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Thread: Beach landings

  1. #1
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    Beach landings

    I'm a low time (400 hr) cub driver in Anchorage. I have been banging around on gravel bars and the like for a while, but I have never landed on a beach and am not too sure what to look for, what the side slope will do to me, and so on. I have a PA-18-150 on 3" Atlee gear and 26" Gar Aeros. Anybody got any tips for me? Places I should go to learn on? Anybody want to show me a spot or two?

    Thanks
    Joe Framptom
    Anchorage

  2. #2
    Crash's Avatar
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    Beach Landings

    Sloped Beach Landings: The technique I use after almost going in the drink a few time is this; If the wind is blowing down the beach or off shore, I set put my approch so I will touch down just inside the surf and "angled" up slope. If you land parallel with the beach, your tail wheel will head down hill towards the water. The only thing you can do is head for the water trying to "out run" your tail wheel, hoping you can stop before hitting the water. Some times my landing tracks look like a big arch. This is on beaches with a pretty good slope. In tight coves I do the same thing taking off. Start at the water with the plane angled up hill. Go full power to the top of the beach and sling shot off the top of the curve towards the water to gain flying speed. Kind of like high marking a snowmobile. Good flying. Crash
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  3. #3
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    Beaches that get a lot of surf and are steep sometimes get washboarded pretty bad. Sometimes surf at lower tide levels will cause cutbanks that you can catch a wing on from the lower area, or rollout over from the upper area. At times these things aren't real obvious until you get low and have that low angle perspective, so be sure to do a pass just off the deck before committing. Where I live, the sand can get pretty soft, but is always firm, even hard in the lower tidal area when the tide's out. A good place to start would be a beach with a gentle slope and low tide. After landing on the lower harder stuff, taxiing up into the soft stuff will give you a good idea of whetther or not you could work the upper beach. Upper beaches tend to have more driftwood and junk laying around. After awhile you'll get to know different beaches and recognize conditions somewhat on new ones at a glance. Besides figuring out how soft, the angle of the beach can be tricky. I found that practicing rolling it up on one wheel and then the other while taking off, and touching down on one or the other while landing someplace flat helped to negotiate angled beaches. If the beach is soft sand and steep, I prefer to land near the water and rollout angling up, away from the water, if it's wide enough. If you need to taxi back, you'll want to be high on the beach and turn downhill... lot harder the other way and harder on the prop. Take off on the same beach I prefer to start high and run slightly downhill as I can get off quicker going downhill. I have a Scott 3200 tailwheel that sinks into the sand, so in soft stuff on a slope, I don't notice the tail wanting to swing downhill like Crash mentioned. (on a harder beach it would I guess) Anyway, I start up high, angling slightly downhill as I build speed. I set the trim forward to get the tail up quicker. As soon as the tail comes up I use rudder to straighten out the angle so I'm parallel with the water, while building speed. About that time it's getting close to flying, and depending on how steep the beach is, I either fly it off level or leave one wing low until I'm sure I won't drag the upper wing by leveling them. That's what works for me with 30" tires, extended gear and 160hp.
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    I forgot to log in. The above guest post is mine.
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    Beach landings

    Is it legal to land on the beaches? Here in Cali I am not sure about that. But that would be cool
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    I have no idea about Calif. or other places, but in Alaska the State owns the tidelands, below the mean high water line, and generally it isn't a problem to land there. There may be some exceptions on State Park lands with saltwater beaches.

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    airplanes

    Difference is They like airplanes in Alaska and don't here in the lower 48.

    Don

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    FlipFlop's Avatar
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    Re: airplanes

    Quote Originally Posted by don d
    Difference is They like airplanes in Alaska and don't here in the lower 48.

    Don
    Boy, isn't that the truth...

    I enjoy reading about aviation in the late '20s and early '30s... People wanted airplanes (barnstormers) to land in their fields and on their racetracks... It was a novelty and people actually went to see the airplanes...

