A weekly column by Catherine Dugan. This week: Parasailing.
The birds make it look easy, but soaring above the beaches of Cape May is a little intimidating for those of us born without feathers. Relax – a parasailing trip gives you a bird’s-eye view safely, no flapping required.
Pierre Lamoigne, a parachuting instructor, is credited with creating parasailing. He attached a parachute to his moving car in the 1960s to teach pilots about parachuting. Lamoigne pulled the pilot aloft so he would become accustomed to the ‘chute. Soon this method was used at sea for recreation. Specially-designed boats, with motors to pull the parachute back to the “flight deck” allow you to rise smoothly into the sky. You have no control over the “flight,” but you will enjoy a gentle trip up into the air, and a gentle ride back down. If you ask, you can have a dip in the water. Take the dip!
In Cape May, you can parasail at East Coast Parasail, located at Utsch’s Marina; at Atlantic Parasail at Two Mile Landing; or at other locations in Wildwood. Rates are about $70 each, not including tip, and reservations are required. The 8am flight at East Coast Parasail is only $55. Ten people go out at a time. Observers are allowed at a reduced rate, and you pay after your trip – probably because most observers turn into fliers when they see how easy it is. You will be out on the water for about an hour and a half.
When it’s your turn, you are strapped into a swing-like harness, and take off from a sitting position with your legs out in front. You can ride solo, but most people ride in pairs. I rode with Nicole, who, at 14, is braver than I. Nerves quickly gave way to relaxation in the amazing quiet far above Poverty Beach. We were alone with the sunlight, the morning fog, and the water. Pure magic. The seagulls flew below us and a brown ray swam just below the water’s surface. Too soon, we were floating down and dipping our toes into the chilly Atlantic.
The fun continued on the boat, as we watched others soar. The friendly, capable crew created a party atmosphere, with music playing all the way. The dolphins performed as if they were on the payroll, jumping and frolicking alongside the boat. It was the highlight of our summer.
Go parasailing, and choose the photo package – you get lots of pictures of your whole party. After Labor Day, parasailing tours are available on weekends and by appointment.
Next week: The Cape May County Zoo