Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Hot and sultry. In a few words. My temp gauge is showing 32 outside and 37 inside!! No point in being inside the van it's just too hot. Until I came up with an ingenious idea. Soak some towels and hang them in the toilet compartment. Put the extractor fan on blow and I have cool air blowing through the van. A real treat in the uber heat.
Went for a bike ride at the start of the day. I could only manage 15 miles as the heat was sapping my energy. Came back and went to the supermarket. How cheap is stuff here compared to France. It's a shame that Spain does not cater so well for camper vans and suchlike it really would be a top place to visit. I've taken to what most people do when camping in Spain. Number ones in the bushes, number twos in the bog. The toilet emptying is more spaced that way.
I am also acclimatising to the way of life here. Moving slightly out of my lane on a roundabout the usual volley of car horns blare out to let you know that you are being a road hog. Instantly I gave him the middle finger with no sense of decorum for being in a foreign country. I am becoming a localised.
Had a bit of a sunbath in the afternoon and when it clouded over I went for another ride. This time beside the river that goes through San Pierre Pescador. The river is teaming with fish. Trout or bream I really dont know or care but it's fantastic to see wildlife thriving like that. I also saw a huge bright green lizard nearly the length of my arm bolt across the path. I nearly squashed his tail. Another cool thing to see.
Since I was here last they have erected a life guard hut. The bonus being that they have also installed a tap, so I wont die of thirst.
It's kite surf central here. You're pretty much guaranteed session. As there is always a 10 knot sea breeze in the afternoon at this time of year. I will rig as soon as I get up tomorrow as it looks like a hot day so the breeze should kick in quite strong in I hope.
30th june bay of Roses
I lied I didn't rig up first thing and i'm glad I didn't. Burning hot so before the beach beckoned I had a job to do for Ali. Go to the dive centre and see if they do the PADI course. (don't ask I don't know) Anyway they knew what I was talking about but didn't do any course until September. While in town I noticed a set of scales in the chemists so had a go to see if I lost any weight during my stay here. I was 103kg when I left. I know fat bastard and I was (am). 99Kg was the reading!! how can I lose such a little amount of weight, when I've eaten no chocolate or any croisants or cake or biscuits. Maybe the demi crème mile is not semi skimmed but extra cream with lard and butter on top. I'm at a loss. Looking on the bright side I dont need a weight jacket.
Back to the beach for a toasting session mulling over my non weight loss. In the distance is a big hill / mountain with a hut on top. So I decided to walk to it. That will burn some belly. The beach was 2.5 miles long on the gps so my trek was looking like I should be bringing my tent. Another 3 miles and the hut still looked like pimple on a pigs arse. So I decided to call it quits as it was starting to thunder and rain slightly. (great excuse).
Anyway i'm back from my 11 mile walk and my feet are killing me. So I will try and conquer the hill / mountain tomorrow if there's no wind again. The sky is looking dark so i'm hoping for a decent thunder storm. Better than tv.
Saturday, 27 June 2009
Just got off the water after a bread and butter sail. Blowing sub 15 knots but constant and above all fun. Pulled off a couple of 360s which was nice. I forgot I had a version 1 Venom 38. So I stuck that on the Manta and I think it felt better. I say think as the weed in the water was a pain in the arse. The board sometimes just gradually went sideways. Checking out the tail as I was going along revealed 7 or 8 strands of weed clinging on to the fin. Instead of stopping I tried chop hops to get rid of it which worked now and again.
Along with the weed there were big jellyfish in the water. About the size of a bowler hat. Not knowing if they were the stinging variety it made making all my gybes paramount.
The water was luke warm so all I wore was a vest which was ample. Loads of kite surfers out. I saw two incidents that made me cringe. A young lady rigged her 12 metre and as she launched her kite she got dragged through the bushes. I think she had a safety thingy attached to it as she de-powered pretty sharpish. The second one was some numpty hooking his mate into a kite. It looked like he never held one before. Numpy bloke was holding the handle on the harness when a gust hit and dragged both of them across the car park. The kite caught up in a fence and de-powered. Very close to hurting his mate badly.
The lake is more of a kite than a windsurf venue. Probably because of the weed. Lots of sailors were using very raked back weed fins.
If there is no wind tomorrow the bay of roses will beckon. This area is tops for camping though. Nice clean beaches. No chavs in the car parks doing doughnuts and not bad value on the cost of living. I will certainly bring Ali and the girls here for a while. Gemma and Daisy are looking forward to trying out aqua park. So am I :)
Friday, 26 June 2009
I've had a couple of texts berating me on the lack of blog posts. To be honest I don't know if a lot of people are reading it. Anyway I will make more of an effort.
Camping tips number 2:---- Honey dew melon left to its own devices smells like gone off milk. The cure is to eat it. I felt slightly pissed after eating it so it may have fermented. Mosquito's are a big issue. My legs are like bubble wrap. The little bleeders have declared war on me and i'm fighting back with an ingenious device that has a tiny fan that blows the opposite to a pheromone for the dainty blood sucking gits. The result is promising so far.
