snapped these pictures I was barely planing with my 6.6 sail and 114 liter board, but at least there was enough wind to do the cool-looking, close-up, buzz-by-the-beach thing.

I returned the favor by snapping the pictures and video below of Sam riding his 13 meter kite. When I'm taking video with my camera I keep stupidly wanting to turn the camera sideways for vertical shots, forgetting that (duh) that doesn't work with video. I barely caught myself this time.

Mystery Meat


I'm ashamed that my marine biology skills fall short of being able to identify the sea creature in this photo from an asian market. Any ideas?

I got the picture from the Professional Windsurfing Association website. The PWA is having a slalom racing competion now in Ulsan, South Korea.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Observing the insanity of the current US Presidential race makes me want to barf. But it's nevertheless INTERESTING for what it reveals about the nature of our country and political system.

In particular, I've been reflecting upon all the PANDERING that goes on. Candidates who ought to know better are eschewing wise, ethical, forward-looking policy in favor of idiotic bribes to their dumbest constituents. Case in point; both McCain and Clinton are pushing to repeal the gas tax this summer. Of course it won't help; oil companies will simply raise the price and pocket the difference, while potholes deepen, transit projects fester for lack of highway funds, and the skies are choked with smog and greenhouse gases. Geez...

Perhaps pandering is a necessary evil of a democratic system that allows everyone to vote. But I worry that it will eventually lead to an idiocracy in which responsible, intelligent candidates always lose to the sell-outs who will say and do anything to win. We may be there already. Even Obama, who has taken a relatively high road, has been forced to say dumb stuff to appease the bozos who think he's an unpatriotic muslim terrorist sympathizer. Stuff like, "I am a devout Christian. ... I pray to Jesus every night".


That's fine. I just think it's sad that he has to make such a specific profession of religious faith to be electable in this supposedly open, secular nation.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Uncle Time

My folks bought me plane tickets to Columbus, Ohio to visit my sister Anna and to spend some "uncle time" with my 7 week old niece, Ayla. Anna is in the last stages of completing her graduate thesis, so upon my arrival I was immediately pressed into "nanny duty" to give her some free time to write. I don't know anything about babies, but in the last 24 hours I've been learning fast how to feed 'em, burp 'em, change their nasty diapers, and walk them around so they'll shut up. I can't believe how much work it is. Fortunately Ayla is cute enough that I don't mind.




Monday, May 5, 2008

A Good Saturday

Saturday, May 3, 2008 was as close to perfect as windsports in Tidewater, Virginia can get. It was warm and sunny with SW winds in the 10-20 knot range. Yes, it was gusty (you can see me caught in a lull in the slideshow), but relatively speaking it wasn't bad. What really made it special was the good group of windsurfers and kiters who all brought their stoke to the York River Seafood launch.

On the windsurf front there was local dude and photographer Chris Coyne (thanks for the pictures), W&M undergrad Greg Cooper, and VIMS Grad Students Heather Wiseman and me. On the kite front there were local dudes Paul and Eric, and VIMS Sail and Paddle Club President Sam Lake. Sam and Eric both brought their beautiful girlfriends out to spectate, which made all of us guys on the water step up the show-off factor. Eric really impressed everyone when he hit the bottom while braking near the shore and got yanked across the beach into the bulkhead. Ouch!

I sailed a 6.6 Aerotech Charge and 114 liter Fanatic Skate, which was just about right for the conditions. In the flat water near shore and in the lee of Allen's Island I was actually able to plane out of some jibes, more or less. Woo hoo!

I'm embedding Chris' pictures as a slide show, which I've never tried before. Hopefully it works out alright. I think you can click the slideshow to see the bigger pictures in my "windows live" album.

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