I scored a nice, but cold little dawn patrol session at Everitt Park in Kingston on Saturday. The air was warm, but we've had a couple weeks of abnormally cold temps for October and the lake is now on the cusp of foot numbness, which experience tells me is about 10 or 11C. I reckon one more week and I will have to succumb to booties. Yech... But a small price to pay to keep sailing the often stronger winds we get in the late fall.
This brings me to a topic of the day. Gnarly launches. Kingston has its fair share of nasty launches. I mean, I guess they aren't THAT bad, but they are definitely hard on the feet. Being very anti-booty, the launches here can really take their toll on one's feet.
- Emily St - the old-school primary Kingston launch is bad. For Emily St, it is the rock size that kills you. Too small to step on, but too big to feel nice, all topped off with a generous helping of algae. Walking the gear out at Emily St is a royal pain in the ass, with definite trip potential and even twist-your-ankle potential, not to mention slice potential by the damn zebra mussels. Good thing it is not a very long walk - about 5m or so and your off and going.
- Everitt - Oh man, this place is sometimes easy, sometimes hard. Either way, you definitely think twice about coming to shore to make that wee tweak to your outhaul. The problem? Very flat, slick Kingston limestone, mostly big coherent slab, but with cracks that are often filled with those pesky razor-sharp zebra mussels and also coated with that nice slime layer that makes it slicker than ice. Argh!! It would not be so bad, if it were not for the current and 5-6 second period waves that hit you over and over, and slowly drag you down-wind into the bay. Basically, coming in post-session entails sliding along the slippery slab until your feet can grip on those zebra-mussel filled cracks. Joy!
OK, I bet there are lots of stories of gnarly launches way worse than here. Got any? Despite the fact Kingston has some not-so-comfy entries, I think in my experience, what takes the cake by miles is Pungarehu in Taranaki, New Zealand, home of the Taranaki Wave Classic. It just so happens to be going off right now!! Best of luck to my old Welly mates Gary and James!
First off, Punga's is a port tack spot. While about 50% of people out there are pleased with that, unfortunately for me, I lack any experience on that tack and really struggled with the waves there. Note to self - travel more!!
To be honest, I only sailed Pungarehu once in fact, during my NZ stay, and holy shit, what a brutal spot to launch. The wave is one of the best in the world, but the launch is one of the worst. I think I launched at low-tide, probably making matters worse. The walk is about ~50m or so, across gritty volcanic rocks ranging from 0.5 to 2 feet in diameter. So, it was a mix of stepping on, and stepping between the sharp rocks to make progress - and progress was VERY slow. Stepping in between was troublesome, since it is hard to move the gear through without dragging the sail tip or boom on the sharp rocks. I've never been so battered in my life.
I distinctly remember one particularly ingenious local. He end his session at the same time as me and we were walking out together His trick? Keep an old pair of steel-toed construction boots handy, for the walk out, and the walk back. Brilliant!
Oh yeah, Lanes in Maui is a good one. After launching there once, my buddy who had lived there for a while gave me some solid advice: "You're an idiot," he said "Only Art launches there..." If you like the crunch of urchins beneath your feet, give it a shot!
Got any gnarly launch stories?