St Zotique

Well I partied a bit too much last night but am still feeling up to making the journey to St Zotique to windsurf on Jan18th. I am optimistic about the weather as the thermometer seems to be around 3 degrees.

I have been in Cabarete for two weeks so I push my baby daughter Mila aside in the shower as I decide to give my body a quick wake up call with cold water… hmm not bad. Let’s try that again. I push her over and this time I make it really cold. I am jumping around and making noise so she decides to try too. Yup. Now she is crying. “Its ok” I tell her as I crank the hot water. This is a luxury I will not have later on.

A quick check on the forum and I see that no one is talking. I know Yvan will be in, but where is he? Finally a post from Yvan “We are on standby for St Zotique”. The wind is up to 30 miles an hour now. I make a post looking for directions. Planchette graciously replies. I cant wait any longer. I’m off.

I make it to St Zotique in good time. Its 10 am and I am all alone. Did I mention I am hung over… Now I realize it is seriously windy and I have forgotten my smallest sails and I am going to need them.

A quick call to Rob. “Are you in?” Yes he is, eh… Can you go to my house for me and get my sails? Rob is gracious as well. After he has already left my house I realize I don’t have my small fins #*^#. Another call… eh, would you mind turning back for those too. Lol. He agrees. Truth is it looks very sketchy. Lots of ice on the shoreline and now it is turning offshore and starting to look really bad.

I am heading back from the local restaurant where I have just had the best poutine of my life and decide to snap a few pics of the sign at the park when Yvan spots me, good thing too, because he is leaving. He tell me we need to go to the other side of the lake where a friend of his lives and he thinks we might be able to sail. We meet Rob at the Valleyfield exit and we are all off on an adventure to find some sailable water on this winter day.

Yvan’s friends place is a bay and is cutting the wind; on top of that there is ice everywhere… onward to St Anicet. I have never been here and yes.. it seems far but as we get close we can see the wind is totally cranking. We are all excited and ready to hit the water. We walk down the pier and its covered in ice, its bloody cold(about zero I guess) and the launch is SKETCHY.

Yvan is rigging a 4.4 and I’m thinking it 3.7 but its side shore and going downwind is not an option. Rob has no idea how he will launch a kite and Yvan is telling me I should borrow one of his older plastic shell boards, hmmm… yet another gracious offer. I am really not in love with the idea of trying to do this type of sailing on a board I am totally unfamiliar with so I decline. I am slow to rig and not totally feeling it I have to say. Yvan is off, he is working later and does not have time to spare. By the time I am ready to go out he is coming back. Big smile as always. He looks at my board and makes it clear that I will smash it to bits if I try to take it out. “You better take mine he says”. He explains that the waves make it hard to go through the initial line of ice slowly.

I step out on the board, it is ridiculously slippery but I quickly understand why my board would have been toast. All the ice at the shoreline is quite thick and some slabs are about five feet in diameter. Once in open water the board takes off and feels pretty good. I do feel as though I am about two feet further back on the board and this feeling is strange to me, it seems to gibe on its tail but none of this really matters. Being out here compares to going into mast high waves on a shallow reef. The adrenaline is pumping hard and I feel alive! I enjoy it for a short time and decide to make my exit. My first attempt to come through the 30 or so feet of ice on the shoreline is foiled by a big slab of ice that slows me too fast and subsequently my nose sinks and I go over forward. I have saved energy for this but realize maybe I should go back out and do one more tack to get a bit more upwind. Now I realize I am cold. My fingers feel frozen together; better make sure to come though this time. Not too much of a problem but its very weird pushing the slabs around on a board… I am a little downwind but not more than 50 or so feet. I get out with all the gear that now ways about 150 pounds. Its completely covered in ice. I see rob at the pier feverishly looking for me. Lol. He thinks I have disappeared. I hate to laugh but the look of despair in his body language is amusing to me. I signal to him and he comes over to help me out.

Launching Robs five meter kite is almost funny. Its so small. Doesn’t take long to see that its all he is going to need. The puffs are killer and launching on the ice up wind has its own set of challenges. Rob has more ice to pass from this launch spot than we did and the kite is twirling back and forth feverishly as he is dragged through the launch zone of slush ice, ice slabs and debris. He has a short session and returns pumped… we are both elated. We share a pizza at a little restaurant right next to the park as the sun sets and we verbalize our feelings of sailing in these conditions. What a rush.

Special thanks to Planchette for the prompt reply with directions
Special thanks to Rob for running around for my gear
Special thanks to Yvan for showing us the way to another spot and lending me unbreakable gear.

Special thanks to the sport of windsurfing and another excellent day!

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