The Bypass (Santa Barbara) to Bates to Ventura Harbor
29 miles (would have been 30 from the Skyport)
about 2 hours
To fly a paraglider on Sunday, the weather required being in the right place at the right time, and getting on the ground before the surface sea breeze built much over 25 to avoid excess hazard on landing. The forecast was calling for less wind, but perhaps I read it wrong. Was expecting light wind in morning with early OD, but we had local subsidence in SB and it was blowing down steady despite the lack of high wind at altitude. We looked at the Rock and the Bypass about 8:30, but opted to drive back to the Rock for the wait because it would be the first place to block. A turkey vulture tried about 8:50, but had to ditch and wait. A trio gave it another go around 9:15. They worked a few thermals and seams but ended up down near the bottom. It finally started to come in steady about 9:30.
The Rock was the place to be, but we opted to look at The Bypass. It was back and forth when we got there. Mostly down but trying to push through. The Skyport was steady down. We gave it a half hour and it switched to mostly up. It was consistent light up on the edge, but back in the pull up zone on the road it was mostly light down. Tried a few hard runs without being able to get canopy to come overhead. Finally got a better cycle up near the edge and was off about a quarter past 10.
Good glide to the Round House in buoyant air for an easy climb with thermals tracking uphill. Followed the onshore flow up the saddle to the Factory and found a little NW up higher. On course with 42. A little drift from the NW on glides, but the thermals were anchoring ok. Lower cloudbase along Castle Ridge, and dark through The Pass. Big caps off shore sweeping down the Channel from the west, but no wind on the water just offshore from the polo fields. Opted to play for Bates. Expecting some west on the glide out, chose to leave from the back ridge up behind the 4th castle point. Climbed to 45 and headed out.
Probably should have gone an extra mile east because I didn't have any west on the glide till I got out in front of Snowball. Burned up some altitude fading left. Could see pilots at Bates, but they weren't pulling up. The flag showed light to limp from the SE. Passed behind launch with 800, but pulled a bad glide around the corner against the light SE headwind. A little lift along the SE face, but not enough to stay up. Craig collected me along the highway a bit east of the terraces. 11:30 am.
Cloudbase was lifting so I was lobbying for another go at the mountains, but no one was biting and reports from Parma indicated strong west pushing through. A nasty line of white caps was moving in, so I finally settled down and was content with my position. As the wind filled in the glassy zone out from launch, the big caps moderated somewhat. The flag switched from SE to SW. The leading edge of the wind had some holes that lulled near zero, so I waited (about 15 minutes after the switch) till it was more steady before backing down the hill. The direction had a fair amount of west in it, so I over fudged with more pull on the down wind wing and it came up in too much of a turn to the west. Pulled the trigger when it oscillated back overhead and was off. About half past noon.
Penetration was initially ok in front of launch and I played for a few minutes before getting on course. I was skeptical about connecting over to the Rincon because the direction was more west than preferable, and I needed to slow down and give ground to manage a slow climb. I was committed OTB about 350' MSL, but got into the high 4s on the drift backing up. Turned up the spine from just in front of the point, so despite the lower max altitude, my position was good. Stayed on the NW side of the spine and got a bounce or two before having to run for the ocean side edge. Got below the top, but was scooting along pretty good. Had to go further east than usual due to the poor direction, but made it over to the Gas Plant ok and went back up.
Better Penetration above 1,500'. Around the corner just under 19. 19 again around Pitas, and 24 off the tip of Taylor. Could have gone higher, but I was worried about getting pinned and wanted to penetrate out over the ocean on the trip around the corner. 1,500' about a mile out to sea off the end of the Ventura Pier. Wanted to set down on the green lawn in the Harbor, but if the wind was too strong, I could get blown back into the sailboats. Turned for a penetration check with 800 feet about a half a mile out from the harbor breakwater. Backing up with full speed bar. A little concerned about blowing back into the Marina, but I was set up pretty far off shore, so I stayed on full bar and backed in for the beach. Unlike the State Park which crosses 45° off the ocean, offering fade room on the backup, the wind at the harbor was almost straight in, so if I backed up too far I couldn't simply fall off down the beach on the fade.
Unclipped a few hundred over out past the surf zone. Rounded out the bottom of a minor oscillation and was concerned that I could balloon back up in the dune lift, so I stepped out from a foot or two off the ground. Held on to the right break line which turned the canopy sideways and killed it. Chris Paul was there and I was able to walk away from the stable gear to greet him. 1:30
It was gusting to about 25. We rolled up the canopy and Chris helped me carry it out to Sharon's chase. Art stopped by to say hi. Off to Horn Blowers for an appetizer and a beer on the wind sheltered sun deck overlooking harbor. The wind cranked up with gust over 35 by the time the HGs got there. Double D called for assistance and we ran from the restaurant to lend a hand. The beach was nasty with stinging sand getting in every crevice. We had plenty of help so it was easy to "fly" Dester's blade back into the parking lot for breakdown.
Back up the coast to pack my bag in a wind shadow on the west side of Tee Time's green grass. Fun final Sunday prior to my season ending shoulder surgery scheduled for Friday.
Due to high wind reports from Ventura, several of the HGs opted to land on the beach at Bates. They were getting to 4,500' over the Rincon in lighter wind at altitude, but it was nuking down lower. Craig reported hazardous turbulence on approach to the committed LZ below the cliff. It is my opinion that the wind in Ventura is typically stronger than Bates (Camarillo Airport was gusting to 38), but the airflow is clean because there are no upwind or downwind obstructions near the Santa Clara river mouth.
A couple of other PGs also launched from the Bypass, but the timing was off as the west wind was starting to push through. The Rock would have been a better go spot, and we could have gotten airborne a half hour earlier.