  9. #9
    Cubus Maximus's Avatar
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    Although Cuby the farther north you go in these lower 48 the more people and airplanes seem compatible. Thinking MT, Dakotas and MN. Here in MN people seem to be at peace with airplanes north of Brainerd (central part of the state). About the only place to really watch out for is the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) no-fly zone. It's Federal and full of young gung-ho Greens fresh out of Earth First school. Other than that things are great here.

    Went to the MN seaplane convention Saturday down the road about 15 miles at Bay lake. There was some really cool equipment parked on the beach. I posted pictures on the album site. Seems just about every Cub in the state is now on amphibs. Everybody sleeps better when the hail and thunderstorms role through.

  10. #10

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    Joe,
    I live in Soldotna. I fly across the inlet to Silver Salmon Creek to see the bears. It is a great beach to start on. I normally land just south of where the creek enters the inlet. Just make sure you land where the water has been. It gets pretty soft above the water line. This is a hard packed sand beach. It is a great place to go and check out the bears. You can then fly south to the next bay which is chinitna. This is also a great place to check out the bears. This beach has rocks on it and some can be a little on the big side. You also need to watch for ropes going from the beach out into the inlet. This beach is more slanted than Silver Salmon. I am also pretty much a rookie, but I just sit down on the high side wheel and stay there until the plane settles onto the other wheel. At this point the plane has a tendency to head for the water. I just get on the high side rudder ahead of time and keep it straight. I was over there 2 weeks ago. I didn't see any bears but did see 1 wolf. I will be going back over there in the next week. The bears should be showing up soon. Send me an e-mail at
    evansbae@hotmail.com and maybe we can head over.
    Brett
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    Polly Creek on the west side has a huge area at a low tide with a steeper gravel beech at shoreline. A good area to practice without worrying about getting wet. Land on the flats and check out the steeper beach to plan your assult... Good luck!
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  12. #12

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    Beach Landings

    Two posts recommended landings on sloped beaches by touching down on one wheel. This works excellent with 8:50-6 wheels on steep sloping beaches with either hard or soft sand. The key is to come in with the wings level or slightly down toward the high side of the beach. Always land parallel with the beach. Choose a landing site on the beach that is smooth. It can be high, mid, or low on the beach. This does not matter. Hard packed or loose sand both works well. When the wheel touches down, continue to run on one wheel as long as possible. Let the wing holding the wheel off the sand fall down gently when it can no longer carry the load. By this time, the second wheel touches down at very slow speed and the A/C will not get out of control and head down towards the water. Taking off is done in the same manner as landing but in reverse. As soon as some forward speed is gained, pull the wheel on the down slope side off and run on one wheel until the A/C has enough speed to take off. Pull the A/C off the beach and fly away. You will be amazed at how much control you have by running on one wheel when landing and taking off on sloped beaches. Once you have mastered this technique, there is no going back to the other more difficult and risky landings on sloped beaches.

    Cub Special Driver
    Anchorage, Alaska
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  13. #13

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    Joe

    Rudder, Rudder, Rudder, when your landing on the beach your going to need it. Your plane will want to turn down the bank for the water you can keep it straight by applying uphill rudder. I would suggest landing in areas of wet sand as it is firm, then taxi up above the high tide mark. When landing in areas like trading bay be carefull not to slip off the beach into the mud I hear it will cause alot of weeping, whaling and nashing of teeth.

    Cub_Driver

    Brett and Cub Special have given good advice I just wanted drive home the point of using the rudder on both take off and landings.
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  14. #14
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    An offshore wind will make the a/c turn UP the beach versus Cub_Driver's statement above.

    Great Beach advice from all of you guys, though, including to keep an eye on any mud bordering firm, wet sand. Also, with the one-wheel landing/angled beach technique, be sure to keep an eye on how close your up-hill/beach wingtip is to the terrain or any driftwood, etc.

    ....and hold your ailerons over from first touchdown 'til you're stopped. Same thing for takeoff, hold the ailerons up-beach from the beginning of the roll. As soon as the ailerons pick up the low-wing, pull full flaps for a moment and you're flyin'.

