A Windy Day
There are occasions in the desert when the winds are not as good as they could be,
this is Sand-Yeti’s account of one of those days.
“An Awful Wind Day in the Desert”
Yesterday, I noted the wind forecast promised a fairly steady day of around 10 to 11 knots wind. Not too exciting but I needed to get out, as the weekend winds have been miserable lately. We have had some great winds during the week because I’d noticed the palm leaves from my office window dancing wildly.
When I arrived at my desert parking spot yesterday, the wind was gusty & then dropping right off. I thought I would give my old 9.0m Blade II an airing as it hasn’t seen the light of day for about a year.
I wanted to get in the dunes and with the wind switching on & off it is easier to manage than my 8.5 m Blade III. I’d forgotten how slow the 9.0m Blade turned but tacked upwind for about 90 minutes and only did about 8 km (point to point). I obviously did a lot more distance with all the tacking. It was awful as the wind would suddenly stop & the kite would flutter to the ground. Other times it would pull OK with sudden gusts that viciously jerked the buggy sideways. The other strange thing is that when the wind was very light it would head in from the East. As it strengthened it would swing in from the North. Winds going ON –OFF like a light switch & swinging around did not make for nice buggying. All this upwind tacking was made on the flat. The recent rains had turned the sandy floor into a green carpet.
This is a pic of my kite down (01) in a lull on the green floor. It probably doesn’t mean much to people in the temperate climes but it was a real pleasure to buggy over green sabkhas instead of the usually yellow brown surface.
After 90 minutes of awful buggying, I’d had enough and decided at that moment to return to the car and go home. As I swung around to head back the wind seemed a bit better.
As the wind was a bit better I headed back through an area of sand dunes. The shifting sand dunes didn’t have the green carpet of the sabkhas & buggying was still not easy in the light, gusty wind. Also, the slow turning Blade made life more tricky in the Rubber Dubbers (Sand dunes that are very close together).
However, it was a beautiful day with temps not exceeding 27ºC and the humidity very low, which turned the sky in a beautiful blue colour rather than the whitish sky that I’m more used to.
yesterday’s pic (02) of heading back through the dunes.
Back at the car I packed up the kite and supped on a cup of whisky flavoured coffee only to notice that the wind seemed a bit stronger although still gusting badly.
‘Blow this for a game of soldiers’, I thought & on went my 6.5m Blade IV. Things were looking up and I covered the same distance that I did earlier in 15 minutes instead of 90. Watch out dunes here I come to kick sand. (03)
I messed around in a large sand bowl for a while and noticed that it was a bit dodgy going along the ridges as the wind had picked up a lot more & I was in danger of being blown away. (04)
I headed back to the car only to notice that the wind had picked up so much now that I couldn’t see the desert floor for dust. Buggying horribly overpowered at more than 50 kph (I was deliberately trying to keep my speed down) so as not to hit a rock hole or any other nasty obstacle under the 18” high dust carpet. I arrived back at the car with adrenalin still flowing.
I dropped the 6.5 Blade and noticed that it was almost 180 degrees from where I’d launched it. I know this because I put small home made sacks full of sand on the trailing edge of my kites when I’m setting up. It meant a 40 m walk in one direction to collect sacks & another 40 m to pack up the kite.
More whisky flavoured coffee & would have put on a smaller kite but the sun was diving towards the horizon, so I called it a day.
Being ready for gusts is something high on my agenda when I’m in the dunes. I have learned to be very active with the brake lines as well. i.e. respond fast to changing conditions, which means partially collapsing the kite to reduce the kite’s pull. Dune buggying is very definitely about speed control because the terrrain is constantly changing. While I’m hurtling down one dune slope & getting ready to scream up the other side. I am already planning whereabouts I should be turning the kite and buggy on the opposite wall.