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Saturday, 3/17/12 (Saint Patrick's Day)
Bates to the Beach
Max altitude about 400-450 MSL
Flight Time ~ 15 to 20 minutes
Sundowner's Flight Report, see also [Weather Archive]
No one around when I arrived at 12:45, but Andy had flown his speed wing earlier. He got back to launch as I was setting up, and Tony De Groot stopped by on his way south to observe. Conditions looked good. Excellent direction, almost straight in on the main cliff and only slightly cross at the main launch. Birds were penetrating easily. The ocean was a mix with various squalls passing by offshore.
Easy pull-up below the edge from a ball and got to 300 MSL right away. Easy to penetrate and range around with a wide lift band. Andy was airborne shortly after. Despite the good direction, we couldn't get much over 300 MSL and were down close to launch altitude occasionally. Conditions deteriorated a bit and Andy opted to slip in for top landing to avoid the approaching rain. I pressed up wind to get in front of the wind texture on the water that was out in front of the shower. Once in front of the wind, my vario started chirping smooth and sweet. There were birds upwind about 600 MSL. Climbing smooth through 400 MSL I started backing up at a good clip. Turned out toward the ocean and took the drift down the beach, but with such a good direction, I still needed to get on the bar to avoid backing up behind the surf.
I had good position with room to backup while I climbed because I penetrated upwind to the SB side of launch to connect. I could have gone with it and likely would have climbed up high enough to jump back to La Conchita, but I was concerned about the velocity. It was starting to rain, and even if I connected to La Conchita, I was scared of dealing with the wind at Pitas Point and I knew it was already blowing hard in Oxnard, so I panicked and through out the anchor.
Fortunately, it was dead low tide. Still going up with full bar. Was able to get out front a bit, but the lift ban was wide. I was concerned that I might blow around the corner. Pulled the tips in pretty far and finally got below the lift and the stronger wind. With the good wind direction and the approaching squall, I didn't want to drift back into the lift band so I stayed out over the surf. Finally had to turn downwind to reach the beach as the bottom fell out dropping through the gradient. Got back to mostly dry sand and hooked it around most of the way. The canopy came down nose first in some wet sand so I scrambled to pull it away from the surf. Got it under control a couple of times, but kept getting pulled over and dragged with the canopy nose down. Between the wet sand, rain, and wind, it made a bit of a mess with sand getting into most everything.
Finally dragged back to the brush and got it under control. Climbed up the stairs in the rain. Andy was waiting in the parking lot with his Toyota Tacoma. We stuffed it in the back and went back to launch. Looked like we might have another go, but I needed to sort my gear, so Andy dropped me on the west side of T-Time to untangle on the grass sheltered from the wind behind the trees. Sorted out the canopy pretty quick and dusted off what sand I could, then did a pickup and went back to launch.
Andy was airborne, but not getting high enough to jump. The direction had deteriorated some and he was only topping a hundred or two over launch. I got may gear out and started to suit up, but there was another rain squall approaching. Andy opted to top land and we both decided to duck out of the rain and see what it looked like on the other side.
More sun after the 2nd of multiple rain episodes, but there were some ugly looking caps not too far offshore. The velocity fluctuated between 10 and 20ish. Doable, but the direction didn't look as good as it was earlier, and the wind offshore looked pretty mean, so I opted to call it a day and hope for better conditions in a couple of days when the wind dies down. Andy got his speed wing back out for another hour of zooming around.
Stuffed the glider in my garage. Too windy to pack up and it was wet anyway.