Kiting has a way of making you crazy. Really. No matter how good recent sessions have been, it seems like youíre always looking to the next one. You try and schedule everything around it so you can fit those sessions in. You say to yourself, ìHmm, if I get to work an hour earlier, really hustle and take a quick lunch maybe I can make it to (insert location here), rig up and be out on the water by 3:30î. And so it goes.
Iíve seen desperation take itís toll at times also. A friend recently said, ìIím not addicted to kiting, I just need to do it is all.î Despite what you may have done to allow yourself some time on the water at the end of the day it helps to be realistic about the conditions upon arrival.
Some are so psyched to go out they're just blind to what's happening on the water. Recently I was kiting with a few friends and the wind was dying - we were wildly pumping our kites, struggling against all odds to make it in to the beach in dying winds, and I, being the last one in, was finally reduced to dragging in. All the while, another kiter on the beach wanted everyone to roll up their lines so he can launch. Hmm. He barely launched, went in and immediately dumped his kite in the water and when we all drove off he was repeating the cycle again. Desperation, I tell you....
Anyway, there was no shortage of adventure today. I headed out to Berkeley at around 12:30pm. Wind was up at 18 or so, we had a low tide, it was looking good. I've been getting a lot of good riding there this year, so after a while, you get a sense of what does and doesn't look good, regardless of the wind readings, which is important as many all well-versed in what's known as The Berkeley Shutdown. Lately, transbay journeys have been pretty fun and really get you out into some good wind and definitely help you fine-tune your upwind finesse. Trips up to the backside of TI, Toll Plaza and Brooks Island have provided some good times and great wind. Granted, if something goes wrong, you're pretty screwed.
Charlie, a friend of mine was at Marina Bay and he said it was on there also and another friend, Dave showed up at Berkeley and wanted to go kite Marina Bay, but said he'd put me up first. No problem, I said, I'll meet you guys up there. So after launching on a 13.5m, I was going through the Gap in the Berkeley Pier after about 15-20 minutes of upwind sailing. Heading out into the Olympic Circle, winds were stronger and steadier as is the norm and the swell was sweet. Once you get outside, the chop's reduced and you're sailing a nice swell. After a very long upwind tack, I passed Buoy B, Bird Rock and got to the Sandbar at Brooks Island. Cruising up to the beach, I grabbed my board and walked over the Sandbar to kite in the Shipping Channel. After being chased and dive-bombed by the resident seagulls, I hopped in the water and sent the kite. "Kinda light", I thought. I then tried to tack back and found myself in the middle of a major hole with barely any wind. Despite my best efforts, the kite went down in the water about a third of the way out into the channel. "What to do?", I asked myself. Almost immediately, it was clear that relaunching was not an option. Downwind was nothing but huge docks sitting on piers with massive ships achored. Nowhere to go. I pulled the safety, turned around and started swimming like hell toward the Sandbar.
See, the way it usually happens in such a situation (to me anyway) is that the wind kicks back up again after the kite's down and I've pulled the safety making it a herculean effort to swim anywhere as the drag of the wind on the kite's just too much. Today, luck was on my side, as this did not happen. So I swam, and swam, pushing that board along in front of me and I made it to the beach. And I was tired. I collected my thoughts and myself, but I was calm. The wind would be back, right? The wind did not fail me that day. By the time I had decided upon the best place to relaunch, re-rigged my lines and got it all together, there was enough of a breeze to get that kite up again.
With the kite in the air, I enjoyed a walk barefooted along sharp rocks and broken shells back to the other side of the Sandbar. I waded out in the water and sent the kite in what seemed like doable wind and virtually nothing happened. I was caught in another micro-lull! The kite luffed and flipped upside down and I pulled on the lines, yelling, "Nooooo!" The kite landed, not too hard, leading edge down on the shell-littered beach. I waded to the edge of the window and relaunched it off the beach. Amazingly, as far as I can tell, no damage. Seems it was my lucky day.
Tacking back and forth in seriously holey wind, I was finally able to make it upwind enough to clear Bird Rock and which point I thought, "That sure is a lot of bird shit on that rock." That's why it's so white on top. Into some strong wind now, I was thinking I'd head back to Berkeley rather than meeting up with Charlie and Dave on the other side of the island who were no doubt wondering what the hell I was doing during the whole Sandbar/Shipping Channel visit. About a third of the way back, the wind direction was such that it would have been more effort than I wanted to put forth to go back to Berkeley. It was possible, but I knew I could get a ride back to the truck, which had been the plan anyway, so I headed back. I didn't mention that I was riding a bar that needed adjusting due to stretched lines either did I? Not my normal bar, not really sure why I was using it, don't ask.... anyway, having some fun boosting required a timing/technique re-evaluation which I only really had figured when I came in to land.
Fishing lines funny too, it's pretty much invisible. I came in on an upwind tack to land at the beach and it didn't really register that the other people at the beach were fishing, so we were all surprised when the fisherman's pole jumped up and started getting dragged into the water. I looked down and saw the fishing line stretched over my thighs and thought, "Ohhh, so that's what it is..." So they were yelling at me at which time I decided I'd come in at the upper beach and land on the grass. Even after landing, I kept my helmet on, just in case. It was OK though, they got back at us by snagging Steve on his way out and trying to reel him in.
So, after a little backslapping and BS'ing about it all with the guys, Dave gave me a ride back to Berkeley. All in a day's work!