memories of flying kites at Westport, Washington


Tube Flag Over the Beach at Westport, Washington

My last post with the picture of the kiteboarders in Los Barriles got me to thinking about my old kiteflying days.  From 1985-1989 I flew kites on the beach at Westport, Washington, along with a great group of hardcore kiters.  We even started a kite club, called the Westport Windriders.  Well, a google search revealed that the Westport Windriders are still around and even have a website.  I checked it out and found they had almost 500 pictures there from “the old days.”  Lo and behold, they have a picture of one of my creations!

I still remember that first day I flew a kite at the Westport beach.  It was Halloween day, 1985. I had gone to explore the beach and was fascinated by all the kites I saw flying there.  I wanted to fly a kite, too, and someone told me there was a kite store in town. So I drove into town and found the Pic-A-Patch kite shop where I bought my first kite (a Trlby) from Jeri Joyner.  It was later that I would meet Richard Soulier, Jeri’s partner and the other owner of Pic-a-Patch Kites.

I went back to the beach, but it was beginning to drizzle and most of the kites were now down.  However, I was determined to fly my new kite so I read the directions and put together the Trlby and soon had it in the air.  While flying that Trlby, I watched some people with a motor home on the beach with their own kite.  Suddenly, the line on their kite broke, and the kite went drifting into the thick brush behind the beach.  From my viewpoint, I could see exactly where that kite had landed, but they returned empty-handed after their search.  It was drizzling harder so I put my kite away and  walked over to the motor home.  I knocked on the door which was opened by some people with drinks in their hands.  After we had recovered their kite, they invited me in for a drink, and that was the beginning of years of friendship and great kite-flying on the Westport beach.  That is how I met Al and Creda Axton.

As for the creation you see in this picture (taken by Creda Axton), I conceived it after I bought a large box of seconds 3/4 ounce ripstop nylon.  I had acquired a used commercial sewing machine for these kinds of projects.  Each tube is 7″ diameter and 100′ long.  That was a LOT of sewing!  The tubes are connected to the main line of a “lifting” kite.  With the spacing of the tubes you see here, the Betsy Ross flag is 60′ tall and 100′ long.  I made two bags to hold these tubes, one with 7 compartments and the other with 6 compartments.  Each tube was numbered, and I would carefully stuff a tube into its compartment tail-end first.  This allowed me to connect all the tubes to the main line, only having to pull a small amount of tube out of its compartment to do so.  When the kite was allowed to fly, the flag deployed almost instantaneously.  It was something to see.  I still have those tubes, carefully tucked in their bags.  They have not flown for decades, and I imagine they are still in fine shape.

Unfortunately, I was spoiled by the wonderful, steady wind at the Westport beach.  Where I now live in the Colorado mountains, the wind is very inconsistent (in both speed and direction), poor for flying something like this.  However, we have been spending more time at the beach in Los Barriles, BCS, Mexico, where the wind is more suitable.  Maybe I will fly them there.

Again, thank you, Westport Windriders, for the wonderful memories.