When being removed from your comfort flying zone you might get new experiences that you couldn't imagine or predict. This blog entry is also a vacation post card from the medieval city (in the sense that ruins and buildings from that time still exist) of Visby ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visby ) in the island of Gotland ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotland ) in the Baltic Sea as well as an example of how flying during new and non-ideal conditions turned out to be educational, fun and very different from my more normal dual line flying. Most of the last section "Conclusions" is a condensed list of what I learned/experienced for the first time during the stay.
This funnel makes no secret of the initial letter of the island of it's destination - i.e. this is the start of this mini vacation.
Pestilence wort ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petasites_hybridus ) is growing around Visby in several places. Here to the north of the city wall. The leaves becomes rhubarb-like. In spring the flowers appears before the leaves. Before the flower buds open it looks like a small pineapple in my opinion (the photo of the buds is from the 26th of Mars).
St. Lars church ruin. The walls contain passages designed for hiding out during crises and war. Yes, you are allowed to enter them during day(/evening?) time. The second photo is a view from St. Lars through an archers crenel (possibly, at least it is shaped like one on the in- and outside of the opening).
Donners plats is in the central part of Visby with many restaurants etc. The dark green creeper plant in the background to the left is (most likely -but can't tell from a distance) ivy - the province plant of Gotland. This evergreen plant got lobed leaves, except for old stems where the leaves are un-lobed. The ivy is so common here so that I forgot to take any photos of it. And no, it is only ivy, not poison ivy (which seems to be a really unpleasant plant).
The trip, Visby and Visby as a (land) kiting area
My family is here during the medieval week, more by a coincident rather than with the intention of participating by being dressed in medieval-like clothing. Everywhere in the city inside the surrounding defense wall and around, there are people dressed, perhaps every 10th to 5th person, in certain areas even more. The city has today grown beyond the defense wall, but the old part still functions and not only by tourism. There are even areas inside that are close to desolate even during summer vacation times.
Medieval themed market during the medieval week.
I like the mood and mysterious tone in this image.
Alarming news - Gotland is dry! Let me translate part of what was written on the first page of "Gotlands Allehanda", the local newspaper: The medieval beer is finished before the medieval week is over. No it is not as bad as it sounds, I only saw one group and one hotel guest that seamed to have looked to deep into the bottle during my stay.
The ground of the island is sedimented limestone, the pebbles on the beaches and the rocks are also of limestone. Fossils from the Silurian age are very common. Some rocks are high and steep - in other places softer limestone has been eroded only to leave high pillars in odd shapes. The Baltic Sea is a low salinity sea, though it is not a lake so it is not fresh water. Some species living in the salt water on Sweden's west coast (~Atlantic Ocean) has managed to adapt to the water here, but the individuals tend to be much smaller (species, adapt, individual... sounds like something from a Borg "philosophical" discussion). Swimming in these water leaves no sticky salt feeling afterwards as swimming in an ocean does.
Visby as a kiting area is not perfect at least to my knowledge of what is in walking range (a couple of km) from Visby. To the south there is a high plain that ends in steep limestone cliffs (actually if looking carefully one can find a path at in intermediate height level when walking there - it is so beautiful, when I go along the path I can't stop myself, I take photo after photo...). A plain sounds nice, however there are bushes sparsely scattered here from about 2m tall all the way down to a dm high bushes. If the wind is from the sea, going over the cliff edge, the winds can be a bit turbulent (it can also be a bit turbulent in other directions, but you can "always" find a spot to fly on here). To the north of Visby there are beaches, however unfortunately they are mostly very narrow and with trees and walks/roads limiting. Some beaches are of sand, but most of them are of limestone pebbles (well an exception might be perhaps 5km to the north during the parts of the year when beaches are abandoned). To be fair, Visby is just a small bit of Gotland. People living on the East side of the island tend to think that it is very far to the west side (and vice versa...) an opinion rarely shared by "outsiders". Other places are really kite friendly. They even had kite festivals on Gotland. It might also be so that there is no coincident that you can find one of very few kite shops, Drakjohan (translation: "Johan (a personal name) the kiter"), only dedicated to kites here. The result of web searches are a bit confusing - several main pages seem to exist. One of Drakjohans specialities is to make kites out of bird's feathers!
