A great weekend of sailing and flying

I was at the Moyes factory last Friday to drop off a harness I brought back from Dalby. While I was there there Warren offered to take us sailing with his catamaran on Saturday to go out and meet the 16 year old Jessica Watson girl who sailed solo and unassisted around the world, and on Sunday we could go to Bill’s place at Rylestone and go flying. Great plan!

On Saturday morning Georgia and I met Warren at the Sydney fishmarket and we sailed out the harbor and across to Manly to pick up some more crew. Georgia had to get back on land at Manly as she got seasick in the rough seas. The conditions got even worse when we went out from Manly and got outside the Sydney harbor heads. We broke a rope holding the boom for the spinnaker, and it was a bit of a struggle to get the sail down before it broke. In the 3-4 meter rough waves even I got seasick for the first time in my life, while working to save and secure the spinnaker. I’ve been on boats since I was a kid, and never got close to seasick, fortunately it got better once we got back inside shelter of the south head and into the harbor.

Sydney skyline from the harbour
Sydney skyline from the water
Outside the harbour
Does not look that bad in the picture, it was very rough. Notice the Cu-nimb on the horizon.
Loads of boats
Loads of boats in the harbor

On Sunday morning Warren and I drove up to Rylestone to meet up with Bill Moyes and Steve the tugpilot, to get some towing and flying. Conditions were gray when we drove up, but got nicer during the morning and the first thermals started working just as I was ready to go. Steve gave me a great tow up to 800 meters AGL, and found some weak stuff to hang around in while conditions were improving. Once established in cloudbase at 1900 meters it was a great day.

It was cold though, I was wearing 3 layers of wool and fleece under my Skyline jacket, and still I was shaking of cold for the last half hour of the flight.

Rylestone Aerodrome
Rylestone Aerodrome

I saw 10 eagles during my hour and 20 minutes flight, always in pairs. They seemed to be accepting us flying in their territory and did not attack or seem to be aggressive, very unlike Forbes in January where they were acting like mean bastards!

Ozzie wedge-tailed eagle
Ozzie wedge-tailed eagle. They can be very mean, this was a cool one!

This eagle in the photo above wanted to play chicken with me, flying straight at me to see who would turn away first. I got it on video, the camera was fogging up a bit by then due to the cold and moist air in cloudbase. It’s still quite cool to see on the film, and seeing all those eagles really made my day! I won the chicken contest since the eagle flapped his wings and rolled away to avoid colliding.

Here’s the video, the eagle passing me is at the end.

It gets dark quickly now, at 16:30 it’s getting too dark to land, and 17:30 is pitch black. After landing and packing up we went to the pub for a few beers and food, it took a while to get the food so we had to get even more beers that what I really needed. We slept on the floor in the “terminal”, with Bill waking up every few hours and putting more wood in the stove to keep it warm inside. I’m still glad I had a “winter” sleeping bag.

The next day it was gray from the morning, and I jumped in the backseat of the tug to give Warren a few lessons, working on his landings. We spend some hours doing landings, stopping now and then to get inside and heat up in front of the fire. I did not bring my winter flying gear from home, and was wearing every piece of fleece I have here :-)

17 May and rain, nothing new. At least we could fly!
17. May and rain, nothing new there. At least we could fly!

Eventually Warren got in a few good landings without bouncing too much and I sent him off on his first solo. He did well, no parts fell off and nothing bent! The rain came around midday so I packed up and drove back to Sydney.

I will go back to Forbes next weekend if the weather is good, hope to get a few more hours of flying there before it’s time to pack up the glider and ship it home.