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In the Wind on Humboldt Bay



What do you do for fun outside in this era of physical distancing when the wind is blasting?  For 77-year-old Peter Portugal and his 40-year-old son Bohdi, the best answer is to don wet suits and go windsurfing in Humboldt Bay.

Bohdi lives in Nicaragua eight months out of the year teaching windsurfing to tourists and happened to time a two-week visit to Eureka to see his parents, Peter and Sue, just before the shelter-in-place orders came down. Five weeks later, he's still here. "There's no return flights, tourists visiting Nicaragua now or work for me there any way due to the shutdown," Bohdi said. 

Peter and Bohdi have been windsurfing together since Bohdi was 10 and have moved most of their windsurfing gear to Nicaragua. They still have two sails and two boards here, one made out of wood (Peter used to own a sports car also made out of wood that he recently sold).

Peter and Bohdi parked their car and gear in the lot next to Humboldt Bay in the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary mid-morning Wednesday as the northwest wind was blasting at least 20 mph with stronger gusts occasionally. Perfect for windsurfing in this location, said Peter and Bohdi, as long as you arrive just before a 5-foot or higher incoming high tide. The water isn't very deep here, except in the channel area, even at high tide.

Peter recounted that on one of his first windsurfing visits to this location he'd misread the tide charts. "I went out for a long ride toward the Samoa Bridge, only to discover my mistake and was stranded. It was a long two and a half-hour walk back across the mud," he said.

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