Bill & Joe’s Excelllent Adventure Day 3

0100 hours Bill took first watch. Sea and wind is down. Learning how to use the Radar.
0245 hours. Watched movie on I-touch
0300 full moon breaks through. Seas 3 feet ….Average speed 6.5 knots
0400 hours Sea 3 feet speed 5.5 knots
0815 hours Went below at 0530 and good two good hours. We shook out the reef, wound up the Jib and popped the Spinnaker. Heading 310 at 6.5 knots. Not much in the way of sea life… one grouper hanging around a mess of jetsam and a tiny flying fish in the cockpit.
There is some blue sky on the horizon so maybe we will get some sun today. We are just about to enter the Puerto Rican Trench 25,000 feet deep.
1145 hours When I awoke from a morning nap I looked up through the hatch and spotted a rip in the spinnaker. We tried patching it with mylar tape but it did not hold.
1600 hours Rollers are getting big. Wind is abaft the beam and we are surfing along at a good clip. Bill suggested an early dinner since we had not eaten much all day.
I tried the helm for awhile. This boat is very responsive and with trailing seas it even more so….touchy.
1900 hours We just had our second equipment failure. I was below cooking stir fry chicken and Bill was on the foredeck when the auto helm alarm went off. I came up and reset it and the boat immediately jibed. I released the clutch and took over the helm. When Bill came back we discovered that the digital compass that controls the auto helm was out of sync with the magnetic compass on the pedestal. While I drove the boat Bill dug out the manual and tried to figure it out. It was a real challenge staying on course with trailing seas and big rollers…fun though! We decided to re-initialize the compass, kind of like rebooting a computer “no Joy”. This is supposed to be done on calm water not in 5 foot seas with 20 knots of wind. The computer kept aborting when the boat crested a wave and the bow swung. About his time both of us are thinking what a drag it is going to be if we have to pull shifts on the helm for the rest of the passage. It’s not a pleasant thing. Next we tried taking the sails down and doing it under power. Still “no Joy”.
I was just about to go below to find where the digital compass was mounted when Bill Suggested I check the connections at the instrument panel. I cut away the caulk, unscrewed the backplate and there was the problem. The wire had parted at the connection. Fortunately Bill had the right parts and we had it fixed in 30 minutes.

Bill and Joe’s Excellent Adventure Day 2

Day #2

Awoke at 7 to a beautiful sunrise. Bill was doing final prep and playing Kenny Chesney at full blast. “Kissing life square on the mouth … Sailing on the sea.” I’m not going to get to see much of Puerto Rico but from what I can tell it’s sort of like southern California with a tropical climate… The people are Latino but unlike California, English seems to prevail. I wasn’t able to connect with the internet from the boat so I walked up to the marina cafe and sent a goodbye to my girls on facebook. French kissing life square on the mouth…

The latest weather model shows a front moving in from the North over the next couple of days. Our current plan is to sail North West at the best possible speed and lay up at Iguana Island until it passes. No sign of weather here, it’s dead calm in the marina.

We set out at 8:30 with light wind and had cleared the Cape Icacos by 10:00. As we were approaching the Cape a single dolphin swam by and crossed our bow, a good omen. Bill shut down the motor and we set the Jib. Looking back at Puerto Rico I can see that it has topography similar to the Virgin Islands with hills rising 3000 feet ASL rather than flat like the Bahamas. The only vessels so far have been small fishing boats. Wind is still light less than10

Over the next couple of hours the clouds built with the wind and sea. By 1300 hours I could barely see Puerto Rico only 7.5 miles to the south.

1800hours Wind has built to 22 knots … double reef in main allowed us to pick up speed.

Tuscan Bean soup for dinner. Bill is feeling poorly. Bruce Willis movie was tonight’s entertainment.

Bill & Joe’s Most Excellent Adventure Day 1

The sail from Puerto Rico to Key West is considered a milk run. Steady easterly Trade Winds make for a gentle down wind sail. Usually…

I left Denver at 0100 hours and arrived at San Juan International at 1300 hours local. Bill picked me up and after stopping at Wal Mart for provisions we drove east to the largest marina in the Caribbean, Puerto Del Rey. It was not what I expected, there were lots of boats and it’s a huge marina but… very few people. I got the impression this was a place where people park their boat between passages. After stowing our stuff we went out for dinner. It was my only taste of Puerto Rico and I vowed to come back someday. It had been a long day and I was glad to crawl into my berth. Tomorrow we leave.

Day #8 Tuesday Glamis #397

Here is a link to Paul Anthem’s video of Flying at Glamis …Kudos Paul!