    I got a rock stuck in my tailwheel yesterday. It was caught between the valve stem and the wheel casting and the tailwheel fork. It had my tailwheel locked-up 'til I took it out at my tiedown. The a/c felt like it had a flat tailwheel, except worse. I figure I picked it up on the gravel hump at the top of the beach that I left after fishing last night. The gravel was really loose and I came off the power after the mains went through the hump and the tailwheel kind of sunk into it. Then I started taxiing with what seemed to take a lot of power and also brake application to keep 'er straight on what I thought was perfect, firm sand below high-tide line.

    When I landed, the thing took a lot of power to taxi and steered poorly. Good thing to have a gravel home-strip and a rain-soaked asphalt taxiway to my tiedown. Afterword I considered why my back-taxi trail down the beach seemed to have such a deep tailwheel trench. and all the power it took to make it go.

    Anyone else hear of a rock locking a tailwheel??? I never have.

    DMC

  15. #15
    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    Beaches

    This thread is ancient already, but I only recently found supercub.org and have been reading and reading and reading. Great site.

    I think I've made most of the mistakes that can be made on the beaches of SE Ak, so let me put in my two cents, even though tardy. I'll go topic by topic, hopefully to assist those new to beaches. Everything is stated for tailwheel gear.

    The nose of the plane will ALWAYS tend uphill, as stated elsewhere, because the CG is behind the mains. This will be most pronounced at low speeds, when the rudder authority and lift are minimal.

    However, due to the slope of the beach, the entire airplane will tend to skitter sideways downhill, toward the water. This will be most pronounced at higer speeds, when there is sufficient lift to reduce the tires' side-loading capability, such as at liftoff. Leveling the wings will reduce the tendency, but not eliminate it. The reason is that regardless of the directon of the lift vector, as long as there is any weight on the tire(s), that reaction vector will have a component toward the water. With the wings parallel to the beach slope, the sideways skittering on takeoff will be pronounced as flying speed is approached, and the nose of the airplane must be pointed uphill with rudder to compensate. At the instant of takeoff the plane will then be cross-controlled, like a crosswind takeoff, so a little extra speed is desirable, and coordinated flight must be promptly attained. I agree that starting up high on the beach is good, however the skittering tendency must be anticipated and compensated for. If the wings are not leveled prior to liftoff, they must be leveled immediately upon liftoff, or the water will get uncomfortably close. On a very steep beach, it may not be reasonable to completely level the wings on the takeoff roll, in order to allow clearance for the uphill wing.

    Crosswinds. In Southeast, there are usually tall trees along the shoreline, and a wind blowing from the shore toward the water is double trouble. It will not only make downdraft, but slipping into the wind may be impossible while maintaining uphill wingtip clearance. My story is to find another beach.

    Direction of turns. Always turn uphill while taxiing. If the beach is at all steep, even more always! Turning downhill raises the tailwheel, and moves the CG forward with respect to the mains. That makes it all that much easier to dig clams with the prop. Expensive clams. My technique is to turn with a little bit of speed, quite a bit of power, and lift the tail just enough to get some of the weight off of it. That combination gives some elevator authority in case the inside wheel starts to dig. Use minimal braking to help the turn but also to keep the main on the inside of the turn rolling - so it won't dig into the sand as easily. If the plane doesn't want to turn completely, I get out and pull the tail around rather than turn downhill. Of course a very shallow beach angle can change that some, but I still vote for uphill turns.

    I agree with testing for softness with one wheel - if it bogs down, pulling the wings parallel to the beach slope will pull the wheel off. I do it pretty fast the first time, say around 45 or so, note how it feels, and also go back around and look at how deep the track is. Then if in doubt, do it again, close to landing speed, ready to go around. Watch for variations in softness due to subsurface water drainage and buried seaweed.

    Ok, there's my song re the basics. Sorry if it's redundant.
    Gordon

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  16. #16
    Gary Reeves's Avatar
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    let me add a few words from a letter dated 25 Dec from a friend that lives on Lake Clark, AK.

