More drama at Nahant today. The wind was 18-20 mph, out of the south, i.e. side-off. Several of us (Dani, Tim, Brian and myself) were kiting the southern end, close to Tides having a nice session. I got off the water at 10:30. Standing in the parking area close to Tides looking across the causeway, I could see a squall line rolling in from the from the West. In a matter of moments Boston disappeared, then Revere disappeared. It was 10:45, the storm was moving quickly. There was a group of ~10 kiters, half way down the beach near the bath house who seemed unaware of the approaching weather. I counted 5 kites in the air when the squall hit. Within about a minute winds shifted from south to due west, (i.e., directly off shore) and went from ~20 mph to gusts of ~40 mph (see the spike in the attached wind chart). Hard rain and low visibility followed. I saw one kite on shore flagging wildly, after its owner punched out. About 10 minutes later, after the squall passed and visibility improved, a group of us (including Benny B and students) gathered close to Tides, spotted three kites drifting a considerable distance off shore. It was unclear from our distant perspective whether the kites had kiters with them. Bennie, called the Nahant Fire Department who arrived about 10 minutes later with a jet ski and inflatable boat. To make a long story a little shorter, the rescue crews retrieved one kiter and eventually all three kites. It seems the other two kiters punched out and swam back to shore. I later spoke with one of the kiters who swam back. He was OK and said he and his friends were beginners and were caught off guard by the storm.
I am sharing this story as yet another reminder of the potential dangers of our beloved sport. The obvious lesson, don’t kite in an off shore breeze, but in this case, the squall caught many off guard. Perhaps the more important lesson, always keep a weather eye out for storm fronts. It was the rapid change in conditions that lead to this situation. Luckily for all, it was not a tragic episode.
I would be interested to hear any other suggestions about, first, how to avoid such a situation and second, how to handle such a situation if caught off guard.