Kiteboarding Trip –
Four days, 1800 miles, and an insatiable desire to participate in a sport that breathes life into the very being of my existence. Many people would say that I was crazy to do that much driving for so little kiteboarding. To me, I would be crazy to pass on such an opportunity. It was around noon on Friday and I had no plans for the weekend. A friend of mine sent me a text saying he had a place for me to stay in Florida over a long weekend. I did a quick check of the wind forecast and scrambled to throw what I needed in my van. By 1:30 pm, I was heading south in a van full of kiteboarding gear.
In January, kiteboarding sessions in North Carolina are few and far between, and we certainly were not taking our students out when chunks of ice were floating around out in the Bogue Sound. It had been almost a week since I returned from La Ventana, Mexico as part of a group kite trip. The fuel inside that drives me to chase the wind had not yet been used up, in fact, it had been replenished. I used that recent experience to carry me the 700 miles from Emerald Isle to Melbourne. I Arrived just before midnight and got caught up with my friend, and then got some sleep.
I woke up excited to get on the water with my good friend Kel. We looked at the wind and decided we could either wait around in Melbourne to see if the wind direction switched, or we could drive across the state to where the wind looked much better. We both agreed that we had come too far to not go a little bit further. We packed his gear in my van and barreled across the state arriving in the Tampa area around 10. We decided to go to Fort Desoto because it’s amazingly beautiful. One of the most striking features about this place is the sand on the beach. From a distance, the beach looks like snow; it’s so white its crazy!
After walking out on the beach to check the conditions, we grabbed our gear, got into our wetsuits, and set out to set up. In no time, we were both on the water hooting and hollering at each other. There were about 15 other kites on the water and we were engaging with them as we passed them. I like to give a little hoot or holler each time I pass someone, just to keep it exciting. One amazing thing about kiteboarding is it’s such and individualized experience. You are out there in the moment with your own thoughts, but then you see another person passing near you experiencing the same thing in their own way, you engage that person however you do, and then its you and the elements again. It’s truly amazing. We continued this pattern of excitement for several hours until we were both tired and ready to pack up and head back across the state, which we did. There was to be a full day of kiteboarding the following day in Melbourne.
We woke up and again checked the forecast before doing anything else. Prior to going to bed, we made plans to meet up for breakfast with our friend AJ whom we met a decade prior in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. AJ now lives in Melbourne and had the skinny on the kite scene in the area. While having breakfast, we hashed out a plan to get out in the ocean to do a couple of downwinders. If you’re unfamiliar with what that means, it’s when you move down the coast a predetermined distance moving with the wind, it’s an amazing way to travel! We finished breakfast and immediately went to the ocean to stare lustily at the open playground of water ramps rolling in toward the shore. We staged the vehicles and got busy moving to the beat of the ocean, bobbing, weaving, and surfing the waves. We moved as a pack down the beach, each experiencing something different, but also the same. We did two runs and there was still enough time to head over to the flat-water location on the causeway. I was the only one to go out in this location. It was a new location for me so I started out taking it easy. I continued to ride on perfectly flat water and would edge hard to hold the maximum amount of power into the kite, I would sling the kite over my head, and then I would be floating. Floating weightlessly through the air, having time to look around to see the sailboats moored, the sun dipping down towards the water, which changed the color of the water to a brilliant yellow/red. The sun continued to sink into the water and the sky lit up and changed colors. I witnessed this event while harnessing the raw power of the wind by holding it on top of the water with a board and a kite, truly spectacular!
Epic eats and an early bed followed the full kiting day. The wind looked good for Monday so the plan for me was to kite a couple of hours and then hit the road. When I woke up in the morning I did the same thing I always do, I checked the wind forecast. I noticed that the wind looked a little too light until the afternoon so I decided to head north. I bid my friend farewell and pointed the van towards the north. I was hoping to stop in St Augustine and grab a session with another friend before making the final push home. As I moved north, I got in contact with Ben and he was all about grabbing a session. He sent me directions on where I should meet him.
We left my vehicle where we met and drove up the beach to partake in another downwinder. We got out in the ocean for an hour and covered about 7 miles. The ocean was turned up pretty good by this point and the waves were large. You would come up and see a wave towering over your head and you had to make a decision, go over it, launch off of it, or turn and surf it. These are the types of decisions you are faced with in the moment and the only wrong decision you can make is reading the wave improperly. If the wave is standing too much, then you want to turn and run away, you have the power, its right in your fingertips in the form of a control bar that steers the kite. These types of decisions are made automatically after you have had a lot of time under a kite. It becomes an extension of you as a person. You do not even realize that you are flying a kite, it’s just a part of you, and you move together in harmony, or disharmony, however it may be in that moment. We made it to the end of the downwinder and I said goodbye to yet another friend. I needed to get back to North Carolina.
As I drove North up I-95 I thought of all of the events of the weekend. I thought about the text message that I received just a few days before. I could have easily said I was tired from recently traveling, I could have said thanks, but no thanks. After all, I have been doing this over a decade, I do it for a living, I do it for my life, I have made it my life, so why would it be big deal be if I just said, I’ll take a pass on this one? I didn’t say that, because after 11 years of perusing the sport it still feels new to me. Even after 5000 hours of coaching others, I still feel just as excited about the sport as I did on the very first day that I ever tried it. That day in July, that changed my life forever. I’m grateful.
Michael Schrems ~ Owner of Blown Kiteboarding