Well, it appears summer is here! Sea breeze thunderstorms and what Purser Finney calls “heat thunder” are a common occurrence these days but if you time it right you can still get some good sailing in. Usually in the morning at Shell Point in the summer the wind is either non-existent or offshore. As the land heats up the temperature difference between the air just inland and offshore is pretty large, leading to pressure differences that lead to the sea breeze coming in perpendicular to the coast. The sea breeze is usually evident as a small cumulus cloud line that parallels the coast and gradually moves inland.
Ideally you want to catch it when if first starts because, even though the wind is light, you have first dibs on those beautiful ripples on the surface that are not yet annoying chop. Those ripples are fun to glide across while they last. Gradually the breeze starts building and over an hour or so may increase from 5 to 10 mph with gusts to 13. Great winds and you might even do some planning if it’s not too choppy yet. As you are sailing, keep an eye on that sea breeze line (of cumulus clouds paralleling the coast). The line is propagating inland and the relatively cool marine air undercutting hot land air provides forcing for convective clouds…. The common cumulus clouds are now becoming towering cumulus and it you look closely you might even see the individual active turrets powering upward. You still have time to sail but now those clouds are sucking more fuel from the bay and the wind may start gusting to 15 or more. Now you have to watch inland carefully while you are blasting around the bay. Look at the character of the cloud tops. When they change from hard defined edges to fuzziness, that means the tops of the clouds are glaciating (ice crystals are forming) and ice properties lead to large electrical charge differences. As the crystals grow, they get heavy, descend, and melt, dragging air downward with them as downdrafts. Depending on the mid-level winds (winds at 5-15,000 ft) the line will either continue to propagate inland, or if you are unlucky, just sit there or even come back toward the coast. As the downdrafts spread out you will see black clouds, gust fronts, and rain curtains approaching from just inland determined to ruin your day. But hey you got out early, enjoyed the pristine ripples and even got some planning in during your short 1-2 hour sail so not too shabby!
Once the storms are done dumping rain and dropping lightning usually the marine area is covered by a huge anvil cloud and that limits heating enough that it’s pretty tough to get a decent sea breeze going again.
If you are lucky and those in town are unlucky, you will be sailing beneath a nice blue sky as the line propagates well inland. It will look bad there but if the mid-level winds have a southerly component, those storms will stay inland. You will then sail in a steady 8-12 breeze that gradually veers to the right as the day goes on…. The Coriolis force in action as the earth turns beneath the breeze!
The lesson? Get to the beach early and be happy to take what you can get!
See you on the water!
SPSC Commodore and Retired Meteorologist
Training Update May 2023 ~ Bob Graves
Lessons are well underway, with the first one back on April 15th with the FSU sailing club. Thankfully, Zoie Hill came down to assist in wrangling a very enthusiastic group of sailors. They all did great! We had a practice day on the Sunday after to allow some of last year’s students to shake off the cobwebs and get ready for the Smith regatta.
Our second lesson was on May 13th and, unfortunately, I had something come up that took me out of town. However, with the incredible trainers we have in Tina Mazanek, Joe Sisson, Bob Andrews, Chris Graves, and Perry Morris, lessons went off without a hitch and the practice day was very successful.
As the lesson’s coordinator, I get recognition for the hard work of these trainers. Tina is the most experienced trainer and Bob A is the only one that had a certification at one point (we still consider him “certified”). Chris used to teach with Tina “back in the day” and Joe has been training for as long as I can remember. Perry has joined this incredible group since his retirement, though he has always been there to help previously. Many of also show up on Wednesdays during the ABYC sail camp for a day of windsurfing.
In addition to our lesson’s day, the Sundays after are club practice days. Thankfully, practice days bring lots of SPSC sailors to the beach to just hang out and they all help retrieving and stowing gear. Mack comes down on Sundays to help some of the practice day people further their skill levels by giving them pointers and encouragement. Perry is always down there on a Sunday to help in any way he can and many of the other trainers come down to sail and help.
I am fortunate to be included in this group of fun and dedicated trainers and look forward to working with them down the road.
2023 storm names will be:
Just had to post this. Two of these storms have already hit south Georgia and the SPSC area! Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harold, Idalia, Jose, Katia, Lee, Margot, Nigel, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince and Whitney
ROADIES RIDE AGAIN ~ May Edition
After a long layoff, the ROADIES got back together on Thursday, May 25th, to get some needed work done around the tree planter by the training trailer. Erosion at the beach has been bad and the planter was not holding up well, with roots shooting out the bottom, so something had to be done.
