Dragged out to Sea
by Jared I. Greene
(New Jersey, USA)
I was kiteboarding by myself in some near off-shore winds, they were blowing inland initially but pointing down the beach mostly. I was riding for quite some time, enjoying myself, but the winds kept cutting out. I was at a beach where there were people all around, but not over-populated. But the beach is actually a camping ground, so there were no lifeguards, rescue boats, or any boats at all out on the water for that matter.
The winds started dying and I headed towards the beach. My kite kept losing lift which should have been a sign for me to come back in. But with the excitement of just having bought my first (functioning) kite, I wanted to keep riding in the water. I headed back out from the beach towards the ocean when a breaker hit me in the face and made me spin 180 degrees. My kite ended up crashing into the water.
At around this time the winds started pushing offshore and I was being (slowly) dragged away from the beach. With the assistance of currents, I was fairly far away from the beach relatively quickly. Because of the very low winds I couldn't relaunch the kite in the water. At around this time my family was yelling at me to jettison the kite and swim back, thankfully my uncle had saved my board.
After quite some time of struggling to get the kite back in the air, I realized that either my new kite or I was going to end up drifting out into the middle of the ocean with no one to save me. I struggled to find the safety releases on the leash after untangling the bar underwater. Eventually after releasing the bar from my harness, after having struggled for about 10-15 minutes to stay afloat, I was already tired, but had no choice but to swim back to shore. Exhausted while on the beach, I fell to the ground, barely able to walk. I watched my kite slowly fade off into the distance as I hated myself for not landing the kite when I should have.
Had I had a boat, or others kiting with me, I would have either been able to recover me kite or taken the hint from others to come back in. I'm a novice (IKO certified) rider, so I knew when it came down to it, it was either my safety or my new toy. I chose my safety. Later on I found out the Coast Guard sent a boat out there to make sure no one was attached to the kite. According to them, they saw no one attached and turned around...But I think they kept it ;)
Moral of the story: Don't kite on your own unless you're sufficiently experienced, don't kite offshore winds unless you have a rescue boat, and come in when you lose the wind.