Friday, February 05, 2010

Chilling at Kahana

I had a couple of interesting chilly flights at Kahana yesterday with visitor JJ from the Bay Area. I knew the wind was still blowing pretty northerly in the wake of the last front, and I had high hopes for a bay crossing before the easterly trades set in.

We hiked up around lunchtime under a steely grey overcast sky. The sensor at Punaluu was swinging between 25 and 78 degrees, and there were lots of dark texture patches showing gusts out on the water. Sometimes the whole bay would fill with whitecaps, only to turn to glass the next moment. After launching and going straight up, mostly we found ourselves pretty parked up there, in air that felt super cold and lumpy. After about an hour, we were cold and bored with our gale dangling, so we gave up on any chance of a bay crossing in that strong stuff, and landed at the beach. We retreated around the corner for lunch with JJ's wife Adrian at Bobo's.

At around 4 pm we were still chilling at Bobo's, enjoying their unofficial BYOB policy, when we realized the wind had mellowed and had settled into a consistently north direction, around 33 degrees. We clambered back up the hill to take off for one more chance to cross the bay. It was definitely lighter than before, and I got up above two grand over the front pretty quickly, watching JJ struggle with some line tangulation on launch. I headed out over the water just as he was starting to get up. I could tell it was stronger than usual for a bay crossing, but I was starting with plenty of height, and the air was buoyant despite the strength.

I made it across slowly but surely. However, now that I was above the Crouching Lion I found myself parked facing a headwind from the east, and I had to patiently stand on my speed bar to make any headway around the corner to Hidden Valley. I finally made it up over there, but it was too strong and too east to be pleasant, and by this time JJ had given up on the bay crossing and landed, so I joined him down there. John, Pete's longtime student from Hauula, showed up with his nice dog Mocha and hung out with us for a while too.

It was a pretty strange day to be flying - it never quite made up its mind about the direction or strength. And even though I made it over to Kaaawa, it certainly wasn't the bay crossing day I'd hoped for. I know what it's like when it's good, and this wasn't quite it.

Later on I heard from Scrappy that Jared and the skydive crew had also been out speed flying in the strong conditions over at Makapuu.

Thanks to JJ for the great lunch at Bobo's, and thanks to John for the end of day refreshments.

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