Active play is a huge part of my personal fitness regime. Windsurfing is actually a great full-body workout, and after a couple of hours on the water, I was so exhausted, that I could barely pull myself back on shore. This is just one of the really fun things that I do to try and stay fit.
The most difficult thing for me when contemplating an afternoon of a trillion river baptisms is wriggling my body into 5 pounds of neoprene. I have a serious love hate relationship with my wetsuit.
I even purchased a new windsurfing specific wetsuit that has a much looser fit than my swimming wetsuit, and yet every time I contemplate trying to wrestle with the demonic piece of rubber it leaves me weak in the knees and just a bit queasy.
I have been gradually amassing my own windsurfing gear. It has been awesome to be able to borrow gear, but I want the independence that comes with having my own kit. Last year I picked up a couple of new sails, and just this month, a new mast and boom.
I have arthritis in my hands and thumbs and as a result, I don’t have much grip strength. Rigging up my own gear has been problematic. As nice as it is for Phil to rig gear for both of us, it does not feel like a good long term solution.
While in Hood River (a windsurfing Mecca) I picked up a crank for rigging the sail, and a two bolt base plate. With these two tools, I should be able to become much more independent and save Phil a lot of hassle in the bargain.
The single bolt base plate is one that must be twisted with much force to remove it from the board. I have tried to “unscrew” the single bolt base plate numerous times and my hands could not generate the necessary grip strength to budge it even a little. With the two bolt base, the plate remains affixed to the board and the base pops in and out with an easy flick of a little button. Awesome!
As I awkwardly tried to thread the 370 cm mast up through the sleeve of the sail, I struggle some, but I am determined and success is mine. I affixed the little hand crank to the bottom of the mast base, thread the line through the works and I am amazed as the sail tightens and straightens. Wow, this is awesome! Maybe I really can do this all myself.
I have been learning on a gigantic board. This wonderful oh so stable learning tool more closely resembles a refrigerator door than a surfboard, but we all gotta start somewhere, eh?
Here is where the real pucker factor of my day kicked in. Phil was digging in his gear kit and apparently had not loaded the fin for the big board. No fin, equals no steering.
He offered to let me ride his board, as the wind hadn’t really kicked up enough yet to challenge him. Phil has been windsurfing for over 30 years. This is my second season. I had sailed on Phil’s board once before, and while the smaller board is much easier to steer, it is much more difficult to remain upright while uphauling and turning.
I waffled. Truth, I was afraid. The Columbia River is big, and there is a very large bridge near our launch site that wreaks havoc with the wind. I was thinking how nice it would be for me to go sit in the truck with a good book while he windsurfed. He persisted, and I relented.
My initial tack was not a good one, and I got stuck beneath the bridge. Phil paddled out on the stand up paddle board, and we traded positions. He took the windsurfer and got it back out from its precarious position beneath the bridge and once the board was safely back in the wind, we traded once again.
I would like to say that my day was victorious, and it certainly does feel that way, but truth be told, I fell off the board more than I stayed on. But, and this is a big but (hehehe), I probably had at least two dozen successful tacks where I was able to drop the sail, spin the board, and uphaul successfully without going for an unplanned swim or launch over the top of the board.
So here is the deal. I didn’t want to go out on the water with the smaller board. I was afraid. I was apprehensive, and I was full of doubt. I had to make the decision to face my fear. I am always one to ask myself, “well, what is the worse thing that could happen?” Today, the worst that could happen is that I would fall off the board repeatedly and get cold and wet. You know what? The worst absolutely did happen, and it was okay. In fact, I had a brilliantly wonderful time.
Facing down my fear is never an easy thing to contemplate, but when I am brave and show the necessary courage to do just that, I am never sorry.