Jan. 14, Day 3, All Pro Invitational, Panama
This was our first day of real kiting, though it was a bit short and not a whole lot of sweet. But it was a pretty amazing day. The morning began early for me with yet another trip to the airport, this time to pick up Amit’s board bag, Erik’s camera bag and Rami Beracha, an Israeli kiter and friend/student of Amit’s who owns a school called Kiteaway in Israel. Rami lost one leg and one arm and suffered a serious injury to his other arm in a landmine accident in Lebanon while serving mandatory service in the Israeli army. Rami has climbed Kilimanjaro, and Amit insured us we’d be impressed by his kiting, but I was already impressed by just how he got around. He can handle a board bag better than I can!
We got a bit of a late start as getting 20 bodies moving in the same direction takes a delicate balance between a concerted attempt to stick to a schedule and the reality of…getting 20 bodies moving in the same direction. It isn’t easy, but one thing I’m learning to love about this group is they are all positive and all motivated. The video crew shoots everything they can, the pros watch the weather more attentively than I do, and everyone works diligently towards our common goal- which is to make a killer movie, but have a blast in the process. Part of that process is covering every inch of ground in Bocas so when the wind and swell hits we’ll know where to be. This would be our mission on day 3.
Discovery’s waterline at the bow is now well underwater. I can’t guesstimate the weight of all the gear on the trampoline, but we must be near her maximum payload. We pulled out of the Careening Cay marina (aka Sand Fly bay) after breakfast and headed out to the Zapatillos, hoping to find wind and some wave potential. We had plenty of blue sky and sun, and a bit more swell, but the forecast still looked bleak until tomorrow (Tuesday). Nico served up one of his wonders for lunch- sushi rolls, homemade sandwiches (yes, bread and all- for 20!), and pear tart. The guy is incredible. No matter what I throw at him he can handle it. He’s got this tiny kitchen to turn out world class meals and somehow he pulls it off in style. His job was going to be getting a hell of a lot harder, but that’s a bit down the road.
When we reached the Zapatillos the wind surprisingly came up to that annoying level where you know you shouldn’t bother, but you still have to give it a shot. Everyone took to the beach, a gem of a spot on the NW side of one of the main two islands. Several made attempts at having a go, most of those weren’t able to stay upwind. And then there’s Mika Fernandez with F.One.
The guy is a like a buck 10 (110 pounds), ripped like a navy seal, gorgeous (yes, I can say that- everyone else does too) and loves the camera. He was hopping around on his board in light airs like it was blowing a gale; pulling a whole array of tricks and giving us all quite a show.
It wasn’t a fantastic session, but it was great to get at least some kites finally in the air and the spot was stunning- this area has so much potential. It definitely gets world class waves. We just need the wind.
From the Zapatillos we departed for home. We had two choices- go the safe route around the outside, where there would no doubt be some sea sickness suffering (we’ve got a few people who seem to be prone to the “greens”), or go the inside route, which was a bit shorter in distance and totally calm, but in the moon less dark through a maze of mangroves and reef.
As we’d done the inside route the day before and I had it on the GPS, I opted for the calm route knowing it would be more comfortable. This ended up being an idiotic choice, but luckily we ran the gauntlet and prevailed. There were more than a few times when we got so close to the mangroves I could hear the secadas scratching their wings, not to mention the gasps and groans of those on board who ventured to take a look around from time to time. It was two hours of incredibly stressful navigating. Me, crouched over the lap top pushing the auto pilot controls trying to follow a track line from the day before exactly, shouting commands to Wyman for more or less throttle, with rarely a moment to even look out the windows in the main salon. I never once looked at the depth sounder, as the stress was enough as it was.
We made it back to port in due time. It had been a long day, and a particularly stressful one for me due to my poor decision of navigational choices, but all in all an encouraging one. Bocas is stunning, the swell is coming, the wind we can only hope for. In the meantime, while Discovery is a big cat, with 20+ on board I imagined it would be more chaotic than it is. Everyone is having a blast and the energy is contagious. We all have different agendas and somehow they all feel like one.