Yesterday, I DID get my chance to test my waterproof camera - in the water, as well as on the coast guard rescue boat. First, many many thanks to John Gomes who kites out of the St. Francis Yacht club for coming to my aid when my kite inverted and twisted inside out under the golden gate bridge.
He's the man... with a waterproof VHF radio tuned to emergency channel 16. Kiting around one handed, he radioed the coast guard and directed them to me, all the while kiting back and forth around me to make sure I was OK as I was getting pulled out to sea.
My fellow kiter Austin Stewart was taking pictures from Crissy Field - here's a shot of Aaron Gershenberg, Young Sohn and I kiting outside the GG bridge at the north tower.
As I was kiting, I managed to get a shot of my kite passing under the bridge. This is the last shot I took on the water before I dropped my kite trying to salvage Young's board, which blew apart when he was lifted by a gust and the leash tore the grab handle off his board. Young washed up at the South tower construction site , and managed to hitch a ride from the Park Service back to Crissy Field :)
After trying several times to relaunch with my inside and outside kite lines (on both sides) twisted together, the kite finally took off, and immediately smacked the water, hard enough to pop my center strut. After that, the kite was completely unstable, and I knew I was toast (while in the water for 30 minutes - I kept wondering if Great Whites like toast) so I attempted a self rescue. Amazingly, even with the kite full of wind trying to pull me back into the Bay, the currents were so strong (the Bay is BIG, and when it empties, it ALL goes through the golden gate) that I went straight west out to sea gulping water in a losing battle to hold my own against the current. Without the additional help from my 'sail', I would have drifted a half mile & out of sight (5 Mph current = 1 mile in 12 minutes) in 5 or 6 minutes.
The coast guard from Station Golden Gate came within 15 minutes. After a ride back to Crissy, they dropped me and my gear in the water 20 yards out and I swam it back in. The Coast Guard folks said they rescue 10- 15 kiters per week - we water people all owe them a big thanks. Without them we would be shrinking in numbers daily. Here's the crew that saved my ass.... Im sure they though I was nuts when I took out my camera and started snapping pictures on the boat. :)
And here is the crew - to whom I owe a big THANKS!!!