Hi guys! This is my first post. Yeah!
...a bit on the serious side: Has anyone felt the need to carry a Boyant Personal Locator Beacon while windsurfing alone on Lake Michigan? Bad luck could happen to the best and since I'm about to set sail on the Lake, I was thinking that carrying one of those small devices could help, just in case!
Here is a link to a company that sells that kind of equipment and an pic of their smallest PLB.
Same here: for me short board=short distance. Even if you are lucky and have nice offshore conditions or break wall you sail close to shore, so no real need for such a device. I would imagine that a cellphone might be handy in case you cant make it back upwind and call somebody to pick you up from a diffrent spot downwind. All I cary with me is a small downhaul cleat, so I dont have to come in for a rig trim.
Btw are you all set? Did you get all the components you needed or are you still collecting?
Just sit on the board and wave your hands signaling a distress and I'm sure somebody on the shore or a boater will see you. My second session with my first short board ever became a disaster as soon as I cleared the break wall in Michgan City. A total newb I wasnt able to plane or waterstart at the time and sure enough the endless uphauling in the swell got me exhausted and driftig farther from shore /it must have been a WSW/ . Few minutes waving to random jet skis and boats and a couple on a motor boat came to the resque, threw me a rope wich I attached to the back foot starps and then they dragged me all the way to where I launched from with me just laying on top of the board doing nothing-great people!
Hell, the weird people that sit alone and stare from their cars in the parking lot in Calumet call the coast guard on me all the time without giving them any indication that I might be in trouble
Learn to be as self suffienct as possible. Learn self rescue techniques. Acrually practice them. Ditch your rig and paddle your board if necessary. Do not count on anyone seeing you performing the international hand motions for help. Know the hand motions. Also learn the hand motion for saying "I am okay." Consider carrying extra line, a knife, a mirror, a light, and a whistle. Once I watched the Coast Gaurd helicopter find a downed windsurfer who's gear broke and he drifted into the dark. They found him because he had a light. The emergency locator is an awesome tool for being found on land or in the water if you need to be saved. They are promoted by the Coast Gaurd. They would rather travel to a beacon than do a visual search in open water. Hypothermia can happen in the middle of the summer. Know the dangers of offshore winds.
I would promote self rescue techniques before
I suggest that someone will see you and save you.
True and I would add 2 more things to that: if you have to swim your kit a long distance you need to derig and secure all the components as much as possible on top of the board or just ditch the rig in extreme situations otherwise it will be too much of drag and will wear you down fast. And never ever let go of your board!!!
That's a cool little device -- never seen those before.
When I sail Lake Michigan, I most often go out with a small Uniden Voyager VHF Radio (8.8 oz), which I put in my life vest. I got a refurbished model on ebay about 5 years ago for $49. It still works great. It's waterproof, but I keep it in a waterproof Aquapac bag to give it extra longevity. It fits perfectly in the front pocket of my Kokatak (Bahia) life vest. Granted, the radio and and PFD add some bulk and weight, but I've gotten used to them and they give me peace of mind. Added bonus: the life vest provides extra float, making waterstarting easier.
Here’s my own little safety story…. Last season, I learned firsthand just how critical the mast base (and universal joint) are to our sport. I was sailing at Greenwood Beach on a windy day. I went for a jibe, and the next thing I know I’m in the water, holding on to my boom and sail, but the board was no longer attached. (I was using a one-bolt, twist-on base that got loose and somehow managed to slide all the way up and out of the mast track). The current was moving very fast and when I realized what had happened, the board was already 20-30 feet away from me and gaining ground. There was no way I was going to catch it. Luckily, a friend of mine and a very good sailor, Al S. sailed by a few minutes later. “What the f@*# happened?” he yelled. “I lost my board,” I shouted back. “Where is it?” The board was already out of sight, so I pointed in the general direction and said, “It went somewhere that way.” Next thing I know, Al takes off in that direction. I thought, “What the heck is he doing?” Then I remembered that I had my radio on me. I called my friends at Northwestern Sailing Center and told them that I needed some help. I waited, hanging on to my sail, for about 10-15 minutes -- which was no problem, because I had a PFD -- and then I saw the boat coming. Then, lo and behold, out of the corner of my eye I see Al schlogging upwind with my board trailing about 5 feet in back of his! He had somehow tied a line from his footstrap to my footstrap and was sailing it back into shore. (As I discovered later, he keeps an extra safety line in his harness for emergencies.) I couldn’t believe my eyes.
So the moral to the story? Well, there’s a few: 1) make sure to tighten the mast base to the board very well, or get a two-bolt mast base to prevent slippage, 2) replace universal tendons after a few seasons -- they are cheap to replace, yet so important to everything we do. 3) PFDs make swimming and/or treading water a whole lot easier, esp. if you’ve lost your board. 4) carry an extra line or two for yourself or for someone else who may need it, 5) try to sail with or near friends, 6) personal locator beacons or VHF radios can save you lots of time (not to mention your life!), and, last but not least…. 7) Al at Greenwood is one hell of a sailor!
Great story Chris and thx to all who put in their 2-cents. This certainly made me think.
Seems to me that what makes a difference is whether or not you can rely on someone around on the water or on shore in case something goes wrong. From what can see, it's not always the case on my part of the Lake.
There is at least one more important moral to Chris's story, carry extra line (and a knife, and a mirror, and a light, and a whistle, …).
Harness manufacturers make small bags that attach to the harness to carry these things. DaKine makes a great bag with eyelets inside to attach items so they can't get lost or sink if you drop them during your emergency. My whistle, mirror, light, knife and line are all ties to the bag with small diameter line. It is very easy to put together a safety pack. It attaches to the side of your spreader bar. You won't even know it is there.