Defi Diva – That’s What Friends Are For

by Amber aka Defi Diva

“Intimidated” is the word that best describes how I felt the few weeks before I left. Here I was going half way around the earth… ok, I exaggerate, it was only one quarter of the way, but it seemed a lot farther. It’s FRANCE!!! after all!  There were so many things that could go wrong. I kept telling myself, “just go with the flow”. If it falls apart, no big deal, it’s not the end of the world.  But lets be serious, who was ever calmed by such platonic blither!  My gear could be destroyed in transit, my shoulder could rip off at any moment, and my plane could crash in the ocean and I would be eaten by sharks. (I hate sharks…) PLENTY COULD GO WRONG!!!

In the end the BABA trip to the outer banks proved to be a god send. It provided me with the boost I needed. It gave me a week of good sailing so I could give my shoulder a decent test run, as well as an opportunity to check my gear.  And, I had all my friends there for moral support. There was my dear roomie Janice, “You know you can cancel at anytime, you have trip insurance!!” Then there was Clyde, “Ha! Well lets hope you have better luck than you did last fall! Remember those rats?” (Immediately after which I put a hole in my board and busted a mast.)  There was Farrah, “You know there is a lot of theft there so be careful you stuff doesn’t get stolen.”  Oh, and then I can’t forget my good bud Joe, “France? Why do you want to go all the way over there?”

So it was with this bolstering that I set about packing my gear. Since the wind forecast was all over the place, I tried to get my largest range of gear in the most minimum amounts. I had read a post from previous years where a UK sailor lamented he didn’t have his 130 liter board.  This surprised me, but I took it to heart.  I decided on my Carve 135 and the 111, and my 7.2 and 5.7 sails. But then, I saw the forecast go dark brown… gulp!… I chickened out and I threw in my 4.7 as well.

Warren had lent me one of his board bags which gave me a bit more room for my Carve 135 and a boom. I also had packed up my Carve 111 and a boom in the other bag I had.  Joe mentioned he use to wrap his boom in bubble wrap when he flew his gear to the Gorge, so I did the same.  I wrapped the clamp and clue in plenty of bubble wrap and secured it with duct tape. Then I put the clamp side in between the front and back foot straps and secured the boom to the front foot straps with a bit of twine to keep it from “sloshing” around in the bag. This worked out quite well. The bags were padded but I did use a bit more bubble wrap around the noses. In each bag I put in some swimming noodles along the sides that could double for roof racks if need be.

The sails and booms I put in my sail/mast bag. The sail bag was a saga all its own.  During the BABA week, Fred and Joe would come by on rotating schedules to massage and spray my bag with copious amounts of chemicals in an attempt to get some of my frozen zippers working again.  After four days, two pliers, and chemical high from the Liquid Wrench they had been using they managed to break enough zippers free that my bag became useable! It was a feat worthy of a Presidential medal!  But in this case they got an exuberant “YESSS!!” from me, followed up with an animated fist pump. Almost the same thing surely.

I had two plastic mast sleeves, so I put these in the outside mast compartments holding the two sections of my 460 mast and then put the rest of the masts either in the inside sleeve or just inside with the sails. (The sleeves were a saviour. One of them got cracked on the end during the travel, so better it was the sleeve rather than a mast!) By the time I had the bag packed, I could barely lift it. That was not going to work. If the ladies at the airport couldn’t lift it, I knew it wasn’t going to fly. So I moved the 4.7 in with my Carve 111, and this made the bag a bit more manageable.

I was now set. I made one last call to a neighbor friend for a lift to the airport. The flight was scheduled to depart at 4:15pm, so I left my house at noon for the 25 minute drive.  The plan was that he would wait until my bags were safely ensconced into the bowls of the system before leaving. No doubt eyebrows would be raised when I approached the counter with my gear. Just because I had the approval of “Paris” did not mean that I had the approval of the Senior Ticketing Supervisor…

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