Sunday, January 31, 2010

A tranquil day at Devils Bluff

I didn't have much hope for flying this day, but while we were washing and putting the kayak gear away, I felt a distinctive breeze on the back of my neck. My intuition was right - Waddell had turned on, not much but enough.
We rallied up there setup. Ryan John and Dave were flying. I had a quick testfly to see what the air was like, then came back down to get Jess.

John got a set of really nice shots, while Dave and I shared the air. Thanks John !

You can see John's blog here. Jess was really happy with the 15 mins flight, we got to fly with her favorite birds, Pelicans !

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tomales Bay Kayak Trip

I have been wanting to do this trip since before I bought my kayak 5 years back. With all the rain the last few weeks, I thought I was going to be taking my sister to the snow in Tahoe. But Wednesday morning everything came together, warm air, calm winds, favorable tides. It was time to go! By the time we had the permits, kayak and camping gear, food all sorted and travelled up there, we ended up putting in at dusk at slack (low) tide. We had to trudge through much deep sticky mud to get going. I ended up putting Jess in the kayak and sliding her out there, cos her shoes kept coming off. Eventually we got out to the water, and we under way in an almost full moon. The first camping beach was Marshalls. It's only 6.5km paddle but the tide was now flooding and a bit of a headwind made the first leg 2 & 1/2 hours. It was peaceful out on the water looking at the occasional house lights. That is until we unadvertantly disturbed a large flock migrant ducks. We didn't know what the sound was at first, I had just been talking about how the San Andreas fault was running right along underneath us... It sounded like a freight train.

We got to camp, didn't find any particularly high ground but settled for the high spot, it looked like it should work. The 2nd day's high tide was a 6.4ft high at 10am. Not high globally, but one of the highest of the year around here. It came with 5 feet of the tent. This pond had a bazillion frogs in. It was Incredibly loud, I had no problem waking every 1/2 hour to check the tide wasn't going to wash us away.
Low tide was to be -1.4ft one of the lowest of the year. So getting out was going to be easy. So we had a lazy start and waited for the sun to come out over a slow breakfast. The water was beautiful.
We paddled out into the strong current and were swept to Hog Island in no time. Around Hog Island sand banks started to appear and the seals were checking us out. In the distant we could see the Tule Elk in the reserve, it was all too easy. Again in no time we arrived at the last pullout spot on Tomales peninsular. We set up camp and had enough time to hike over to the real coast, through the Elk reserve. It is all part of Point Reyes National Seashore. The mussells there are huge, likely because they are protected in the park. There were bigger Elk farther south, these were just hanging out watching the sunset with us. I walked to Tamales point just to check it out. After dinner we met up with a couple of other kayakers Cheyenne & Stephen. They had gotten a fire permit and wood, very smart. It was fun sitting around a fire fairly isolated from society. The next morning we had to get on the water early to catch the tide in. The flood was going to be high, but the low tide was only a +2.4ft so not much flow, with a long way to go. It was apparent the weather was changing too, quite a headwind, heavy looking clouds and a fair chop of the water too. There's hog island up ahead. We stopped off at a few beaches on the way, to stretch, empty water and take in the scenery. There are a few old derilict fishing camps along the shore. Lots of different rock types along the shore too. We saw kingfishers, pelicans, ducks and a couple of osprey.
Almost there, we are hugging the coast now to lessen the effect of the outgoing tide. +6.4 feet down to -1.4ft. After stopping by Point Reyes, the heavens opened. The wind howled and rain came down in buckets. We were glad to be out of the water! We stopped by Half moon Bay for some chowder and caught this amazing sunset, what a trip!
The trek.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

If you go into the woods today...

watch out for frolicking weirdos.
We started our hike from the Roaring camp railroad. This old railroad tressell was built in 1909. It was a bit drizzly so we stayed under the redwood trees in Henry Cowell Park and walked up to the observation deck. Tallest species of tree in the world.
The river is running high at the moment with all the rain.
The was not much to see from the observation deck as we were in cloud. After we stopped by Don Quixote and saw the Grasscals play some bluegrass.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jess's visit

