Step 3: Carrying the Rig: Getting to the water
There are a few ways to get to the water. With a large beginner board, you will probably have to carry the board and rig (sail/boom/mast) separately. Carry your board to the water before you carry your sail to the water. In a windy area, make sure you attach your sail to something (such a board, a picnic table, fence, etc.). By itself, a sail can "take-off" and become a dangerous missile!
To safely carry your rig (sail, boom, and mast), first orient the sail on the ground so that the wind is at a right angle to the sail.
Lift the sail over your head, keeping this angle. Place one hand on the mast, one on the boom. You may rest the sail on your head but don't rest your head on any clear part of the sail (vinyl or monofilament). You can move the sail back and forth a bit to find the optimal angle to the wind. As you walk to the water, keep this angle. If you turn around, your direction will change (relative to the wind), but the sail should stay in the same orientation in relation to the wind.
Get into the water in either one of the following two ways. If on sand, attach the sail to the rig on land and drag it to the water holding the fin out of the sand. Otherwise, put the sail in the water, and return to the beach to get your board. Attach the sail to the board and then walk out in the water far enough so that you can put the centerboard all of the way down.
When you progress to a smaller board, you can carry the board and sail together as shown below.
The sail and mast should be downwind of the board, with the clew of the sail away from you. In most circumstances, you can walk into the water in this position. However, if there are breaking waves, you want to reposition the board and sail so that the sail rests on the board, and they are both downwind of you. This last adjustment just before entering the water will keep you from being "sissored" between the mast and board, if a wave should hit you.
The final way to carry your board and rig (only with a small board) is to balance the entire rig and board on your held. To learn how to do this, go to the beach and look for someone with a flat spot on their head. They will help you!
A Safety Hint
You started out from the beach in San Diego with a light on shore wind and no surf. As you were out having a great time, the wind steadily built, and so did the surf. Now you have to negotiate a line of breaking waves to get back to shore.
There are two ways to get through the surf. If there is enough wind, you can usually sail through. Sail slowly just out side the surf line. When you see a break in the surf, sheet in and go for it. When you get in, you will have to hop off your board and quickly carry you rig and board to the beach before the next wave mangles it. Stand between your board and rig with the sail downwind of you, clew pointing away from you. Grab the board with one hand, and the boom with the other, and lift until the sail is out of the water.
The second way to get through the surf is probably more practical for the beginner. Swim to the tip of your mast and hold tightly to it. Go through the surf, swimming with your board and sail in front of you - toward the beach. When a wave comes, hold on tightly with both hands. They way you will not get crushed between the board and wave. Get out of the water as described above.