Friday, May 14, 2010

EPIC Day 2

Day 2 of windsurfing. Today we learn to sail. Or atleast that's what the plan was. Nature, it seems, decided otherwise. We didn't learn sailing on Day 2, but it proved to be a more epic day than I've seen in ages.

It started very well. We got the sails going, learnt about how to steer (it involves turning the whole sail and shifting it's position!) and how to stand in a sailing position. It's amazing - turn the sail, force it into the wind and hold on - the wind carries you forward effortlessly!

The winds were really exciting on Day 2. Perfect sailing weather for quite a while. They got out the fancier sailboat and the 29er (a high performance skiff that tends to capsize rather easily!).

The 29er is bloody fast. Seen here overtaking the light blue sailboat whilst going upwind. The little Opti sailboats and the kayaks were all around, having a good time.

And then it hit.

A massive thunderstorm picked up while we were all out at sea.

I was out beyond the bend as the winds were picking up, unable to control the sail or the board. Kaizad and Parry came up in kayaks to rescue me. Kaizad tried for a bit, but could not hold the sail up either. We headed back in our kayaks and Parry took the sail.

Rowing back in waves bigger than most seas in dingy little boats was madness. Every moment we didn't row, the wind and current carried us away from our heading. But we reached shore eventually and by now the wind was really picking up.

Now there was a kid in one of those tiny opti sailboats out in the waves as well. His boat had not only capsized (turned over on the side) but actually overturned (upside down). It was impossible for him to upright it. At the edge of our visibility, a rescue party was launched.

A 2-man kayak headed towards him, battling high waves and impossible winds. We were scurrying around carrying the boats out of water, tying up the sails and what-not. It was hard work with the rain pelting down upon us.

The kayak eventually reached the opti, but the visibility was less than 150m and we had no idea what was happening to them. We launched our own land-rescue effort - carried a bunch of rope and traversed the shoreline towards them.

Eventually we could see the overturned opti sailboat, but there was no sign of the kayak or the 3 people who should have been there. One sailor planned to sail out to the opti whilst carrying rope and then we from the land would pull it in.

But alas, this is when the hail hit us. Yes, real hail. Stones of ice. Ouch, that hurts. And we crouched trying to protect our heads from the hail. Clearly now our rescue would be impossible as we sought shelter near a wall.

All the while we could (just about) see the sailboat, but no people, wondering where they were. Eventually we braved the hail and ran back to camp.

And there we waited for the storm to pass.


Eventually (hours later actually), all the boats and people were rescued. The kid in the opti really played it well. He didn't freak out, just held on to the boat for his life. One windsurfing board had been lost, but everyone was alive and kicking. In retrospect, the storm was an amazing experience. It really showed us how vulnerable we are to the winds and the surf.

Our first first-hand experience at disaster rescue. Sigh. I want to go back to Khadakvasla now.

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