Kiting 2005 #11 (Wed 18 May): Another blogtastic session on Sydney's Botany Bay - I'm reliving this one 12 days later so the detail may get a tad sketchy, but here goes: Me & N caught up early afternoon on a spontaneous decision. Winter's coming and the chances of good wind are gonna be fewer so we grabbed the opportunity.

N went out doing his magic. All good. Maybe vaguely upwind - N, were you? His launch was perfect - and was rewarded with applause from the European school party passing by. The wind was roughly southerly, ie cross-shore and toward the airport.

Then me and the trouble began. Well, not quite yet. I was straight up, looking/feeling good. Messed around for a while. Then I dropped the kite and couldn't relaunch. Well, the six weeks off since the shark episode were showing as I struggled in vain to relaunch the kite, while getting slowly dragged toward the airport (still a good few miles away). A long time later I was still doing the same. And a bit longer later there I was, still in the middle of Botany Bay, slowly getting dragged downwind, and still unable to relaunch. I tried and tried but couldn't get the bugger up.

Oh well, nothing for it but to pull the ejector switch - ie, to release the kite (releases three of the kite's four lines, for those unfamiliar with the intricate workings of these mechanisms). The intention being to then swim back to shore (the kite dragging behind, but now with no tension in the lines).

But instead, it seems that in my kafuffle trying to relaunch the bloody thing earlier, I'd accidentally dislodged the "fourth" line. So off the kite went, merrily blowing in the wind toward the airport. I valiantly tried to swim after it. For about 2 seconds. Off it flapped into the distance. Then I dithered and tried again. No chance, nothing for it then but to swim ashore. So some minutes later I was out of breath and feeling thoroughly pissed off as 400 quid's ($1000) of kite got smaller and smaller.

It's OK said N. "No worries" (not really, he's no Oz). "Don't worry", "the coastguard are on their way". Mmmm, what? Well the bloke in the ice-cream kiosk had kindly called the coastguard half an hour before as he'd thought I was in trouble - - which was very nice of him. It was a good job I hadn't been in trouble as otherwise I'd be shark fodder by now. But as it was I was happy they were coming as maybe they could get my kite for me. The bloke called them up to say it was no longer an emergency, but they didn't tell the boat, which was now (having gone first to the wrong side of the Bay) hanging around the spot I had been treading-water in 45 mins earlier.

Anyway to cut a long story short, we couldn't communicate with them, they disappeared, the kite continued to the airport, I started to worry (sh1t, what if this gets in the local papers?), N went to get the van so we could chase it (but couldn't start the van!!), I called the airport to find out whether we could retrieve it (told them it was an emergency at the perimeter, got passed around SEVEN departments and ended at voicemail - - what if it WAS a real emergency, hey Sydney Airport?), three airport vehicles arrived at the perimeter with flashing yellow lights, and eventually the coastguard got there too, we called them up, and another hour or so later were eating humble pie in the police office thanking them for retrieving the kite!

So there we have it, another day on the kites. It's no wonder it's taking so f'in long to master this sport!


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