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03/03/2001  Saturday

Nut House (Ojai) to Santa Barbara City College
25 miles from the Nut house to the College
New Nut House Straight Line Distance Record
Bonanza

Hadn't flown in a month so I was yearning for some exercise and a bigger window than a 15 inch monitor.  The day looked a little iffy with the approaching southern storm.  Forecasted wind from the SE and potential for limited heating due to increasingly cloudy skies.  Forecasted 6,000' temp was around 40F, and the surface was suppose to reach the low sixties.  There was some blue sky at daybreak so I posted an 8:30 meet for the Nut House.  By 7:30 the sun was looking really iffy so I considered bailing but got some moral support from Bob and Ron.  They picked me up and we started the climb with Benson about 9.  The sun started to break out about half way up and the birds began spotting thermals.  It was plenty soarable by the time we got to launch.

Ron launched just after 10 and I followed soon after.  The good thermals were anchoring but in between the little ones were broken.  I tried to head east toward Spine One with good altitude but couldn't find a line protected from the wind.  The lee side stuff was a bit much so I turned back figuring I'd  try and cross 33 from launch.  Took awhile to reconnect with a good one but Ron helped map it out.  We topped about 35 and I got on the speed bar heading south.  Ron opted to try for Spine One again but had the same headwind problem.  Spine One would have been better to leave form, but we couldn't get there.

The glide was looking a little iffy for a reasonable intercept, but I found a lucky core over the river and picked up 6 or 7 hundred.  I came in on the lower front ridge with a few hundred to spare and worked the first scrap for 500.  I rode a thermal off the second bump to 4 and figured I needed to assess what I was getting into.

It was logistically easy to work up toward White Ledge because it was uphill / down wind, however, the direction was pretty east and the velocity was a bit much for the direction.  There was a mixture of broken stuff, ridge lift, lee side trash, and wind shadow freight trains.  White Ledge is 47 so cloud base was less than 45.  I figured I could get to White Ledge ok but I'd need at least a thousand over cloudbase to reach Divide Peak.  With the east wind I'd be pinned and have to go even if I didn't have enough altitude.  The penalty for failure would be significant.

Ruling out the high route, I looked at the route to the front side of White Ledge, but I decided to dig into Bump 3 and get to cloudbase first.  Bump 3 is pretty dependable, but I regretted my choice about 10 seconds later.  Digging deeper into the mountains with the significant east wind was asking for some action.  I had to fish through the broken windward trash to get enough altitude to test for a wind shadow freight train (wind shadow freight trains come off the protected lee side).  It was there and I got to cloudbase in short order.  Having gotten a taste of the sharp edges I tucked my tail and got on the speed bar south bound.

There were nice flat bottom cu's over the foothills and the pastures.  I looped over the foothill in front of the pasture that's out in front of White Ledge and found a nice thermal that went to cloud base.  There was a cloud street along the middle route, but with only 4 thousand it seemed committal.  I've hiked out from Chismahoo before and Doc was reporting white caps at Bates.  Figuring I was married with kids, I headed south bound for the pastures next to the lake.

The report form Bates was clarified, and the front route was looking doable.  The thermals were week and smooth with cloudbase a bit over 4.  I had options, smooth buoyant air, and I nice view so I took my time.  I tiptoed along but finally had to make a break.  A cloud over the front point of Chismahoo looked inviting, but if I didn't connect I'd be hiking.  I went SW for the broken stuff above Laguna Ridge (Casitas Pass Summit just north of 150).

The potential for a long hike was gone, but I needed one more thermal to stay out of the brush.  I got two and topped out just east of Sheppard's Mesa in the low 4's.  Cloud base along the foothills above Carpinteria was down around 2 grand.  I was above the lower clouds and their tops were curling from the NE.  Without any more cu's at 4 grand I figured I'd be on a glide once I left the protection of Rincon Mountain (unless I wanted to dive in under the lower cloudbase along the foothills).  There were white caps on the water but the pilots at Bates were doing well, getting a couple hundred over and ranging all the way from The Pier back to the Upper Parking Lot.

I liked my downwind line, so kick back, relax, make a phone call.  Low anxiety glide with multiple LZs to choose form.  Some concern for landing in the wind, but the pilots at Bates were penetrating ok.  Passed my house with 3 and figured I could probably make Summerland.  The drift was from the ENE and I let it take me out over the ocean around Santa Clause Lane.  Down to 14 at Summerland and I started to settle into buoyant air rising over the inland bubble.  Stayed above 14 all the way to East Beach.

The flag at Salinas Street was weak so the faster ocean air was probably rising up and over the inland stuff.  I thought I could get around the corner at Shoreline so I angled for the south end of the pier.  I started picking up more south and less east.  I needed a lot of crab angel and my glide was deteriorating.  I was down to 700 over the end of the pier and it look like I wouldn't be able to clear the harbor.  I fell back in and got to the Santa Barbara City College with a hundred to spare.  Probably could'a soared the stadium but I came in behind it and had a nice landing on the lawn by the Campus Center.

In retrospect, I didn't heed my own advice.  Instead of going with the flow, I chose to crab out and try to get around the corner.  The further out I went the more crab angle I needed.  The flags along the freeway were week and the wind at the pier onshore.  I think I angled away form a buoyant convergence line.  It was a really nice glide anyway and a sweet LZ.  18:1 from the last thermal to touchdown, 50:1 from the Polo Fields to the Pier, and 14:1 from the last thermal to the Polo Fields.

Mike and Hesham were waiting when I landed.  We stopped by Bates for some wingovers and was home by 2.  Sam & I did the front brakes on the Toyota before the family bike ride.

SD