Well… it’s here – officially anyway. SPRING!!! Yeah, some folks are still knee-deep in that white stuff, and most of us are looking at daytime temps in the 40s and 50s and grey skies… But it’s here. I know, because the daffodils in the back-yafrd say so. But it ain’t really stunning kite-flying weather yet. Yeah, I know… It’s that way here, too! (Note – there’s a cold drizzle out there as I write this.)
So if you don’t really have the all-consuming urge to out there and throw a kite in the air just yet, what’s a body to do? Well, how about flagrantly ignoring “the chore list” taped onto the fridge for a day or two, and doing a little “Spring Kite Tune-Up” instead? Yup – it’s probably time to get all your gear whipped into shape so the next time the weather turns sweet on a weekend, you can ignore that ho-hum list one more time and get out and FLY!!! So let’s get at it!
And the first item is – do you KNOW where your kite-bag IS? Yep – in the corner of the garage – underneath the tire-chains and snow shovels, right behind the lawn mower – exactly where I left it! Okay… Drag it out, open it up, and survey the damage. Yeah, I know, they’re all absolutely pristine… but open up each kite sleeve and check ‘em out anyway. Somewhere in there is a busted knock or a crunched connector or a badly frayed bridle – so find them all, and start THE LIST on a piece of paper. Yep – write it down! That way, you’ll have the list handy when you call to order those replacement parts…
So the real idea here with this survey of your kites and equipment is simply to “gather information.” Yes, you’re eventually going to want to fix it (or maybe not?), but you will likely need some parts, and maybe forming your own little “strategy” for dealing with your kite budget might not hurt you either. What I’m REALLY trying to get you to do is to get all the gear repaired NOW, while fixing stuff doesn’t steal any time away from kite flying – your main source of on-the-field enjoyment!
Once you’ve done that “survey” stuff with the kites, don’t stop now… Go right on and check out the other gear too. Are all your flight lines set and ready to go? Lay ‘em out, check line equalization (Sport kiters), and make sure the ends aren’t frayed or lose. And how about the ground anchors? Got enough stakes? Do you fly on the beach? If so – are all your sand anchors up to snuff? (Yeah, you better be documenting all the discrepancies on that list you’re building…) And how about your own “personal gear” too. Got your gloves? A good Hat? Kite stakes and a holster for you Sport Kite guys? Maybe a fleece warm-up and a waterproof windbreaker? Yep, add the missing stuff to the list…
Now – you might also want to consider how, when, and where you fly. If you fly 2 miles away in the evenings after work and maybe on an occasional weekend flying day with the kids – that’s one thing. But if you normally fly at big “outings” – festivals, or maybe weekend family beach outings – then you might also want to look through other gear necessary for those events or weekends. Does that well-used soft-drink cooler leak? Is there a busted spar or fitting on your cabana? Does your spouse’s beach chair need new webbing? And do the kids deserve to get new sand-toys this year… or maybe even a KITE?
Once you’re done with your look-see, take a look at the list you’ve created. Feel free to modify the list at will. Add, Delete, Change. Hopefully, you’ll end up with something you’re comfortable with – something you can accomplish without taking out that dreaded second mortgage.
First thing off the modified list is to figure out what parts you need to get everything “functional.” A kite might be a wondrous thing in its sleeve – but an undiscovered busted fitting means that delightful wind-toy will stay in the kite-bag the next time you go flying… So figure out what parts you really need and set about acquiring them.
And – for heaven sakes – pay some special attention to the repairs that will make the rest of your family comfortable as well. If they’re uncomfortable on your next outing, I can guarantee that you’ll spend less time flying in that lovely state of bliss that we all seek. Get those required parts!
Some kite parts will only be found in a good kite shop, but other parts are obtainable at your local hardware store, and some repairs can be done in your home with common household tools and materials too… Then on to the “maintenance” phase.
By now you know which gear needs repairing and have parts-resupply well in hand, so make an appointment with yourself to fix it. I’m serious… Plan out the necessary time to get this equipment repaired. Reframing a Sport Kite due to a cracked fitting can take you a while, so do it NOW – or do it on the beach! Your choice…
Once you begin repairing, be careful if you’re not experienced in replacing broken connectors. Many sport kites – in particular – need to be completely disassembled to replace some of those bad connectors – and then reassembled again. Have trouble sliding a new connector onto the spar? I’ve two methods I heartily recommend. Most new connectors soften up very well if they’re dropped in a cup of hot (“almost” boiling) water – and they’ll slide on the spar fairly easily. The other way is to spray the spar and the connector with Norelco Razor Lubricant – an aerosol available at your local drugstore. It’s silicone based, dries very well, and can be used on the beach where, chances are, you have no hot water. And next time you run into him, thank our friend Jim Byrne for that particularly handy hint, too!
Once you’re done with the actual repairs on each kite, I’d recommend you set up the kite and adjust anything you can see. Look for the “odd” stuff that might not exactly be “broken,” but isn’t quite right either. Preliminary adjustments can be done now, at home – before your “flying holiday.” And it might be that a couple of those kites could stand to accompany you into the shower someday soon – or perhaps a bucket, a little dish detergent, as sponge and a hose – all used gently now – would help the kite a little bit too.
Gosh – you’re almost done now, right? Well, there are a couple of “organizational” things you can do NOW, that’ll make your flying time more fun when you get out there too… Start by building your kite-bag properly.
Think a little about what kites – including different kinds of kites – you want to fly when you get to the flying field. If you have several kites for different wind-ranges, plan on taking a variety of kites for different conditions. Things can change when you get to the flying field – so put your kite-bag together with various wind-speeds in mind. Make sure “the good stuff” is in the bag. Put in several different line-sets too – including any available back-up sets for your most probable conditions. Make sure your “ground tackle” is in the same bag – stakes, holster is you use one, plus gloves for you Single Liners, and a good Hat and Sunglasses for everyone. Maybe a couple bottles of water and some kind of a quick-energy bar might come in handy too. If you gotta have it on the field, plan for it now and – put it in the bag!
You might also think about who else will be going with you. If it’ll likely be a “family affair,” plan on taking all the family “toys” and “comfort” paraphernalia they’ll want to have too. Gather it all together in one place. In the garage – put the tire-chains on the bottom on the floor right next to the wall, followed immediately by the snow-shovel. Put the Lawn mower right beside them. Then place your assembled kite-bag in front of it all. Finally, put the “family” stuff in front of the whole mess. DONE!! Good job, friend!
My thinking here is that you’re DONE with all that snow for the year. And the grass’ll still be there – growing – when you get back. YOU’RE GOING FLYING!!! Soon, too! So the family stuff goes into the car first – with your kite-bag right on top!
Finally – Go inside and grab a cold beverage. Kick back for a few minutes. Check email. Make a sandwich. Watch a little Baseball if you like. Then find your Significant Other, and schedule your next Kite Outing! You’re all “Good To Go!”
It’s still about 45°F, heavy overcast, with a bit of blustery breeze, and threatening spits of rain-drops as I finish this piece. Uh… I guess I’m not flying today… Soon, though… Very soon now!
Fair Winds and Good Friends –