Alaska trip report

Alaska trip report

Post by Mark Pain » Sun, 26 Aug 2007 15:42:32


Every now and then we all have a windsurfing experience we're likely
to never forget. Today was one of those days for me...I sailed
Alaska's Turnagain Arm this afternoon.

I drove up to the Gorge from San Francisco about a week and a half ago
and spent 4 decent days sailing there before leaving on Saturday night
to head for Alaska. Throughout British Columbia and Alaska there's a
river everywhere you turn, and a few really large lakes. But every
time I spotted one of those beautiful lakes, there wasn't even a
rustle of leaves in the trees. Dead calm.

And today looked like it was going to be more of the same. I headed
out to the Arm early, watched about 10 Beluga whales sail right
through the windsurf area on the outgoing tide, and then watched about
20 of them chasing salmon up the river about 6 hours later on the
incoming. I was about to pack it in when I met up with Dan, a local
sailor who was rigging up and just about ready to go. I asked whether
he minded if I join him to which he replied, "No, come on out!" Dan
was great. He gave me the lowdown on when to sail the Arm, and more
importantly, when not too. When the Belugas blazed right through our
launch area I asked whether they ever caused any problems and he said
"No, not really." Hmmm.

A large part of the adventure is just getting from the road down to
the water. First, you rig up by the road and the schlep...down a steep
slope of boulders and scree about 20 vertical feet to the railroad
tracks, and a small ledge. And then, depending on which end of the
essentially 3 hour window you're hitting it, another 30 to 50 vertical
feet of bigger boulders. I made the rookie mistake of trying to carry
everything all at once, pretty much slid on my ***all the way down
the first slope while holding gear aloft the best I could. At the
railroad tracks, it wasn't obvious to me where the path of least
resistance (or steepness) to the water was and I managed to get myself
pinned between a couple of boulders before I finally unwedged myself
and got to the water.

Since it was about an hour before high tide, Dan and I figured we had
maybe an hour to sail before the second largest tidal swing on Earth
kicked in and started carrying everything in its path out to the Cook
Inlet. I launched right in as fast as I could with a 5.4 and 107 liter
freestyle board.

First impression...the water's not that cold. In fact, it's not even
as cold as Crissy Field. I swear. NOAA reported 57 degrees at
Anchorage. This launch is about 10 miles up Turnagain Arm from there
so I'm guessing it might be a bit warmer, but then again with the
astonishing volume of water that runs through, there's a pretty big
flush--so let's just say the water temperature was 57 degrees. Felt
about like that anyway. And the sky was partly sunny and the air
temperature easily in the 60s if not low 70s, so the temperature
really wasn't a factor. Dan surmises that all that silt serves to
absorb the sun's rays. Sounds as plausible as anything to me.

Second impression...the water is the siltiest I've ever sailed. A
greyish brown color with a visibility of zero. All you 3rd Avenue
sailors know about low visibility in muddy brown water. Well this
water is like syrup compared to 3rd.

Third impression...I was, for the most part, comfortably if lightly
powered on the 5.4 today. The ups and downs ramped slowly, so rather
than calling it gusty, I'd say it was up and down. And with wind that
light, the water was almost dead flat! I couldn't believe it, the
water was so flat it made for nice conditions to try to launch a
Spock, except for the fact that the current already seemed to be
slack, if not starting to reverse. Further out into the Arm, there was
clean, rolling swell that reminded me of a light day at 3rd Ave or The
Wall.

At this point, my mind was racing with thoughts of the current
reversal. When the flood switches to ebb at Crissy it can churn up
some vicious chop. And just like at Crissy I was keenly keeping an eye
out for traffic. Except for this time it wasn't ocean freighters
carrying bazillions of containers full of Hyundais, instead it was
those two schools of Beluga whales that just 5 minutes before had
passed right through the launch area. But quickly, my mind eased. It
was just windsurfing, but it was awesome. Looking toward shore on
either side of the Arm reminded me of the Gorge, with snowcapped
peaks, but the scale here is far more massive. And the water quality,
well, was very 3rd Avenue-like, only murkier. And instead of seals,
sea lions, and freighters at Crissy, my number one concern here was
those Belugas. As it turns out, they stayed up in the Arm chasing
salmon the rest of the afternoon.