This time, at Chad suggestion, I launched with the Eden III in a low hook in configuration. Surprisingly it worked great. I was able to let the trimmers in or out without any friction lock at the hang point rings. Perhaps because they were attached so much lower than on the Thumper, maybe because the load straps are more in line with the rings. Also the lower line guides on the cage were a help. I could grasp the A lines above the mallions which gave me a much better feel for the wing.
This flight was perfect in every way. I taxied at a slower pace and was able to recover the wing when it fell to the left and tip-touched. Most of the flight was flown with the trimmers out. The Eden III is so much more fun to fly at a place like the Dunes. I could yank and bank and even felt confident enough to get down and dirty with the sand. The 4 stroke winds up slower than a good two stroke so you have to anticipate need for power, it takes practice and it doesn’t approach the performance of a light guy footlaunching, but its do-able. At one point I was running along a sharp ridge with the right wheel kicking up sand on the crest. When I started to feel the trike lean to the left, I added power and it was no problem keeping things level. It is much easier to modulate the power with this machine, I think part of it is the longer movement with this throttle but also the Generic 32 has a wider power band than the Briggs & Stratton 22.
After landing I packed up… said my goodbye’s and set off for Albuquerque. It’s a long drive and I arrived at the Route 66 Casino barely in time for the $5 Buffet. My way of beating the casino is to avoid the slots and load up on the shrimp and prime rib. They didn’t make any money on me!
The next morning I was hoping to fly at Paramotor City but there was a front blowing in So I got back on the highway and headed for home. The snow started falling before I was got to Albuquerque and it was slow going all the way to Raton Pass. The rest of the trip was smooth and I arrived home by 3:00.
Trip Data: 2400miles 38 ½ hours 62 mph average speed. It was a good trip, I had a chance to clear my head and the flying was good for my soul.

I have no idea what the future holds …
But…I’m a little better prepared to cope with it.

Day 7 Monday Glamis #395 #396

It wasn’t the best nights sleep but I awoke raring to go.

The launch was good and I headed directly to the dunes. The air was smooth and cool. The falcon achieved 410 ft/min climb at 3500 RPM. The sky was overcast and not the best light for photography but I took a bunch of shots anyway and even a short video of Jeff Goin and company playing around a single dune below the “Black Diamond Face”. After an hour and 30 minutes my belly was screaming from being too far laid back so I turned to the campground and landed. What a wonderful day, the clouds were keeping the thermals down and several guys were still in the air at 10:45.
That afternoon I checked out Holtsville which is a small Agricultural community about 25 minutes away from our camp. The grocery stores were bare bones so I satisfied myself with a chorizo and some fresh produce.

When I got back , the group were all into “parawaiting”. Chad was assembling a MiniPlane with a couple of guys, the Canadians were sunbathing and a bunch were trying to figure out what caused the fire in the concert bus last night.

The afternoon flight was probably the longest of the trip. I had been out for well over an hour and was ready to return when I hooked up with the Canadian contingent. Luc …Ned… and Cyrille were skimming the dune tops as I approached. When I caught up with them they were approaching a couple of ATV who were running hard on the “Big One” and it wasn’t long before all of us were playing tag.

Mark MacWhirter took some great video earlier in the day of the same thing, . About halfway through the video Phil Russman bashes into a dune and manages to recover with a few steps.

Later Luc joined up on my left side and I got some nice video on the way back to the campsite. The sunset…wings in the air…it was all good. Returning to the LZ, the sun had set and I turned on the strobe. It was dark enough that it was hard to see the surface and a little tricky timing the flare.

That evening Christian set up a projector and we watched Star Trek on the big screen. Later I watched a video about Donald Crowhurst and his insane attempt to win the first round the world, single handed yacht race. It was a good night for movies.

Day 6 Sunday #387 thru #394

The wind started picking up right after sunrise.

I spent the time having breakfast, packing up my gear and policing the campground. When the wind finally abated I was on the field practicing take offs while was John was tooling around on his LZ buggy.

John Fetz

Today was much better, there were no incidents and I was feeling good about things. With the wing laid out in a chevron, I was able to bring it up clean and taxi the trike keeping the throttle just above idle. I didn’t stray too far …just launch take a few laps …land… and do it again. Eric came out to the field and complimented me on the improvement. He spoke well of the Falcon which meant a lot coming from a Green Eagle Dealer, one of the finest pilots in the world and a gentleman.

After my 7th flight Mo Sheldon asked if I would be willing to test fly new tandem rig they had just assembled. I was a little hesitant and worried that I wouldn’t be fast enough but it went very well. The only hitch was that my 120 pound frame was lighter than Mo had hang tested for so after we launched, I was hanging two feet higher than Mo and it was blocking his vision. At first he handed me the brakes because he couldn’t see to fly but he quickly sorted it out and took back the toggles. When my hands were free again, I pushed down on the stretcher bar which redistributed the weight and we rode almost level. The takeoff run was longer than I thought it would be but the landing was smooth as silk.


Dinner was at the Mexican place… Jeff Goin, Jeff Hammon, Phil Russman and Mark MacWhirter. We reviewed recent videos,…. the conversation revolved around the twists of Aerial Videography …new technical innovations and the latest cameras and players. All topics beyond my experience. I’m amazed… hours of video to get a couple of minutes of good footage. For me it’s hard enough to Fly… to be a master photographer, editor and pilot all at the same time. Well…

If it was easy everybody would do it!

After dinner we gassed up and I followed Jeff Hammon’s Hummer / Camper under a full moon all the way to Glamis. Jeff graciously allowed me to crash on the floor of his RV so I would not have the hassle of setting up a tent in the dark. Thanks Jeff!