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MY FIRST TIME

Smooth sailing calms all fears

The author and her husband reach new heights in their relationship.

Photo by Caleb McClyment

The author and her husband reach new heights in their relationship.

Before I say anything about my first time parasailing, it should be noted that I'm terrified of heights. Why, then, would I opt to do something that puts me 800 feet in the air? Well, I guess lately I've been trying to confront my fears head-on to get over them.

I found Sky Screamer Parasail online and decided to use it simply because it has a website. Something about companies with no website has always made me fear they might either be new to the business they are in, or that they can't afford a website.

Both factors make me nervous.

I booked the parasailing for me and my husband Jeremy, and a week later, off we went to Clearwater. The whole week I was a nervous wreck. It didn't help that my sister told me about how when she went, she got injured. Add to that all the terrible videos I mistakenly watched on a rerun of America's Funniest Home Videos, and I began to joke that I should probably do a couple of shots beforehand, or take a Xanax to calm my fears.

Friday morning came quickly, and we were scheduled for the 10 a.m. boat. We sprayed on our sunscreen and hopped aboard a tiny speedboat with seven other people. Caleb McClyment was our guide, and Capt. Steve took us the 10 minutes to an area where we could begin parasailing.

After watching the first two people go, I thought, No problem! I got this! Then, before I knew it, my time had come. Caleb fastened the harnesses on us, and then we were fastened to the parasail itself. Luckily, it was a two-seater, because I'm not sure I could have mustered up the courage to go alone.

The harness was like a swing, so we sat down on the back of the boat and then were gently lifted into the air. There was a slight tug once we hit 800 feet, but other than that it was just a peaceful glide. The descent made me a little nervous, because Capt. Steve gave us a bit of a freefall and then dipped our toes in the water. The last part of the ride was being lifted back up a little bit from the water so we could be pulled into the boat again.

The only sad thing was that the photos Caleb took of our takeoff and landing were not that great. Granted, this wasn't Caleb's fault; I have a tricky camera. The good news is that I'll probably go again, and next time I'll bring friends or a simpler camera to get better shots.

— My First Time is a column about Ashley Grant trying new things in Tampa Bay. Got a suggestion for something she can try? Email her at famousashleygrant@gmail.com.

Parasailing

Where: Sky Screamer Parasail, 25 Causeway Blvd. Slip No. 8, Clearwater Beach. (727) 442-7600, proparasail.com.

Cost: 600 feet is $69; 800 feet is $79.

Three things I learned

1. Bring people that know how to use your camera, or bring a simple point-and-shoot.

2. This is not a thrill ride. It is a sight-seeing glider that gently lifts you up and gently brings you back down.

3. You don't have to get wet! If you are going with people who know what they are doing, you can stay dry the whole time!

Would I do it again? Yes, but not too often, because it costs way too much for the amount of time you are actually in the air.

Smooth sailing calms all fears 07/28/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 28, 2011 2:17pm]
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