Anecdotes

Going Parasailing for the First Time (and I’m Afraid of Heights)

I was having a lovely weekend getaway on the Florida Gulf Coast when it was suggested to me by a friend that we should go parasailing.

Perhaps it was the fact that I was a bit sleep deprived, but when she mentioned parasailing, the picture that popped into my head was that of wind surfing. Don’t ask me why. It’s just one of those things where your foggy mind pictures one thing when really everybody else is talking about something completely different.

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You know, something like this.

I’m a little scared of heights (OK, maybe a lot), but the thought of gliding along the water with a sail sounded like a lovely way to spend the afternoon. As a result, the level of enthusiasm I showed when asked to go parasailing was quite a lot. So, it was settled. We were going parasailing. We booked our outing and planned our afternoon around this great adventure.

Of course, later when we’re in the car driving to the harbor, we see somebody out on the water, parasailing. My friend pointed them out and said, “ooh, that’s what we’re going to be doing in just a little while! I’m so excited!”

I think it was at about that moment that the color drained out of my face.

“Wait….we’re doing WHAT?!?!”

The problem was, I had gotten myself into it at that point. I had excitedly approved of the parasailing plan and had taken part in the booking of the outing, so I had nobody but myself to blame at this point. So…off I went.

We got on the boat and my hands were trembling. There were three groups that were to take turns going up, including our group, and the boat captain asked us which group would like to volunteer to go first.

Nobody volunteered.

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That’s me on the left. Screaming.

I heaved a huge sigh of relief when he pointed to the couple sitting across from us and told them they would be going first. Then, the trio of teenage girls would be next. Then our group. I took solace in the knowledge that I would be able to watch the two first groups and assess whether or not it was going to be too much to handle. I watched as the first group went up, nervous smiles plastered on their faces. When they returned, I asked them how it was. The man seemed to have had a good time. The woman said it was scary.

Then came the trio of teenage girls. They were just as freaked out by the whole notion of it as I was, so I watched them carefully. When they had them all strapped in and they released the chute, they screamed bloody murder as they quickly ascended. The screams continued pretty much throughout the entire time they were up there, and only increased when they were reeled back in and briefly dunked in the ocean before being pulled back onto the boat.

Then it was our turn. My hands were shaking so much at this point I had basically lost all functionality in them, and my stomach was churning so much I was pretty sure I would vomit. My friend warned me (jokingly?) that if I vomited on her, she would un-clip me from the chute and let me fall to the water.

We climbed onto the back of the boat and sat down. The boat staff members clipped us in and the boat started moving forward.

Then they released us.

We shot upwards at an alarmingly rapid rate.

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There we are…way up high.

I screamed. A lot.

They kept releasing more and more of the rope so that we could ascend higher and higher. I wished they would keep us a little lower, but at this point I was powerless. I watched the water and the boats below become smaller and smaller. The churning in my stomach continued. My hands had a death grip on the handles.

When we finally reached the top, it became somewhat peaceful. I could see really far and had a great view of the water below and the town beyond. It was quieter up there as well. I found that I was enjoying the experience (although I still had a death grip on the handles).

After a while, they started to reel us back in towards the boat. There was one more thing I knew would be coming before we were back to the safety of the boat and that was the dunk in the ocean. I wasn’t too worried about it, but of course my friend kept saying things along the lines of, “what if when they bring us down to dunk us in the water, a shark comes up suddenly and bites one of our legs off?” and of course, “what if when we come down our rope gets tangled up with another boat and the rope snaps, and then we go back up but we’re not tied any more so we just go up and up forever?”.

Lovely thoughts.

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The dunk.

Thankfully, it went well. The Florida water isn’t too cold so it was more refreshing and exciting than anything to be dunked in the water. Plus, at that point I knew the chances of falling to my death were slim to none.

We arrived back on the boat with a thud and I was left with the souvenir of a bruise on my butt, but overall I enjoyed the experience and was happy I went through with it.

Would I go parasailing again? Probably, but whoever takes me along with them will have to drag me kicking and screaming.

Have you ever been parasailing?  What did you think?

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7 replies »

  1. Great story. I went a long, long time ago. It was in the Wisconsin Dells. There is was one person at a time and you took off from shore. You held. Back on the beach until it started to drag you towards the water. Then just as your feet hit the water up you go. And when done the slow down and you drop to the water. Just before you hit they give a little burst so the chute doesn’t land on top of you. Then you plunge into the water. But no sharks. But I did enjoy it.

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  2. It looks like you had a blast! I’m glad that you were able to do something that you were afraid of. Do you have any tips on finding a professional to take you the first time? Heights freak me out too, so I want to find an instructor that I can trust. Thank you for sharing!

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    • Hi Brooke! It was certainly fun if not scary! With parasailing, there isn’t really much instruction. You just strap in, sit on the back of the boat, and the rest takes care of itself. You do have to remember to put your legs up when you get pulled back in to the boat but that’s about it. I would say if you want to go, read the reviews online for tour operators offering parasailing in your area and pick the one with the best reviews. A good tour operator will also be able to explain the safety features and answer questions about their equipment if you ask.

      If you’re in the Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Florida area, the tour operator I went with was Boogies Watersports and they took good care of us and were really great guys, so I would recommend them for sure.

      Lastly, I’d say just go for it! The hardest part is just taking that first leap and actually doing it, but you’ll be glad you did afterwards.

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