Well, it was a good plan.
I was going to fly up the coast, land at the beach and find a geocache.
The weather was perfect - a SE breeze at 18 knots. This produces enough lift off the coastal ridge to soar to over 1,000 ft above sea level for as long as you like.
Stanwell Park, just over an hour's drive south of Sydney is one of the best coastal soaring sites in Australia. From the takeoff at Bald Hill which is 600 ft above sea level, you can fly either south or north along the coast.
Flying south you need a little bit of height to cross the village of Stanwell Park where you pick up the lift again from Mount Mitchell, part of cliff-line that rises to about 1,100 ft above the sea below. This escarpment then continues south to Wollongong. Hang Glider pilots regularly make the trip when the conditions are right and have been know to get up to 3,000 ft above the hamlets below and fly about 15 - 20km southwards and return to where they take off.
It's a spectacularly scenic trip.
Flying north from takeoff, you will pass over the southern parts of the Royal National Park, the oldest National Park in the world. (Yellowstone was established as a Nature Preserve a couple of years before, and then became a National Park later).
In the video below you'll see the flight north over the National Park climbing to an altitude of about 1,300 ft.
It's always beautiful but especially so at sunset.
Coming back to land you need to lose height over Stanwell Park before flying over the houses, making a U-turn and landing on the sand beside the lagoon.
Because I hadn't flown for quite some time, I had lost some of the judgement you need when planning a landing approach. I came in a bit high then may have got hit by some turbulence coming off the headland. The glider climbed and went off course a little. Also, at this stage I should have had my legs out of the harness which increases drag and dampens any oscillation because of a greater pendulum effect.
A high performance glider will get into what is called Pilot Induced Oscillation (PIO). In other words it is caused by over-controlling the glider. The remedy is to simply release pressure from the controls and the glider immediately goes into trim. However as you can see in the video, it lost so much altitude that one wing scraped the ground and the glider spun in. The frame of a hang glider will often take the impact of a "sub-optimal landing" and sacrifice itself for you. This combined with soft sand allowed me to walk away without any injuries at all.
I was not in a frame of mind to go looking for the the geocache, so that will have to wait for another time.
Check out the video below:
If the video is not visible click on this link.
A friend got inspired by the high quality geoaches he saw on Progeocaching and put together one which is an
example of how to make an excellent creative geocache. He suggested that I might like to check it out and put it up on Progeocaching. It's located in some bush in the south of Sydney, Australia.
The cache was placed on 11 November 2011 (11/11/11), so the co-ordinates and numbers used to solve the final co-ordinates are based around that.
I know that he went to some trouble to make this as high quality as possible.
So what is it that makes this a high quality geocache?
- Adventure. It's a great walk/ride in to areas that few people visit.
- Physically challenging. It involved mountain biking, some bush-bashing and rock climbing - but nothing exhausting;
- Mentally challenging. It required doing some research, solving a puzzle and following some instructions on how to operate the equipment - but you didn't need to be Einstein;
- Educational. Because of the research involved I learnt things that I didn't know before.
- Nice location. It's in the middle of a nice piece of bush and is somewhere that I wouldn't have visited if not for this.
- Overall good experience. I came away with a sense of achievement and thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. Isn't that what's it's all about?
There is no comparison to some dodgy micro located in a non-descript location.
I rated this very highly. It's an example of a high quality geocache and is what we all should be aspiring to.
Well done mate!
Check out the video.
If you can't see the video, click here.
I've been hammering on about poor quality geocaches for a while now. One of my least favourites is the Lamp
Pole Cache (LPC). Once you've done one, you've done them all. They are usually located in the middle of a parking lot at the local mall. Nothing to see here - move along please...
The other types that you come across fairly frequently - especially in the US - are green power boxes (padmount transformers), electrical transmission tower legs and sometimes even FAKE electrical boxes/equipment.
I have found quite a few such caches but never really seriously considered the risks involved. After all, whoever heard of anyone getting zapped touching those things?
I recently came across a blog that woke me up to the risks involved. The blog is by Johnnygeo who is a Health & Safety Professional working a large Canadian power utility company. He warns of the dangers of placing and finding geocaches that are located on or near electrical equipment.
Geocaches placed under the skirts of LPCs expose finders to the risk of being electrocuted from wiring that has shorted. What is particularly dangerous is when the cache is hidden inside the pole, where people are sticking their fingers near wiring. Even if the cache is not hidden inside the pole, people will still investigate there if the cache doesn't turn up immediately.
What's the danger with fake electrical boxes?
Johnnygeo says, "Children tend to stick their hands in anywhere and if a child can open a cover to something they’ll do it cause they’re curious. They learn what's safe and what's not safe by watching adults. If we teach kids that it’s okay to open up fake electrical boxes because caches are hidden in them, then I feel that we are placing children in danger."
What about green power boxes that you find in neighborhoods, parks and schools?
He says, "Generally those boxes are safe. Are they meant for playing on? The answer is no. A question is asked of me all the time, "Could this electrical equipment ever be unsafe?" The answer is a definite yes."
Cars hit this type of equipment all the time and the damage is not reported right-away. If damaged the equipment can be sitting there with their metal case energized. As soon as a person touches a piece of equipment they would be electrocuted. Also, a city can have the best electrical maintenance program in the world and still have the odd piece of equipment fail. This could be a green electrical box in front of your house or a lamp post in a park.
What about geocaching on a piece of electrical equipment (i.e. a transmission tower leg). The probability of a piece of
electrical equipment failing is low. However if it did fail, then if a person touches it, they become the path to ground - which is usually fatal. Even if it doesn't kill, it could still give you severe burns - as the nasty picture on the right shows.
So don't place geocaches on electrical equipment.
The other issue he deals with is that LPCs and electrical equipment are usually on private property, and you need the owner's permission to place geocaches there.
So in summary, if you are thinking of placing a geoache under the skirt of a lamp pole, or on a piece of electrical equipment - think again. Not only are these types of geocaches poor quality, and worthless pieces of trash they can also kill or maim.
Groundspeak needs to consider banning the hiding of any geocache on electrical equipment.
It would eliminate a lot of trash caches and reduce the risk for all of us.
Now if only we could find a way to ban all micros and nanos on the grounds of safety! '-)