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lake arenal / costa rica
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tstizzle



Joined: 05 Jul 2000
Posts: 155

PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:18 am    Post subject: Windsurfing Lake Arenal - Wrapup Reply with quote

well, the trip is over. nothing left to do but listen to the fat lady sing. off to the airport in a few minutes for the flight to houston and then san francisco.

in summary, we were here for 14 days of sailing. we sailed 13 out of 14. of those 13, about half were sub-5.0 for an average guy (i'm a "rounder" so i was a touch bigger).

the other half were a mix between small gear and bigger gear, 4.2 and 5.4. overall, not only reliably windy, but a great mix of wind speeds. just as your arms get tired, the wind eased up a bit.

the weather was warm and generally sunny. although the daytime often brought some clouds along with the wind. kind of like that old expression: don't like the weather? just wait 5 minutes. however, i'm going home as brown as a berry, so there was definitely plenty of sunshine.

people who come here come back year after year. my companion has been coming here for six or seven years and he is a relative newcomer (though accepted by the old guard). in other words, people who know, choose lake arenal.

see you on the water!
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 13780

PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:48 pm    Post subject: Re: It Doth Wind Reply with quote

tstizzle wrote:
it's NOTHING like as big as the hatchery on a really windy day. but it still gets big. it's also much steeper and sharper than the hatchery, more like a wave-swell (if that makes sense). on a windy day like yesterday it was about 5-6 feet at its biggest.

I've asked about 3 Gorge/Arenal regulars what Gorge site it's most comparable to. Answers were Rowena and west winds at Stevenson. Close?

Mike \m/
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tstizzle



Joined: 05 Jul 2000
Posts: 155

PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:07 pm    Post subject: Re: It Doth Wind Reply with quote

isobars wrote:
tstizzle wrote:
it's NOTHING like as big as the hatchery on a really windy day. but it still gets big. it's also much steeper and sharper than the hatchery, more like a wave-swell (if that makes sense). on a windy day like yesterday it was about 5-6 feet at its biggest.

I've asked about 3 Gorge/Arenal regulars what Gorge site it's most comparable to. Answers were Rowena and west winds at Stevenson. Close?

Mike \m/


off the top of my head, i would place arenal closest to rowena. the swell at rowena tends to be smaller than the hatchery, not too far off in size from arenal. also, like rowena, you can bear off a bit to go around the swell or look for the ramp behind. in my opinion, ramps are common at the hatchery, less so at rowena. i would put the quantity of ramps at arenal close to the number at rowena: they're there, you just have to look a bit more than you would at the hatchery.

at arenal the swell is longer than rowena, though. so if you find a surfable piece of swell at rowena, imagine surfing it for perhaps twice, maybe three times, as long at arenal. and the reach is huge at arenal. something on the order of 6 times what it is at rowena (if you care to sail that long).

also, there is a small-ish place at arenal called "The Hole". it's downwind from the main sailing area. it's unique to the lake and has significantly bigger and smoother swell. on the windy days the swell in the hole can comfortably get to 10 feet and is smooth like roosevelt. that part of the lake is truly epic sailing on a windy day.

i find arenal overall to be very gorge-like sailing. maybe that's why i like it so much. even us bay area guys, with our consistent and long season, are jealous of the gorge (except, of course, the uranium 235!) !

of course, just my .02. if there are any other arenal visitors out there i'd love to hear if they think my analysis is correct.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 13780

PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:25 pm    Post subject: Re: It Doth Wind Reply with quote

tstizzle wrote:
off the top of my head, i would place arenal closest to rowena.

also, there is a small-ish place at arenal called "The Hole". it's downwind from the main sailing area. it's unique to the lake and has significantly bigger and smoother swell. on the windy days the swell in the hole can comfortably get to 10 feet and is smooth like roosevelt. that part of the lake is truly epic sailing on a windy day.

Thanks. Scotty told me the same things, and added that The Hole virtually DEMANDS a "round-trip ticket", in my words. i.e., if the wind backs off too much, getting ashore and walking back from there is not feasible.

Another question, vital to me and the single biggest reason I turned down free lodging and gear at Jeri: what are Arenal's nighttime/bedtime air temps? Friends who tell me tropical spots are "comfortable" and even "cool" or "chilly" are off by up to 30 degrees F by my standards.
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tstizzle



Joined: 05 Jul 2000
Posts: 155

PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:10 pm    Post subject: Re: It Doth Wind Reply with quote

[quote="isobars"]
tstizzle wrote:
off the top of my head, i would place arenal closest to rowena.

