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August 27, 2007


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Glad you made it back ok. Talk about nerve wracking - and missing dinner just adds insult to injury (as does the prospect of getting slapped upside the head by your spouse for editing the first account of the story...)

Hey, check out an Aquapac for your cell. They now even have one for flip phones, so even that's not an obstacle any more. On-the-water coverage tends to be at least as good as what you have at the launch, in my experience, and it sure is a nice safety blanket - in your situation, you could have let someone know you were out there; you and Jeff could have communicated; if things had turned ugly, you could have called for a rescue.

GPS-enabled phones that transmit coordinates to 911 operators would be ideal for that, but unfortunately most dispatch centers aren't set up to receive that data yet even though location transmission has been mandated by the FCC for a few years now (most cell carriers are using triangulation for a rough position fix; I believe Verizon and Sprint are the only ones to use GPS).

I guess this is the wrong moment to admit that the Foo Fighter's "DOA" song was running through my head as I barreled along through the fog:

"What a way to go, but have no fear
No one's getting out of here, alive
This time"

Woa! Scary! Yep sailing in large numbers and when its light is definitely the better option. I would have been freaking out if I was in that situation.

It was definately not fun, Bunty! Andreas I will look into the Aquapack. Where do you keep your phone when you sail...in your harness? Your wetsuit?

Don't tell Sally about this...

The San Francisco Boardsailing Association has this Windsurfing Safety Guide with some useful tips (including where to store a Aquapacked cell phone). Unfortunately, cell phones need to be near cell towers (whether they have GPS or not), and would not help you if you were too far out in the ocean.

The intended solution for water rescue is the Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon. I looked into this when some western LI windsurfers were rescued by the Coast Guard last year. At the time, these units were bulky and costly ($600+), but a google search yielded this unit for currently selling for $170: Mini-B 300 ILS Miniature Personal EPIRB.

I'm happy we dont have tides and rarely have fog in the Mediterranean. BUT we do have crazy jet bikers and boat owners who dont know what the hell they're doing. The only good thing about a power boat passing by is the big wake he leaves which makes a nice jumping ramp.

I usually carry a waterproof VHF. Actually a lot of the NYC kayakers started carrying them one year when it became all the rage among an idiotic pack or two of jetskiers to do high speed runs straight at any kayakers they might happen upon, spinning out at the last possible second. Really scary stuff. We talked to the coast guard & the harbor police, they'd been concerned about some other aspects of jet ski safety & ended up having an unmarked patrol out there. We would use the radio to report attacks.

It's good for less dramatic stuff too, though. Weather forecasts, listening to large vessels so we know where they're going, finding people out on the water if you're launching from 2 different spots.

Shorter trips, it's in the day hatch. Anything extensive or more interesting conditions, it fits in my lifejacket pocket.

I usually have the aquapac with the phone hanging from a lanyard around my neck and tucked into the front of my wetsuit, as it's out of the way there, as well as protected.

Jeff, you're right - no towers, no signal. But, if there are towers near shore, the signal projects out over the water really well. In Puget Sound, because the area is hilly, we get really nice on-the-water coverage since the cell carriers tend to position the towers on hills near shore. Not sure what the topography around Long Island Sound is.

VHF is great, since on any busy waterway, you're likely to have the CG listening in. The reason I'm using a cell is that it's less bulky, plus I already have one so I don't need to spend $150 on a new piece of equipment. That only works b/c I can be confident of the on-the-water coverage here. It's an easy thing to figure out for yourself, though - get the Aquapac and take your phone out with you, then check signal strength on the water.


I also sail large sailboats, and one thing that always amazes me is how even a familiar home shore so quickly become unrecognizable. Dusk changes everything.

I learned long time ago to stick to shore windsurfing anywhere near darkness, and at the sign of the small possible fog or dangerous wind changes (including decreases), I come back.

But I also know it's easy to get carried away in the midst of the action...

Glad you'z made it safe!

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