My thanks go to Dan, a super-friendly Alaskan sailor who was patient
enough to explain the ins and outs, and another local sailor named
Dave who showed up late and didn't sail, but was fun to talk to after
the session. Dan and I swapped phone numbers, hoping to sail together
again, and he also gave me the number of their little "hotline", set
up by a guy who watches the wind and puts messages up so this
community of sailors can meet up and sail together.

Tomorrow I'll try to sail again, then it's off down the Kenai
Peninsula where I hope to sail Kenai Lake. Evidently there's a fairly
reliable afternoon thermal there and a really nice easy rigging and
launch.

I'll keep you posted,

Mark Paine

 
 
 

Alaska trip report

Post by ratho.. » Sun, 26 Aug 2007 18:17:31

Fantastic!  I gotta go check that out sometime.  Sounds like a real
adventure!

kev

Quote:

> Every now and then we all have a windsurfing experience we're likely
> to never forget. Today was one of those days for me...I sailed
> Alaska's Turnagain Arm this afternoon.

> I drove up to the Gorge from San Francisco about a week and a half ago
> and spent 4 decent days sailing there before leaving on Saturday night
> to head for Alaska. Throughout British Columbia and Alaska there's a
> river everywhere you turn, and a few really large lakes. But every
> time I spotted one of those beautiful lakes, there wasn't even a
> rustle of leaves in the trees. Dead calm.

> And today looked like it was going to be more of the same. I headed
> out to the Arm early, watched about 10 Beluga whales sail right
> through the windsurf area on the outgoing tide, and then watched about
> 20 of them chasing salmon up the river about 6 hours later on the
> incoming. I was about to pack it in when I met up with Dan, a local
> sailor who was rigging up and just about ready to go. I asked whether
> he minded if I join him to which he replied, "No, come on out!" Dan
> was great. He gave me the lowdown on when to sail the Arm, and more
> importantly, when not too. When the Belugas blazed right through our
> launch area I asked whether they ever caused any problems and he said
> "No, not really." Hmmm.

> A large part of the adventure is just getting from the road down to
> the water. First, you rig up by the road and the schlep...down a steep
> slope of boulders and scree about 20 vertical feet to the railroad
> tracks, and a small ledge. And then, depending on which end of the
> essentially 3 hour window you're hitting it, another 30 to 50 vertical
> feet of bigger boulders. I made the rookie mistake of trying to carry
> everything all at once, pretty much slid on my ***all the way down
> the first slope while holding gear aloft the best I could. At the
> railroad tracks, it wasn't obvious to me where the path of least
> resistance (or steepness) to the water was and I managed to get myself
> pinned between a couple of boulders before I finally unwedged myself
> and got to the water.

> Since it was about an hour before high tide, Dan and I figured we had
> maybe an hour to sail before the second largest tidal swing on Earth
> kicked in and started carrying everything in its path out to the Cook
> Inlet. I launched right in as fast as I could with a 5.4 and 107 liter
> freestyle board.

> First impression...the water's not that cold. In fact, it's not even
> as cold as Crissy Field. I swear. NOAA reported 57 degrees at
> Anchorage. This launch is about 10 miles up Turnagain Arm from there
> so I'm guessing it might be a bit warmer, but then again with the
> astonishing volume of water that runs through, there's a pretty big
> flush--so let's just say the water temperature was 57 degrees. Felt
> about like that anyway. And the sky was partly sunny and the air
> temperature easily in the 60s if not low 70s, so the temperature
> really wasn't a factor. Dan surmises that all that silt serves to
> absorb the sun's rays. Sounds as plausible as anything to me.

> Second impression...the water is the siltiest I've ever sailed. A
> greyish brown color with a visibility of zero. All you 3rd Avenue
> sailors know about low visibility in muddy brown water. Well this
> water is like syrup compared to 3rd.

> Third impression...I was, for the most part, comfortably if lightly
> powered on the 5.4 today. The ups and downs ramped slowly, so rather
> than calling it gusty, I'd say it was up and down. And with wind that
> light, the water was almost dead flat! I couldn't believe it, the
> water was so flat it made for nice conditions to try to launch a
> Spock, except for the fact that the current already seemed to be
> slack, if not starting to reverse. Further out into the Arm, there was
> clean, rolling swell that reminded me of a light day at 3rd Ave or The
> Wall.

