The Erickson Family Rotating Header Image

Kite Boarding at Twenty Mile

Kite Boarding at 20 Mile

I finally put all the pieces together to continue my kite boarding instruction here in Alaska.  Its been a mildly frustrating couple of months.  Mostly because the weather has not really cooperated.  We’re in one of the wettest summers on record with little wind and cool temperatures.  And since there are few local kite boarding equipment outlets it took a bit to find local dealers and mail my equipment up here.  Fortunately, the local community of kite boarders are a friendly group of folks willing to help.  As a newbie I felt welcomed and supported any time I had questions or was seeking advice.

I spent the afternoon at Twenty Mile just past Girdwood in Turnagain Arm today.  It was so shallow where I was kite boarding I would hit the silty bottom with the fins of the board and get suddenly jerked off my board and do a superman dive into 6 inches or a foot of water … and get drug over the bottom at bit before I could regain control and my composure. The water is so silty you can’t see under it at all.  Not even an inch.  I did get up for a short bit twice so it wasn’t a total loss.  Anyway, my instructor Tom Fredricks at Alaska Kite Adventures is suggesting we move to Seward for this learning stuff. There are far fewer sand bars 6 inches under the water you can’t see there.  If the wind conditions are good I’ll be in Seward on Sunday.

Despite my challenges with controlling the board while launching in that swift of a tidal current it was a useful and interesting day.  I got to fly a new to me kite – 2009 17 meter Ozone Zephyr I think it was.  And the new Hyperflex wetsuit (thank you Paul!) worked perfectly and kept me toasty warm and all of my new equipment fits.  Woo Woo!  Life is good.

Braid off of the main channel in Turnagain Arm similar to where I was kiting.

I’ve had some friends express a concern with learning in Turnagain Arm – a body of water with a fearsome reputation.  My response is it depends on where you are learning.  I was in a side braid away from the main channel.  Where I was the current ripping through was fierce, but most of the time I could have stood up in waist deep water and at worst swam to shore if I had to.  I felt I was perfectly safe.  And my instructor, Tom with Alaska Kite Adventures, was right there and paying close attention the entire time.

When I was done with the day’s instruction I handed the kite and board off to my instructor Tom.  I jumped into the center of the channel and was swept down with the current back to where I had parked my truck by the side of the road.  Alaskans are pretty much always told to never go into the water nor walk on the tidal flats of Turnagain Arm.  Even as little kids we’re told its certain death.  I took great amusement in casually waving at cars driving along the highway as I drifted on my back down the channel.