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Gene’s Campground Adventure

Editor's note: We thank Gene for taking the time to describe from his experience in the big blow last Sunday

And who came up with all these rules?

Rig for what you got, not what you want or the forecast. When you can’t decide between two sails, go bigger if the sun is shining, smaller if cloudy. (Caps look bigger in the sun, and it was sunny.)

When I arrived it was windy. I checked the launch, super high water, not good but doable. Rhett was planning on his 5.2 but falling off plane a little in the lulls. Maybe 6.0 or 5.2? Then the wind came up some, maybe 5.2 of 4.5? So, put on wetsuit first before rigging to have more time to decide and one last look. Although I had the 5.2 pulled out of the trailer, the last look told me to rig the 6.0.

Anyhow, I was overpowered, struggled a while trying to water start, then decided to just clear the sail and body drag back. That didn’t work well, was going to miss the launch, so shoot for Bozo Island? Got close to Bozo, but not an island, just trees growing out of the water with waves. If I could make it there, I still had to get back to the launch. I was getting a little tired, there is a rule about take your breaks, watch your energy level, but this is hard to do in the middle of the lake. Also a very important rule is stay with your board. You don’t want to give out and not be able to hold on to the board. Also, remember, don’t panic. I remembered years back when David W and I took our trip to Bozo, instead of struggling; we sat on the boards and let the wind blow us down wind (to Bozo Island.) So I sat on the board and headed for the campground. Know your take out points. Years back, I ended up at the campground after breaking a mast. Not that big of deal, but, you have to breakdown your gear and tote it to the locked campground entrance (hide it) and then hitch a ride back to Van Pugh. Then you have to drive back to get your gear. All this can add a couple of hours to a not so fun day, and if it’s cold, it’s cold. I was dressed in my warmest wetsuit, better to be too hot than too cold, you can always cool off, so I really wasn’t that cold.

Once at the campground, it was tuff trying to get ashore due to the high water and I was glad to see the Hall County Rescue guys. I’m not sure they were looking for me (although I think Barret had called them) because they asked where the second person was. Then we saw the 2 kayakers stranded at the campground (they were definitely cold, having no neoprene.) Hall County took them back while I stayed with the kayaks and broke down my gear, then they came back and hauled me and all the gear back to Van Pugh. (I think the coast guard will not rescue gear.) I really did appreciate their help. I think they had a good time too as it does look like a fun job as long as no one dies. We probably should only call them as a last resort when someone is in real trouble. We don’t want to get a bad rep or get windsurfing banned. But it’s hard to tell if someone is in trouble when they’re far away. I used to keep cheap binoculars in the car to search for people; this is probably a good idea. Also, remember the universal distress signal. And don’t turn down help. I’ve hitched a ride with fishermen ( kiting) and on David W’s jet ski (kiting), had a nice ride in a pontoon boat (broken mast) and have hitch hiked a ride (in a wetsuit) from Aqualand (pulled muscle ) and from the campground. It seems people don’t mind picking up hitchhikers dressed in neoprene, I think they’re curious.

I guess, even when you take your time, think about what you’re doing and try not to do anything stupid, sometimes, stuff happens.

Gene Mathis