Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Even a blind squirrel...

...finds a nut every once in a while. The day started out low and cloudy (much like my brain after Ray's birthday party). Great party by the way! Thanks Thom and Donna for hosting. Hope your awning held up okay. Anyway, like I said, low and cloudy. I got up, made a bucket of coffee and went to check Wind Lines -- the early morning crew was already wondering where to fly for the day, and the party monkeys were still in slumberland. I decided that if we did not fly today, it would be no big deal (my liver speaking through my brain). But, as the morning wore on, I kept checking the chatterbox -- you know, Just in Case...

At 10:30, I saw that Alex was on his way to Kahana. So, I decided to meet him there. Would have been great if I had let him, or anyone else, know. But, nope, I just packed my stuff and headed out -- figured I would see him on launch. I got to Kahana, and headed up to regular launch -- sensor said it was blowing from 68 degrees. I noticed as I hiked up that I was the first one on the trail that day, as all the little spider webs from the night before got tangled in my legs, arms, and face (don't ask -- it is a steep trail and I am low to the ground -- it's all angles) -- spider-face is not a good way to start your day, but it does get your blood pumping.

I arrived on launch at about 10:50, settled in to watch conditions, and got on the radio. "Radio Check"...nothing...a little while later..."Radio Check, Alex, you out there?"...still nothing. At 11:30 or so, I realized that I did not have my phone and decided to head back home to get it -- conditions were looking okay (I had been sprinkled on, but no heavy rain) and I figured if anyone was going to fly, I wanted my phone with me.

I made a quick jot to the house and headed back to Kahana. When I got back to Kahana, I saw Jeff Mc at the beach. He told me that Alex and Scot had headed up, and that I could probably catch them (he was waiting on his wife to get back from Tamura's) -- off I went. I had left my wing up on launch tucked under a tree, so I caught up with Alex and Scot about the time they hit launch. Conditions looked good, cloudbase was low, but the wind was steady. Alex launched first (of course), followed by Scot. I laid out, and by then, Jeff had ascended -- Jeff assisted me with some tangles and pressure knots, and then I was off. I brought my wing up into a small gust front that was preceeding a line of clouds heading into the bay. I had lift almost immediately, but took a few passes before heading to the Rhino Horn just to be safe. Once I made the horn, the lift was pretty steady -- so was the light rain!

I looked up to see Alex (in the clouds) and Scot heading out to sea. I had not planned on any big XC, but figured if conditions were good, then I would go for it. I made a few dancing passes with Scot as we ascended above the horn -- it was surreal -- we were literally cloudwalking. While Scot and I were gaining altitude, I saw Jeff launch and Alex begin to shoot across the bay. I made a few more passes and took my Skyalis -- I was having the time of my life just heading into the clouds. For a while I was in whiteout, and as it cleared, I saw Scot heading across the bay on what looked like THE line -- of course, I followed!

I played with half-speedbar after about halfway across (in somewhat of a headwind) and looked to see where Scot was...he was just cruising along, way out in front. I looked down and saw Jeff on what looked like an inside line for crossing; I was a little concerned, but he looked like he was gaining altitude (he looked like he was just strolling across the bay). I had no idea where Alex had gone to, but I thought I had seen him crossing back to the Rhino Horn.

As I tailed Scot, I noticed two things -- he had a great line and I did not -- I tucked in along the far side above the condos to keep my 1000ft. From there, I just kept thinking about how cool it was to be across the bay and heading to Kualoa valley -- this was flying the way you want it to be -- in the clouds and buoyant. As I got to the valley, I noticed Scot heading back my way. I headed out a little ways into the valley just to look around. It was not sinky, but there was not much lift either. So, I headed back and once again Scot and I flew back and forth making the huge bowl above Ka'a'awa work for us -- at one point someone came on the radio (I think it was Alex, but it might have been Jeff) and warned us of a helicopter inbound at 900ft. I heard the copter and saw that it was coming in low, so I headed out of the clouds in order for it to be able to see me -- the copter split the line between Scot and me and headed into the valley low over the ridge.

It was around this point that Scot and I headed back to Kahana. I saw him turn and burn and I just followed. He was low from my point of view, so I figured I would be okay on the way back, and if not, I would just head to the beach. Scot headed in for what looked like a top landing, and I hit the horn to try and scratch my way back up. After a few passes, I headed in to the LZ (everyone else had landed).

After a few minutes, at the LZ, Scot and I headed back up, with Alex following, for another round. Scot was taking me out as his first tandem victim, and Alex just wanted to fly. We launched, and had a few passes, but no love. The conditions had changed for the worse. Alex launched after us, and so did Larry. Scot and I headed to the beach.

We watched Larry scratch his way up, and it began to rain in earnest--on the radio we let them know. They decided to land in Punalu'u and we told them we would pick them up -- Larry got ditched by Alex on the way to land -- seems there was some lift on the ridge above Punalu'u and Alex thought we would be there to talk Larry in (torpedoes kept us at Kahana for longer than we expected -- sorry Larry, sorry Alex). No harm anyhow, Larry did a fine job of making it in, followed by Alex.

All in all it was a VERY GOOD DAY!!! (hit play to view the track)



Larry Mc said...

Thanks for the great story Duck! By the way--I did some tree climbing in my yard today----let me know anytime you want to stop by and check out the potential. 638-8484 / 237-9354

Larry Mc

Dreamybee said...

Thanks for cleaning it up an adding the pictures Alex!!


Thom said...

Duck who is Dreamybee,

Time to change your post id.

You are just the XC guy now, hope to follow you soon

Anonymous said...

Dreamybee is my wife Ginger...she is an expert blogger and has helped me put my post on Windlines...Dreamybee is her blogger account.

Someday I will get around to setting up my own account.

It is I who hope to follow you, far as I know YOU hold the record. I really hope we can get a flight in this week/weekend!


Anonymous said...

Larry, thanks for the comments. Do you have anytime this week--I'd love to come out and check out the potential for climbing in your yard. I'll call tomorrow.


MauiDoug said...

Great write up Duck! It's good to see you feeling so comfortable in the air. Your nickname sure fits you well! See you in the air real soon :-)