Thursday, June 4, 2015

Shakeout Road Trip #1 - 1877 miles (part 3)

This finishes the story of our big road trip to the bay area:

Friday, April 17, 2015. After much discussion, we decide to leave the campground and limp to Crissy Field a day before the swap meet is to be held. Drove all over San Mateo looking for more supplies to hopefully fix the van.
Our first HOT weather. That changed once we drove over the Golden gate bridge in the wind and fog. Obviously not going to be windsurfing under the bridge today! SW flow. Found Crissy Field launch at last (it has been a few decades since I have been there).
We made it! Time to celebrate with some windsurfing. Poorly organized, and with some prototypes not even assembled, it takes FOREVER to make a decision about what might work, build it, rig it, suit up, and head out. With the SW wind, there is a huge wind shadow with light gusty variable wind that extends out farther than I can see.

The fog puffs blowing by over head and chilly wind are not very pleasant but it is mid-April after all.
Finally I am ready and head out into the bay during a strong ebb.
I am on a 120 liter Quatro wave board with a 5.7 Loft sail. Not planing very much at all. As I reach the rougher water and boat traffic I am questioning the sanity of doing this so late in the day solo. All of a sudden the fog streams overhead and approaching me is a line of 20 windsurfers all headed back. I need no more convincing and I gladly join them.
The wind almost dies altogether as I approach the shore and I barely make it back to the same beach. Farther downwind a large group of giant sails heads out from another launch. I am told later I could have sailed for another hour at least even though the sun is now completely gone for the day above a thick layer of low clouds overhead. The key is the fog is NOT down to the water and it is still sunny inland as well as to the north. Well, better safe than sorry! I ask what happens if I do get caught out there and am told stories of "overnighters" where you wash out to sea with the tide and then back in the next day (if you are not eaten or die of exposure). Many carry radios to call the coast guard for rescue which  "happens all the time". I did have a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) and a cell phone, but no flashlight. 

Went out for some great sushi in the city. My darling Emma risked some serious "road rage" as she aggressively physically placed herself in the last parking spot big enough for an extended length Sprinter. Of course some complete jerk in a fancy car forced his car into the same spot from the opposite direction and they had quite the loud verbal exchange. She won, but not without serious risk of a beating and certainly sustained some bad  verbal abuse. Luckily he left and did not return.

Found a place to boondock for the night at the rest area on the North side of the bridge.
Got up at 5 AM and snagged the best spot at the swap meet as we were the first there.
Laid out some prototypes and attached the FoaB to the back of the Sprinter as our "flag".
Talked to great folks nonstop the entire swap meet and for quite some time afterward. Huge success!
Very encouraging to hear "hey, I've heard about you!"

I wanted to try to windsurf again but it grew late in the day again very quickly and I was unable to complete the new footdecks soon enough that I was really wanting to test out. Again a SW wind with lots of fog and quite chilly. Again a huge area of light wind near shore. I asked a returning buff European fellow with top dollar gear how it was out there, "perfect" he replied. Folks saw my board and continued to keep me busy in conversation and "beach demos". One nice gal gave me a real sales pitch for heading over to the delta as she pointed out how it would be much safer for demos.

Found a safer place to park after some effort and went out to Fisherman's Wharf / Pier 39.

Found a maze of mirrors and enjoyed that experience for my first time!

Spent the night again across the bridge.

Sunday morning the 19th we played tourist and had some great fun at Fort Point.
Here is a link to a short video we made there, luckily that floor was empty!


Seeing as the van was still limping along and we both needed showers, we spent the day working our way south to our friends' place in the Santa Cruz mountains. Not an easy climb in limp mode.
They also had internet. I needed to research a good Sprinter mechanic, as well as get some idea what was wrong as my attempts to fix were having no effect.
So we were unpacking the van somewhat, with Emma standing on the back bumper and reaching in over the bed. I was behind and slightly to one side. All of a sudden, I hear a bang and I see her tip out backwards out of the van. Her feet are caught by our hitch cooler setup and she is going the hit the ground head first and die! So I dove in to break her fall. There was a substantial amount of kinetic energy involved. She hit me very hard, and we both hit the ground hard as well. We both lived and no bones were outright broken. Emma hurt for many days. I still have not fully recovered and expect that my right arm injuries could be an issue for life. At least it seems that way almost 2 months later.

