Thursday, September 29, 2011

Waiting for the sun...

By now I have realised that sometimes all you have to do is wait for the sun to go around the earth one more time. While we know that the literal meaning of the words are wrong from a scientific point of view, we certainly do not fail to get the point. And the point or intent is what this life is all about – you know, it’s the thought that counts kind of thing. Of course very few people realise that that is exactly the whole point of the New Covenant but let me not digress too much here.

So we have been patiently waiting for the sun to go around the earth a few times now – every day bringing hopes of finding those elusive whale sharks. Not that they are supposed to be elusive around these parts. At this stage we have had a very slow season with not just a lack of sharks but also a lack in their food stuff – plankton. The waters have been very clean with water visibility around the 15 meter mark in most places. To make matters worse, the weather has also played its part in the delayed start with strong winds and then rain which hampered our efforts to get flying. Of course on the days we have been able to get airborne the lack of sharks was a painful damper to our initial enthusiasm of just being able to get into the air.

Yesterday was our first day of proper success. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I took Darren up for the previous morning’s survey flight and his enthusiasm might have spilled over into the water – his enthusiasm and talkativeness had no bounds. Darren is a new intern that has just joined the project and along with him, or so it seems, the influx of some plankton rich waters. (He did say he is bringing the sharks with him!). Tuesday afternoon was a myriad of action even if the day started slow. Right of the bat I managed to find a whale shark as the boat was leaving the bay, however after just a few minutes the shark dived before the second group could get a chance of getting into the water with it. For almost one hour nothing happened. I searched a large area from Anse La mouche all the way to South point, being greeted only by crystal clear water all the way. Then I spotted some devil rays doing loops. This was a good sign since this is a known method of feeding for these rays – there must be some plankton in the region! I got the boat into the area and for a while the snorkelers chased these elusive rays all over the show, every one managing to get a good look at the looping and feeding activity. At about the time when we thought it was the end of the day a whale shark surfaced. This meant that the second group got a got look before this one too dived but by this stage, we knew our luck had changed. Two more sharks surfaced and both groups got into the water before I left for the airport and apparently the sharks would not go away.

It sure does seem that sometimes you just have to wait for the sun to go around the earth one more time.

Wish you were here!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cake and coffee... 26 September 2011

The Cake and coffee flight..!

It has been a few days since I have blogged anything. Allow me to use the common flu as my excuse – if there is such a thing. Thank goodness it is over though (Touch wood!) I still have some leftovers (yes, I know, it’s a bad simile) but the result is that I am holding back on giving things too much effort, you know, like life, which is a grand philosophy actually – giving things your all. I am sure you will agree with me when I say that we have all been conditioned to give it our all during certain events, like sports, or exams or things competitive but this attitude seems to be less stressed upon when it comes to the rest of our lives. Thinking about that logically, it makes no sense. Isn’t the idea of living to make the most of life? Surely then for you to become the best you possibly can be, you have to give it your best in all aspects of your life. Right?

Of course the problem with this philosophy is that it is based upon a choice. That is, you have to decide if you want to be the best you can possibly be. Most people don’t because they have not thought it through properly. Of course once you have it is easy to realise that is exactly what God wants for you. Now before you all go and think my illness have made me lost the plot let me explain why this is on my mind.

I was sick. I felt miserable and irritable. Even lying down did not provide any comfort. Then there was a knock at my door. A friend had stopped by to say hello and I, being in the mood I was did not show the most hospitable side I had. Afterwards I knew I could have done better. A lot better and this has prompted me to make a more conscious effort to improve my behaviour even when feeling ill.

I have just been interrupted by a beggar – or so I thought at first. I am sitting at the airport cafeteria sipping coffee – yes, it is sweltering hot but it is a cool habit for writing – when this teenage girl leaned over from the opposite table and asked, “Excuse me but I am hungry. Buy me cake.”

I had a myriad thoughts run through my mind; why someone could disturb me while it was so obvious that I was deeply engrossed in my laptop; why cake?; wow, a beggar in Seychelles?; God is testing me; don’t be rude now, be nice; this could be a great opportunity for Jesus; talk to the girl, be nice. It quickly transpired that she did not quite understand me. She seemed particularly confused at why I did not want to buy her cake, which of course was not true. I was merely intrigued and trying to find out more about her before relenting to the cake part, something I was particularly interested in – why cake and not a healthy sandwich instead. She looked like she needed to be in school so I called one of the waitresses over to translate for me.

