We were daydreaming of kitesurfing in turquoise water while blasting down I-95 headed for the Sunshine state. We listened to mix CD’s and had some concern whether the paddleboards would remain on the roof or not. Looking around at the internal contents of the van you will see Sarah in the passenger seat, anything water related and a couple of bags with some clothes in it. Our mission is to find wind, waves, sun, and fun.
As we entered Georgia we noticed that the trees were dancing to the beat of the wind. That familiar feeling started to rise up inside and we new we had to find a place to rig up and ride. Sarah set out to look for a kite spot online as we pressed onward to our final destination of Jupiter Florida. She was simultaneously checking the weather forecast and looking for kite locations.
After some debate, we decided to stop at Jekyll Island in Southern Georgia. Once we arrived we realized that we should have packed some of our colder weather gear, but decided to tough out the 53 degree air and 60 degree water temp. We played for nearly 2 hours in the brown tinted, wind driven waves. With our fingers and toes feeling a bit numb, we decided it must be a sign that the road beckoned us to the South. We heeded its beckoning and packed our gear, rinsed in an outdoor shower, then hit the road.
We arrived in the Jupiter area the following day after a stop in Flagler beach for the night. As we closed in on our destination, we once again noticed the trees doing their hypnotic and enticing dance. The temp was 77 degrees and the sun was shining bright. Getting a tip from Shaun Jackson, of Cloud 9 Kiteboarding, we headed for Hutchinson Island for our first Florida session.
As we walked out on the beach we were taken aback by the beauty of the water. stunning turquoise water with head high sets toward the outer sandbar. The wind was blowing up to 25 mph. We immediately set out to rig our gear and got filled in about the area by a few local kiters. They gave us a few local tips, then launched our kites and we were off to play. Our friends Debbi and Shaun showed up a while later just as the wind was dying off, but we managed to get in a little kite time together before heading to dinner.
Days 2 and 3 of our kite trip produced marginal wind, which gave us time to get to know our hosts a little bit better. An amazing thing about the sport of kitesurfing is the type of people it attracts. Debbi and Shaun hardly knew Sarah and I before opening up their home to us. Not only did they let us use their home, they also shared their local knowledge about the area and where we should go for each forecasted day of wind.
After the brief wind intermission, we followed Shaun’s advice and headed to kite beach in Jupiter. We started off by doing a 3 mile downwinder, passing the beach where all the local kiters hung out. Catching a glimpse of the scene we would taste more of later, we stole down the beach on a mission to have as much fun as possible. Turns out we succeeded! After the downwinder we headed back to kite beach where we stayed the rest of that day and the next.
At kite beach we found a diverse group of kiters. Most of them seemed to be well to do, sophisticated individuals. As we hung out at their location we got to know a few of the kiters, they seemed to be genuinely nice and welcoming. There was one individual that seemed to be carrying a surfer mentality, but those types are few and far between with this sport. More often then not, people are happy to share their local spot.
The last days of our trip took us to two different kite locations. Based on the forecast for day 6, we thought we would have a down day. To our surprise it was blowing pretty hard out of the South at a spot they call pump house. There is a long walk associated with this spot so it keeps the number of kiters to a minimum. We found that it is certainly worth the hike. Actually, we did not have to hike because we happened to park next to a kiter who was kind enough to give us a lift to the kite location.
Once we got on the beach at pump house we set up to the North of a jetty. The jetty blocked the wind on the water, keeping the waves nice and clean. The water was crystal clear and a vibrant blue. We did notice that there was a good amount of debris floating around in this beautiful water. Pieces of wood with nails in it and a few other things that detracted from the natural beauty.
We set up our kites and hit the water with two other guys. Four of us in total, hooting and hollering, having a great time. The beach was packed full of people ogling over this luscious looking sport. When we jumped into the air the crowd on the beach would cheer. Unfortunately after 45 short minutes of doing this, the wind shifted and we had to stop. We hung on the beach a while waiting to see if the wind would switch back, but it was to no avail. We were forced to sit there and soak up the sun on a beautiful beach, we were feeling pretty sorry for ourselves, as I am sure you can imagine.
Our final day in Florida produced some big wind. Shaun suggested heading to a place called Fort Pierce. We would do all of our playing South of a jetty, which would make for some nice clean sets rolling in. The wind was forecasted to blow 25 to 35 mph and it did not disappoint. We had to wait a little while because the wind had a touch to much West in it, but after an hour of waiting it came around enough so we could play on our last day.
One thing Sarah wanted to see while we were there was a manatee. Up to this point they had eluded us, so we figured we would not see any. As I was kiting around I noticed she was waving at me frantically and I hoped she had not seen a shark, because I just saw two a moment before. As I passed her, she yelled sea turtle with a huge smile on her face.
We continued to kite and play in the big wind. We were all getting some good jumps with a lot of hang-time. While up in the air you can pause for a moment and look around taking in all of the beauty. As we stayed out there, Sarah once again motioned to me frantically. As I drew near to her she yelled, MANATEE. There in front of me a large whiskered creature surfaced, then lazily dove back below. We tacked back and forth watching these wonderful creatures slowly move up and down in the water. They did not seem to concerned with us. After spending some time observing, we decided to let them do their thing. We played for a little bit longer and then decided we should pack it up.
After cleaning up we made the decision to get on the road that night. Florida and our hosts had treated us great, but the beauty of Emerald Isle, NC was calling to us. We traveled North with the thoughts of the past week swimming through our minds. Most of the time that we were there was spent in the water looking at the land. Had it not been for this wonderful sport, none of this would have happened. First, Sarah and I would have never met, second, We would not have met Shaun and Debbi.
I can attribute so many good things to the sport of kitesurfing. Had I not taken the chance and tried this amazing sport, my life would have been very different. From the floor of the auto industry to helping people master the sport of kitesurfing. I used to daydream when I worked on an assembly line. I dreamed of a life where I could experience just a little bit of freedom, I dreamed of a life where I could let go of my stress, if only for a little while. I used to dream of kitesurfing, even before I knew what it was.
Today I know the truth. The truth is, freedom is within reach. It is within every single person, if they only grab for it. All that is required is they take a chance and see where it leads. Kitesurfing is my freedom, it could be your freedom too. Please direct any questions you have about how to find the freedom you crave by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to hearing from you!
Owner of Blown Kiteboarding