June 7
Dragging Tail in Ocean Shores

It was scheduled to rain on the Washington Coast over the weekend but we drove up anyway. It is a good chance to see friends, the flying is always great, and the hospitality even better.

Recreational vehicles park right on the sand. We looked forward to stretching out on the wide beaches for an informal show and if it got wet, we'd just plan on ducking into one of the RV's for lunch.

Festival View

Octo Sky

From the moment we arrived, the skies were dark and foreboding. But they stayed dry.

We set up camp among Dale Ray, Marla and Ron Miller, Sam and Ann Huston, Kay and Mike Woodring, and Mark Clear.

Little did we know what we were in for.

Dale launched a trio of Mid-Octopi to show that the 40 footers look just as good in a swarm as the 80 foot giants. We also flew the Woodring's new Zimmeraman Owl. And Mark launched a smaller Gecko along side our giant one.

Zimmerman Owl Mid Octo Stack Giant and Mini Gecko

Susan and I put up the Giant Gecko, and Yellow Octopus. We used the long metal anchor poles with a flanged plate at the bottom. With the sand hard packed, they screwed down tight. Since the Gecko is our hardest pulling kite, we used three. Then I split the bridle on the Octopus and added two anchors there. Everything felt solid and secure.

Late in the afternoon, we started to sense raindrops and began to pull in the big kites. That's when it hit. Down on the sport kite field, they measured a sudden increase from 15 to 30 m.p.h. Since the Gecko was larger and more dangerous, we went to work on him first. We had it almost wrested to the ground when the Octopus anchors gave way.

Split-bridling an Octopus is designed to increase stability and also safety. If one anchor gives, the kite should turn on its side and collapse. But when both anchors give way, the kite falls backwards. A Pilot in the strong breeze kept the nose up, and two metal stakes pulling through the dune grass provided enough drag to keep the body in the air. Me running after it was doing no good at all.

My main worry was someone grabbing the line as it went by and not realizing a hunk of metal was bouncing along behind.

A quarter mile of beach grass should have provided a clear safety zone. But the anchors and lifter kept everything airborne as it headed toward the road and hotels.

Grounded at Last

By the time I reached the beach access, traffic was stopped. I convinced a moped rider to give me a lift the last 500 yards and arrived on the scene where a half dozen volunteers had tackled the kite and tied it to a street sign.

Octo Stuffing

Accidents happen through negligence or unusual circumstances. In this case we had a freak gust, anchoring measures over powered, and the safety zone overcome by strong winds. No one was hurt but for a few scary minutes, we had more excitement than we preferred.

By now it was raining. Our dirty, tangled, wet kite was stuffed in a bag and sorted out later.

What could we have done better? Sand anchors would have dragged more slowly and possibly have let us catch the runaway kite. But other than that, there was little way to forecast or prevent the runaway. And once it was gone, there was little we could do.

Saurday night we dropped by the hotel bar for a drink. Patrons were still buzzing about the "monster kite that nearly hit the hotel". We said little and left a big tip.

Beauty and the Beast

Sunday, the morning was clear enough to launch the Octopus again, dry him, and check for damage. Surprisingly, there was none. We then spent an hour untangling Gecko bridles before stuffing both kites away.

We want to thank Cutting Edge for the invite and all our friends in WKA and the Westport Windriders for their good company. They didn't make too much fun of us because they had their own heavy-gust problems. Four E-Z Up Cabanas blew away while we were chasing our kites. But I still felt a little silly.

Wednesday morning we head out again. We'll be visiting Into the Wind in Boulder before connecting to the Jamestown Festival in North Dakota. So we'll see many of you in "NoDak". Travel safe. And remember to plant your anchors deep!

Melon Tubes

Watermelon Tube: This is an enormous accessory. The opening ball is about four feet in diameter and the rainbow sections stretch a full 50 feet.

Want one??

The list price is a mere $220 -- remarkable for the size and detail. But order it this week and we'll take 20% off! This is an Update Special only.

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