Sunday was another stupendous day of tandem hang gliding, this time with a family from across the pond. Gary, Max and Luke had seen us at the Lover’s Key Marina boarding our passengers on Saturday, while riding their jet skis on the fabulous local waters of Estero Bay. It was too much for these adventurous souls to resist, so the toll-free phone call to the Paradise Hang Gliding, Inc. World Headquarters soon followed.
We met & boarded the British Bunch at Lover’s Key, and were soon headed out to sea. Today, the winds were very light and switchy, but what little there was came from the east, forcing us a couple of miles offshore to begin our run into the wind back toward the beautiful Florida beaches. Near shore, under the cumulus clouds forming over land, there was some breeze, farther out, it was truly the doldrums. We have never seen the surface so glassy and it was a spectacular day to be out on the water. The light winds made for slow climb rates during the first part of each tow, but it was fun and relaxing to just hang out on the towline, look for critters beneath and enjoy the views of the emerald colored waters.
The second half of each tow was quite different, and very exciting. A wind gradient, along with increased thermal activity being blown from shore, made for absolute rocket-like climbs. After release, on the first flight with 14 year old Luke, we worked a thermal and were actually climbing for a bit. He really enjoyed it, and liked the hang gliding lesson portion of the flight. Flying with Max & dad Gary was just as good, but their heavier weight made it impossible to climb in the thermals, although we extended all of the flights by a fair bit.
Luke saw a huge loggerhead sea turtle as we turned on final approach, and Gary was treated to the sight of a very large ray and 2 different groups of dolphins; one group of 4 was cavorting about very near the waiting hang glider tow boat. Not really as good as some days for wildlife spotting, but once again the expedition turned out to be a Florida eco-tour, and a good time was had by all.