Tuesday, January 20, 2009


My friends Ken and Leann arrived on Tues from Vermont. I think they have the
record for having traveled the most degrees Fahrenheit - The daytime high
expected in their part of Vermont was 0, with a low of 12 below in the
forecast. Here it is 77 at 0700 as I write this. I don't know what the highs
are, we are never on the boat midday.

Yesterday was the day of kitemares. Ken says that mine does not qualify as a
real kitemare since I never saw my life flash before my eyes, but I think it

Ken also does not consider anything less than 10 feet a jump, but since I
never got up that high, I consider anything the board clears the water's
surface a jump. But I digress.

The undisputed real kitemare was a kid with an old school "C" kite, which
has no means of de-powering launch himself into a tree. Without
exaggeration, he took flight on dry land quite by mistake, and was caught by
a tree. He ended up about 8 feet above the ground with other kiters all
grabbing his feet to pull him down. The kite remained powered up doing
loops. They pulled him down far enough that the fall would not hurt him, and
he re-gained his composure enough to release the kite. The kite was still
powered up enough to pull a few 2" limbs off the tree before it flew off out
of sight. The kid was OK enough that he went off in search of his kite.

Mine was much more benign. I crashed the kite while "jumping" (take that
Ken) over the face of a 5' wave in a surf area. I had a momentary brain
failure and the kite was nowhere near where I thought it should be but was
instead crashing straight down into the sea. That was not so bad, as it us
usually easy to re-launch, but my kite immediately began to loose it shape
as though I had burst the air bladder that holds it's form.

The kite them proceeded to "invert", which renders it uncontrollable. It was
a long way to drag to shore, so I ditched my control bar and lines and swam
to the kite working my way down one of the lines to the kite. I straightened
it out and found that the leading edge was still serviceable, but simply
underinflated. I straightened the lines and started to work my way back to
my bar holding the leading edge lines. That was my first mistake. The
leading edge lines allowed the kite to power up and pulled the lines free of
my grasp, but not before giving me some new cuts.

As the kite flew off, I kept one hand on the lines thinking that I could
catch the bar as it went past. That was my second mistake. A powered up kite
generates 200 - 300 lbs of force. The flip side is that a Kite will not stay
powered up long if there is no resistance, so it should crash about the time
the bar got to me. That is exactly how it happened, the kite crashed and I
was able to grab the bar and hook up to my harness.

One aspect of the kites is that you cannot just hang on to the control bar,
you also have to be harnessed in. If you are not connected to the harness,
the kite will be in a fully powered state, and away you go. Fast.

I did manage to get attached to the harness, and could now control my kite
again, albeit with some difficulty as my safety leash got mixed up in the
control lines. But it was enough to drag myself to shore. The board that I
ride was now a distant memory. (Ken brought it to shore for me, I was not
able to recover it myself) so I dragged in.

Now for mistake #3, and it is a whopper. I got to shore, and when trying to
disentangle the leas from the lines so that I could safely land the kite, I
came unhooked for the harness, the kite powered up and started to drag me
over the beach and toward the bushes that lined the beach.

I told Ken that I did not just let go of the control bar, but threw it away.
Goodbye kite, and good riddance. But the kite is not done with me, it landed
on a sea grape bush harmlessly, and was not punctured or otherwise damaged.
It just laid down for a little rest.

Ken in the meantime suffered a much less dramatic and much more
consequential injury. He stepped on something sharp when heading out for a
session, and after two hours of kiting around that gathering sharks,
(kidding) realized that he was bleeding like a stuck pig from a really,
really bad gash in one toe. He refused to let me try out my skin stapler on
it, but we may get use the suture kit they have on one of the other cruising
boats. He can't stay awake forever.

Leann is quite angry with Ken, convinced that he engaged in self mutilation
to avoid the free Salsa lessons they are giving at one of the local clubs
tonight. Ken insists that this is not so, and that it would take much more
than the loss of one toe to further diminish his dancing skills.