Local kitesurfer Brian Ackerman was two miles out to sea on a recent solo trip from Point Sal to Vandenberg when things went bad.
One of the four lines that harnessed him to his kite broke, stranding him. After he gathered his partially detached kite, Ackerman made a one-hour paddle back to shore in what he described as a "near-death drowning." Once he reached land, about a quarter-mile north of Guadalupe, Ackerman rolled up his kite and began a long trek back to his launching point.
Before long, however, the bedraggled waterman president of the Central Coast Kitesurfing Association encountered Oceano Dunes State Park Ranger Alan Marshall, who responded immediately to Ackerman's situation.
By writing Ackerman out a citation. For trespassing on protected land near pole 8 in the Oceano Dunes.
Ackerman said he was told "saving his life was not his problem," but Marshall doesn't recall things exactly the same way.
The ranger said Ackerman was well aware of where he could launch and land because the kiteboarder has been working with the park rangers in drafting the final restrictions concerning the use of kiteboarding along the Central Coast.
"He's the one that agreed to the rules and regulations," Marshall said of Ackerman. "It may seem harsh, but he was well versed in where he could come to shore."
According to Marshall, kiteboarders can't launch or land in the prohibited areas, but they can play anywhere in the ocean as long as they keep their kite over the water and any trespassing in a protected area, even in emergency situations, would require punishment for fear of negative environmental impact.
"I could see his point and I hope he can see my point that I needed to do my job, and that, unfortunately, it meant writing him a citation," Marshall said.
After the ticket, Marshall did give Ackerman a ride back.