Florida Kiteboarding Road Trip
Florida Kiteboarding Road Trip – 1
Feeling the need to escape from the North Carolina winter, Derek Loomis and I (Michael Schrems), decided to take a road trip to Florida. We had three goals in mind for this trip: search for wind, find new kiting locations, and meet new people. The most exciting part of this adventure was the fact that we had no real destination; it was dependent on the wind. Thanks to technology such as ikitesurf and others, we were able to chase the wind around the state of Florida. 3300 miles and 16 days later, we were calling it a success.
We set out on our adventure on January 9th. The plan was to have the person who was not driving keep an eye on the wind stats, which would determine where we were heading. As we drove it became apparent that we needed to head to St. Petersburg. After we set our sites on the gulf side of the state, we then aimed at tracking down some food. A quick search revealed a Five Guys 94 miles away. Coincidently, the distance till empty on the truck also said 94 miles. Feeling good about our trip and generally being positive people, we decided to chance it. We were keeping a close eye on the fuel and mileage until empty. Some of you may be saying, “why not just stop and get gas?” Good question, the answer is, we were also racing the clock before they closed. For some reason we just needed those burgers. We were set to arrive 20 minutes before Five Guys closed. Two miles from the restaurant the truck started chugging, uh oh! We ran out of gas, put it in neutral, and coasted as far as we could. We ended up at the mile marker just before the exit. 1 mile away from victory, it would have to come at another time.
As it turns out, when the truck says it has 94 miles till empty, it actually means 93. We noted this and kept on driving after our friendly AAA driver brought us some fuel. We drove for a couple more hours and stopped just outside of Jacksonville for the night. We found a hotel on Travelocity for a great price. When we arrived, we found out that the “great deal” was for a king size bed. After some discussion with the friendly agent at the front desk, we found there was no way to change it, which really lined up with how the start of our trip was going. If you are a seasoned kitesurfer, you will understand that the most important aspect on a kite adventure is not the accommodations, or whether you get the food you are craving, it’s the wind, the kite scene, and the people. We made it work.
January 10th found us barreling down the highway with Fort Desoto in our sights. The wind forecast was looking solid for the day and we were excited to get out on the water. We encountered no delays in our travel; it was smooth sailing (pun intended). We arrived at Fort Desoto in St. Petersburg, Fl. around 1pm. When we pulled into the parking lot, you could see kites at the north end of the park. We quickly ran out on the beach to survey the scene. The shocking beauty of this place really grabs your attention. As you look to the north and northwest, there are a couple of small islands. These islands provide a great spot for butter flat water. The water is Caribbean blue and clear, it was quite stunning.
We wasted no time and got rigged and ready for our first day of kiting on our trip. The wind seemed gusty when we checked, so we each grabbed two kites to take to the rigging area. You must avoid a swim area, so it’s a short walk to where you set up. We both set up 12-meter kites and were on the water experiencing what I would refer to as Fort Desoto bliss. Once on the water, you could truly see what this place has to offer. You can score some amazing flat water, or you can venture out further west to find some nice little waves. Truly a kiters dream, we spent a good three hours playing at this location. During our break times on the beach, we talked to a few people who kited there regularly. I also ran into a guy who called me three days prior asking questions about purchasing a Cabrinha foil board. This was just a random encounter and we both laughed at the chances of seeing each other on a beach in Florida. He was traveling too and we both happened to stop at the same beach, crazy! This type of thing seems to happen frequently with the sport of kitesurfing. It’s still a relatively small sport and the areas you travel to are usually destinations that are frequented by other kiters.
After spending a fair amount of time on the water, we both felt our kite desires were satiated for the time being. We packed up our gear and spent a little time chatting with a few people, then decided to head south toward the Florida Keys. The wind was looking like it was going to be good in the Keys for the foreseeable future and we happened to know some friends down in that area. The wind beckoned us and we heeded its beckoning with haste. The open road and wild adventures of the keys were ahead and life was good. We cruised and watched the sun set. Yes, it was going to be a good trip indeed!