These two images show the area close the path and the start of the path. Following the path here would be to much of a diversion (perhaps another time since I've been doing kiting a bit ahead at an earlier occasion)
Maestro 3 meets water - the first non-travelling day
So driven by my wife's request that I should "be with my family" when they do swimming and "sun worshiping", I didn't go to the bushy plain as I usually do, but to the very limited beaches north of the town. Add to this the to high wind (the LE of kite got deformed in the wind) that makes dual line slack line tricks more difficult. I had only brought one (dual) trick kite to Gotland, the Maestro 3. It is OK, it certainly does not limit my tricking, but is not my favorite kite. The wind was almost parallel to the beach, but still from the sea. I found an opening between the trees, a bit close to the path unfortunately. Not to scare the pedestrians and occasional bicyclists by flying close I could only fly towards the water side. Standing close to the water increased the margin further.
Holding the kite tight when taking an image with the other hand.
The short 15m lines was the only option that worked here. Also the large turning radius that occurs by the edge of the wind window for my kites of newer design (but for none of my kites of older design (why is it so - deep sails?)) reduced the margins further. Perhaps the remedy to the lack of space would be to learn the half axle profoundly and ingrained as a reliable maneuver as an alternative to traditional turning at the edges of the wind window?
I don't own a kite stake, but here it was needed. The amount of stones to hold the handles in the image were just enough.
During forward flight in mid wind window, the round pebbles and the pull and slope of the beach caused the feet to slide. This meant that the situation was so that running downstream to do tricks was quite much out of the question. Doing a (snappily initiated) turtle it moved sideways in random, however seemed often to follow the contour of the beach slope, ending by slowly sinking down or sharply "unturtle" to the ground. The sideways turtle sliding is perhaps not so surprising, since the wind can't go through the sloping beach, the component of the wind normal (90 degrees) to the lines needs to follow the slope as well.
Being one metre up from the sea level, flying the kite to the edge of the wind window I could position the kite under the horison at the wind window edge. When making the transition from the wind window edge position to a stall a couple of metres into the wind window, the kite sank quite rapidly when stalled if you didn't handle it (in spite of the wind and the fact that the bridle setting was so that the nose was slightly tilted towards me). The turning radius at the edge and the sinking stall are the things (I tell myself) that I don't like with the kite. But hey, can't the possibility of making a landing by stalling the kite in hard wind be a feature? No, I haven't really tried out this kite yet, e.g. I've only briefly tested with and without weights when the kite was very new.
The decision to do the Jaws trick was not a sudden decision. In fact, last year I already did a limited attempt, but then decided it was not for me. This was during a language course for my children in Sidmouth (in Devon, UK) last summer. I almost had my Elixir crushed (it looked like) when landing at a depth of a just a few cm, when an Atlantic wave engulfed it. Here in Visby it was a completely different matter, I just noticed that it offered no problems, so I just increased how much the kite was submerged a bit more for every time I landed it in the water. Also, in my much subjective opinion, submerging the kite was beneficial for the look of it. Travelling after geological periods (Devonian in Devon and Silurian in Gotland) was not an active choice. Should I instead actively follow this hinted trend the next summer, I'd go somewhere where the sediments/sedimental rocks are from the (older) Ordovician period.
If you are not familiar with the Jaws trick, the trick is performed by letting the kite sink down while stalled with the nose up and then let it return to the surface and then take off again. You can also read about this and other tricks in the Fractured Axel's Tricky Wiki. Yet another place to look for trick descriptions is in Peter Peters site ( http://www.idemployee.id.tue.nl/p.j.f.peters/kites/index.html ) in the tricks page ( http://www.idemployee.id.tue.nl/p.j.f.peters/kites/basics/funcidx.frm.html ). PP's trick list contains a brief description of each trick and how to perform it, but I'm tempted to say it is more of a reference (although it got a helpful list of which tricks to start with as a beginner). Much info is from the last years of the previous millennium in web pages that look typical for the time. The kite terminology is always useful as well. The links list however, is more of a kite museum than a set of working links.
Kite tunnel vision - my family might agree on this image text. Notice the seaweed residues after the Jaws trick (under water landing and take off). Much more of the seaweed mess was to come.
I guess the conditions for submerging it were quite ideal - hard wind so the kite didn't flip forward when taking off, low waves and a OK kite that wasn't one of my most dearest ones. The waves were reduced by a long shallow shelf stretching out from the beach. Here and there the were also boulders breaking through the surface which I guess also could help to reduce the waves. The "OK but not the dearest kite" might also need some explanation. After buying the Infinity the Maestro 3 felt comparatively redundant (however different kites always offer differences useful when learning tricks). For various reasons I'd never fly on this beach in hard wind and practice Jaws for the first time with my e.g. Infinity, Jam Session, Maestrale, Illusion, Elixir... . In a way not flying a "museum kites" wearing silk gloves adds to the usefulness of the Maestro (I wonder how I'll consider the Maestro in 10 years or so).
