Saturday, December 13, 2014

Perfect Peninsula

The forecast for today was amazing and perfect for our usual sites: sunny with light to moderate northeasterly trades and some sea breezes. But we awoke to clouds, a lingering frontal drizzle and a northwesterly flow. The day slowly cleared and turned on, but nothing like the prediction. We had to be flexible and creative. Let’s see … this was probably the last day to fly Kahana or Makapuu before the TFR forces us to fly Dillingham every day. So … I know! Let’s fly Dillingham!

Jorge was calling Makapuu almost flyable, predicting a parapark, but I know he was slightly swayed by the pulchritude of his passengers. The Kahana numbers refused to turn on at all. Meanwhile I had watched the numbers at Mokuleia all day and they looked perfect. But I didn’t know if they’d last. And I wasn’t willing to risk getting stuck in traffic at the surf competition on the North Shore. So I drove the long way around through Kaneohe and navigated the H3, H1 and H2. Thats a lot of aitches!

Kevin joined me out there, and Drew followed a while later. Drew went via the North Shore and said the traffic wasn’t bad at all. Oh well. When I arrived, the sensor was calling it average 7 at 40 something. Not perfect but not bad either. I ran up to the knob, accidentally blazing a new trail for the first half of the climb. That place is so overgrown! Maybe during the TFR we can organize a work party with some weed whackers or other tools, to clear that trail a bit.

The flow on top was super cross from the east side, and it forced me into an unexpected but fun cobra launch. I got out of there and worked my way up in the oblique lift. There was not a cloud in the sky, except for a few tiny puffs above Kaala. Meanwhile the Koolau range had a thick blanket of clouds on it. Not sure what that was all about.

I pushed upwind to the drop zone, and then dashed downwind to the point, waiting for Kevin to join me. It was pretty hard to get back from the point, but I got back in time to join Kevin for another trip toward Kaala. We were surprised to find really nice blue sky thermals booming off of the fields behind the drop zone, and we meandered up and down on the fingers below Kaala for a long time, watching sailplanes, skydivers, whales, albatrosses, jump planes, tow planes, and a lone speed flyer who launched Kealia. Meanwhile Drew hiked up and launched his Firefly at the knob.

Right about then I looked at the sensors on my phone and realized the Mokuleia sensor was now averaging 11 and gusting 17. Uh, wow. Maybe that’s why suddenly we didn’t have to worry about finding thermals anymore! I hadn’t thought about it but we were going up everywhere! We saw solid wind lines on the ocean but no white caps. Anyway, it seemed prudent to call it a day and land. Kevin followed me back, and as we got back we saw whitecaps all over. Maybe the angle had been wrong before! We landed in super strong flow. Drew landed shortly after, claiming it was too strong even for his Firefly. We hung out a while and celebrated our good fortune with cold refreshing karma juice. Whoever brings the juice gets the karma. My karma balance is running high lately!

Man, do I love flying that peninsula. I know I have a lot to learn about the conditions and the possibilities out there. I look forward to more great flights there and more company next time. Thanks to Kevin and Drew for keeping the faith this time!

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