> At this point, my mind was racing with thoughts of the current
> reversal. When the flood switches to ebb at Crissy it can churn up
> some vicious chop. And just like at Crissy I was keenly keeping an eye
> out for traffic. Except for this time it wasn't ocean freighters
> carrying bazillions of containers full of Hyundais, instead it was
> those two schools of Beluga whales that just 5 minutes before had
> passed right through the launch area. But quickly, my mind eased. It
> was just windsurfing, but it was awesome. Looking toward shore on
> either side of the Arm reminded me of the Gorge, with snowcapped
> peaks, but the scale here is far more massive. And the water quality,
> well, was very 3rd Avenue-like, only murkier. And instead of seals,
> sea lions, and freighters at Crissy, my number one concern here was
> those Belugas. As it turns out, they stayed up in the Arm chasing
> salmon the rest of the afternoon.

> My thanks go to Dan, a super-friendly Alaskan sailor who was patient
> enough to explain the ins and outs, and another local sailor named
> Dave who showed up late and didn't sail, but was fun to talk to after
> the session. Dan and I swapped phone numbers, hoping to sail together
> again, and he also gave me the number of their little "hotline", set
> up by a guy who watches the wind and puts messages up so this
> community of sailors can meet up and sail together.

> Tomorrow I'll try to sail again, then it's off down the Kenai
> Peninsula where I hope to sail Kenai Lake. Evidently there's a fairly
> reliable afternoon thermal there and a really nice easy rigging and
> launch.

> I'll keep you posted,

> Mark Paine


 
 
 

Alaska trip report

Post by wind.s » Sun, 26 Aug 2007 21:16:47

Thanks for that great report, Mark. That is beautiful country, 'glad
you got to sail Turnagain.



Quote:
>Every now and then we all have a windsurfing experience we're likely
>to never forget. Today was one of those days for me...I sailed
>Alaska's Turnagain Arm this afternoon.

<snip>

 
 
 

Alaska trip report

Post by M. Gun » Mon, 27 Aug 2007 00:43:12



Quote:
> Every now and then we all have a windsurfing experience we're likely
> to never forget. Today was one of those days for me...I sailed
> Alaska's Turnagain Arm this afternoon.

Sounds like the trip is working out well for you guys!
Wonder what Yindee thinks about those Belugas.

Stay safe and watch out for grizzlies.

mo
--
Team Coyote
http://www.teamcoyote.net

 
 
 

Alaska trip report

Post by Dan Weis » Mon, 27 Aug 2007 03:21:16


Quote:
> Every now and then we all have a windsurfing experience we're likely
> to never forget. Today was one of those days for me...I sailed
> Alaska's Turnagain Arm this afternoon.

> I drove up to the Gorge from San Francisco about a week and a half ago
> and spent 4 decent days sailing there before leaving on Saturday night
> to head for Alaska. Throughout British Columbia and Alaska there's a
> river everywhere you turn, and a few really large lakes. But every
> time I spotted one of those beautiful lakes, there wasn't even a
> rustle of leaves in the trees. Dead calm.

> And today looked like it was going to be more of the same. I headed
> out to the Arm early, watched about 10 Beluga whales sail right
> through the windsurf area on the outgoing tide, and then watched about
> 20 of them chasing salmon up the river about 6 hours later on the
> incoming. I was about to pack it in when I met up with Dan, a local
> sailor who was rigging up and just about ready to go. I asked whether
> he minded if I join him to which he replied, "No, come on out!" Dan
> was great. He gave me the lowdown on when to sail the Arm, and more
> importantly, when not too. When the Belugas blazed right through our
> launch area I asked whether they ever caused any problems and he said
> "No, not really." Hmmm.

> A large part of the adventure is just getting from the road down to
> the water. First, you rig up by the road and the schlep...down a steep
> slope of boulders and scree about 20 vertical feet to the railroad
> tracks, and a small ledge. And then, depending on which end of the
> essentially 3 hour window you're hitting it, another 30 to 50 vertical
> feet of bigger boulders. I made the rookie mistake of trying to carry
> everything all at once, pretty much slid on my ***all the way down
> the first slope while holding gear aloft the best I could. At the
> railroad tracks, it wasn't obvious to me where the path of least
> resistance (or steepness) to the water was and I managed to get myself
> pinned between a couple of boulders before I finally unwedged myself
> and got to the water.

