Friday, March 26, 2010

DuckPass (for Thom, aka there and back again--a hobbit's tale)

The wind is a surly mistress.  If there is one thing I have learned kitesurfing and paragliding, it is that we are the cult of the wind, much like surfers are the cult of the wave.  And, like the wave, the wind is her own creature--her ebb and flow is incalculable, yet her call is unyielding.  Sometimes we are lucky enough to hear her call when her seductive song is in our favor, other times we hear the call to the unobtainable, but always we are at her mercy.  Today, I had the fortune of hearing her call twice.  The first time, I was unready; the second I won her favor.

I had planned on kitesurfing with Mad Dog today, but the wind was just not there for it.  So, I was up early to get ahead of the curve, and made a break for it.  I arrived on launch with plenty of company.  Thom, Alex, Louise, Doug, Jim, Scot, and others (Canadian visitors--don't know who) were on the hike with me for the morning shift.  We launched into a nice northerly wind that had weird little lift bands, but we all made the best of it and climbed to a happy 1600-1800 ft.  We were all working to get the lift to cross the bay (except Alex, he had already crossed with Scot).  When a nice little cloud street came waltzing into the bay--I went from 1900 to 2200 or so and knew that this was going to be THE time to cross--I had been patient and the lift followed.  So, with Alex and Scot already across, and the cloudsuck on, I lined up behind Thom and proceeded to head across the bay for the second time in my career.

Man, it's the little things in life that get you!  As I proceeded across the bay in great lift, I came to realize that my speed-bar kick-line was very securely attached through both of my leg straps and my connecting strap--I had checked my speed-bar on launch, then proceeded to connect my harness very neatly over my speed-bar strap--AWESOME.  "So," I thought to myself, "self, what are you gonna do?"  I proceeded to disconnect my left leg strap.  I figured that I could work my way across my harness disconnecting the speed-bar lines and still make it across the bay--a quick THWACK while I was otherwise engaged with my left leg strap convinced me that I really did not want to have my hands off the controls and be disconnected to my harness--call me old fashioned, but I did not want any of it!

"So," I thought to my self, "self, what are you gonna do?"  I proceeded to push my center A's in order to simulate speed-bar and to penetrate my now disintegrating line in an attempt to follow Thom--this SEEMED to work for a little while--about the time I thought I should just turn back; I was rewarded with another slight THWACK.  This time I was pushing my A's and in lieu of a front collapse, I decided to turn back.  Thom had made it across the bay, but he was low and out of the lift band and he was turning back--LOW.  I had no idea where Jim was, and our Canadian visitor was just launching.  Doug, in the meantime had been busily climbing out and was preparing for his own bay crossing.

First flight gps log:

I made a hasty retreat back to the main ridge at Kahana, but realized that I was too deep, so I decided to make for the beach--thanks for everyone who came on the radio to let me know!  So, a nice elevator landing later, and I was on the beach.  A short while after I landed, Louise landed also--just about the time that Mad Dog was launching.   Mad Dog made a quick bay crossing then he was called to work--Louise and I headed to Kua Loa to retrieve Thom and Maui Doug.   Both of them had had an awesome early morning flight and had decided to land at Kua Loa--Congrats guys!

Louise and I picked up Thom and Doug, and were met by Donna and SkyMai--Mai was hoping for a tandem--if there is one person on the planet more itching to fly than me it is Sky!  Another 40 lbs or so and she will be the terror of the skies--start eating ice cream now SkyMai!  After we got the band back together, we met up with Joey and Jeff at 7-11 (you know for all the essentials--spam musubi, chips, tuna, and egg salad--don't fly downwind of this group).  We all had a quick bite and then headed to Kahana for the afternoon session.

The afternoon session was looking pretty good--winds at 16 degrees at 9-12 mph.  Joey, Thom, Louise, Maui, and I all headed up for more.  Joey had me pumped up for a bay crossing, and Louise had me pumped up because she was soo happy to be flying in Hawaii (I think we take it for granted).  So, we arrived on launch to find Matt volunteering to be the wind dummy.  Matt had a good launch and then proceeded to make it look easy as he steadily climbed above the horn.  After Matt, we launched in succession--Louise, Joey, Maui Doug, Me. Thom, and Jeff (Bon Bon came later, as well as Brendt, and Hillbilly--don't know the details of your flights).

Once up, I made some work of scratching around--there was lift, but nothing that wanted to take us higher than 1600-1800 or so...after an extended routine of dancing with everyone above the Rhino Horn, I decided to go for it!  I left the Rhino Horn at 1658 ft and arrived at the edge of the far side of Kahana at 768 ft six minutes later.  I was seriously debating turning back to the beach; but I decided to tuck in to see if there was any lift (figured I could hit Swanzy's if I had too).  Over the next ten minutes, I had walked the ridge to 1973 ft--NICE!  I spent the next 20 minutes or so working the large bowl in front of Ka'a'awa gaining a max altitude of 2443 ft according to my gps.  Joey and Jeff soon joined me and we made a game of playing with the coudsuck--at one point, Joey was way out front, Jeff was behind him, and I was coming in behind Jeff in a nice cloudstreet--after I hit 380+ fpm hands-up I pulled big-ears and half speed-bar to keep from being sucked over the back.  I followed Joey and Jeff to the Kua Loa ridge, and then we turned for home.  Joey kept me safe on the way back watching my penetration across the venturi that is Kua Loa--Thanks!

As we tracked back, I could see Bon Bon and Louise having a nice flight over Kahana.  My gps died on the return trip, but I flew back to the Rhino Horn and had a few spiral/big ears trips over the bay.  As I went in to land, I realized that I was coming in hot--as they say "everything but the dismount!"  I knew I was coming in hot, so I sort of fluffed in on my rear--WHAT A WAY to end such a great flight--oh well--it was torpedo time anyhow!

Here is the gps link if anyone is interested (hit play):



JeffMc said...

Nice article Duck! Sure was a great flight. I love that Garmin site for viewing your tracks.


Thom said...

I can see many new titles coming from this pilot "Duck Migration" "Duck Around The Corner" Oh and you landing "Duck Droppings".

Got to love that Sport 4.

Great Story Duck made my morning coffee.

Alex said...

Thanks for another great read, Duck. I am glad you went back up for a second try! It was a textbook bay crossing day (remember that combination of 22 degrees and 9 mph - that's when you call in sick). I'd love to know who all got across by the end of the day - before I left at 2:30 there were seven: me, Scot, Maui, Mad Dog, Jim, Thom, and BC Marty.

MauiDoug said...

Great recap Duck! Way to go! Thanks to you, Donna, SkyMai and Louise for the retrieve! Let's do it again, how about today! :-)

Gravity said...

Nice flight(s) Duck. I think I've created a 'Duck Monster'...

Anonymous said...

Thanks man it was great flying with you! The Garmin site is pretty excellent--I like the ability to review what happened objectively.

Sport 4 baby! And don't forget "Duck Penetration"--hehehe

Thanks Alex. I might be sick a lot in the future. I think I feel Dengue Fever coming on.

As always its was great flying with you Doug--wish I could have made the flight with you and Thom.

Reaper, Definitely!!!