Steamboat locals kiteboard along Brazilian coast
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Some people might sail, sea kayak or even bike 350 miles along the South American coastline. But kiteboard?
That’s what locals Kurt Casey and Ken Walsh — along with Casey’s cousin Brad, a kite instructor from Florida — did this past fall, using their kiteboards for tacking transportation as they worked their way up the coast of Brazil on platforms barely bigger than an ironing board.
The threesome started the trip in Taiba and finished 570 kilometers north in Atíns. On the easier stretches, they brought along water, snacks and credit cards, with a friend following in a Toyota Hilux providing land support. Whenever possible, he’d shuttle clothes and other overnight gear to them for their night’s stay. But that wasn’t always feasible.
“Unfortunately, he couldn’t always get to the beach to meet us,” Casey said. “Sometimes he had to cross river mouths on ferries or go inland a ways to find a road or bridge.”
Casey said they tried to plan their days using Google Earth imaging, searching for villages with food and lodging they could stay at after packing up their sails.
“Luckily, it all worked out pretty well,” he said. “They were spread apart pretty evenly.”
The biggest day, he adds, was crossing the Parnaiba Delta, a national park extending for miles without any civilization.
“It’s a massive delta, which forced us to cross 85 kilometers of open ocean,” Casey said. “We carried food and water in backpacks, hoping the wind wouldn’t change and leave us stranded or that we wouldn’t have some kind of gear malfunction.”
In all, they kiteboarded across three states on their journey: Ceara, Piauí and Maranhão. The biggest dangers, he said, were dodging fish nets and fish traps as well as being wary of sting rays, mangroves, big waves and sharp coral reefs. They also had to closely monitor changing wind conditions and deal with rapid tide fluctuations, which could leave them high and dry.
Casey said the trip worked out pretty well, save for his feet, which he admits “got pretty chewed up from abrasion from sand in the footstraps.” But even that’s not deterring him from making a repeat visit this year.
“If not the same route, we’re thinking of at least trying to do some sort of variation of it,” he said. “It’s a pretty fun way to travel.”
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