> Since it was about an hour before high tide, Dan and I figured we had
> maybe an hour to sail before the second largest tidal swing on Earth
> kicked in and started carrying everything in its path out to the Cook
> Inlet. I launched right in as fast as I could with a 5.4 and 107 liter
> freestyle board.

> First impression...the water's not that cold. In fact, it's not even
> as cold as Crissy Field. I swear. NOAA reported 57 degrees at
> Anchorage. This launch is about 10 miles up Turnagain Arm from there
> so I'm guessing it might be a bit warmer, but then again with the
> astonishing volume of water that runs through, there's a pretty big
> flush--so let's just say the water temperature was 57 degrees. Felt
> about like that anyway. And the sky was partly sunny and the air
> temperature easily in the 60s if not low 70s, so the temperature
> really wasn't a factor. Dan surmises that all that silt serves to
> absorb the sun's rays. Sounds as plausible as anything to me.

> Second impression...the water is the siltiest I've ever sailed. A
> greyish brown color with a visibility of zero. All you 3rd Avenue
> sailors know about low visibility in muddy brown water. Well this
> water is like syrup compared to 3rd.

> Third impression...I was, for the most part, comfortably if lightly
> powered on the 5.4 today. The ups and downs ramped slowly, so rather
> than calling it gusty, I'd say it was up and down. And with wind that
> light, the water was almost dead flat! I couldn't believe it, the
> water was so flat it made for nice conditions to try to launch a
> Spock, except for the fact that the current already seemed to be
> slack, if not starting to reverse. Further out into the Arm, there was
> clean, rolling swell that reminded me of a light day at 3rd Ave or The
> Wall.

> At this point, my mind was racing with thoughts of the current
> reversal. When the flood switches to ebb at Crissy it can churn up
> some vicious chop. And just like at Crissy I was keenly keeping an eye
> out for traffic. Except for this time it wasn't ocean freighters
> carrying bazillions of containers full of Hyundais, instead it was
> those two schools of Beluga whales that just 5 minutes before had
> passed right through the launch area. But quickly, my mind eased. It
> was just windsurfing, but it was awesome. Looking toward shore on
> either side of the Arm reminded me of the Gorge, with snowcapped
> peaks, but the scale here is far more massive. And the water quality,
> well, was very 3rd Avenue-like, only murkier. And instead of seals,
> sea lions, and freighters at Crissy, my number one concern here was
> those Belugas. As it turns out, they stayed up in the Arm chasing
> salmon the rest of the afternoon.

> My thanks go to Dan, a super-friendly Alaskan sailor who was patient
> enough to explain the ins and outs, and another local sailor named
> Dave who showed up late and didn't sail, but was fun to talk to after
> the session. Dan and I swapped phone numbers, hoping to sail together
> again, and he also gave me the number of their little "hotline", set
> up by a guy who watches the wind and puts messages up so this
> community of sailors can meet up and sail together.

> Tomorrow I'll try to sail again, then it's off down the Kenai
> Peninsula where I hope to sail Kenai Lake. Evidently there's a fairly
> reliable afternoon thermal there and a really nice easy rigging and
> launch.

> I'll keep you posted,

> Mark Paine

Hi Mark:  That was a great session report and provided just a bit of
the tension and e***ment that often comes from sailing a new spot -
especially those with special considerations.  I remember the first
time I sailed The Wall in the Gorge and thought, "Gee, those cliffs
are really tall!"  As you say, they and the surrounding country are on
such a smaller scale than what I've heard and seen of Alaska.

Hope it blows like hell your entire trip!

-Dan

 
 
 

Alaska trip report

Post by Michae » Mon, 27 Aug 2007 21:18:16

Nicely told, Mark.   What fun!


Quote:
> Every now and then we all have a windsurfing experience we're likely
> to never forget. Today was one of those days for me...I sailed
> Alaska's Turnagain Arm this afternoon.