Today I went for a bike ride from Bacarres to Rivesalts. All round about 24 miles. My foretrex gave an average 12 mph which aint bad for a fat pig. During the ride a huge snake slithered across my path. This monster was a solid 4 foot long. I love this sort of thing so I start looking into the bamboo to see if I could see it again. A French chap walks past I look at him wide eyed. “A fucking huge snake” I say. He pauses “Comon”? I start gyrating my arm in a snake like fashion. He gets the drift. Mad Englishman has never seen a snake before.
Yesterday I visited le fort de salses. Built by the Catalans in the 15th century to keep the French at bay. It was taken by the French and as part of the treaty of the Pyranees with the Spanish the border was re-drawn and the French claimed it Very interesting.
I will check the forecast for the next few days and see if the Tramontana will kick in. if not I will go to Roses again as i'm guaranteed a bit of a breeze. I spoke to Boogie from C3 on Skype and he suggested going to Tarifa. I checked it on the sat nav and its around 850 miles to get there. I'm tempted to be honest but it will be a lot of money and 2 days travelling. Saying that I might just do it. Speaking of Boogie.... I have been on his forum recomending too small a fins to people. After much deliberation, testing, experimentation....... oh bollocks I was wrong.... Listen to Boogie and you wont go wrong. The Manta 67 needs a Venom 40 fin (as he recommended to me i went for a 36) and the 32 works fin with my 6.8. The warp speed works well with a 26. the Missile xs works with either the Venom 24 or the Strike 20.
I Also spoke to Weymouth speed guru Pete Young, I gleaned info on Gruissan. Where he was doing the Defi wind. It seems I was on the wrong side of town for where the speed sailors go. I had to go through the old part of town to get there. Being a numpty I didn't Anyway I will make my way there if it starts kicking in again.
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
No wind, speed sailing conditions, internet and being lazy has put the stoppers on the blog for a while.
I went to the bay of roses for a few days and am planning on going back there. The beach is wonderful and there is a nice parking area about 50 metres from the beach. The downside is Spain is not geared towards wild camping so the options are limited. The upside is food is a lot cheap than the south of France and if it's sunny you're guaranteed at least a force 4 to have a play in. Conditions are more geared towards bump and jump. But is still fun on a slalom board. I had one day on the C4 6.8 the Manta 59 with the C3 32 and had a total blast with this set-up. For info I cant see a better fin for the 59 other than the C3 Venom 32. Upwind or downwind it just did its job in the very choppy conditions. Out of the Manta 67 and 59, the 59 is a sweet board for choppy conditions. I have to say they are fragile though. Be gentle or witness marks will be obvious.
With my gas running out and Spanish petrol stations having no lpg filling facilities unless I went to Barcelona, I decided to go to Hyeres as there was wind forcasted there and I could sample the delights of the Almanarre speed strip. A couple of problems on the way. I had a flat tyre for some reason and I had the wrong adaptor for filling lpg in France. The numpty who fitted my gas gave me the wrong adaptor. So after a phone call to said numpty he posted the adaptor to the post office in Hyeres. Postage cost was £35. I nearly had kittens at the price. Oh and my sat nav went tits up as well. So I had to buy a new one of those as well.
Hyeres is lovely. It a little peninsula that works in any wind direction. The water is warmer than Leaucate, so swimming was good to go for a woos like me. With no wind turning up it was a lot of biking. Around 20 miles a day so i'm feeling a lot fitter than when I arrived in France. When the wind did turn up Almanare had onshore winds blowing around 20 knots the first day it arrived. I rigged the 7.5 C4 with the manta 67 and a C3 Venom 36. I had great fun racing the slalom dudes on their slalom kit across the bay. Length of the reaches were around 1 ½ miles. Excellent for the concentration on board and sail trim. I had no issues with the fin. No spin out or directional when fully powered. However with hindsight I would go for a 40cm Venom with this board. It just needs a little more little to get it going initially. The next day was blowing a lot harder onshore and the tide was low. So small waves were breaking. I rigged the 6.8 Demon C4 with the Venom 32 and the Manta 59. As I started towards the waters edge I noticed someone on a 4.2. So I was suspicious that I had over rigged slightly! After an hour of excitement I changed to the 6.0 and was a little more comfy to say the least.
Hyeres is quite expensive so I decided to make my way back to Leaucate and sample the hills on my mountain bike. One thing I love with France is the way bikes are catered for. Cycle routes are an integral part of the road system here. If the cycle route is not on the road there is a seperate pathway for bikes. It is cycling heaven. I went on one ride where I rode for 12 miles without once being on a road and it was all flat. Soap box time!!! Why the hell cant we do that in this country?? I used to ride 15 miles to work and had to run the gauntlet of riding on a bypass that had cars blasting past me at 80 mph. Why could they integrate a cycle path into the bypass??? Anyone from Cornwall can see this as a no brainer.... Have a cycle path from Penzance to Truro at the very least. Oh I forgot that would be too obvious.