    "I'm still on skis - the snow is still too deep for wheels - and too slick for comfortable ski operation on the sloped beach - it is attention grabbbing sliding sideways toward the water- full opposite rudder and no brakes"

    I have also noticed that even when the snow is low enough for wheels the glaciated creeks are exposed and real slick down hill. Watch out for those patches of ice. The big lake looses water fast when things start to freeze which produces a sloped shelf ice in the frozen coves. You can drop through it since the water has receeded below - stay a bit up on the beach or risk catching a gear.

    GR

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    Beach takeoffs

    Joe,

    I don't have any real advice for beach landings other than flying over your prospective landing site 3-4 times in a very slow flight configuration to observe any rocks or obstructions. You can then mark on one of those over flights with your tires the best place to land.

    However, the best thing I can recommend is never try to turn 90 degrees on a soft sand beach (like when taxing from your parking spot to line up parallel to the beach) NEVER use brakes. If the plane is not turning with rudder alone, get out of the plane grab the tail and physically turn it to point down the beach.

    I have been flying the bays in the Blying Sound area (by Seward, AK.) for about 10 years and the only trouble I have had is using brakes once.

    Expensive and embarrassing lesson.

    Glenn
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  18. #18
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    Try this one

    Fly towards the beach on a 45 degree angle set up to land, as you are turning parallel to the beach you should be touching down at the same time. This puts your airplane at the same angle as the beach if done correct. No more worries about catching a wing tip on a piece of drift wood.
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  19. #19
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Good advice all. An additional thing to watch out for are "submerged" obstructions: stuff that's buried in the sand, and difficult to see. Kelp is high on this list. The stuff washes ashore, gets buried, then decomposes, and may leave a significant "mushy" spot, into which you can drop a wheel. The defense is to very carefully look over your landing area for all sorts of anomalies, not just logs and rocks.

    MTV

  20. #20
    Crash's Avatar
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    Beach Landings

    Mike, what are you talking about? There's no beaches in Fairbanks. Crash

  21. #21
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Dang, I got to get some new batteries for this GPS!! I coulda swore that was a beach I was landing on....

    I'll double check the charts.

    Now, that guy Ikatan lives out there where them kelp bushes muck up the beaches, though.

    MTV

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    Wondering if folks have Skywagon-specific advice they'd like to impart on the beach landings...
    J

  23. #23
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyR View Post
    Wondering if folks have Skywagon-specific advice they'd like to impart on the beach landings...
    J
    Johnny,

    Good tires, look at the beach carefully, roll your tires on it, mark obstacles in your mind, figure out the takeoff BEFORE you land, and mind the sloping beaches. USE that left turning tendency to your advantage, don’t fight it.

    Simple.

    MTV
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  24. #24
    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    And beaches change every tide. Just because it was hard one time doesn't guarantee it will be hard next time.


    Sent from my iPhone using SuperCub.Org

  25. #25
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike mcs repair View Post
    And beaches change every tide. Just because it was hard one time doesn't guarantee it will be hard next time.


    Sent from my iPhone using SuperCub.Org
    Yep, EVERY off Airport landing is a new kettle of fish......don’t bet on anything being the same day to day.

    MTV
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  26. #26
    85Mike's Avatar
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    While working at Icy Bay many years ago, I got some very good advice from the local 135 operator in Yakutat which I found very valuable. While most of the Skywagons in the area were running 8.50 x 10's for the beach work he told me my 8.50 x 6's would work with some extra precautions. His advice: Land on the wet sand 2 hours after high tide. If you have a problem you have substantial time to fix the problem without getting wet. Approach with 20* flaps and only with enough room to take off without turning around. Pretty easy to bury a tire while turning. At 30 MPH indicated if someone else is putting on the brakes (soft sand) firewall it and try a different place. As Mike said, the sand could be different with every tide cycle. I really enjoyed beach combing with a couple notches of flaps at 70 MPH. Picked up 7 glass floats on one trip to Cordova. Kanack Island just inside Kayak Island provided AWESOME razor clam digging. Mike
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  27. #27

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    Great points on awareness of tides for ops planning, 85Mike. Always check with a knowledgeable local person!

    This may be really basic for some readers, so apologies for stating the obvious. However, some people don't understand tides as well as they think they do, myself included until I delved into it.