> I drove up to the Gorge from San Francisco about a week and a half ago
> and spent 4 decent days sailing there before leaving on Saturday night
> to head for Alaska. Throughout British Columbia and Alaska there's a
> river everywhere you turn, and a few really large lakes. But every
> time I spotted one of those beautiful lakes, there wasn't even a
> rustle of leaves in the trees. Dead calm.

> And today looked like it was going to be more of the same. I headed
> out to the Arm early, watched about 10 Beluga whales sail right
> through the windsurf area on the outgoing tide, and then watched about
> 20 of them chasing salmon up the river about 6 hours later on the
> incoming. I was about to pack it in when I met up with Dan, a local
> sailor who was rigging up and just about ready to go. I asked whether
> he minded if I join him to which he replied, "No, come on out!" Dan
> was great. He gave me the lowdown on when to sail the Arm, and more
> importantly, when not too. When the Belugas blazed right through our
> launch area I asked whether they ever caused any problems and he said
> "No, not really." Hmmm.

> A large part of the adventure is just getting from the road down to
> the water. First, you rig up by the road and the schlep...down a steep
> slope of boulders and scree about 20 vertical feet to the railroad
> tracks, and a small ledge. And then, depending on which end of the
> essentially 3 hour window you're hitting it, another 30 to 50 vertical
> feet of bigger boulders. I made the rookie mistake of trying to carry
> everything all at once, pretty much slid on my ***all the way down
> the first slope while holding gear aloft the best I could. At the
> railroad tracks, it wasn't obvious to me where the path of least
> resistance (or steepness) to the water was and I managed to get myself
> pinned between a couple of boulders before I finally unwedged myself
> and got to the water.

> Since it was about an hour before high tide, Dan and I figured we had
> maybe an hour to sail before the second largest tidal swing on Earth
> kicked in and started carrying everything in its path out to the Cook
> Inlet. I launched right in as fast as I could with a 5.4 and 107 liter
> freestyle board.

> First impression...the water's not that cold. In fact, it's not even
> as cold as Crissy Field. I swear. NOAA reported 57 degrees at
> Anchorage. This launch is about 10 miles up Turnagain Arm from there
> so I'm guessing it might be a bit warmer, but then again with the
> astonishing volume of water that runs through, there's a pretty big
> flush--so let's just say the water temperature was 57 degrees. Felt
> about like that anyway. And the sky was partly sunny and the air
> temperature easily in the 60s if not low 70s, so the temperature
> really wasn't a factor. Dan surmises that all that silt serves to
> absorb the sun's rays. Sounds as plausible as anything to me.

> Second impression...the water is the siltiest I've ever sailed. A
> greyish brown color with a visibility of zero. All you 3rd Avenue
> sailors know about low visibility in muddy brown water. Well this
> water is like syrup compared to 3rd.

> Third impression...I was, for the most part, comfortably if lightly
> powered on the 5.4 today. The ups and downs ramped slowly, so rather
> than calling it gusty, I'd say it was up and down. And with wind that
> light, the water was almost dead flat! I couldn't believe it, the
> water was so flat it made for nice conditions to try to launch a
> Spock, except for the fact that the current already seemed to be
> slack, if not starting to reverse. Further out into the Arm, there was
> clean, rolling swell that reminded me of a light day at 3rd Ave or The
> Wall.

> At this point, my mind was racing with thoughts of the current
> reversal. When the flood switches to ebb at Crissy it can churn up
> some vicious chop. And just like at Crissy I was keenly keeping an eye
> out for traffic. Except for this time it wasn't ocean freighters
> carrying bazillions of containers full of Hyundais, instead it was
> those two schools of Beluga whales that just 5 minutes before had
> passed right through the launch area. But quickly, my mind eased. It
> was just windsurfing, but it was awesome. Looking toward shore on
> either side of the Arm reminded me of the Gorge, with snowcapped
> peaks, but the scale here is far more massive. And the water quality,
> well, was very 3rd Avenue-like, only murkier. And instead of seals,
> sea lions, and freighters at Crissy, my number one concern here was
> those Belugas. As it turns out, they stayed up in the Arm chasing
> salmon the rest of the afternoon.

