Eddy Currents

by Craig Ensey
(Shedd, OR, USA)

First rainy flight with Brennan

First rainy flight with Brennan

“Spring is here, the sun is shining… well…now it’s raining.”
“Let’s wait five minutes”
“Now it’s kinda sunny, but super gusty”
Much were my frustrated thoughts on the second outing of the year. The first outing was also concerning, but I’ll save that story for later.

Earlier this week I got the idea to build another kite for a possible beach trip that is dependent on the weather. As you know very well, I have had my ups and downs with Tim’s budget Roks and Barn door kites in the past two years. They are great kites, but I think it would be better if I broke down and got a sewing machine so I could use nylon for sails. This would confirm my wife, Sarah’s suspicions of insanity. Oops, did I say that!

Last summer when I was really into kite building, modding, some flying, and of course crashing, I got my hands on some “Pinkwrap.” It’s similar to Tyvek but pink according to it's name. The standby .7 mil drop cloths were just not tough enough for big sails like the Double Dowel Rok and Double Dowel Barn Door Kites. The best I could get was a few flights before the bridle holes got too big or the sail got destroyed by a killer chain link backstop!

I made some new sails for my Rhombus Box Kite but it never saw the air. In fact, the Pinkwrap was soon utilized as a tarp roof for my sailboat project’s home. The boat is gone and the tarp went unused. After walking by it many times I became fed up with this enormous pink tarp heaped next to my shop. Although it took several months, I resolved to make a kite with it.

Out came the obnoxious pink tarp on my very green, Oregon lawn along with Tim’s Eddy kite plans and I was back into making kites. This was not a normal MBK Dowel Diamond. First off, it was going to be an eight foot kite with my thrice recycled 3/8” spars that were used on my eight foot Rok as well as my Double Dowel Barn Door.

For starters, every MBK Dowel Diamond dimension needed to be doubled. Fortunately there aren’t a whole lot of dimensions on an Eddy kite which means less room for my errors!

Once I cut out my Pinkwrap square, I was faced with the daunting task of rearranging my kitchen just right so I could get my sail flat on the floor for marking and cutting. The Eddy was much easier to layout than the Rok from last summer. The Rok was a real challenge to layout due to it’s shape, especially with Brennan walking all over it.

The pink Eddy took roughly 30 minutes from blank slate to final cut. Since I was already there with sore knees, back, and shoulders, I went ahead and made some sail pockets from extra Pinkwrap. I chose to make the bottom pocket about 6” longer so I could avoid trimming my spar by 4.”

The bridle was quite long since it was doubled, but it took shape quickly as well. There really wasn’t too much time involved in this kite. I would estimate 1.5 hours total. Later that evening I took it out and let it catch what little breeze it could. Once again, there was just too much turbulence to set the bridle accurately. It would have to happen at the field.

Yesterday’s outing to the field at Linn Benton Community College was a very gusty day for an Eddy kite so I didn’t even try to fly it. There was enough excitement with the Rhombus box kite for one day. Today started with light winds that looked ideal for Eddy flying so we went out to Timber Linn, which has a very open field.

Rigging took less than five minutes, but setting the bridle was very, very difficult with the variable winds. One moment the winds were too low, the next they were upwards of 20 kts. I knew it was far from ideal but I was there with the kite and I wanted to fly it. The initial launch went OK, but I knew immediately that the bridle was misaligned way off to the left. After several launches, abrupt landings, and adjustments, I was able to keep it up a bit longer. Since the wind was so high I had to set the tow point very high to avoid breaking my kite’s bones. This took a while but I was able to get a useable tow point.

I think it would have flown fine if the wind was more consistent, but this was just a learning experience for me. Believe it or not, this was my first Eddy kite. It was somewhere between adjustment five and eight that I felt a tugging on the 100 feet of flying line laying on the grass behind me. That was Sarah’s way of telling me that it was just too windy today. I imagine it was time to pack it up seeing as how I couldn’t hear her calling me over the 20 knot wind. She was a sight for my cold eyes. One more try ended in a broken center spar just aft the spar intersection. Fortunately, it was not one of the spars with a splice joint glued in place. Easy fix.

This was a revelation for me. It took many broken spars and frustrated outings to realize that I need to build a kite capable of handling the toughest winds within reason of course. Looking back, I think my conquest to fly in as little wind as possible distracted me from building a kite that can handle those windy days. It never hurts to have a box kite in the trunk next to the deltas and barn doors.

And so begins my Super-tough-as-nails Box kite! Stand by for few weeks and I will have another judgment impaired story.

Later, Craig E.

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