1. A Map of the area
2. General guidelines / Rules that make sense
3. Miscellaneous lessons learned
First -- Where is the launch site, how do I get there?
3rd Avenue Beach Map
The easiest way to get there by taking 101 to the 3rd Av exit (one north of 92) and heading toward the bay. Turn left at lakeside (into the 'golf range' on the map) and turn right at the range, left into the parking lot at the end of the road. At the far north end you will see the rigging area.
Alternatively, take 92 to the Foster City Blvd exit and head north til you hit the water, turn left on 3rd, right on lakeside, then same as above. The main rigging area is at the north end of the parking lot.
After rigging, most people learning will walk their gear up to the "mud flat" to the west (not shown on the map above, but shown below) to launch. By walking upwind you will leave some room to be dragged downwind so you will land at the "beginner and kite launch area" (per map above) when you are done.
SOME GUIDELINES, - detailed map of "the MUD FLAT" (where you should launch)
This is a picture of the sign at the mud flat - the map at the bottom is helpful, as are the rules posted. A little hard to read (click on the picture, it will take you to the source - or contact me and i'll email you an 8M file that you can zoom on), and while probably none of us pays much attention to rules, there are a couple on the sign that make a lot of sense, especially if you are just starting out.
Upper Beach Launch Area (aka "the mud flat")
The area marked as "upper launch" is where you should launch. On any windy day, you will see many kites taking flight from that spot. WRT the 'guidelines' the one i'll point out is the "launch the kite PERPENDICULAR to the wind" is a big one (I learned the hard way doing a direct downwinder on land by launching in parallel! OUCH!!). Out on the mud flat, which is usually busy on any windy day, you'll get plenty of help if you ask on launching or any other subject.
A couple things learned --
On the wind:
- The wind generally blows after 1PM from the North West. Perfect. Slightly 'side-on' (shore), so if you launch from the upper launch and decide to ditch the kite or drop it in the water, you will likely end up on shore anyway somewhere near the beginner beach.
- It's much stronger out in the channel. Typically 8 knots or better.
- When coming in at the end toward the beginner beach (downwind from 'upper launch') there's a dead spot at the landing area (kite drops outta' the sky - be prepared).
On the water:
- Its good to learn about the tides. Its best to go out on ebb tide (when the water is flowing out of the bay, in the opposite direction of the wind). The tides are not as strong here as they are under the golden gate bridge, but they are strong enough to make a 15 knot wind feel marginal at peak flood (when the water is filling the bay) as a flood tide cuts the apparent wind speed significantly.
- Tide info is readily available in tide books (at west marine or any surf shop) or on numerous websites. I use www.iwindsurf.com for tide and real time wind conditions. I also wear a Nike Typhoon Surf Wristwatch that has tide conditions stored in ROM (for the next 50 years). With the nike watch its really easy to tell when its ebbing or flooding with a glance. Great product!!!
On the mud:
- 3rd Avenue is great for mud. Lots of mud. Soft, sticky mud. Dry mud. Mud. Its muddy. But its the silty type of mud that just sprays off easily (there is a hose hook up at the rigging area to hoe off at the end of the day).
- It's also shallow throughout the kiting are for approximately 50 yards from the beach. Perfect for learning - if the kite goes down, its pretty easy to body drag in to the point where you can just stand up and wade in (through the mud) with gear in hand. Very safe. No crashing waves, no ripping current, just a couple rocks to step lightly through. Great place to learn.