Cleared Direct

Snippets from flying small airplanes in California

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Shelter Cove

Got two chances this past weekend to put some memorable flights in my logbook.

Some background: my folks were in town for a visit and to celebrate my oldest’s birthday. This gave us some built-in child care allowing my wife and me to take a day for ourselves. It also brought with it two curious passengers that wanted to come see what the Bonanza was all about.

On Friday, we left the kids with their grandparents and made our way to Shelter Cove (0Q5). Shelter Cove is at the southern end of California’s Lost Coast. It’s remote and (according to the the internet) only accessible by a grueling drive through the coastal mountains. Understandably, it’s visited mostly by seaside homeowners, bed-and-breakfasters looking for an “off the path” destination, hikers on the Lost Coast trail, and pilots flying into the 3400-foot paved strip. Due to it’s remoteness, Shelter Cove lacks an instrument approach, weather reporting, or airport facilities of any kind (including fuel). And perched just above the jagged Pacific coast, weather can be unpredictable. It’s not uncommon for it to be socked in for days.

Shelter Cove

Shelter Cove had been on my radar for years, and I’d never found an excuse to get up there. It seemed a great destination for a mid-pandemic lockdown day trip. We had attempted this once at the end of May, but had to divert when we got out to the coast and saw that it was likely socked in. This time around, I followed the advice given to me by another pilot, and phoned a bed-and-breakfast just before we departed for an informal weather report. Someone at the front desk at Spyglass Inn let me know that “today will be cake” to get in from the air. So off we went.

We arrived and spent some time at the lighthouse and rocky beach enjoying the views and sounds of seals sunbathing on the rocks. We ate a fantastic lunch on the outdoor patio at Gyppo Ale Mill where could see the Bonanza from our table tied down just a hundred yards away. By the time sat down to eat, the Bonanza was joined by a Remos LSA, homebuilt RV, and Cessna Skymaster. I did really wish that this was an overnight trip so I could could enjoy a craft brew with my burger.

On Saturday, I took my parents on a Bonanza-familiarization flight and foothills airport tour. Over the weekend, the self-service fuel pump at Sacramento Executive (where N9000Q lives) was out of service. So even though we had several hours of fuel left in the tanks after Friday’s trip, I wanted to make a short hop to Placerville (PVF) to top off. After that, we flew south along the edge of the foothills enjoying the views of the Sierras on our left and reservoirs on our right before making a quick turn at Pine Mountain Lake (E45) then heading for home.

On the final leg, the vacuum pump (which had been showing signs of trouble) finally decided to kick the bucket. Will be taking care of that repair in the next week or two.