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Escape From Glass Window Bridge - A Kiting Sea Story

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RickI
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Re: Escape From Glass Window Bridge - A Kiting Sea Story

Postby RickI » Fri Apr 28, 2017 2:05 pm

I have been doing distance runs in sometimes hazardous conditions for many years and have made no secret about it. I started early doing deep air dives close to 300 ft. at 16 and learning a great deal about hazards and risk management which extended to other pursuits in life. In recent years I do it in large measure for photography requiring getting close enough to the subject to do it justice. Getting the shot can come with some risk be it while kiting, diving with sharks, deep free diving on wrecks or flying. I had no advanced intention of coming this close to the cliffs much less landing there. That is how things worked out with some considerable effort, forethought and limited planning. I learned quite a lot which I thought I would share here. There are no cliffs like this in Florida, unlike some other parts of the world where they can be common. Parts of this scenario might be repeated elsewhere in short.

The goal of safety as I see it is to try to understand and try to prepare for what you might face, whether it's kiting, free diving, skiing off-pieste, hang gliding, other adventurous activity or just walking down the street. Sometimes we get it right and other times it is a learning experience, ideally a mild one or at worst one we hope we survive. Lots of very good information, ideas and hard won lessons have been shared on here for many years.

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Re: Escape From Glass Window Bridge - A Kiting Sea Story

Postby BWD » Fri Apr 28, 2017 2:58 pm

That's just gnarly.
Having done some routes exiting in pocket beaches along iron shore and cliffs, as well as between piers etc. in colder, less idyllic waters, I really appreciate seeing how it went when it did not go according to plan. I haven't gotten caught like that luckily, and will remember this as a cautionary tale, fortunately with a good end! Scary surge there.

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Re: Escape From Glass Window Bridge - A Kiting Sea Story

Postby jeromeL » Fri Apr 28, 2017 3:17 pm

Crazy stuff.
My closest encounter is peanut next to this: self rescuing from Tortue island in StBarth, dropped kite in reef break and self rescue in sea urchin filled rock shelf with wave breaking over them, didn't have the kevlar socks though ;(

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Re: Escape From Glass Window Bridge - A Kiting Sea Story

Postby andylc » Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:02 pm

To those criticising him for attempting it, the truth is we all take some risks when doing sports, and what is reasonable to us may seem unreasonable to others. I am no extreme sports expert but when I mountain bike or ski with others I invariable get them telling me I am crazy for going fast, jumping off everything I can find etc. I am not taking unreasonable risks in my opinion since I am performing within my own limits. I think Ricki was taking a reasonable risk since you would always back yourself to stay upwind in almost any conditions, especially having done it before. Clearly the conditions changed and the wind dropped, leading to the experience he described - and has certainly learnt from. Fair play to him for taking the time to tell us all about it. Getting washed back into the sea having just managed to rescue himself must have been bloody awful!

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Re: Escape From Glass Window Bridge - A Kiting Sea Story

Postby POACHER » Fri Apr 28, 2017 5:33 pm

Agreed.

We've all done some dumb shit before being kiters. Risk/reward is something that I've reevaluated as of late now that I have wee ones that are depending on me to come home. With kiting, sometimes the variable with conditions turn a routine outing into a life or death scramble.
Thanks for sharing though, that looked like quite the ordeal. Awesome that you captured it on film....

So maybe it was mentioned and I overlooked it, but was your board ever recovered?
I've had to make that deal at sea already - save my gear or save myself. It sucks but gear can be replaced.

and my wife will kill me if I die..... :wink:

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Re: Escape From Glass Window Bridge - A Kiting Sea Story

Postby GregK » Fri Apr 28, 2017 6:40 pm

RickI wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 1:24 pm
I have tried to find out what I could about the rages with limited success. What did you see as you approached Eleuthera? Were there unusual swells that you noted while still offshore or just normal deepwater waves? How did you head there via the Devil's Backbone or is there a back way in over the flats from the west, via Current, or ? What a great place to grow up!
It was and still is hopefully, I haven't been back there in over ten years. My parents had power boats, we would make the run from Nassau to Current, Eleuthera in just over an hour in calm weather, and stay at the quaint marina and club there. Occasionally we would go to Spanish Wells or Harbour Island in fine weather, but never went anywhere near the Glass Window in the boat. Sometimes we would get a rental car and drive down. My father was from Rock Sound and had family there. Eleutheran Bahamians have a complex fascination with that place, a mix of pride, fear, curiosity, enchantment.

Nassau is so messed up from what it was when I lived there long ago that going back is like a bad dream. But the Family Islands still have the true charms of the Bahamas.

