Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Basin Backwater & Carolina Beach



A couple weeks ago we hit Topsail Island for some SUP surfing and got 1 3/4 full days of great waves and a shot of strong side-shore wind. I was not prepared for the wind. Having now a lesson learned I packed the 84L, 4.2 and 5.2 for this trip. Of course a couple SUP boards for tasty waves and sailing as well. This minimal equipment turned out to be the perfect call.

Jennifer and I drove into Wrightsville Beach late Sat morning intending to see Mac in the Mullet Run SUP race and try for some SUP surfing. Good grief that place was jammed full of bodies and traffic. Since the surf was dumping & pounding we headed south to Carolina and Kure. This was around lunch and by then the wind was pretty strong- definitely stronger than WB. I tried catching some waves off Ocean Ave but the wind and north running current were just impossible conditions. It was a shame since the waves were pretty good size but shorebreak only. Even if they got better with the rising tide the current and wind called for sail only.

Jennifer certainly wasn't ready for the ocean sailing experience so we hit the Basin in Ft Fisher. This was my 1st time sailing the Basin and didn't really feel all that confident there was enough water to sail since it was low tide. Luckily a local sailor named Ed came just after we arrived and I had someone to show me the route. There are a couple good launch spots. I backed up to the wall on the west side and used the grassy area there. You have to walk out about 150 yards at low tide but there is enough water for smaller fins. We rigged the 4.2 and RRD Wassup to explore the place. I sailed the kit for a couple minutes and was impressed with the handling of the SUP with the 4.2. I actually got some good speed and planed the board without the foot straps. It isn't that silky free-ride board skimming but gets pretty close as best I can tell so far. With some reluctance I gave the kit to Jennifer to try out. As we mentioned before you have to stay off the nose but the board did really well in the higher wind. She had no trouble working up wind, even though this model doesn't have a center fin, and was easily controlled. I was happy to see that the board didn't seem tippy at all. One of the highlights of the trip was Jennifer learned to beach start! It gets easier to teach the more I do it but each time it is a reminder of how unintuitive it is! She picked it up faster than most so either I'm getting better at teaching or she's just good. I think both.

Lunch time Sunday I paddled at Ocean Ave again- this time for a couple hours. The waves were a little smaller, the current a little less, but the wind was even stronger. I caught 1 magical crowd pleasing wave after about 1.5 hours of trying. The reason I got shouts of encouragement and pleasure from people I didn't know was they all witnessed my plight paddling into the wind and gaining no ground. Pretty much a treadmill out there. They pitied me but folks love to see and underdog succeed- Go Rudy! He can't fail.

Hatteras has spoiled me with high wind. I'm losing my ability to tell when it is shortboard conditions. My 5.2/84L had been rigged for a while but I didn't think I would be planing. I was wrong. Turned out the wind was consistent and I was powered just enough to plane even without the pump Saturday- 99% in the straps! Sunday was pretty much the same scenario but stronger wind. A 4.7 would have been perfect but I was all lit up on the 5.2, 100% in the straps! As the tide rising the place transforms into an even more beautiful spot to sail- there are huge ships sailing off into the sunset on the waterway, unspoiled marsh with nothing but green grass and an island between you and the Atlantic. I'll definitely be heading that way again.

Summary for Paddle Surfing Carolina Beach
The SW was Side to Side Side-on and cranking up the beach. Unlike TI, there really were no sand bars that I could see even at low tide. The waves break pretty close to shore so the drop in comes late since the swell seems to come out of nowhere in the deep water. Dropping in closer to shore was also the case last December when Mac, Rob and I were there. The wind was also cranking then but more off shore making surfing a little easier. Side-shore with the wind, current and wave going the same direction is tougher than anything I've experience. Just rig your sail!

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