Although parasails have been launched from land for nearly 30+ years, with the swing in the boat market toward multiple sporting activities, increasing numbers of people are out to have fun high over water. If you’ve never parasailed, the freedom of flight awaits you.
How To Parasail
A preflight inspection of all the necessary gear insures flight readiness. Take-off should be into the wind. When all is ready, the parasailor hooks into the parasail. The boat then idles out until the towline is taut.
The flight crew holds up the canopy of the chute on both sides; the signal is then given to “hit the accelerator.” The parasailor resists the forward aerodynamic pull in a tug-of-war. Soon, lift-off occurs.
Once aloft, flyers get comfortable in the harness by sitting down. Altitude is controlled by boat speed.
My First Flight
It began in my dreams. I raced along the beach and flapped my arms. Before I knew it, I was high over the water and feeling euphoric. Then, I woke up knowing I was closer to making my dream a reality—I was going parasailing.
On a delightfully warm day near Pensacola, FL, I found myself airborne by design, having been launched into the void behind an outboard in the name of fun and adrenaline rush. I had a swatch of silk, which was connected to me by a tangle of paper-thin lines, flying over my head.
My first flight was both horrifying and inspiring. I hadn’t been in charge, my boat driver told me afterwards; the winds had been in charge of me. No kidding. I could have told him that when the first thermal flung me skyward, and I realized then I was where humans, anatomically speaking, shouldn’t be. In a short 60 seconds, I learned that parasailing, just like downhill skiing, demands full concentration. Also like downhill skiing, the ride seems too short only after it’s over; by then, the fear has faded enough that you’re eager to go back up.
In August of 2010, being at the mercy of the winds was something new to me, so unnerving that at first I fought their bullying influence. But that was missing the point. A great parasailing flight means achieving a state of grace, not by fighting wind conditions but by working with them. When I finally stopped resisting, I learned that the winds were not bullies after all.
In the beginning, mankind could fly no better than rocks. People endured this seemingly unalterable feature for eons, even as they dreamed of sprouting wings. But along came the 20th and 21st century and a relatively simple arrangement of cloth and cable—plus a dash of daring—allows most anyone to soar high over water. Now after my first parasailing adventure, I endorse the activity as one of the best outdoor experiences around!
Places To Parasail
ABC Parasail– Outcast Marina, Orange Beach, AL
Perdido Key Parasail, Gulf Shores, AL
Radical Rides, Pensacola Beach, FL
Key Sailing, Pensacola Beach, FL
Just Chute Me Parasailing, Destin Harbour, San Destin, Navarre, Ft. Walton and Pensacola Beach, FL
About the Author: Mary Syrett is a freelance writer and photographer who frequently vacations on the Gulf Coast. She has a variety of articles published in both online and print magazines.