Beginner desperate to improve
Hello. I'd appreciate honest feedback from experienced hands! I spent a week in summer 2007 in OBX and am absolutely hooked on windsurfing. Though I'm still very much a beginner, the joy of simply gliding across the water is addictive.
I'm lucky enough to have June & July 2008 free and want to go somewhere where I can improve beyond my rudimentary beginner status. I'm thinking of going to Bonaire but am not sure if its a wise choice considering wind, safety, quality of instruction, rental equipment, etc.
Suggestions and tips are welcome. I'm a 36 year old guy wanting to relax for 2 months and get decent at windsurfing - not looking to be an expert, just want to be skilled enough to do this sport for life. Am based in FL but would love to spend some time overseas (Caribbean or Cntrl America) as the waters are even warmer there!
Best -- A. Sharfi
I see no problem with Bonaire for learning and improving your skills. The wind may have a higher average there, but you will have access to rental gear of appropriate sizes. There are 2 excellent rental places, right next to each other, and the instructors are fine. The water is warm, and shallow, and you will be inside a reef so there is no wave action. Plus the wind is onshore.
I've been there quite a few times. And seen never-evers advance dramatically over the course of 2 weeks.
2 months in Bonaire and you'll be the luckiest person on earth. What I wouldn't give for that!!! After that amount of time there, you'll be writing on the forum and not reading it! I say, go for it!
Ellen, Thanks so so much for taking the time to provide your input. I appreciate it very much. Quick question for you: I'm finding Bonaire (and the caribbean generally) is more expensive that I'd anticipated. I live near Miami but have never windsurfed there (Biscayne Bay near Rickenbacker Causeway seems to be popular). Thus - I'm thinking of windsuring in Miami in addition to (or instead of Bonaire). WOULD you think learning in Miami would be comparable or not-as-good as Bonaire? I know this is very subjective - but I'm looking for opinions of people who're experienced (and you certainly seem knowledgeable). THANKS! A-Sharfi
Yes, just about any island is going to be more expensive since just about everything has to come in by boat. And, tourist islands have that added extra. BUT the wind in the summer in the southern Caribbean is going to be way way more consistent than Miami. Florida in the summer can be light much of the time. The best wind in FL is late fall thru spring, and it is mostly due to frontal systems moving through.
Maybe a combo of a few weeks in Bonaire and then someplace like Hatteras? I'll also suggest contacting Ann Phelan who is a windsurfer - travel agent, Caribbean Wind and Sun Vacations, www.bonaire.caribbean.com, who knows the best and least expensive places and often can arrange some great deals. She lives in Massachusetts and Bonaire. (rough life...). Tell her I sent you and see if she can help out.
Given the wind in Florida in summer (everyone heads north), and the ideal conditions in Bonaire, I'd go to Bonaire. Even the northern Caribbean is weak for wind in summer.
Bonaire is geat
As Ellen says Bonaire is wonderful for improving your windsurfing skills. I'm an intermediate 57 old and have gone the last 4 winters. I really like it and stayed 5 weeks this year.
I book through Ann Phelan and stay at Coco Palm Gardens which is 5 miles from the windsurfing centers. You might want to take some lessons and the 5 lesson package is a good deal at Jibe City.
I would suggest going for a couple of weeks the first time to see if you like it and then you can stay longer next time.
Thanks to those who posted responses to my query. A quick follow up please.
Question is this: I have Jun and July free and want to go somewhere where I can basically hang out and windsurf (to improve and practice). I'm having trouble figuring out where to go and would like your input. Per your input, winds in my home city Miami are dead in Jun/Jul & a beginner wouldn't have fun. Bonaire is pretty darn expensive.
I'm trying to figure out where I should go for Jun/Jul instead of staying in Miami.
Criterion in picking a destination are:
-Cost (bonaire is very expensive)
-Conditions to learn (I've read Bonaire is ideal due to shallow warm water and no rocks or coral with good onshore wind)
-Closeness to FL (going to Europe or Asia not realistic - so considering the Dominican Republic, Isla Margarita in Venezuela, and Playa del Carmen in Mexico --> not a scientific list - just places I've heard of).
Are there other places I should consider?
Would it be a waste to spend Jun/Jul in Miami (no wind?)?
What's the secret to getting beyond beginner status (I still fall often and am not that good)?
I GREATLY APPRECIATE YOUR INPUT AND TIME. THANKS SO SO SO MUCH.
I'm surprised you found Bonaire to be so expensive.
I've been there 3 times and found it to be reasonably priced if you stay at the less expensive places, cook our own food, and work out some sort of "long term" arrangement with the windsurfing cocessionaires.
You would need to rent a car, or perhaps a motorbike, to get from shopping to where your staying and out to Lac Bay each day.
I think it would be pretty much a waste to spend your 2 months "learn to windsurf better" vacation in Florida in the summer time. Too hot, very little wind, from what I've heard.
Why not go back to the Outer Banks of NC.
More wind, you could tent camp or bring a nice camping trailer. Renting a house or motel room would cost more than Bonaire I think, as summer is the "high season" on the OBX.
Your current skill level could be the result of:
Not the right gear for you entry level skills.
You didn't learn to windsurf from instructors who teach "the easy way".
You haven't had the right kind of gear in the right conditions to really progress
Some other reasons, mostly having to do with gear selection, sailing conditions,
lack of instruction.
Basically the "secret" to progress, in nearly all cases, is some determination, and seeking out the right kind of instruction and gear to help you progress quickly.
Techniques and boards/rigs that you (or those who have advised/instructed you) think are "kiddie pool" or "training wheels level, may be exactly what you need to progress through the basic skills levels and launch you onto bigger rigs and faster boards.
Struggling with older heavy gear is one of the main things that holds people back.
Trying to "teach yourself" without good basic instruction stops many from ever really
getting going in this sport.
What gear do you have, and what lessons have you taken?
Identifying the gear you are trying to learn on may identify why you aren't making much progress.
Is the gear you have suitable for the conditions where you sail?
Have you "jumped" onto gear that too advanced for the skill you have?
Did you miss some of the basics by skipping to more advanced gear a little too quickly?
Are you trying to learn with gear that's simply too big and too heavy for your skilll level?
Thesa are all valid and pertinent questions.
Hope this helps,
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