Back In The Saddle
12 January 2010 | Green Island, Antigua
Well, it's been a solid year since Louis and I body-dragged and nose-douched ourselves learning to kiteboard at Green Island. After one very fun week last March, we left Antigua fledgling kiters: able to inconsistently ride in each direction and crash our kites to the water with the best of them. We had big plans to continue our new sport back home, but life got in the way...as did the thought of the freezing cold water in the San Francisco Bay!
So here we are back in the saddle, or harness, as it were. Amazingly, we're both up on the board on our first try - that's pretty encouraging! Turns out the challenge this week is more about rats' nests than riding, as time and time again one or the other of us returns to shore sporting a maze of lines resembling a plate of tri-colored linguini.
Our last big tangle was upwind of one of the largest sailing vessels in the world - the Mirabella V. At 250 feet, it's like having your own private island...except it wasn't ours, and it was directly in our path. Louis was in the water at this point trying to re-launch the kite after a recent crash. The kite wasn't cooperating - its lines had gotten tangled and it was wildly thrashing around like a mechanical bull given an endless supply of quarters.
Meanwhile, the winds were gradually dragging Louis and the kite closer and closer to the behemoth which, we'd noticed, had just started its two very powerful, 1,000 hp engines. I'm in the dinghy - the "rescue" boat - but the kite's mechanical-bull-like action makes it a bit sketchy to motor to the downwind side and deflate the kite's tube. And upwind are all the lines, so I can't get near them either. (Prop + Lines = Bad). Hmmmmm. Now, rest assured, this is not a dangerous situation. Worst case, Louis could unclip and swim away, but then we could lose the kite to Mirabella's kite-munching engines.
There's a few chaps up on deck watching us. I give them a friendly "got it all under control" wave followed by a "hey, we're just learning" shrug of the shoulders. They give me a faint nod. Finally the kite rolls and bucks around so much that the lines appear to have tangled themselves around the kite itself, wrapping itself up like large involtini. (What's with all the Italian food metaphors? Must be cuz I'm about to watch "Under the Tuscan Sun"!) Anyway, for those needing another visual...remember your Grandma's roast that was wrapped up and tied with string to keep it together in the pan? Sort of like that.
With the lines temporarily restraining our unruly kite, we see an opportunity so I maneuver the dinghy between the kite and Mirabella. Jamming it into neutral, I struggle to find the "deflate" valve that will suck the life out of our fire-breathing dragon kite and put an end to this rather tense moment. PSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH....found it! Kite deflated. Various muscles unclenched. And back to shore with yet another rats' nest!
p.s. Turns out there was a more "controlled" way to restrain the kite, but we'd forgotten it! Note to self: don't wait a year after lessons to "practice"!