Another question, vital to me and the single biggest reason I turned down free lodging and gear at Jeri: what are Arenal's nighttime/bedtime air temps? Friends who tell me tropical spots are "comfortable" and even "cool" or "chilly" are off by up to 30 degrees F by my standards.


(sorry for the long answer...)

ahhhhh, now this is a loaded question. iso, you may know, but for others i will re-state.

the wind in arenal, and Ticowind, is caused by african trade winds which lift as they cross the continent from the atlantic to the pacific. as they lift they vector, increasing wind speeds, and also condense into rain.

therefore, the eastern side of lake arenal is very, very wet. but the sailing site is at the western end of the lake, where the clouds tend to dissipate.

the rate of this dissipation, and the location of the dissipation, determines the weather at the western end of the lake, including where you sleep.

most of the time, the dissipation line is to the east of the sailing site. therefore the clouds come in and go out all day long, and it rains a hundred times a day. but the rain is typically only 15-30 seconds and is followed by strong sun.

however, sometimes the dissipation line moves westward and the lake is under the clouds and some rain. now, bear in mind, i sailed for 10 years or so in the gorge while living in seattle. i moved to the bay area because i could no longer handle the rain!

yet i don't mind this rain because if the dissipation line moves westward, it essentially never moves beyond the western-most mountains which are atop the descent to the pacific ocean. these mountains are just behind the lake. they are the mountains in the photos above the lake, with windmills on them.

so if it remains cold and rainy, i simply grab a six pack of beer and drive over the hill after sailing, where the sun is always shining and the temps are consistently 75-85 degrees fahrenheit. the drive is 5 minutes. nothing like lounging in the hot sun with a cold beer, looking up at a windmill spinning. and if you go another 5-10 minutes over the hill, the temps will be in the 90's. all the time. so you're never far from sun and heat. maybe that's why the occasional clouds and rain don't bother me.

so, back to the original question: what are the nighttime temps like? it depends to some extend on this dissipation line. during this trip the line moved over the lake. on those nights, with the wind, i was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and a think hoodie sweatshirt. in bed, there is only a single wool blanket, which was more than enough to stay warm. i would guess the temp on these nights averaged in the mid-60's.

when the dissipation line is further back, it's perhaps 8 degrees warmer, so on the order of low-70's. on these nights i would skip the blanket until 3 or 4 in the morning. this was a pretty consistent temp pattern.


Last edited by tstizzle on Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 13780

PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks ... even for the long but informative answer. Sounds, in concept, like the Great Plains "dry line". The west side of it is dry heat, the east side is very muggy heat, and the line itself is often visible from outer space by its line of clash-induced extreme storm activity. Another example is the OR coast, where the air temps often differ by 30 or 40 degrees over just hundreds of yards from beach to town. (That usually spells wind.)
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tstizzle



Joined: 05 Jul 2000
Posts: 155

PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:55 pm    Post subject: Windsurfing Lake Arenal - PhotoSphere Reply with quote

here's a PhotoSphere picture i made at the Ticowind site. i suggest looking at it with chrome or firefox:

https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/108096986959924167422/photo/bY1Q-7m6-csAAAAGOvsKbA?hl=en&gl=us&heading=150&pitch=90&fovy=75

and as tinyurl:

http://tinyurl.com/kttvkte

let me know what you think.

p.s. if you look at my "gallery" you can also see two others i made while mtn biking in tahoe.
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tstizzle



Joined: 05 Jul 2000
Posts: 155

PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i might periodically post a pic or two of the lake arenal windsurfing trip onto this thread. there were a few people who had good cameras there shooting the action (the shot below is definitely not one of them!). i asked those people to forward me pics when they get home. so eventually i may add a pic or two.

i was searching for a pic that might highlight the swell and potential air. here is one from a point-n-shoot so it's pretty bad. the sailor was waaaaay out in the lake and the camera was zoomed pretty far. but it gives a sense of the size, i think:

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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 13780

PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, that one just above his mast tip certainly looks nicer than what we see in the shots near shore.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 5683

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pretty tough to get that kind of air at Stevenson or Rowena. A picture is worth a thousand words.
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