Sunday, October 03, 2010

Bay Crossing Guarantee

In between the exciting events of Logan's second kayak meet yesterday, I couldn't help but check my phone periodically for news about the conditions at Kahana. The forecast made it sound a bit moist, but the chatter on the website was nothing but optimistic. The sensor readings had been consistently NE for most of the morning - and as we drove away from the Ala Wai I found myself gripped by strong presentiments of a bay crossing adventure.

I arrived at Kahana to find that Scrappy and Allan had already flown and landed, having attempted a bay crossing just before landing. Allan felt like he might have been able to get over there, but since Scrappy wasn't going over in his tandem, he decided to wait for another day. I hiked up with Rich and Allan, and as we hiked we heard Doug on the radio lamenting a missed toplanding that sent him to the beach in the weakening conditions. We found Jeff and Bill on north launch, relaxing in between flights, having toplanded to wait for the wind to fill in a bit more. And at the upper north launch we found Aron setting up and waiting for a good cycle.

As I was hiking, the guys were teasing me about my hopes of bay crossing. Apparently it had got super light, and no one had been getting much higher than about 1,200 feet for a while. But their bearish forecast didn't put a dent in my optimism. I replied that we were definitely crossing the bay, and that was final. There's always the chance a stray thermal might pop off and carry us up, or a random cloud might reach down and tug us up to the magic departure point.

Aron launched first and had to work hard to get above launch height. Uh, oh. I checked the sensor, and it was reading 6 mph average at 66 degrees. That's not good. I felt like I had to at least try, so I launched and began to scratch with Aron, and Bill and Jeff soon joined us, and Rich too. Allan hadn't brought his glider up since Scrappy had to leave for a wedding, but he helped everyone else with their launches.

It was crazy up there. I couldn't get higher than about 1,000 feet. Aron and I were just constantly dodging one another right above the rhino horn. It felt like a busy day at Lanikai when there's two gliders in the air. I was starting to doubt my happy bay crossing premonitions.

Bill was taking his new glider for its maiden voyage, and he was pretty excited about it. It's a sweet machine, very skinny and sexy looking, a gold and black knife blade of a wing. Amazing what they are doing with EN C wings these days. Ray and Nick had arrived at the LZ, and Bill joked over the radio to Ray that if this wing didn't take him over the bay today, he'd have to send it back. Ray said he hoped Bill had not forgotten to pay the extra fee for the bay crossing guarantee!

Right about that time, a low band of clouds approached that looked decidedly grey and ugly. There wasn't any rain below them, but it was hard to see why not - they looked ready to blow. On the other hand, there was texture below them, and suddenly it was feeling a bit easier to maintain altitude. In fact, I was climbing nicely, and mostly on the north face. Was this our chance? I didn't wait for long, and just blazed out after hitting about 1,800 feet. It felt good all the way across, and I made it without too much trouble, thanks to the cloud band, working my way up over there to get established behind Bobo's.

I saw Aron and Bill following me over, and watched them to see how they'd fare. Aron made it over just fine, but he pushed ahead too early, without stopping to work himself high enough at the first section above the Crouching Lion. He eventually found himself quite low as he approached the corner above Bobo's, and veered out for a death glide to Swanzy Beach Park, just clearing the power lines in front of the fire station. Whew! That was a bit close for comfort!

Bill arrived much higher than Aron or I had, and didn't have to sweat his line over Kaaawa. In fact, he pretty much spent the whole day higher than me, sometimes a lot higher. We made it over to Kualoa together, and I struggled to get myself up high enough to have the option of returning to Kahana. Meanwhile Bill was skying out at cloudbase, hooting for joy to be flying an awesome new wing, and wondering what I was doing down there groveling along the ridge. Sigh. I guess I'm gonna have to get used to that feeling. At least for another month or so til my new wing gets here!

We could hear Pete on the radio towing students in the park, and Bonnie was working at the ranch parking cars for the all girl rodeo over there. Dorothy, Amelia, Jen and Mazzy were checking out the rodeo while Jeff and I were flying. I finally worked my way up high enough at Kualoa, and Bill and I returned to Kahana. On the way back we passed Ray and Nick, who had both just managed to get across and start working their way up and over to Kualoa. Bill and I soon landed and celebrated our good fortune. We met Sharky, Ginny and Duck down at the LZ and they helped us celebrate in style. Thanks for the torpedoes, guys!

Thank goodness for that Bay Crossing Guarantee. It's an excellent investment - I highly reccommend that all pilots consider getting one with any new glider purchase.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the write-up Alex. Damn, on Tuesday I got lost in the forest while running and it turned completely dark (I finally made it home though, with a few scratches and bruises) and yesterday the thing with the powerlines. It was not my week! And I definitely need more experience before following you everywhere, I'd overestimated myself :)

Thom said...

Thanks for the morning coffee read Alex, I am sure your flying under anyone will not be lasting very long, but it is very NOBEL of you to allow a few serfs to catch a glimpse of the top part of your wing while they can. Sorry I missed it. Looks like strong winds for a few days so get some work done.

I am going buy the guarantee from SOL, but I am greedy and hoping for extension from Kahana to MPU !

Waianae Jim said...

Where can I get one of those bay crossing guarantees? I need one since I always seem to struggle and fumble my way across that expanse. Nice loooking new toy Hillbilly. I'll see you you all out there in a couple months.

Mad Dog said...

The Sol Tocrk came with one of those guarantee's as it also crossed on it's first flight!!!I would look into it if I were you guys...Can't wait till I can afford the Sol Kangaroo 3 for my Tandem.

Thom said...

Mad Dog, I think you got the extended guarantee that covers all of Europe too !!!!! But I did get to see the top of your wing once for about 2 minutes...hehehehe.