Parasailing with Barrier Island Adventures, Manasota Key

FOR SOMEONE who doesn’t ‘do’ heights or boats, I’ve just had one heck of a day.

Not only did we take to the water for an hour-and-a-half with Barrier Island Adventures, but 20 minutes into the trip and I’m hanging by a thread 500ft above the ocean. Parasailing, it’s called, and this is easily the highlight of our holiday.

Right from the moment the boat pulls away from the dock it’s clear this is going to be a great experience. The two-man crew are beaming, because they know we’re going to be in for a thrilling ride. The sun is out, the water is that perfect Florida blue, the boat is reassuringly solid as we surge forward out of the bay and into open water – and despite a slight swell I’m not really bothered.

I’ve read the gumph, which tells me that the boat is a state-of-the-art, USCG-inspected 15-passenger Centurion Flight 33 Vessel – haven’t a clue what all that means but it sounds impressive and the best is yet to come, because it appears that Centurion is the only manufacturer to design and build a vessel specifically for parasailing, which ensures a ‘stable, safe and comfortable experience’. The website boasts of a 100 per cent safety record, which is good enough for me.

Josh is the man in charge and once he’s reassured Grace and I that they’ve safely sent a 97-year-old up – and brought her down again – there’s no stopping us.

The parachute is unfurled at the back of the boat and Grace and I – who have already been strapped into our harnesses and fitted with lifejackets – take our position on the platform at the back of the boat, ready to be clipped to the parachute.

Once we’re all hooked up the 1000ft line is released and we’re up and away.

It’s amazing how quickly you leave the sounds of the water behind and once up at 500ft you can sit back and enjoy the view, the peace and the gentle joy of gliding along.

Josh playfully pulls out a giant pair of scissors and teases us that he’s going to cut us loose, but to be honest we’re having such a great time that I don’t think either of us would have cared if he had.

A few facts that you might want to know before you book.

  • It’s suitable for most people but there’s a pretty detailed disclaimer form to sign before boarding the boat.
  • You don’t have to get wet. You take off and land on a platform at the back of the boat, but Josh asks if you’d like a cheeky dip in the sea on your way down. We did, but it wasn’t a total ducking – just enough to get our feet wet. Oh, and you might have a spot of spray splashing over the boat if the sea’s a bit bumpy.
  • You don’t need to be strong. You are strapped into a harness and you actually ‘sit’ on some sturdy strapping.

What did it cost?

As flyers we paid $65 each and our supermodel passenger (the missus) paid $20 – with a $35 photo package, which is a very useful extra given that we were so pre-occupied with having a great time that we wouldn’t have wanted to faff about with a camera.

 

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