Saturday, February 7, 2009

Windsurfing to the Rescue (again)

I say "again" because I heard several stories from other windsurfers last year of rescuing someone in distress....other windsurfers, boaters, swimmers, kiteboarders, etc. This included Alan and Rob helping a grounded sailboat on the lake last December, one of our coastal windsurfing friends saving some swimmers from drowning at the beach, and countless other stories that were in some of the windsurfing magazines about towing kiteboarders in that had lost their kites. Today was my turn.

The forecast today was supposed to be another light wind 10-15 southwest wind day. It was very warm....approaching 70 so I decided on the thinner 3/2 wetsuit with short sleeves. Because of the light wind forecast, all I brought was my big 9.6 sail and widestyle board. I arrive and the wind is blowing close to 20. I should have known better. It's already close to 3pm and I don't feel like going back to my house for smaller sails/boards. I rig up, crank the downhaul, and prepare the adjustable outhaul to max outhaul settings right off the bat. As I'm rigging, I notice a boat making its way out of the cove I'm in. As I launch, I notice the boat is sitting and drifting at the mouth of the cove. I'm tacking upwind to get into the channel where there is a long open fetch to windward. All of a sudden, I hear sirens. My first thought, did someone think I was in trouble? I can see the fire trucks go down the street from where I launched to the very end of the street that dead ends into the lake. Then I notice the boat has drifted into the very shallow water just off the point where the fire trucks are. I know that point and how shallow it is. So I sail over there and can see that everyone in the boat appears to be ok. I carry my gear to shore, then walk out to the boat which is now grounded in knee deep water.

It's a young married couple with a gigantic beautiful black Newfoundland dog. They were pretty happy to see me. The husband explains they did in fact have an engine fire but that he had put it out with the boat extinguisher. He called 911 to get a tow off the shallow point figuring the wildlife officers would show up in their boat...but he must have mentioned the fire too so the fire trucks showed up. I walked back to shore and told the firefighters the fire was out. They were relieved about that and told me a fire boat was on its way and could pull them out. I went back to the boat and waited with the couple and their dog. After all, I was in a wetsuit...there wasn't any point in anyone else having to get in the water to get that boat off the point.

After a while, the fire boat showed up. At this point, I started wishing I wore my 5/3 full suit because that water was very cold and my toes were starting to go numb. I had to walk out in over waist deep to catch a line from the fire boat, then walk it back to the stranded boat, took their line, tied the two lines together with a bowline (yes, I still know this knot...thank you Boy Scouts & sailing all those years with Dad). Then I helped push the boat as the fire boat pulled. It came out fairly easily and were on their way. The couple was very nice and appreciative. My good deed for the day. I was just glad they had a fire extinguisher on the boat. It could have been a lot worse. Thankfully it turned out to not be that big of a deal. I was more helpful than actually "rescuing".

Hopefully this was good exposure for windsurfing on our lake. A wildlife officer boat showed up, then there were the fire fighters, the couple on the boat, plus all the other people watching from shore and from other boats. Maybe some of them will say, "that nice windsurfer stopped and helped..." and hopefully that will generate some goodwill for us local windsurfers down the road when we need it.

I lost almost an hour with that episode but was able to go on to sail for a little while. I could have probably sailed a 6.5 on a smaller board but I was still in control overpowered on the the big stuff (note to self...bring everything like you do when going to the Outer Banks). Several great speed runs across the channel (with numb toes) and then I packed it in with one long last screaming downwind run back to my launch.

Beautiful day today and glad I was there to help that couple.


Andy said...

Nice job, Mac!

PeconicPuffin said...

Indeed...well done!

Cary said...

Way to go Mac! I know the point you speak of well...kinda miss that spot!