Thursday, 2/26/04
Upper Bates to Ventura

The day had some colorful opportunities.  Post frontal, good lapse rate, low pressure, some wind, clear at dawn but early over development.  Traveling up the coast from Carpinteria to Montecito about 1 pm, conditions looked good for Bates.  Good velocity toward a strong thermal draw in the mountains was resulting in a good direction.

I was committed to assorted child rearing activities.  Did the morning trolley ride to our co-op preschool work assignment, followed by Sam's kindergarten interview and then a music lesson.  Sam's music session went till 4.  Got a boost from the family and was at launch by a quarter past.  Airborne about 10 minutes later.

There were other pilots up, but they seemed to be rookies and weren't getting high enough to jump.  I collected some ice plant in my lines at launch that wouldn't shake free.  Fortunately, penetration was ok and the conditions were good enough to get back upwind for a top landing.  Doc was there to assist and gave me the horsepower to go from the flat top.

The conditions seemed a bit odd.  The direction on launch appeared cross from the west, but once airborne it was ok.  Mostly getting between 300 msl and 350.  At 300 feet, the lift band extended pretty far up the cliff to the west and further out to sea than typical.  Was finally able to get to 420 tracking a little bubble down the ridge.

Committed to go with it and topped about 470 in good position just in front of the Rincon Spine.  Turned and went down wind up hill, favoring the NW edge of the spine.  Got a good surge for a little extra so I liked my chances.  The wind was a bit of a concern.  The ocean at La Conchita was calmer and my drift was quartering downwind from the left.  Was initially doing better than usual on the glide (if you can call it that), but was getting spanked around more than I remember.  Got lower and had to run for the ocean side cliff edge.  I was up the cliff a fair ways, but still in the lee and getting worked.  Took a full stall about 75 agl and used up half my clearance on recovery (priceless?).  Had to go an extra several hundred yards further up the cliff to finally get out of the lee.

I've gone that route and gotten spanked many times.  I thought about my helmet afterward as I reflected on my odds.

Smooth air the rest of the day.  Got to the gas plant face a hundred below the top and climbed back to six hundred.  Able to penetrate ok.  Over the main cliff above La Conchita.  Slow climb to 1250.  Around the corner taking the wide route over the ocean.  Did ok on the smooth downwind glide and got to Pitas with 8.  Back up to 12 and slide along the ridge toward the point.  Got out far enough to get around the down air and pulled another good down wind glide over the ocean.  Topped 1500 at Solimar.  Backing up just a tad, but not as much wind as I've usually experienced there.  Skipped Taylor for position and slid out for the point.  Around the corner with 1400.

Diablo was on chase.  Had a good line, but not a lot of altitude.  Probably could have made Seaward, but the east edge of the State Park was more convenient for a quick retrieve without needing to look for street signs.  Only blowing about 15 on the deck.  Land and pick up.  Stuffed in Diablo's truck.  Got unsuited on the ride back up the coast.  Packed up in my front yard.  In the house before 6.  About an hour forty five door to door.