Saturday, September 6, 2014

Jupiter Inlet to Stuart Causeway

Dave has been asking me to write something about the windsurf trek Ron and I did last Saturday from Jupiter inlet to Stuart Causeway, so since it's storming outside today, I thought this might be as good of time as any... and there is no wind in forecast :) I think this was originally Ron's idea, but it could have been mine. It might have been about a year ago when we decided we would try and sail from Jupiter Inlet area to Stuart Causeway, but it was mostly talk and wait for the right wind and surf conditions. I'm sure there was plenty of good days we could have done it, but somehow we never got around to it; that is until 2 weeks ago when Ron noticed the winds were going to be East/Southeast and around 14-18mph which should have made it for a nice beam/broad reach. Wind forecast dropped a little, but that was not an issue since we were going to use our Formula boards with 9.0-11.0m sails. Once we worked out the logistics and made sure we had ample water/food/cell phone/dry bags and spare parts Ron brought along just in case, we wanted to time it so we could make it thru the St Lucie(Stuart)inlet before the tide shifted, but the winds did not cooperate in the morning, so we finally left the beach (just south of Jupiter inlet) around 2:15PM. I had concerns going thru the surf at the beach, especially with large sails, but somehow we got thru it and with some minor damage to one of my sail panels, and a broken batten. There is a photo on Jupiter Inlet Webcam site showing us just north of the inlet around 230PM and one showing Ed holding my sail on the beach at 215PM (August 30th). I'll try and add both links to this post. If you zoom in enough, you can see Ron's white sail to the East and my sail to the West with a sailboat in the middle and ahead of us. Getting thru the surf was quite an ordeal for me, because after trying for a while to beach start, I finally gave up and up-hauled the big 10.7m sail. As soon as I did I heard the cheering and clapping from the beach for which I didn't dare turn around and look back for the fear of dropping the sail in the surf and having to go thru it all over again. We soon realized the wind was not E/SE, but more SE/S and this meant pushing the board downwind which did not seem the way it wanted to go especially in the ocean waves that were not something I was used to on a Formula board. Ron got on a plane, but was heading away from the beach which also did not appeal to me. When I saw him planing, I figured I better give it a shot, and was able to while also going a bit more downwind, but soon had to point back up. Instead of gibing and planing back to the beach, I would drop off the plane and head downwind. Ron kept tacking back and forth. It seemed my way was working a little better at first, since he fell back a bit, but after a little while (around Hobe Sound beach), he caught up to me. Planing down the swells on a Formula board and a big sail was a hoot, but after a while it can wear you out, because there is no down time. Ron was on a 10m sail, and he was making it work now planing in more of the Northeasterly direction. After sailing in the waves, and trying to maneuver the breaking swells while gibing or tacking the 10.7m sail, I started thinking,(more than once)that I should head in to the shore for a break and maybe walk home from there:). On one of my gibes, I dropped the sail and for a while didn't think I would be able to bring it back up, (it's not easy in flat water, the swells make it much harder), but after sitting on the board for a few minutes, I was able to regain some strength and it probably helped the board/sail turned more downwind giving me the needed "lift". Ron was headed away from the beach again, so I started heading more downwind toward the inlet so we can meet up at some imaginary point up ahead. I decided to tack toward the beach and see if the surf will be forgiving enough for me to take a much needed break. Ron was heading back up toward the inlet when he saw me, so he joined me on the beach. We were maybe a mile from the inlet, on the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge beach. I made some calls from here to let someone know where we are and we continued on. I saw the surf breaking in the distance away from the beach so decided to head straight for the inlet, but this meant I wouldn't be able to plane as much. Ron tacked back and forth planing much more and we beached it again on the inside of the inlet (about a mile walk from the bath tub beach). The tide was going out, but that was not much an issue until I reached the shallow part of the inlet, jumped off the board and tried to beach start. The current was pulling my board out, making it difficult to maneuver the sail and jump back on the board. I did not want to up-haul that sail again! We ran out of fresh water on our previous stop, but Ron was able to get us couple of water bottles from some boaters. After that it was mostly dodging the boats and finding the best way thru the inlet and then up the Indian River to the Causeway. Ron sailed thru the channel and I decided to round the "Boy Scout Island" avoiding the boat traffic. This was probably the best part of the trip since I was back on my "turf" now and was finally able to relax while casually sailing in. When we got back Art, Rolf and Steve were waiting on us. We were both exhausted, but glad we did it. It was around 21 miles per Google maps to the Stuart Causeway, but with all the tacking we did, I have a feeling it was more like 30+ for us. Ron is already talking about the next trip to Bahamas, or maybe Virginia Key to Key Largo and then to Key West?