During my stay at Leaucate I literaly stumbled upon a place that reminds us the horrible things humans do to each other. The camp de Rivesaltes used to be an interment camp for Jewish people in WW2. It was used because it was close to the main railway line that took these poor people to Belsen and Auschwitz concentration camps. The hundreds of buildings lay empty a silent reminder of atrocities that happened during that time. A very sad place.
After few days mountain biking in the hills. The Tramontana was forecast to hit Leaucate in the next couple of days. So I decided to try the teliski lagoon and see if I could tuck under the bank that looked so good on google earth. This was to be made harder as there was weed in the water that wrapped around the fin. So that put a stop to that. I did find out that I could hang on to the 6.8 Demon in shed loads of wind though. I noticed that most people were on 4 to 4.5s. I did have one wipeout when the board flew into the air and caught a rail and I stopped myself with a shin into the opposite rail. Ouch...
With Leaucate getting lower in my speed sailing estimation I emailed Martin van Meurs from gps-speedsurfing.com and asking him wether the Trench at Saint Marie De la Mare would be sailable. He said it may be silted up so would be un-sailable. I decided to throw caution to the wind and make the 100 mile trip. While driving there were so many lakes and banks that looked promising for a speed strip. Without a doubt there is a bank that would be as good a the Ray or Sandy point. As I drove through the town it seemed like I was driving through Spain instead of France. Images of bulls and horses were everywhere. I started up a sandy lane. And then a barrier, €8 to stay the night by the beach. Mildred my sat nav voice said I had a mile to go to the lat and long coords that I entered into it. My mouth was getting dry. Not from the heat but from getting near speed sailing central. Not carved by nature like the Ray or Sandy point. Carved by man with one goal in mind. To break the world speed sailing record. The lane got narrower. Usually I start to worry that I will get stuck in a dune or there is a huge ditch that I will fall in. Then I will have to hire a crane to lift the van out etcetera etcetera.... Not this time. I'm on a mission and no sand dune or ditch will dare get in the way.
“You have reached your destination”. Mildred said. I got out of the van and started my way towards where I though the holy place would be. There was a muddy salt encrusted expanse in front of me. Hoof and footprint were dotted here and there. As I made my way across I disturbed the flys that were sunning themselves in the burning relentless sunlight. As I got to the other side small puddles of salt water were quietly melting away in the heat. Careful not to get my flipflops wet I skirted deftly around them and promptly slipped on my arse. Clean shorts on today and muddy hands and legs. I carried on hoping no one saw my un-graceful fall. Then I saw it.
1000 metres of sand dredged out of the ground to form the perfect speed sailing course. Dug at an angle so it would be perfect for the huge Tramontana and Mistral winds that blow through here. Standing there in awe at the place. I thought of the videos of Finian, Antoine, Whitey and Oshea. All achieving records at this wonderful place. Martin van Meurs was right. The trench was half full. I surveyed the full length and the north end was fuller than the south end. I may have a chance to sail on the grail. Tomorrow will be the day.
Back to the van and check out the area. I could see that there were people rigging up in the distance so headed for there. The wind was blowing around 15 knots so rigged the C4 7.5 and the Manta 67 with the Venom 36. Little did I know that I was in slalom heaven. The wind was blowing offshore at about 100 degrees. The beach however is 6 kilometres long with hardly any lulls in the wind. So its up to you how far you want to go. I cant emphasise how good this place is. It is the best sailing experience I have ever had. Fully powered reaching that doesn't reach an end. All you have to concentrate on is board and sail trim. This place is not just a record breaking venue it's an epic venue for anyone who wants the bread and butter windsurfing that puts a huge grin on your face.
I met some top blokes as well. Among others Evan from seaclone.boards.free.fr and his friend Framck. They gave me their excellent local knowledge and tales on the trench. They all are well into their speed sailing. Both had speed slaom boards and were sailing the full length of the beach like yoyos. Neither had gps units but Evan borrowed one of mine and I will mail him his track and hopefully he will post his session. I'm hoping they will spread the word on the gps front as this place has huge potential in a Tramontana. The angle will be perfect in a NW wind.
The session where i had my fastest 10 second was my most painful. beating back up the course i hit the sand and went through my sail. to go through a Demon sail you have to hit it pretty hard. i have the bruises to coming up now.
The next day I tried the trench but the water was just too low. The bank broke the wind up too much so I had to go back to what is a windsurfing mecca. If the mistral blows there again I will certainly be back. One word of warning though. When the wind drops. Millions of tiny flys come out to harvest on your bodily fluids. That was when I made a hasty exit.