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Floundering Around Part 1: "Puget Sound"



Floundering Around Part 1: "Puget Sound"

By Ron Blehm (4 January 2006)



Background: Back in 2003 I started a Virtual Flying Club - the title "President and Founder" always seemed a bit too pretentious for my skill level on the simulator (FS2000 at that point) so I made a dyslexic play on the words and became known as the "Cub Flounder."


In this new column (which I hope will be a regular feature) I will host a feature flight for you all to try on your own time. This feature could take you anywhere; from rugged mountain flying in Alaska to flying big heavies in SE Asia, from commuter hops across Europe to amphibians around the Caribbean - one just never knows what we'll come across!


You are certainly encouraged to use whatever add-ons you like and any suggestions I get in your reports back to me may be included in the next installment. I will be more than happy to take your suggestions for flights as well but let's start out our adventures together near the home of Microsoft: Puget Sound, Washington.





Flight History: Using FS2002 I set up a flight from Renton, Washington (KRNT) and then had to slew over into the near-by lake (N47° 31.99, W122° 12.11 at 9 feet, heading 325), but in FS2004 you can feel free to leave from any of the many Seattle-area float plane bases. Our destination is CYWH, the Inner Harbor of Victoria, BC. During the summer months there are many flights between the Seattle/Bellevue area and Vancouver or Victoria, BC (see photos below). Our route this time does not follow any of these real world or "normal" air traffic routes - we are taking a scenic, picture-taking tour of Puget Sound and the San Juan/Channel Islands. Both my wife and I loved our time in Europe; we cherish those memories and long for a time when we may get to return. Meanwhile, for a lack of travel to Europe, we like to visit British Columbia. We spent 10 days there on our honeymoon and try to get back at least once or twice a year - it's great for even just a long weekend.










Weather: As noted, in the real world, these are summertime flights and if you try this in January you may find the weather a bit tougher than you bargained for. If you want to set up your own "default" weather you could do something like this: Clear skies, visibility 20 miles (that little sea-haze we get near the ocean), Winds = Out of the upper 200°s at about 5-7, gusting to 15-20. Temps = Daytime high 79°, Day/Night Variation 22° (photo below, left).










If you do decide to use real world weather in January, you may find yourself depressed as indicated in the following report from Bill Smith: "It was raining and I wished I were dead. The tiny Cessna seaplane was bobbing up and down as I slowly increased the power and sailed out onto the lake. I felt nauseous and the plane wouldn't respond to my rudder input, so it kept heading straight towards the sandbank on the other side of the lake, where it soon beached itself. 'That's it' I thought, this is hopeless, I'm going to quit now'. Then I thought 'Maybe if I just leave the engine running, the carbon monoxide fumes will seep into the cabin and finish me off?' In the distance, through the gloom, I could see the Seattle Space Needle and I suddenly had a better idea. 'Maybe I should take off and impale myself on that?'" (See screen shot above, right.)


Another concern was voiced by Peter Stark from Australia. "I had to call in to the Boss and receive the briefing for our next assignment. It was to be a sightseeing and ferry trip for a bunch of loser fisherman to a remote settlement to the north. My cheerfulness started to wane. Don't get me wrong - I don't have a particular problem with ferrying a load of drunken lay abouts, but can someone please answer this, "Why does everything and everyone in the northwest have to revolve around fish?" If you have a look at the web sites relating to this part of the world, it seems that they all offer fishing, scenery, fishing, canoeing, fishing, hiking, fishing, and in case you have some extra free time - fishing. Great, another terrific assignment for a vegetarian!" (See screen shot below, left.)










Flight/Route Info: The first rule in float plane ops is to be sure you have enough water ahead of you to make your take-off "roll." Secondly, you'll want to have room and speed enough to clear local obstacles, obviously you need to get into the air before contacting one of the many local bridges in the Seattle area (see screen shot above, right); there are two "floating" bridges to carry commuters back and forth from the east-side suburbs (like Bellevue over there on your right as you depart) into downtown Seattle. If you look carefully (I won't tell you exactly where because that may be confidential information) you may be able to find Bill Gate's amazing home! Sooner or later you are going to need to turn to about 318° and fly about 45 miles to the Penn Cove VOR (CVV = 117.20). To the left we can just make out the Point Wilson Light to the north of Port Townsend.










At CVV turn to 021° and head northeast towards Skagit Regional Airport (KBVS) passing to the right of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station (KNUW). Along the way dial up the BVS NDB which is 240 kHz. You can expect to cross the NDB in just over 18 miles. Over KBVS bank left to 317° (screen shot above, left) and head for the White Rock NDB (WC, 332.0). This leg is nearly 35 miles long. During your cruise, you'll want to get Nav1 and Nav2 fired up for some local VORs like 113.70. At WC you'll turn left to 229° for almost 23 miles. Some words from Alastair Monk in the UK, "Passing Blaine Muni (4W6) on our right we turn left to head out over Drayton Harbor and the Strait of Georgia towards the Active Pass NDB (AP, 378.0). Passing between Galiano Island and Mayne Island at AP we turned south towards Victoria International (CYYJ) and the Victoria NDB (YJ, 200.0). To our left and right lay a series of islands and peninsulas." This really is a very scenic tour, which is why we are featuring it here for you to enjoy. At AP, turn to a heading of 182° and proceed approximately 14.6 miles to YJ (screen shot above, right), which is over the Victoria Airport. From here you'll be flying visual to the inner harbor (About 155°...follow the highway) where you'll come in toward the Parliament Building, turn southwest on final and land heading out of the harbor (depending on your winds of course). Here's the routing again:


CVV117.20 - BVS240 - WC332 - AP378 - YJ200 - VFR heading about 155°


Once you arrive safely, you can head off to Murchie's for some fine tea and pastry. And who'd come to Vancouver Island without stopping off in Buchart Gardens?


I wish that this venue allowed me to share some of video I've seen of float planes fighting the winds to land right "downtown" on the Inner Harbor! (It can be like Kai Tak only in a float plane, photo left below). This can provide for some really spectacular views of the Empress Hotel and the B.C. Parliament Buildings but those will likely not be in your program unless you've installed some Victoria BC scenery enhancements, which go along nicely with this flight (picture right, below).










I hope that this first-in-the-series of "Floundering Around" flights proves to be a fun and scenically rewarding adventure for you. I'll close this time with some reflections from another American pilot, Tony Radmilovich. "The last time I was in Victoria was a few years ago when six of us rented a 40' boat and set sail for three weeks in the San Juans. We sailed into Victoria Harbor and rafted to a 55' motor-sailer right in front of the Empress. The three days spent in Victoria were some of the best times of the trip discounting of course, the truly obnoxious bagpiper who reported for duty at 07:00 each morning to pipe his way back and forth across the harbor front.. By the way, anyone who has spent any length of time on a sailboat will appreciate the fact that Victoria Harbor has the best public showers around."


Thanking you for your support,


Ron Blehm

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