> My thanks go to Dan, a super-friendly Alaskan sailor who was patient
> enough to explain the ins and outs, and another local sailor named
> Dave who showed up late and didn't sail, but was fun to talk to after
> the session. Dan and I swapped phone numbers, hoping to sail together
> again, and he also gave me the number of their little "hotline", set
> up by a guy who watches the wind and puts messages up so this
> community of sailors can meet up and sail together.

> Tomorrow I'll try to sail again, then it's off down the Kenai
> Peninsula where I hope to sail Kenai Lake. Evidently there's a fairly
> reliable afternoon thermal there and a really nice easy rigging and
> launch.

> I'll keep you posted,

> Mark Paine

 
 
 

Alaska trip report

Post by C.Degg » Tue, 28 Aug 2007 02:54:48

I second that opinion.....terrific !

Quote:
> Nicely told, Mark.   What fun!


>> Every now and then we all have a windsurfing experience we're likely
>> to never forget. Today was one of those days for me...I sailed
>> Alaska's Turnagain Arm this afternoon.

>> I drove up to the Gorge from San Francisco about a week and a half ago
>> and spent 4 decent days sailing there before leaving on Saturday night
>> to head for Alaska. Throughout British Columbia and Alaska there's a
>> river everywhere you turn, and a few really large lakes. But every
>> time I spotted one of those beautiful lakes, there wasn't even a
>> rustle of leaves in the trees. Dead calm.

>> And today looked like it was going to be more of the same. I headed
>> out to the Arm early, watched about 10 Beluga whales sail right
>> through the windsurf area on the outgoing tide, and then watched about
>> 20 of them chasing salmon up the river about 6 hours later on the
>> incoming. I was about to pack it in when I met up with Dan, a local
>> sailor who was rigging up and just about ready to go. I asked whether
>> he minded if I join him to which he replied, "No, come on out!" Dan
>> was great. He gave me the lowdown on when to sail the Arm, and more
>> importantly, when not too. When the Belugas blazed right through our
>> launch area I asked whether they ever caused any problems and he said
>> "No, not really." Hmmm.

>> A large part of the adventure is just getting from the road down to
>> the water. First, you rig up by the road and the schlep...down a steep
>> slope of boulders and scree about 20 vertical feet to the railroad
>> tracks, and a small ledge. And then, depending on which end of the
>> essentially 3 hour window you're hitting it, another 30 to 50 vertical
>> feet of bigger boulders. I made the rookie mistake of trying to carry
>> everything all at once, pretty much slid on my ***all the way down
>> the first slope while holding gear aloft the best I could. At the
>> railroad tracks, it wasn't obvious to me where the path of least
>> resistance (or steepness) to the water was and I managed to get myself
>> pinned between a couple of boulders before I finally unwedged myself
>> and got to the water.

>> Since it was about an hour before high tide, Dan and I figured we had
>> maybe an hour to sail before the second largest tidal swing on Earth
>> kicked in and started carrying everything in its path out to the Cook
>> Inlet. I launched right in as fast as I could with a 5.4 and 107 liter
>> freestyle board.

>> First impression...the water's not that cold. In fact, it's not even
>> as cold as Crissy Field. I swear. NOAA reported 57 degrees at
>> Anchorage. This launch is about 10 miles up Turnagain Arm from there
>> so I'm guessing it might be a bit warmer, but then again with the
>> astonishing volume of water that runs through, there's a pretty big
>> flush--so let's just say the water temperature was 57 degrees. Felt
>> about like that anyway. And the sky was partly sunny and the air
>> temperature easily in the 60s if not low 70s, so the temperature
>> really wasn't a factor. Dan surmises that all that silt serves to
>> absorb the sun's rays. Sounds as plausible as anything to me.

>> Second impression...the water is the siltiest I've ever sailed. A
>> greyish brown color with a visibility of zero. All you 3rd Avenue
>> sailors know about low visibility in muddy brown water. Well this
>> water is like syrup compared to 3rd.

>> Third impression...I was, for the most part, comfortably if lightly
>> powered on the 5.4 today. The ups and downs ramped slowly, so rather
>> than calling it gusty, I'd say it was up and down. And with wind that
>> light, the water was almost dead flat! I couldn't believe it, the
>> water was so flat it made for nice conditions to try to launch a
>> Spock, except for the fact that the current already seemed to be
>> slack, if not starting to reverse. Further out into the Arm, there was
>> clean, rolling swell that reminded me of a light day at 3rd Ave or The
>> Wall.

