The Ocean Doesn’t Care Whether You Live Or Die – $666 Of Destroyed Gear

As the 8′ high waves came and crashed on my head the only thing I could think was “Get back in your kayak and get out of here or you will die”. I frantically splashed around in the water while the most powerful current I had ever experienced thrashed me around uncontrollably. The boat hit me in the face giving me a black eye, I tried time and again to get myself into the swamped sea kayak and roll it up but to no avail. Eventually I gave up and grabbed my 500lb sea kayak filled with water and started swimming toward the vacant beach.


The National Parks were closed due to the current competition that the US two-party system was having to see which side could be more dumb. As the Democrats and Republicans played a dangerous game of chicken with the economy, the Federal Government had shut down. I had decided to sea kayak for 3 hours down to the end of Cape Hatteras to see what it was like where the 2 immense ocean currents converge, one from the north and the other from the south. In the 10 years I had obsessively whitewater kayaked I had never seen anything quite like it. Giant waves and eddylines with water shooting up over 10 feet in the air and spraying out in a mist. Watching from a short distance I felt drawn in like a moth to the flame. As I paddled toward the giant frothing mess a little voice in my head said “Maybe you should think twice about this”. I may have even missed a paddle stroke or two as I headed into the maelstrom. A large wave formed behind me and I caught it easily with my 13 foot long boat. I surfed it for 100 yards until it broke with a 6′ high pile of whitewater which I side-surfed for a few seconds before my flimsy skirt blew out and the boat filled with water. The whitewash yanked me out of the boat about 400 yards from shore and that’s when the insanity started. Later that day I would learn that a kiter died last year in almost the exact same spot. The last he was seen was standing on a sandbar with his board, then the current washed him out into the ocean. I was very afraid. I was miles from anyone and by sheer luck was able to swim against the current and get back to shore. As I dragged my waterlogged kayak up onto the beach I felt so happy to still be alive.

Photo by Gregg Stiesberg

The next day the wind picked up a little and I decided to kiteboard ocean side with 5-6 foot waves. Right near the beginning I saw 2 dolphins and was able to get about 10 feet away from them before they disappeared underwater. Being so close to such magnificent creatures in the wild is an exhilarating experience. I spent about 3-4 hours doing a really nice 9 mile downwind session on a strapless surfboard and did a bike shuttle back. This turned out to be a terrible idea, as when I strapped my kite and surfboard to my back and tried to pedal back the headwinds were so strong that I could barely get moving on the bike. People stopped their vehicles and took pictures of me because I looked so ridiculous biking along with a 6′ tall kayak and kite on my back.

The following day the winds were nuking at 30 mph or more. The waves were really intense and big, I arrived at the beach after running a much shorter bike shuttle of 3 miles. I had a great 2.5 hour session with huge waves and swell and the sun shining on my face. I lost my concentration for a second or two and the kite crashed hard face down right in front of a huge breaking wave. The wave was so tall that I couldn’t even see the kite behind it. The wave hit it and a front line broke.  I started to panic and sensing the imminent destruction of my gear I pulled the release and the kite flagged out on the 5th line. Another wave hit it hard and the 5th line attachment points ripped out. Then I had a bad situation. The kite was powered up pulling me hard with the bar about 100 feet from me. I frantically worked my way to the bar and pulled in one of the back lines to flag out the kite. With a partially wound bar and lines everywhere and a kite full of water I started the 1/2 mile swim towards shore getting pounded even harder by the waves. I kept getting tangled up in the lines and having to unwrap them from my legs. Finally I got close enough to get pounded by some shore break. I covered my head and let got of the board and the kite. After getting washing machined a couple of times I climbed out of the ocean like a drown rat. The fisherman just looked at me in the strangest way and pulled in their lines so I wouldn’t get snagged. The surfboard was easy to retrieve but the kite was a nightmare. It was 1/4 mile downwind and it had completely filled with water. Every time a wave washed it up I would try to block it or grab it, but it was filled with water like a thousand pound jellyfish and just rolled back into the ocean, taking me with it. No matter what I did I couldn’t keep it up on the beach. Eventually with the help of 2 other fisherman I managed to get the kite out of the water and drain. My $666 dollar kite had ripped completely in half.

I was pissed so I decided to try to get some payback by riding soundside at the Frisco washout. I had to launch the 12 Speed 3 directly in front of some high voltage power lines on an incredibly crowded beach. One of the wingtips wrapped around and the kite did a death spiral in front of the power lines. There was a bunch of French Canadians yelling at me to pull my release, but I didn’t want to. They helped me to retrieve the kite from the bushes and I launched it again. It was way too much wind and I was boosting huge jumps that were nearly impossible to land because it was so gusty. I wasn’t having any fun so I packed up and drove home early.

On the way home I was berating myself for my own stupidity when I saw a guy on a wicked fast motorcycle fly by me. He suddenly slowed down a few cars ahead and pulled into the right lane. There was a cop in the left lane who pulled right behind him and turned his lights on. Before I could finish thinking “Man if that was me I’d just take off, he’ll never catch me” this biker had done just that. He was miles ahead as the cop car was just starting to accelerate. The choppers got called in and I was just really happy that I wasn’t the guy on the motorcycle, but also secretly wishing that he got away.

Mother nature really doesn’t care about whether we live or die, we are the ones that have to care.

4 thoughts on “The Ocean Doesn’t Care Whether You Live Or Die – $666 Of Destroyed Gear

  1. Pingback: Destroy Everything You Touch : Managing The Repairs On Your Ebike Fleet |

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