Its a bit of a shock coming back to the cold. I took Jess kayaking yesterday. It was drizzling a little when we started but the forecast for the next day was worse. There was snow across the bay on the Carmel Highlands. Getting out of the harbour was a little more "sporty" than I had planned. With the storms rolling through the harbor mouth has a sand bar across it, and with the 8 foot swell, there was some surf right in the entrance and the surfers were enjoying it. The first wave that broke on the kayak filled us up, and panicked Jess a bit. I loudly reminded her we needed to paddle straight through the surf to make it.
Once out there, we emptied out the water, and carried on, some much bigger swells came through while we were out there, and had me making back up plans for getting in if we got tossed. However we picked a small wave and rode it in. Jessica was a little dissapointed in the lack of action after all the apprehension. Still it was good to see the otters, sealions and pelicans.
The day before, we went for a bike ride with Mele, Ryans Girlfriend, through wilder. However the main park was closed (due to the rains), so we rode along the cliffs.
It was a pretty day, and a good 3 hour ride!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Standing By

Did a lot of "stand-by" last week in Sydney. I think this was day4.Another cancelled flight.
Still it was not so bad - I got to "stand-by" the ocean too.
This view became quite familiar.
A bonus was getting to swim with Bill n the morning before heading toward the airport.
Eventually I got back SFO almost in time to meet my sister, who is visiting for a week. Without a phone is was tricky to meet up. She had assumed I had not made the flight, and did not have a phone. I got an email time stamped 6:30am even though she sent it 10:30am from the airport. We were there at the same time but didn't know. I had made some contingency plans, Jessica had decided to just head into SF. I thought to myself if I were Jessica what would I do, (I would head to a hostel for a shower and a kip). So Ryan helped me retrieve my car and I headed to Fort Mason hostel, and found she had checked in there. Meantime she had slept, woke and gone out to make some phone calls. Anyway eventually we found each other. After 38 hours of being awak I slept for 14hours.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

6030 setup

I have often asked and been asked "How do you set up your Flytec 6030?". It turns out Carl and Shedsy were the right guys to ask, giving me heaps of information and good tips. Since I have been making an effort to glide faster, I have been a little frustrated by how difficult it is to tell the difference between good lift, and turbulence induced stick thermals. A "stick thermal" is not a real thermal, but an illusion of one caused by converting speed energy to height. However this instrument has Totally energy compensation built in. What I learned was the ratio of energy compensation can be tuned in the instrument (this makes a lot of sense but hadn't occured to me). The default is 65%, which feels to low for the setup I have been flying. Shedsy recommended 85% to 95%. I tried it the next day at 95% and was immediatly pleased, much better. I will have to adjust my style to turn sooner in lift since the vario suppresses the slowdown climb that used to generate the illusion of lifting air.

Later on Carl showed me what he had for the 3 screens.

Page 1 - Used for the race start.

Page 2 - Navigating around the Waypoints

Page 3 - Final glide.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Last Day

On the last flying day the conditions went from mediocre, to wild,
and back to stable. It was a fun day regardless, nice scenery from the air, and from the ground. I had great fun flying with new friends.On the actual last day, many were too tired to fly, and the day was cancelled. However we had flown 9 days out of 10 and about 40 hours. The conditions were fantastic.
The final results are here : Here are the top day pilots, guess who is standing in for Carl.
This is a good team shot, good times. Guy, me, Len and Flocky.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Dish

Our team has been staying at Lens place, outside Forbes in Rustic Australia. The stars are amazing out there. For those that have seen the movie "The Dish", the facility is just outside Parkes. Yesterday we flew north 92km and back. At least that was the task, however during the day a 27km southerly developed and made the return quite challenging.
The storms probably created the southerly draw. I ended up 8km short, after 6hrs 41mins and drifting 10kms backwards, ... But I found a nice place to land, and they gave me a beer or two :) It had 43'C during the day !