I feel a bit bad about this. This is the only kite I got whose appearance I don't like. Many colours on a kite can be nice and one colour plus black can be nice as well, but this ... it is extra of everything. It reminds me of my one of my birthdays as a child. I made my own cake and was given full control over the ingredients, so I mixed "everything" that I liked - the result well you can guess... Perhaps this is difficult - if you design many kites and there is a requirement that each of them should have a distinct look, each kite model therefore can't be the best looking or close to best looking.
Another thing I tried out was to attempt to park the kite in harder wind by using the failed Sleeping Beauty maneuver (i.e. you just leave out the take off part) in this harder wind - I just couldn't do the on ground rotation - this calls for further investigation.
As described above the tricking was pretty much limited during the conditions, so I went further to the north to reach a still narrow but instead sandy beach where parts of my family also happened to be (for some more time at least). With the softer ground I dared to do some fades. Considering the quite hard wind (though slightly less than the first beach), I was a bit surprised how well it could hold the fade. Considering both the Maestro's good natured fade and turtle I might have been to hard on the judgement of this kite.
The municipality of Gotland (and in fact at the same time the county of Gotland) must be very kind to kiters, since they obviously offer kite holders on the beach to resting kite walkers.
By the end of the day I was content with myself that the wing nocks were still intact - this is something I've learnt from flying on stony beaches and rocks on earlier occasions. Not covering the wing tips/nocks with plastic caps limits the flying when flying on rocky beaches. If I hadn't forgot to bring the caps I could have allowed myself to do more groundwork. However looking at the nose I've had too much fun anyhow. The spine had almost worn through. Should one treat the nose with some hardening goo or a patch as a preventive measure before flying on hard surfaces?
I was a bit surprised by how quickly the nose could wear out - only one to two hours of rocky beach in hard wind. Did I just go medieval on that nose (which in a way might be appropriate description given the time and place)? Could the sand beach have contributed as well? Previously I've only used my Maestro on grass and to some limited extent on sand. Could the water make things worse by making the fibre in the nose more easily slide relative to each other? Well well, should check the topic http://kitelife.com/forum/topic/6490-weekend-projects-nose-plasti-dip/ again.
Then the feared telephone call came: "Hurry home - we are going out!". At this time he kite and lines were in a mess with much seaweed and sand after a second of some not so successful tricking over water. A kite with lines is a very efficient harvesting tool for seaweed. I tried to coax the large chunks of seaweed from the line - didn't work. Tried to slide it over the sleeves on the kite side of the line - didn't work either, the chunk just stopped at the end of the line. What worked to some degree was to step on the seaweed, grab each side of the line and pull to get parts of the large chunk off. I really didn't like to put the kite in it's current shape in its sleeve and did not have the time to do the cleaning, so I took it for the 4km walk back still assembled with the wind pressing the kite to my side. After a while I reached a low jetty where the sand could be washed away.
On the way back these sea birds also wanted to be on a photo.
Carrying a kite through the town can't be that odd - look at how the other people were dressed. On the way home closer to the city about a third was dressed in medieval clothing. Later that evening once more on the way back home (the children were at the tournament games), going through the botanical garden and city in the dusk (very atmospheric) I really belonged to a minority wearing modern clothing. Now being the deviant, even though the kite was at the hotel.
The budget dual foil gets lured into pulling - the second and last non-travelling day
The next day it should be even slightly more wind and the forecast from the very same morning also promised no rain. Therefore I decided to go to the high plain with my youngest daughter who joined me to try the foil out. To be more specific I was doing the walking and she had rent a bike. Also the rain that should not be, decided to join in during the walk. It was a very long time ago I tried the foil the last time and then it had problems with foil folding. One suggestion I got in KL was to try it in more wind. I had hoped to be blown out of my shoes, but was a bit disappointed, with the current wind direction. There was a forest about a few hundred meters upstream. This meant that there was no direct wind from the sea and the wind was a bit dirty.
Is this the simplest possible "kite bag" (for a single Maestro)? Well, well it turned out that I didn't use it that day, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared. The foil was instead in the backpack. A long time ago when I only had two kites I that used on regular bases (a Jam Session and a Maestrale), I used two of these bands to loosely connect the two sleeves - No, no, not tightly tensioned, I can't I can't wrinkle a kite sail if it can be avoided in any way.
