Monday, March 26, 2012

Congrats to Farrah and Bob - Olympics Bound!

Here's something to inspire your patriotism: After a grueling, high-wind regatta in Spain, fighting against the best windsurfers in the world, Farrah Hall from Annapolis, Maryland pulled off an epic final race to guarantee the USA a berth in the 2012 Summer Olympics in England.

(Photo by Dale Thompson)

Farrah will represent the USA along with Chicagoan Bob Willis, who qualified for the men's berth earlier in the year. You can read the whole story on Farrah's website, "Off the Wind."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Flag Care or Don't Care?

A few Saturdays ago I was catching up on work at the office- the Northeastern University Marine Science Center on the tip of the Nahant peninsula. Outside it was cold and ferociously windy. I heard a surprising knock at the front door and walked around to check it. There was a distraught man holding a loosely folded American Flag. He said,

"This was on the pole, ripped. You shouldn't let it get like that, it's shameful. I took it down for you."

I was thinking, "Chill out, dude. The thing probably just ripped today because it's so windy, and nobody has noticed yet because the office is closed for the weekend." But I tried to be contrite and thankful. I said,

"Oh, um, thanks. I'm sorry about that. I actually don't know who maintains our flag but I'll, uh, take it in and put it on our secretary's desk, I guess, until we can dispose of it right on Monday."


It was a reasonably polite exchange, but awkward nevertheless, on account of our different levels of concern for the flag. My level of concern was on par with how I'd feel about a tipped over address post at the end of someone's driveway. I.e., "That's kind of tacky, but it can probably wait until the owners notice and fix it." Whereas his level of concern was like if there was a gushing fire hydrant at the end of the driveway. I.e., "This is a very serious problem that I must address now."

I have a strong patriotic feeling for the USA, which I think is a beautiful country with wonderful people, freedom and fairness worth fighting for, and a good-looking, star-spangled flag. I just don't make a very tight connection between caring for the flag and caring for the country. Should I? What do y'all think?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New England Windsurfing Season Opener

It was too warm and windy to pass up the chance to get on the water in Nahant this afternoon. I had a blast riding at Dog Beach with Scott McKay, both of us on 4.2 meter squared sails. I filmed with my GoPro camera. The song in the video is Alec Eiffel by the Pixes.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Riding an Eagle, clutching a Phantom

It’s a frigid Tuesday in Boston but I’m still glowing warm from a wonderful week in Florida.

The trip was an economically convenient coincidence of work-related travel and real vacation. I took care of the work part on Tuesday while Lady Notorious explored the beaches of Fort Myers. On Wednesday we admired gators, egrets, and exotic flora in the everglades, eventually making our way to the Keys for the night.


Almost all of Thursday was spent at Pennekamp Park on Key Largo, where we snorkeled from the beach before taking a boat to an offshore reef for more serious coral peeping. I was charmed to see that the park still had the glass-bottomed boat I remembered from my previous time there, as a first grader in 1986. Though the reef was covered in colorful life, it was worrying to note that its skeleton of Acropora palmata was entirely dead. Without fresh growth of that key structure-forming coral there won't be much reef to see in another 25 years. I don’t want to get too sidetracked from my happy personal account of the Florida trip, but if you want to learn more about reef decline you can read this article and come to the author’s public lecture at the Northeastern University Marine Science Center on the 27th of April.

Live A. palmata (orange) over dead (white)

After the Keys we headed North through Miami and Palm Beach to the Fort Pierce area where I used to live. My windsurfing friends Brandon and Lisa graciously put us up in their awesome Florida house with a screened-in pool. Friday was supposed to have light winds, so we took a Kona ONE Longboard and a 118 liter Fanatic Eagle freeride board to a flatwater venue called the Stuart Causeway. As soon as I coaxed Lady Notorious to give windsurfing a try, the onshore Southeast wind whipped up to 20 knots and generated a wicked, short-period chop. Oops. The focus then shifted to Brandon and I taking turns blasting around on the Eagle with his 6.8 Aerotech Phantom sail. The combo was perfect. I had forgotten how much I liked the feel of pushing for speed and easily zipping up- and downwind on a well-balanced freeride board. The sail started to get a little backhanded in the strong wind, but Brandon re-tuned it with maximum downhaul and it regained its perfect feel. Stoked!


Friday night we hit up "Friday Fest" in Fort Pierce and did some good eating, drinking, and people watching. Saturday was another sunny and windy one. We started by visiting the open house at the Smithsonian Marine Station, where I got to say hi to a lot of the folks I used to work with. Then we headed to Jaycee Park for relaxed beaching and another round of epic flatwater windsurfing on the Eagle, this time in Southwest winds. SO AWESOME. Prospects of an early morning flight home kept us from partying late with my old work buddies, but we had a nice dinner with live music at "Archie's" biker bar on the beach.

It would have been kind of depressing coming home on Sunday, but sitting next to your sweetheart on the plane makes it a lot easier. There are also high-50s temperatures forecast for later this week in Boston, so it's possible my tan and hand callouses will even last until my first-of-the-spring windsurfing session here. Woo hoo!