>> At this point, my mind was racing with thoughts of the current
>> reversal. When the flood switches to ebb at Crissy it can churn up
>> some vicious chop. And just like at Crissy I was keenly keeping an eye
>> out for traffic. Except for this time it wasn't ocean freighters
>> carrying bazillions of containers full of Hyundais, instead it was
>> those two schools of Beluga whales that just 5 minutes before had
>> passed right through the launch area. But quickly, my mind eased. It
>> was just windsurfing, but it was awesome. Looking toward shore on
>> either side of the Arm reminded me of the Gorge, with snowcapped
>> peaks, but the scale here is far more massive. And the water quality,
>> well, was very 3rd Avenue-like, only murkier. And instead of seals,
>> sea lions, and freighters at Crissy, my number one concern here was
>> those Belugas. As it turns out, they stayed up in the Arm chasing
>> salmon the rest of the afternoon.

>> My thanks go to Dan, a super-friendly Alaskan sailor who was patient
>> enough to explain the ins and outs, and another local sailor named
>> Dave who showed up late and didn't sail, but was fun to talk to after
>> the session. Dan and I swapped phone numbers, hoping to sail together
>> again, and he also gave me the number of their little "hotline", set
>> up by a guy who watches the wind and puts messages up so this
>> community of sailors can meet up and sail together.

>> Tomorrow I'll try to sail again, then it's off down the Kenai
>> Peninsula where I hope to sail Kenai Lake. Evidently there's a fairly
>> reliable afternoon thermal there and a really nice easy rigging and
>> launch.

>> I'll keep you posted,

>> Mark Paine

 
 
 

Alaska trip report

Post by morefor.. » Tue, 28 Aug 2007 13:34:03

Nice report!  I was in Alaska for a good part of 1989 and 1990.  I
remember being in awe that people sailed Turnagain Arm.  I flew over
it in a twin otter just after a squall with 100 knot winds had gone
through (and landed at Anchorage in record-breaking rain).  The
weather there is so often bad for flying, but great for windsurfing.
I think Kodiak would be superb for sailing with all kinds of different
venues and more importantly all kinds of wind!  Do people sail Homer?
I can't remember anyone talking of that, but its a nice big sandy spit
so should give a choice of conditions.

Although you passed lots of BC lakes with no wind on your way up once
past the gorge, this has been the worst summer for wind in recent
memory; theres often great thermals on most of the lakes in the Coast
Mountains between the hot interior and the cool coast.

 
 
 

Alaska trip report

Post by clydepe.. » Wed, 29 Aug 2007 20:12:07

Here's some TV coverage of another group on an Alaskan windsurfing
trip this summer:
http://www.windsurfingmag.com/index.jsp
 
 
 

Alaska trip report

Post by obol » Thu, 30 Aug 2007 13:29:22

Hey Mark,

Great report! As a Crissy and 3rd sailor heading to Alaska next
summer, this was great to read. Are there any kiters there or is it
only safe to windsurf?
This is a dream I've had for at least a decade, and I will simply camp
there until I am able to write a similar report. Good for you.

I'd love to hear about your trip when you get back. Please remember to
look me up. I'll by the beer and listen carefully.

Good sailing,

Oren Rienbolt
916-417-8746

 
 
 

Alaska trip report

Post by Mark Pain » Wed, 12 Sep 2007 04:12:41

Hi everybody,

I just wanted to follow up on my original Alaska trip report now that
my journey is over and I've finished the drive back down to San
Francisco.

Quote:

> Stay safe and watch out for grizzlies.

Surprisingly enough, I've never, *ever*, seen a grizzly in the wild,
though I've seen bazillions of black bears. As for terrestrial
wildlife in Alaska, I was disappointed, especially by Denali and the
Denali Highway. I saw far more wildlife in northern British Columbia
and The Yukon, and at much closer range. However, the marine wildlife
in Alaska is fantastic, including those Belugas that swam regularly up
and down Turnagain Arm during our windsurfing session. They chase the
salmon up into Turnagain Arm, then leave just before low tide.

Quote:

> Hope it blows like hell your entire trip!

It didn't blow like hell, but it blew nicely at Turnagain Arm, Homer
Spit, and Seward Harbor, and lightly at Kenai Lake.

