16,500 foot and counting
14.05.2013 - 15.05.2013 13 °C
I woke up early today in excited trepidation. So I left Sarah sleeping and saw the sun rise with a work out. The morning was cold and the sky was grey, with a deep fog. It was 7am and in less than 2 hours we were due to be picked up for the long awaited skydive. The weather however was most disappointing... Until I noticed in the distance grey I could see a bird flying a long way off. It was grey and foggy, but the sky was clear. It was going to be a belter.
After breakfast and getting more excited by the minute, we headed to reception. Blue sky and the sun shining bright and low in the sky. Our pick up we at 9am and at 9.15am when they hadn't turned up the nice lady in reception gave them a call. A few crossed wires had meant no one had come to pick us up. After they had apologising profusely, we decided to head down there on our own steam, it was only 5minute drive away.
Having arrived, I was getting very nervous and the options of the dive were 11,000 ft, 13,000ft or16,500. Being how there wasn't much difference in price, but another 20sec free fall, and the necessity to use oxygen mask in the plane because we were so high, meant there was only one option. Sarah being scared of heights thought it would be too much for her and despite their best efforts she remained grounded. So to share the experience I went for the film and photo option, which meant I would get some photos and a DVD to share the dive with her and everyone else. This meant a personal camera man would dive with us taking lots of photos and filming.
We watched a briefing DVD and I must admit I was getting nervous now. Bravado had almost totally been ruined by a reserved sense of foreboding. That quiet nervous contemplation that precedes a storm. It was only me flying, my own personal skydive. Apparently I only paid when I arrived down safely... Which was had a minor additive effect to my nerves.
The small plane belted up and after filming my pre-dive appraisal, we jumped on board and headed up. The views were magnificent. I could see the mountains of Abel Tasman national park and as far south as the southern alps. As we climbed the Roth island came into view and an unbelievable number of top New Zealand landmarks, which I can't remember given that I was also trying to slow my breathing and relax.
We could see a dense and low fog below about 1km from the dive sight, but it covered only small amount of the views and it was the only 'cloud' in the sky. As the oxygen mask came on and I was getting clipped in, the last of my bravado was gone. As the door opened reality kicked in, it looked a long way down! I had to give myself a little man up pep talk. My stomach was tight and my breathing heavy, my senses were alive: the drum and humming of the plane engine, the sun shimmering on the horizon, the wind dancing around the cabin, the cold air tingling my face, my heart beating hard and fast and the adrenaline cursing through my body. We shimmied over to the edge and followed the camera man out (who held on the film me). We rocked back and forth and, I felt like I was on the edge of the world about to drop into the abyss. Then we dropped, and spun and there was a rush and all my fear, all my worries were blown away.
We were falling and falling fast, I yelled and hollered, whopping and totally free of fear. The views were phenomenal and the ground was miles below. We travelled at 120km per hour down, and the air created a blanket feeling over my body as I fell. The tandem mater tap my arms to signify I could uncross them and the fun really started. The cameraman swooped in from no-where and started to play, as well as admiring the views, we had a fake shoot out and blew raspberries at each other and did the wicked symbol with a closed fist, only the thumb and little finger sticking out. Actually I spent the whole dive pretty much in this position. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. After what felt like 20 seconds the shoot was pulled and all was silent and serene. I watched the camera man disappear rapidly below, he was landing before me to film my landing. We had in fact been falling for over 70 seconds and had fallen 12,500 feet in total. It was great, we chatted and admired the views, the tandem master told me it was a really long fall (apparently).
We could see the dive site below and sarah waving at me. we came in to land and I have to admit it was so smooth, a perfect landing apparently, none of it down to me I hasten to add. I felt amazing the rush, the adrenaline still bouncing around my system, my hands shaking, my breathing exasperating and myself, just thrilled to bits.
We went inside and once I had taken my kit off, we went into their tv room to watch the DVD with Sarah. It s a really cool, well put together DVD. Filming my dive and it was awesome being able to share it within Sarah who had been waiting patiently on the ground. True to form it was a lot longer than it seems, and my hands didn't move anywhere near as much as it felt like in the air. I was so glad to have filmed it. They even gave me a free T-shirt for forgetting to pick me up, which was totally awesome. As we left the fog had totally covered the air field, which would have meant we couldn't fly. I had missed it by about 10mins, so, so very lucky.
After that we drove north to the Abel Tasman park, where we can walk a track after being dropped off by water taxi. But on route I needed to stop for some caffeine and sugar. All the excitement had left me a little bit dumbfounded.
Unfortunately when we arrived we had missed the right boat, as to be picked up on time, we needed to get the 9am boat. So we booked in for the next day and then headed back to the campsite for the night. We spent the afternoon touring the town of Motueka and having a small pie for lunch. Final after drifting the afternoon, by perusing the boutique shops, picking up some lunch for tomorrow and enjoying the sunshine. We had a a cheap but recommended curry for dinner and then returned to the campsite, where we watch my skydive DVD again, and then finished the 3rd season of glee.