"The golden path to the freedom of kiting." It may not look so, but it is perfectly legal to walk here. To the right there is the sewage treatment plant and to the left?... I don't know what that fence does. The plateau can be accessed by anyone from many directions - pointless fence!
What I had hoped for was something moving like a rocket over the sky, forcing the pilot to really struggle. Most of the time this wasn't the case. Largely the kite felt like an empty plastic bag at the end of the lines. Seen from the side when my daughter was piloting the lines never went above 30 degrees above the ground (and she can at least stear a dual line). However going close to the kite (a few meters downstreams) there was a very pleasant sound of speed.
The old cheap foil I previously mentioned in the "What to do in high wind topic". These two photos are not from this trip.
Seen from the other side of the lines almost all sensation of speed was lost. When going straight forward, the kite was quite round in shape in the direction of the spanwidth. It kind of pulsated while going forward, curling up and straightening out, without stability, speed or pull. Doing the slightest turn often resulted in some foil folding starting. Pull turns or push turns made no difference. To the kites defence it say that the foil folding was quite good-natured - the foil folding ended by itself just as quickly as it started.
When this foil goes straight forward or turns slowly I don't give much for it's properties. It got a tendency to collapse or to curl up and never develops any real pull. Tight turning is a completely other issue - it becomes straight in an L-shaped way and starts to pull!
To further investigate and see if i could get any fun aspects of this kite I did something that went against my nature as a framed dual line kiter - I gave a very large input for turning. I've never used this large input ever. The result? - It did several tight turns, but much to my surprise the kite started to pull and became stable without a hint of foil folding. The shape of the kite changed to something L-shaped. On the side you pulled, most of the kite went straight and on the other side a small inward winglet formed. Then there was a long gust and finally, YES! YES!, some (mild) fighting! This kite seems to be meant for spinning. Perhaps the bridle could be tweaked to make the foil straighter without constantly being in a turn to achieve the straighter non-curled up form? A fathers heart was much warmed after sharing this piece of knowledge to my daughter and then seeing the result, (she was still wearing her bicycle helmet after her ride) the look of her happy brutal fighting face and pose. That was until her, sigh!, interest in "Pokemon Go" took over. Patience, patience, never push my interests (maximum offering them is the way to go I believe) - she would instantly protest if I did otherwise.
Since coming out of the foil folding was something that the kite largely managed by itself, I figured perhaps controlled foil folding is the trickflying of foils? Making turns with the rhythm borrowed from half axels (I'm still struggling with proper half axels with framed dual line kite though), the foil could be made to make a turn more or less on the spot with the foil folded, which then unfolded in the last part of the combo.
Nope you wouldn't find these berries tasty. They sit on the Blackthorn/Sloe bush (Prunus Spinosa, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_spinosa ). For them to be used in cooking you should harvest them after the first frost in the autumn. I've heard that you can add them to spirit to make a sweet liqueur, however with a limited shelf life. Normally I'd say that this bush is about 2m high (although up to 4m should be possible). Here on this plateau they tend to be very low. ...Now I see it! If I started a topic for plant interested kiters only it would TOTALLY dominate! ... For kiters I'm afraid that these plants are bad news - The twigs/thorns are not very kind to kite lines. They (well, certainly not me?) are responsible for damaging and me not fully trusting one pair of kite lines to my Fazer XL any longer. During Easter this year during a happy Fazer XL session, I wasn't patient enough to do the walk of contemplation when the lines got caught, but instead tried to solve it from where I stood.
So what was the outcome of this trip? Not waiting for the ideal situations (for a dual line trick/precision flyer that do not own a vented kite), which would have meant never during this trip, I got to test/learn starts with the kite fully submerged. saw that there was a problem with the failed sleeping beauty kite parking in harder winds which further needs to be checked out, saw that the Maestro 3 sat in a turtle and fade even during harder winds, felt some nice pull from a 2-line foil for the first time, studied the problem of the instability/foil folding, came up with temporary fix to do tight turns to handle the instability/lack of pull, got ideas on how to tweak the bridle, found some way of abruptly changing the foils course by utilising some controlled foil folding.
On the family side of things, they seem to be keen on getting medieval clothing for some future time. My youngest daughter also went from the Pokemon Go level of 14 to the level 15. My personal conclusion here: I'd rather Kitemon Go in "civilian" clothing!
Sometimes you get enough of pretty sceneries, evocative cities and too much nature. This ugly view on the way back to the hotel offered some rest.
End of vacation, the return trip to a more mundane life - tomorrow back to work...
If you made it to this very last line you are a very persistent reader - consider to wear a T-shirt with the text:
"I read long and tedious blog entries".