Wright had a vision (can I get an amen!) of what he felt needed to be done. Since ROADIES stands for Retired Old Ass Dudes, he knew it had to involve somewhere to sit and rest our weary bones. He got with Stan and they concocted a plan which involved lots of lumber, screws, and work.
It is with great enthusiasm we welcomed some new retired folks to the fold. The oldies that were there were Huh?, Quartermaster, Fractions, Suds and Whelp! After consulting with the other ROADIES, we would like to welcome our new member, WANKER!!! One other person came down to help, someone who is having trouble figuring out what retired life is like, so until such time as he commits to the retired life, we’ll continue to call him Bill. However, Close Enough (Lee) was with us in spirit throughout the project, because if he hadn’t been, it would have never gotten done.
We met at the beach at 9, because that’s when the wood was supposed to get there but wasn’t. However, we had holes to dig and roots to cut so got right to work. The truck finally arrived a bit after 10am, along with several bags of concrete, and we got right to work measuring, sawing, measuring again, screwing, digging some more, and measuring yet again. Much of the time was spent looking for the many tape measures down there and the pens to mark where the cuts needed to be.
We finished up the project about 3pm. There were a few ‘hiccups’ in the process, which shall not be mentioned so that you can still hold the ROADIES in high esteem, but every problem was met with a solution. This group of people doesn’t quit once they get started and the result is a great addition to the beach.
What to Expect When You Sign Up For A Free Lesson ~ Ted Avellone
One of the first things you’ll notice when you visit the Shell Point Sailboard Club (SPSC) website is that it offers free windsurfing lessons. While it’s not the most prominent feature on the website, it’s arguably one of the most important aspects of the club. Not only are the lessons free, but you also don’t need your own board—they supply one for you to learn on!
After you’ve signed up, just show up on your lesson day in a bathing suit, some water-shoes (the neoprene slip-on booties like Dick’s and scuba shops sell), and maybe a hat, water, sunglasses, and sunscreen. If you haven’t been to Shell Point Beach lately, it’s nice, with a pretty little beach, good rinse-off shower and bathroom facilities.
When you arrive at the beachfront area, the SPSC training trailer is on the east end of the public beach. It’s a small gray wooden structure situated right on the beach, and is where all the club’s boards, rigged sails, and other equipment are stored. It’s the meeting place and main gathering area for members and guests for lessons as well as various club events.
When you walk over to the shed, a club instructor will meet you, and after some basic introductions, you’ll walk down to the water’s edge where a learner sailboard will be laying. The instructor will point out the basic parts of the sailboard—board, mast base, mast, boom (the part you hold while you’re sailing), centerboard, and sail--and then you’ll both step into the water and down the gradually sloping bottom until you’re both about waist deep.
Then, the teaching commences. Despite how complicated windsurfing may look at first, it really isn’t. The wind acts upon the sail in predictable ways, and the sail acts on the board in predictable ways, and the board moves through the water in predictable ways. The instructor essentially explains the basics of how these three variables work together, giving continual input as the student learns, and before long something in the student “clicks,” where the brain-body-sailboard experiences a sort of revelation in understanding how everything works together. From that point on, it’s basically just refinement through continued experience. It’s much like learning to ride a bicycle in this respect, though learning to ride a bicycle is probably a lot harder.
“But I’m not athletic.” “I’m not a strong person.” “I’m too fat.” “I’m too skinny.” “I’m uncoordinated.” “I don’t have a good sense of balance.” Rest assured that everyone who first considered windsurfing thought and believed at least one of those things before they tried it. They’re all meritless excuses. Need proof? Just look at the club members! There are little kids, and people of all shapes and sizes. It’s not about strength, coordination, or having good balance. Virtually anyone can learn to sail a sailboard.
Once you’ve learned to sail, and you enjoy the freedom, thrill, and relaxation it offers, and you like the camaraderie of hanging out with club members on the beach, you can join the ranks of the club for only $30, or $45 for two or more family members. If you’re a member, you still don’t have to have your own board to be able to go windsurfing. From April to October the club has “practice days” about every other weekend where you can just show up and use one of the club’s sailboards and sail around the beach area and channel. There are always people who are about at your own level of skill that you can have fun sailing around with—beginners, intermediate sailors, and experts. The club also holds races and other events throughout the year, all of which are a blast.
