When The Wolf called to say that some guys were heading to the Pier my response was reportedly less than enthusiastic. I distinctly remember saying "okay, see you there!" But hours later as we reflected on the fine session, John said to me "so you like it here now? Because you sounded tentative when I called."
"I was intimidated" I confessed.
My first Iron Pier session had been some of the most challenging windsurfing I'd ever done. There was the occasional spectacular reach or good jump, but mostly it was survival sailing for me (the Pier vets did well.) So when John called and said "Pier" I may have agreed, but what I wanted to do was whine "doesn't anybody like Sebonac Inlet anymore? Doesn't anybody like Meschutt?"
(Shut up and drive, Michael.)
But when I arrived at the Pier, conditions were blessedly a hair lighter than last time, and I was grateful. Sailing with the Wolf, Jon Ford (fresh back from Maui,) John H and Frank, sail sizes on the water were 4.2 (Wolf) to 5.4 (Mr. Ford) with me overpowered on a 5.0 and 77 liters of aircraft.
I'd taken a few exploratory runs and was standing on the beach (working up the nerve to go back out and really charge) when about a dozen puffins flew by, only about 50 feet away. Talk about an omen! They were the first puffins I've seen this fall, and I've never had them fly so close! Their message was clear: Time to fly!
So I did. While not sailing particularly well I proceeded to have plenty of fun anyway. The puffins also buzzed Jon Ford, who told me he too took their appearance as a commandment from the cosmos to shred. Jon showed off his best Maui-honed chops as he rode wave after wave (we lesser beings also played with the waves, but Mr. Ford was on top of his game.)
So now I like the Pier.
(Inset: A newspaper photographer (Barbaraellen Koch of the Riverhead News-Review) had shown up at the previous Iron Pier session and graciously provided the Peconic Puffin with photos from the day. It got even better when they slapped that photo on the cover of last week's newspaper.)