    I taught sea kayaking way back and found that many paddlers didn't understand when the majority of the flow occurs during tidal change, as well as that wind and atmospheric pressure can have a large influence on tidal range, particularly on the coast and in shallow bays.

    The maximum flood (coming in) and ebb (going out) forces are not at the reported High and Low times. The rule of thirds is helpful for generalizing how many tides work. Dividing the roughly 6hr semi-diurnal high (or low) tide into thirds, we'll see that tidal flow in the first hour is 1/3 rate, second hour is 2/3 rate, third and fourth hour are 3/3 (full) rate, etc.

    Force of tidal flow can be roughly divided into three, 2-hour periods: (1/3 2/3); (3/3 3/3); (2/3 1/3).

    A similar rule of 12ths for tidal height is depicted below in a 12-hour High/Low cycle.



    So, the heaviest tidal force/current is typically during the 3/3, or middle two hours. 85Mike's 135 colleague was advising him to land right before that heavy outflow so he'd have the best time buffer for the best landing surface.

    Another area of confusion was the "slack tide" or period of relative calm between changes in direction. It's not always for an hour or so on each side of High and Low times. Constrictions/narrow bay mouths, river mouths, particular wind directions and strength, etc. can all drastically change times of slack tide.

    Always ask a local!

    Here's a tidal warning from the NPS website on Chintina/Lake Clark National Park:

    Navigating the Tides in Chintina Bay
    Pilots and boat operators wishing to travel to Chinitna Bay should be aware of the extreme tidal fluctuations in this area. Use
    the Seldovia tide chart
    and add .5 hours to the predicted cycles. If you do not anchor your boat or float plane far enough from shore, it will end up sitting in the mud on the tidal flats at low tide. If you don't park your wheeled plane high enough on the beach, it will end up in the water at high tide.


    Quote Originally Posted by 85Mike View Post
    While working at Icy Bay many years ago, I got some very good advice from the local 135 operator in Yakutat which I found very valuable. While most of the Skywagons in the area were running 8.50 x 10's for the beach work he told me my 8.50 x 6's would work with some extra precautions. His advice: Land on the wet sand 2 hours after high tide. If you have a problem you have substantial time to fix the problem without getting wet. Approach with 20* flaps and only with enough room to take off without turning around. Pretty easy to bury a tire while turning. At 30 MPH indicated if someone else is putting on the brakes (soft sand) firewall it and try a different place. As Mike said, the sand could be different with every tide cycle. I really enjoyed beach combing with a couple notches of flaps at 70 MPH. Picked up 7 glass floats on one trip to Cordova. Kanack Island just inside Kayak Island provided AWESOME razor clam digging. Mike
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  28. #28
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Seldovia tides are some of the highest tidal fluctuations in the world, second only to Bay of Fundy, as I recall. I once had a special project I needed to get done very early in the AM in Kodiak west side, Uyak Bay. There was a cabin well up the bay, so I flew there the night before, put the Cub out on a running line, and went to bed, with an alarm set for four AM, which was just past low tide. Got up in the AM and the Cub was 150 meters from water, high and dry. Those Seldovia tides can be impressive, to say the least.

    For a a year or so after I moved from Kodiak to the interior, I still found tide table books in pockets of clothing, packs, etc. In that country, you live and breath by the tides.

    MTV
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvivion View Post

    For a a year or so after I moved from Kodiak to the interior, I still found tide table books in pockets of clothing, packs, etc. In that country, you live and breath by the tides.

    MTV
    So do many animals. There is a lot of interesting work done on the biorhythms of marine and land animals being based upon tidal movements.
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  30. #30

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    The greatest tidal swings in the US are in upper Turnagain Arm, followed closely by the Knik Arm. It’s quite a show to watch, and much of south Anchorage has a very good view.
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  31. #31
    algonquin's Avatar
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    We are at big tides now and getting a little smaller tides coming few days. Like MTV said life in Seldovia is around tides, they can be dangerous.
    A couple of years ago two 206's sank in holes, the nose completely buried In the sand, over on Chintina beach. Looked like quick sand swallowed them.