If you, or someone you know, has even the slightest interest in learning to windsurf, sign up for a free lesson and come on down!
Flash Back !!
The Smith Regatta ~ Thomas Avellone
The 50th annual Stephen C. Smith Regatta was an enriching experience for me as a beginner; one of the biggest lessons I learned was to trust your gear. Although the wind on the first day left something to be desired, the first heat was especially enjoyable. I had just got around the marker and I was in 2nd, and Sydney was a reasonable distance ahead of me. Some sort of desire to win broke through and I started driving the board and rig as hard as I could, at the last stretch, with me and Sydney head-to-head, I let my body fall back as much as I could let it, pushed hard with my front leg, and to my astonishment I didn’t fall in, but my sail held me up, as I accelerated quickly past the finish line, barely winning the race. When people told me to “lean back” it didn’t really register in my mind that it should feel like you’re falling into the water and stopping yourself with the sail.
The Smith Regatta (especially on the second day when the wind was much stronger) was where I really started trying to put that idea into practice. Getting your body away and down low while keeping your arms out and your front leg stretched was a paradigm shift for me and changed the sport for me entirely. Consequently, the Smith Regatta was also where I learned what it felt like to be catapulted off my board.
When my father and I arrived early in the morning, I was delighted to see all kinds of fancy shortboards and modern sails I'd only seen on videos. Meeting the owners and admiring the gear with them where I could ask all kinds of questions was a very fun experience, and I was impressed at how much some of the people there knew about the gear-aspect of sailboarding.
What impressed me more was on the second day when the more experienced sailors got to sail their advanced gear. Understanding how tippy some boards can be, I was blown away at how effortlessly and almost gracefully some of the sailors were with their gear, getting onto the plane seemed like a casual thing for them, jibing was less like an awkward jerky movement and more like a pirouette.
Watching these sailboarding masters doing what they do best on the water was like eye candy and being able to talk with them felt like talking to a celebrity. It gives me hope for my future that one day I may be able to not look so dumb out on the water, and maybe even make someone watching think “I think I'll try that.”
The Hobie Cats were also an interesting sight to see at the beach and I was somewhat taken aback by the size of their sails. Someday I think I'd like to try that, but for the foreseeable future I want to focus on sailboarding and mastering those skills as much as I can.
I have a poster from the last Endless Summer Regatta that I was kindly given, I have it right next to the computer I am typing on right now. I look at it often and daydream of maybe one day doing one-handed goiters off big waves on little boards and sails in Hookipa, Hawaii as Graham Ezzy is depicted in the image, and while that dream has a long way to be realized, the Regatta was a small but essential step in that journey for me. The whole event was a blast, and I am very excited for the Endless Summer regatta coming up this October.
SPSC Club Minutes, Tuesday, 5/9/2023
Place: District 850
Got a smaller room and it was packed with 18 people in attendance. Great turnout.
Commodore: Called to order at 7:02. Asked to approve minutes and they were within seconds. Mentioned how great the Smith Regatta was and how much the out-of-towners enjoyed it. Congratulated the King of the Beach, Ron, who spoke about the LisaRita’s and how strong they were.
Vice Commodore: Got the Tiki to the Commodore’s chagrin.
Scribe: Gave the answers to the quiz he handed out based on the May newsletter. A few people did well.
Purser: Have money in the Synovus bank, with Bob Andrews hoping it remains solvent. A few expenses for the Smith, with the SPSC paying for some and the SCSMRF paying for some. $750 had been approved for the planter and the wood is on order. Training may buy a few things. Currently have 85 members. Membership fees have not been raised in 20 years.
Upcoming events and actions:
Awards – The Lug Nut award was reluctantly presented to Bob Andrews by Don Franklin for getting his boat halfway in the water at the boat ramp only to discover that he didn’t have the key to it.
Beach Planter – Looking at maybe the week after next for a two-day window to get it done.
Trailer – Feeling is that the trailer could get painted in a day if we had 6 to 8 people doing it. Folks talked about the durability of the trailer.
Social Hour – Hub at Feather Oaks on May 26th.
Great video of the Smith regatta interrupted periodically by technical issues that the technician on hand, Sylvia, quickly got under control.
Adjourned at around 7:44pm.