Para-sailing: 'Up and away,' or 'Go fly a kite'

August 16, 1994|By ELISE T. CHISOLM

When you think of a week at the beach, you think of sun, sand or lying prone with a book among happy people while the surf pounds the shore line.

Not me this summer. I was determined to do something I'd never done before and had always wanted to do. I wanted the kids to know I'm a cool cat and don't want to go out of style. I wanted them to remember me this summer, for a good laugh.

In other words, I didn't want to sit on my duff at the beach all day. Also, I think the ocean temperature was in the 70s that week. And the huge waves looked like the old clips from the television series "Hawaii Five-0."

So what would it be? Try the slippy slide, para-sail or, if it rains, have a pedicure? All of the above I'd never done. OK -- I chose para-sailing at Dewey Beach, Del.

My daughter egged me on, saying, "Go for it, Mom. There's nothing like the feeling of being up in the air, you'll love it." She had para-sailed many times and lived to tell me how great it was.

When we got to the docks I, natch, interrogated the assistant para-sail boat man, the one who straps you in. I had to see if he looked all right. He did. Richard Norwood, 19, blond, handsome, a college student at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and former Eagle Scout who is studying computer science. Sounded good to me, a straight-arrow kind of guy. And yes, he knew how to swim.

Vince, his boss, had a captain's license in the U.S. Coast Guard. They both promised me that we would not "go up" if the wind was over 22 knots. Vince reassured us that the stormy-looking clouds had no lightening in them.

By the time I interviewed them on knots and procedures I'm sure they both wanted me off the 28-foot winch boat. But after all, I'd ask a doctor the same type of questions before a gall bladder operation. Rick told me that women always ask more intelligent questions, and that men just pretend they aren't scared.

We signed up for the 400-foot flight into the clouds.

Suspiciously looking at me, Rick added that they don't like to take anyone over 250 pounds, or under 80 pounds, so I had to tell him I was 140 pounds two years ago. I then suggested I might be too old and he said, "Heck we take 'em up over 85." Rick did the intro that was a little more serious than a food-processor demo and we were off across the bay. They told us if we wanted to come down kick our feet.

Ah, hah. I think it was then that I suspected some have not gone the distance. I decided not to go. Or maybe it was when the boat spanked the waves like a Sherman tank on hilly terrain and my teeth shook.

Some smarty yelled "chicken" and I should have yelled "shark." But my intrepid daughter went up, up and away, and so did the others. I got my money back and drove straight to La Mirage at Bethany Beach, Del., where a cute girl, Cindy, gave me my first pedicure and foot message. I'd never exposed my toes so readily.

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