  32. #32

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    Beach landings

    Today's tide swings in the lower Cook Inlet are about half of those in Turnagain Arm. 14' compared to 28'. Not that 14' tides aren't a force to be reckoned with. I enjoy tagging along in a buddy's 28' charter boat and letting the tide go out from under it it so we can step off and dig clams. Step back on when the tide switches and motor home. Pretty cool. Not much water navigation occurs in the Turnagain Arm. Nobody I know lands on the mud flats in their planes, either. That could be costly.

    I recall an afternoon spent with my boat in the mud about 50' from the city dock in Anchorage when we mis-timed our return by a couple of minutes. We sat high and dry for several hours until the water returned and floated the boat. 50' from the city and totally isolated. That was an odd day.

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  33. #33
    55-PA18A's Avatar
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    It's probably late enough in the season now to not have to worry about it, but one real old time Dillingham pilot (Dick Armstrong) told me to never land on the beach until after the first good spring storm. Chunks of ice will float up on the beach then get buried in the sand. As they melt, it just becomes a hole filled with soft mud with the surface looking like the surrounding area. Drop a wheel in one of those, and you're in a world of hurt. A good storm will pound the beach and firm things up.

    If you're going to mess around on beaches, become VERY familiar with how to read a tide book.

    Follow the advice above regarding timing your landings with the stages of the tides. I know of several planes that ended up getting taken by the tide. If you get in to trouble on a falling tide, you have a lot longer to fix things or get help.

    If you're going to be flying in coastal Alaska, keep in mind that the tidal influence can go a long ways up some of the Rivers. On the Nushagak, it gets all the way to Portage Creek, and that's 40+ river miles from the mouth of the river. One time my Dad and cousin visited from Indiana. I flew my cousin in the Cub to our king fishing camp up the Nushagak. My Dad rode in a friend's jet boat (on a falling tide). The boat driver made a zig when he should have zagged and ended up in shallow water hung up on a gravel/mud bar. The water kept falling until there wasn't any water for hundreds of yards. Not knowing anything about tides, my Dad didn't know what planet he was on. After a picnic on the gravel bar and picking rocks out of the jet gravel grate, the water eventually came back and they made it to camp. Check with locals about the time differential of the tide up the rivers. Depending on where it's at, it could be a considerable difference in high/low tide timing.

    Jim
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  34. #34

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    Aug 2015
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    Nice boat, SB! Supercub fishing outing in the works?!


    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    Today's tide swings in the lower Cook Inlet are about half of those in Turnagain Arm. 14' compared to 28'. Not that 14' tides aren't a force to be reckoned with. I enjoy tagging along in a buddy's 28' charter boat and letting the tide go out from under it it so we can step off and dig clams. Step back on when the tide switches and motor home. Pretty cool. Not much water navigation occurs in the Turnagain Arm. Nobody I know lands on the mud flats in their planes, either. That could be costly.

    I recall an afternoon spent with my boat in the mud about 50' from the city dock in Anchorage when we mis-timed our return by a couple of minutes. We sat high and dry for several hours until the water returned and floated the boat. 50' from the city and totally isolated. That was an odd day.

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  35. #35

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    Apr 2015
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    Lost count of how many times we’ve been caught at low tide in the middle of Goodnews Bay. Sand bars move every spring and I’m really good at finding them....and we keep a tarp on board to act as a barrier between us and the bugs.....the sand is hard enough to walk on without sinking...wouldn’t land on it...ever.


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  36. #36

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    Nov 2013
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    Wise pilot told me to beware of beach areas with water backed up behind the storm berm...swampy areas, old flood channels, ponds whatever. The water will always find its way to the sea, it’s gonna come out on that beach somewhere in the form of a soft , quicksandy sinkhole spot. Might not be visible, might be draining clear under sea, but beware anyway. I’ve found a few of these spots, thankfully while walking and not with the prop... yet
    Thanks JohnnyR, marcusofcotton thanked for this post
    Likes 46 Cub liked this post

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