We showed up at Homer Spit a bit too late in the evening to sail but
there was a nice breeze blowing offshore making for really flat
conditions. If I'd rigged and sailed it would've been my 107 liter
freestyle board and 5.0 or 5.4. The water temperature felt like
slightly below 50 degrees and it doesn't appear to be sailable at low
tide. I'd also be cautious about the current since the tide swing here
can be about 20 feet.

The drive down to Homer from Anchorage also passes some nice coastline
with sandy beaches that looked to be quite sailable had there been any
wind.

We had a similar experience at Seward Harbor, showing up a bit too
late to catch an onshore wind that had created some large, irregular
chop in the harbor. It would've been a 5.4 session had I rigged to
sail. Even though the tide swing here can also be about 20 feet, it
didn't appear to affect the sailability as much as at Homer Spit.
Again, the water temperature seemed to be below 50 degrees.

Kenai Lake is a long, narrow alpine lake that does indeed get an
afternoon thermal. By narrow I mean relative to its length--it's still
wider than the widest spot in the Gorge. I'd liken it to a slightly
wider Lake Arenal in Costa Rica except with a bit of an S-turn in the
middle. At least those were my on-the-spot impressions--maps may prove
me wrong. We stopped in there 3 times because it's pretty close to the
fork in the road from Anchorage down the Kenai Peninsula to Seward in
one direction and Homer in the other direction. The wind was light all
three times but on the 3rd time we just wanted to sail it just for the
sake of sailing it. The rigging and launching is quite easy. The water
is sub-50 degrees and quite cloudy due to the rock flour, quite common
for the alpine lakes and rivers in Alaska, The Yukon, and northern
British Columbia. I was just barely able to pump onto a plane with a
6.2. Even so, it was a blast!

Quote:

> Here's some TV coverage of another group on an Alaskan windsurfing
> trip this summer

I suspect that the contents of the link you supplied have changed. Now
it has a video that Eddy P shot of Zane Schweitzer and Connor Baxter
in the Gorge. Perhaps you were referring to a story about Eddy P, Rob
Warwick, and Troy Collins making a trip to Alaska in June and sailing
Turnagain Arm and Kenai Lake. Coincidentally, Kev was in the Gorge
when I was on the way up to Alaska and we stopped in to see Rob so I
could talk to him about Turnagain Arm. I think his experience was
similar to mine, in that at the start our minds were racing but then
we quickly eased into thoughts of "it's just windsurfing".

Quote:

> Great report! As a Crissy and 3rd sailor heading to Alaska next
> summer, this was great to read. Are there any kiters there or is it
> only safe to windsurf?

Oren, I spotted some kiters a lot further inland along Turnagain Arm
near the town of Girdwood. You'd have logistical problems with
launching a kite at the windsurf launch that I was at (Windy Point)
because there's nothing but large boulders on steep terrain. In fact,
there are mountain goats just above the road at Windy Point. It's a
common spot for cars to pull over to get a close look at the mountain
goats.

At Windy Point when the wind is blowing from the east (apparently the
most common direction) you've got about a 3 hour window in which to
sail, from 2 1/2 or 3 hours after low tide to high tide. The amount of
water that flows in right after low tide is astonishing. According to
posted signs at Bird Point, the bore tide can flow in at anywhere from
6 to 24 knots. That's not a typo. Up to 24 knots. And because low tide
is very low, revealing a mostly soft muddy bottom dotted by boulders,
that inrushing current creates river rapid conditions. The crazy thing
about Turnagain Arm is that during the strongest point of the flood or
the ebb it can look a bit like the Colorado River in some spots
because of the rapids, except that at Turnagain Arm the rapids switch
direction 4 times daily.

Now the problem at Girdwood is that it's not only dry at low tide but
dry for at least an hour or two before and after low tide, so your
window for kiting is *extremely* short. If you do make the trip next
summer let me know and I can give you the number of a windsurfer up
there who might be able to steer you to some kiters for more
information. I would also consider Homer, the beaches on the way to
Homer, and to a lesser extent Seward Harbor. Even though I liked
Seward a lot more than Homer, I think that the conditions at Homer
appear to be more kite-friendly.

-Mark Paine