Monday the 20th I decided to go for a long shot and tackled the injectors. Very painful but I pushed through the pain. It turned out that #1 actually had a broken electrical clip and I was able to make a better connection that was a good fix. Power again! Celebrated appropriately in downtown Santa Cruz and then headed up the coast to Waddell Beach. The surf was perfect with not a soul out there, except for a seal. If only I had brought a surfboard or SUP! And if only I was not wrecked up. We stayed and enjoyed until after sunset. No wind. Campground was closed so we headed north to Half Moon Bay. That campground also was closed so we joined in with a number of other travelers and spent the night in a 24 hour Safeway store parking lot.

Tuesday I was determined to windsurf ANYWHERE there was good wind. I could grip with my right hand so I was at least going to try.The iWindsurf forecast said Treasure Island was the place to be, I had heard good things about "TI" and since the coast had no wind at all, we decided to head for TI. By the time we got there, which took quite a while in heavy traffic, the Sprinter was having issues again. "TI" was no treasure at all, hard to believe such abandonment and vandalized properties existed so near a thriving city. We searched and searched for the windsurfing launch, and even with the help of a local policeman, we could never find it. We did find a large exclusion zone due to radioactivity which complicated the search even further. There still was no wind to speak of.  I remembered that the sensor readings had been 40 MPH at Sherman Island first thing that morning, as well as the plea to "come to the delta". Decision made, it was time to escape this hellish place. Not so easy. As we headed up the hill back to the freeway the engine began to run very poorly and then: runaway! Just as the transmission disengaged, the motor revved to over 5000 RPM before I could turn off the ignition. Maximum RPM is 3000.  Gigantic cloud of black smoke. Surely this engine is dead forever!
In shock, I decided that it was worth a try anyway. And it started!
Running poorly and in limp mode, we headed onto the highway. We are a long ways from home, as in over 700 miles. To far to be towed, I think about our options as we head north. Once again, I decide there is nothing to lose by trying so we pull off the freeway and I get out the tools. The connector is loose on #1 injector, and will not stay on for long without vibrating off , so I fashion some electrical tape into a heat resistant "rubber band". It worked! 
Spirits high once again, it's the delta or bust (probably should not say that!).
We arrive at Sherman Island mid afternoon and the wind is still blowing. Other windsurfers are arriving as well and we all excitedly watch 2 windsurfers who are having a great time. I rig up a 5.0 meter sail and launch with the Starboard Fish 95 liter, my favorite board. The tide is low, but coming in strong, same direction as the wind. I immediately realize I need more power and so come in and rigged the 5.7 as well and head back out. Here is just a small portion of video taken with the clew mount GoPro:

 I had a helmet GoPro also and Emma videoed  (Canon) from shore for camera #3. We have MANY hours of video from GoPros but very little from elsewhere so this is a real treat. Emma was being buffeted by the wind which was right in her face so we apologize for the extreme shakiness. We sped up the sections between jibes, rather than cutting them out ,so we could show jibe after jibe after jibe, all while in the straps. This is the first published video showing this.  For someone with multiple injuries, my first real session of the year, and challenging conditions at a place I have never been before;  I thought I did pretty well. Here is the video:

The MoaB advantage proves itself once again! The ability to make tight upwind jibes without losing hardly any ground gave me the ability to work well away from shore and gave me some room to play. The other windsurfers soon left except for one other, and a number of kiters. I would like to thank the other windsurfers for orienting me to this location, giving me tips, and pointing out hazards. Thanks guys! I'll be back. The water was so warm I actually was overheated.
I now force myself to do regular type jibes as that is what most do, but I must tell you this is my favorite way to do it :

We camped at the empty campground nearby where we enjoyed wonderful solar showers.

Wanting to get the iffy Sprinter home and also to make the first swap meet of the year (April 26) in Hood River, Oregon (at Windance), we left the area and headed north. 
2 days later, still 500 miles from home , injector #5 started "chuffing" (seal blown) and we had to limp all the way home on 4 out of 5 cylinders. This meant 40 or so on the flats, and 15 MPH average on the hills. It took 4 days, but we made it  home on the 25th.
 I did make to the swap meet on the 26th and came home with 2 more windsurf boards (90 L Fish and 76 L Quad).
Overall, the trip was a memorable success, except for the Sprinter issues.
Thanks to all who made it possible, and it was great meeting and talking with so many great folks!

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