Seacows and Kiteboarding

by Guest Blogger

January 14, 2009

We headed down to the Keys early Monday for some more rescue exercises with the boat crews. At our first stop in Key Largo, three manatees appeared in the canal behind the house. It was awesome to see these endangered mammals up close. The larger ones bore the telltale scars of close encounters with boat propellers. It is estimated that many of the fatalities of this species are from boat hits. It was the first time any of the Greenpeace crew encountered a manatee and they were clearly enthralled with the sea cows. It is rare that you are working actively for conservation and come in  contact with the species you are trying to aid. We traveled farther south, to Bahia Honda, to post up in a campsite for the night. I won’t lie, it wasn’t paradise but we carved out a nook for the night. With hammocks tied between the roof racks, we slept out under the winter moon.  

On Tuesday, with the forecast looking up, we met up with the boat crew for a few hours of boat rescue training as well as some kiteboarding. We launched from the city marina with Key’s local, Sean Reyngouldt, joining the crew for not only the day but the record run as well. We headed west toward an encroaching cold front and landed in Key West’s backcountry islands. We got the kites setup and in the air. It was blowing a strong 18knots and the Greenpeace crew got to see the kiteboarders in their element and we performed a ride-along while the kiteboarders rode downwind back to Key West.

For the first time yesterday we had the boats and kiteboarders interacting while the kiteboarders were fully powered. The boat crew was able grasp the dynamic relationship between the kites inmotion and the 27.5ft Billy Greene underway. Our plan stands to head north and attempt the record run of 180 plus miles on Friday. Our exact starting location and ending location is yet to be determined. John, Rachel, Brent, Kate and I chased the kiteboarders back to Key West, through the decent chop, with ear-to-ear grins. Finally getting some wind in our kites added new life to this safari. We left Key West last night, salty, tired and ready for more. 

–Wells Preston, Guest Blogger for Greenpeace–

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