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RickI
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Re: Escape From Glass Window Bridge - A Kiting Sea Story

Postby RickI » Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:24 pm

Wow, just an hour run from NP, that is outstanding! I bet Spanish Wells was a different sort of place then. I've heard about it since I was a teen but only visited there for an hour or so in 2014 when it was off season. Rock Sound, I bet you checked out the caves there? One of the most remarkable places I have ever kited was south of there at Lighthouse Beach on South Eleuthera, see below. It is a shame it is so hard to get to by land.



When planning my trip in 2014, I tried to find out what I could about probable wind and current conditions near the cliffs of Glass Window Bridge. I had serious concerns about a large dead air zone and some nasty refracted sea by the vertical cliffs. Both were the case particularly in onshore winds in 2014. The sideonshore wind in 2016 was a lot less impacted by the cliffs. I talked to some pilots for the Devils Backbone run from Spanish Wells to Harbour Island but didn't learn much other than boats navigate well away from that section of coast "Eleutheran Bahamians have a complex fascination with that place, a mix of pride, fear, curiosity, enchantment." I can believe it, I suffered from near as much within the first few minutes of seeing it. I have always preferred the out islands to the Nassau or GBI, the sights and sensations in the Family Islands are truly amazing. It is true, Nassau is going through tough times with corruption, foreign influence and crime. I hope they get things smoothed out there soon.
GregK wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 6:40 pm
RickI wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 1:24 pm
I have tried to find out what I could about the rages with limited success. What did you see as you approached Eleuthera? Were there unusual swells that you noted while still offshore or just normal deepwater waves? How did you head there via the Devil's Backbone or is there a back way in over the flats from the west, via Current, or ? What a great place to grow up!
It was and still is hopefully, I haven't been back there in over ten years. My parents had power boats, we would make the run from Nassau to Current, Eleuthera in just over an hour in calm weather, and stay at the quaint marina and club there. Occasionally we would go to Spanish Wells or Harbour Island in fine weather, but never went anywhere near the Glass Window in the boat. Sometimes we would get a rental car and drive down. My father was from Rock Sound and had family there. Eleutheran Bahamians have a complex fascination with that place, a mix of pride, fear, curiosity, enchantment.

Nassau is so messed up from what it was when I lived there long ago that going back is like a bad dream. But the Family Islands still have the true charms of the Bahamas.
Sadly, once I set the board adrift I never expected to see it again with the wave regime and all those undercut cliff bases. I even thought about tying my kite leash to it but with the exploding waves and dropping energy it was a poor risk to take. I would think it was smashed to stray glass fiber by now. We all take risks to be sure, best to try to make them informed risks with what preparation we can undertake. That's the theory anyway. It is ironic that getting washed back over the cliff into the drink got me sufficiently pissed off as to energize me a bit? It only took 8 minutes to get back that time once I had a clue how to make it happen, motivation!

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Re: Escape From Glass Window Bridge - A Kiting Sea Story

Postby Cab Driver » Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:55 pm

Thanks for sharing Rick.


I have finally put the story of this kiting session that drifted a bit too close to the Twilight Zone up in two parts. The first presents the rich history of Glass Window Bridge near North Eleuthera in the Central Bahamas. The second part deals with landing a kite and exiting the water in this foreboding place. When you screwup, it is nice to have an out to allow you a chance at exiting the flames. Next time, I would definitely include a chase boat.

Click to link to the two photo illustrated articles at:
viewtopic.php?f=131&t=2396065&p=972389#p972389

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RickI
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Re: Escape From Glass Window Bridge - A Kiting Sea Story

Postby RickI » Fri Apr 28, 2017 8:50 pm

Islands NNW to ship  fb.jpg
Lighthouse Beach
You are welcome Todd, thank you for putting out solid Cabrinha gear you can rely upon both in the easy predictable stuff and when things go adrift in fantasy land as in this case.

I really love Lighthouse Beach on South Eleuthera. They were trying in the worse (worst) way to develop the area instead of leaving it alone or making it a national park. Sadly, we lost a kiter to a shark attack a bit futher north up the island a couple of years back. I knew nothing about kiting here, I couldn't find anyone that had hit it before my visit. I just knew I wanted to shoot it and it worked out.

Image

Cab Driver wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:55 pm
Thanks for sharing Rick.


I have finally put the story of this kiting session that drifted a bit too close to the Twilight Zone up in two parts. The first presents the rich history of Glass Window Bridge near North Eleuthera in the Central Bahamas. The second part deals with landing a kite and exiting the water in this foreboding place. When you screwup, it is nice to have an out to allow you a chance at exiting the flames. Next time, I would definitely include a chase boat.

Click to link to the two photo illustrated articles at:
viewtopic.php?f=131&t=2396065&p=972389#p972389

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Re: Escape From Glass Window Bridge - A Kiting Sea Story

Postby rynhardt » Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:11 pm

Oh my God, dude. Absolutely epic!


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