WORKS BEST: Pre-Frontal SW-S
Spring and Fall pre-frontal are best for the Cove, though it can work through the winter as well. Summer usually finds it fogged out. The most extraordinary days have been in January, often just after a rare snow - a reward for the locals, because it is impossible to predict. This site was pioneered by hang gliders over 25 years ago. Paragliders found it in the early 1990's. Prevailing breeze is usually N to NW on the Humboldt County north coast - but when pre-frontal storm conditions swing it around South to South West, Shelter Cove is the place to fly. There are two sites: a 1600 Launch off Blue Ridge Road and a 400 msl launch at Landis Court. The 1600 is preferred, but it can be a stretch to the LZ for paragliders if things get northy, or it can be blown out when the lower launch is still OK. Or the 1600 can be fogged out and the lower launch is fine. We have had fun off both. On S to SW days 12 to 16-18, you can often stay high. When it is a bit lighter, working the last ridge by the boat ramp is the usual deal.
Requirements/Regulations/Radios Fly Safely, have a good time. If you are new, contact a club member for an introduction. The Fries and Penguin live near-enough by to provide assistance.
Shelter Cove is a Club insured (through USHGA) site. USHGA membership is required to fly here.
Radios: Club Frequency (Legal Ham Only Please) 147.415 Repeater 146.940 (-600 offset)
USHGA Frequency: 151.025 (Alt 151.625) (Requires PA and/or VA special skill signoff (obtainable through club.)
This is a rural sub-division, mind the neighbors and don't speed. Deer can and will pop up unexpectedly, especially at dusk. It is all private property - respect it please. The primary LZ is just east of the aircraft tie down area, and just north of the golf course clubhouse along a waste strip of grass. The backup LZ is at the South end of a working runway. Don't linger at the backup after landing - move it out (East) to break down, pack up. The other backup is just north of the eighth green and just west of the south end of the airstrip. Don't linger there, either.
This is not a beginner's site. Neither launch is very forgiving, although the lower launch is a bit more forgiving than the upper. This is very definitely not a place you want to blow back on - trees, canyons, power lines, houses - ugly for landing. But it is a beautiful site to fly when it is working. A H-3 or P-3 equivalent is a reasonable requirement, or a H or P-2 with guidance. If you, as a visiting pilot, screw up here, you could really mess it up for the locals, much less yourself.
How to Get Here From 101, take the Garberville/Redway (if northbound), or Redway (if southbound) exit some 70 miles south of Eureka. In Redway, take the Briceland-Shelter Cove road west 18 miles to Shelter Cove. Scenic. Curvy. Check out the Shelter Cove Restaurant and boat launching ramp, and the southwest facing cliffs by the launch ramp - nice ridge soaring possible. Check out the LZ area south of the runway, just north and west of the Shelter Cover RV Campground, Market and Deli.
The 400 Launch: From the General Store/Boat Ramp, head back up and over the first little hill. There is a dip before it starts up again. Right at the bottom of that dip is a road south - Landis Court. Take that out about 500 yards to Bay Court. Turn left into Bay Court and go 50 yards or so to the end
The 1600 Launch: Go all the way back to the top of the main ridge. (You can also go in Toth Road from the bottom, but there are several twists and turns). At the very top of the ridge, just past a wide turn-out, take a right on Toth Road and proceed about one mile to Wood Court. Take a left on Wood and drop down about a block to the almost dead end and take a right onto Blue Ridge. Proceed about 300 yards to a right sweeping turn around the point. That's the place. It has had a lot of work on it since 2001 or so, and is a nice launch, though it is much more a 'mountain' launch than a 'coastal' launch.
It's a long drive to get there, so try to get as much information as you can before you head out.
Sometimes a few hours behind, but specific, is Weather Underground
For general NOAA weather, check the Eureka site. You can also check what is coming in via the GEOS satellite. (This is a different GEOS 10 web page that the one listed in weather, and can give you 12 hour photo loops.)
If that much looks good, check the buoys. The most critical one to pay attention to is the Point Arena Buoy 46014 . Also check the next Buoy North: Buoy 46022, the Eel River buoy. You want South or Southwest, especially from the Point Arena buoy. If it gets too South-Eastie, it becomes an ugly, over-the-back scene.
Emergency Contacts, Food and Drink Cell phones work at the 1600, but not at the 400 or the landing areas. There are pay phones around the cove restaurants. Click the "Local Info" button on this Shelter Cove page.
Hams can try the Shelter Cove Repeater: 146.940 (-600 offset). If all else fails and you have a business band or bumped 2-meter, try the CDF local frequency: 151.250 - but make sure it is a real emergency...some of the VFD folks monitor it, so even if no one answers, put out the info. Otherwise, stick to the ham 147.415 or USHGA 151.925
Shelter Cove has an excellent VFD well-trained in rescue.
The Secondary LZs are owned by the Shelter Cover RV Campground, Market and Deli. The Deli has great fish and chips and other good food and drink. Support those who support us...
Mind the tides. The beach is a fine bail out possibility, unless the tide is in. It comes all the way into the logs up against the cliffs. A downwind landing on the bottom of the boat ramp is no fun.
Watch for air traffic when you break for the LZ. The occasional weekend pilot that does come in here is not watching out for you - trust us on this. And the bail out LZ is at the South end of the runway. On a nice-weather weekend, there can be a surprising amount of air traffic.
Watch the fog. During certain warmish pre-frontal conditions, a small wisp of fog along the beach can turn into a blanket of zero visibility at the 1600 within 5 minutes. Some of us have watched it happen, and were *real* glad we didn't launch...
Check the penetration often, especially if you are getting up off the 1600. Nobody has ever blown back here - and it is a real good idea to keep it that way.