Social Distancing Around the Green Swamp
I call out the soarcast on Monday evening:
1 PM - I think that there will be cu's
Updraft velocity - 620 fpm
B/S ratio - 10.0
TOL - 4,920'
Surface winds - ENE 3 mph
4000' winds - SE 3 mph
Cloud cover - 30% (cumulus clouds most likely)
Mostly sunny, with a high near 88. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph.
GSD shows no winds all day all the way up.
The HRRR 3 shows no cu's, but the GSD shows cloud base just a few hundred feet
above the top of the lift (TOL). When it's that close cu's are likely. Also the
air mass just above the TOL is only slightly drier than the air mass below. In
addition the NSW is calling for 30% cloud cover, which likely means cu's. Given
all these factors I call for cu's even though the models don't show that.
The GSD SkewT shows no winds all the way up to the TOL. This is a big flashing
number that says - go around the Green Swamp. The winds will depend on local
Finally the western sea breeze is shown to be west of Dade City at 5 PM. It
looks like we are not going to be squeezed by on shore flows. So far this year
the sea breeze has not shown up despite the forecasts, but it is still nice to
see a forecast that has it to our west.
This gives us an opportunity to come back to Wilotree Park without having to be
retrieved, if we make it all the way around. It's one driver per pilot so that
we maintain social distancing. Significant other is the driver.
I'm off first at 1 PM. I don't really find anything on tow and run for a cu 3 km
south of Wilotree Park, down to 1,500' AGL thinking that I had better get up as
I might not make it back for a relaunch.
That cu and the one next to it do work and I climb to over 4,500'.
There are plenty of cu's, but they are thin and quite separated. I work a little
lift and then have to go back toward Wilotree Park to get up again to 4,500'. I
head south, but don't find anything and have to again go back to the north and
again have to climb up from 1,500' AGL. I climb to 4,400'.
I head south again to get under a cu south of the Seminole Glider Port. The lift
is weak and I'm low again so finally I have to go back north once again. as
there are no good looking cu's that I can reach going south.
Finally I get a strong climb (over 200 fpm on average) to 5,100'. It's taken
almost two hours to go 12.5 kilometers, but now things have changed.
It's almost 3 PM, 2 PM sun time, and the cloud base is higher and the lift is
stronger. I have repeatedly thought about going back to Wilotree Park as I was
making so little headway, but every time I get high enough to do that I push
south on course to go around the Green Swamp.
Now at 5,000' things look a lot different. I could easily make it to the next
cu's. And, surprise, surprise, every cu was actually displaying lift. No fake
cu's. No dead cu's. Only real cu's with real thermals.
The best looking cu's (large, black bottoms, all the cu's are thin) are on the
south side of the Green Swamp so I head in that direction instead of straight
across the swamp. I climb to 5,700' before the turnpoint at 98 and 471.
I've call a 3 kilometer radius around the turnpoint as it always seems to be a
big sink hole. Sure enough there is a three kilometer blue hole around the
Down to 3,100' just to the northwest of the cylinder I get under a nice looking
cu and climb at over 500 fpm averaged throughout the thermal back to 5,700'.
Maria is just below me. I've caught her and Mick and am working to catch John.
Pedro is way ahead.
Again the best looking cu's are along the edge of the swamp now on the west
side. I'm also benefiting from a south southwest flow. I climb to cloud base at
I take a little detour to the west to nick the turnpoint at 75 and 98. I
see that there are clouds due east from this point and I don't want to fly past
them to the north to get the optimum point on the cylinder. I immediately head
east and get under the cu that I had spotted. It works, of course.
I climb to 5,800' and head east northeast toward the next cu over the Green
Swamp. The goal is almost due east but the cu's in that direction are a bit too
far away considering that they are directly over the swamp (limited landing
Climbing to 5,900' I take off for the next cu which is the start of a
conveniently placed cloud street going east. I'm near the north end of the swamp
but high enough that I don't have to consider landing options.
Climbing again to 5,900' I get under the cloud street for a few kilometers and
glide into goal from 20 kilometers out. When I get there Pedro is already on the
ground and John Simon is circling down. I find a nice column of sink (there is
lift every where else) and slowly spiral down to land. Later Mick and Maria will
make it in also so only the pilot flying a kingposted glider and flying around
the Green Swamp for the first time doesn't make it around.
This was by far the easiest trip around the Green Swamp this year if you
discount the first two hours. We've tried five time and been successful three
times. One time was an attempt at a hundred miler.