“She would just like some cake.” The waitress said.
“I know that part” I smiled more earnestly, “but I would like to know, how old she is, why she is not in school, where are her parents and so on?”
“Sir” the waitress replied before she lifted a finger and pointing it to her head continued, “She is not quite right upstairs…”
The penny dropped. I remembered too what I was writing about when she interrupted.
“Its fine. I will pay for her cake – she can go choose any cake she wants.”
The waitress had a quick word with the girl at which she responded with a smile before quickly adding, “coffee too!”
“She can have cake and a coffee too.” I nodded while my eyes met the girls’. I remembered her glances at my coffee earlier on, that there was something off about them. I could not place them at the time but it was as if they were from someone about to die from malnutrition. It disturbed me. Now they were sparkling with joy.

The girl jumped up and walked off to the counter.
“She is 25 years old sir…” said the waitress next to me before she too made her way back to the counter.

Later that afternoon, for some reason the flying was particularly sweet.

Wish you were her!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

20 September 2011 - Dirk experiences paradise.

This is Dirk on his first day of perfection. He is flying with Sam, one of the MCSS interns.

Dirk has just arrived back from his days work – all smiles, all hyped up. He is super stoked. This is typical of those that have experienced the tropics on one of those perfect days. No wind. Perfect visibility. He has seen things he has never seen. Come to think of it, he has seen things few men have ever seen. Manta rays, whale sharks, normal sharks, turtles, schools of fish, dolphins – you name it. He can’t stop talking.
Wish you were here! (wish I was better too!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

18 September 2011 The bug strikes

This is our old hanger roof. This is kind of how I feel...

My quarantine precautions had no effect. I have been struck by the bug. Thankfully Dirk has had three days of rest on the trot and he feels strong and ready to go. I am very grateful for that. Today was a bit of a struggle for me and after this morning’s flight, at lunch time I was just about out. Parked in the hanger I lay on the front seat and fell asleep for an hour and a half before I woke. And I only woke because some dude started a grinder right next to the car – literally! (They were doing some work on a rusted container inside the hanger). For once I could say lady luck was on my side, the wind had picked up and the gusts were reaching up to 32k. It had become just too strong to fly safely. It sure helped me and thankful for the break I headed home by 3. I have been dosing myself with vitamins so hopefully it will all be over in a day or two.
Oh, what am I doing? Did I mention that I took a lovely young lady flying with me? Mandy is a beautiful, blond blue eyed surf instructor and from Cape Town too. Last night she called to say that her boyfriend advised her not to go because he knows these things are extremely dangerous. She wanted to know if it is true. Of course it is, I said, which I could hear came to her as a surprise. You decide what you want to do and let me know. Afterwards Mandy reckoned it was probably the coolest thing she has ever done.
The sea is still devoid of life – we saw no sharks. There is a distinct lack in plankton and the water is quite clean for this time of year. We are all hoping for a plankton brew that is just around the corner.
Wish you were here!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

17 September 2011

Tonight I am tired, so I am afraid I wont be doing much of a blog. It was a hard day of flying. We did not get any sharks even though we sent the boat out while I scoured the ocean for those little brown tadpoles for hours. Still the persistent strong winds and turbulence. The highlight of the day was flying with Julia, one of our pretty interns. Julia is from Cape Town South Africa and I so love the accent. Its like home baked pie. :) Of course she loved the flying.

Wish you were here!


Friday, September 16, 2011

16 September 2011 - six love

Rain approaching from the south at south point of the island.
Leah and I in my latest on sunscreen fashion.

Dirk is sick. It seems like he has picked up some flu virus. At first we thought it was just a little cold but it has turned into the typical sore body, feeling battered and blue thing. I have turned our flat into a quarantined zone – trying not to catch what-ever he has. Last night I heard him wheeze and cough and ordered him off. He is at home resting. Yesterday afternoon he found a whale shark in the south and that has made us all hopeful for today.

Leah, one of our interns, had her turn at being co-pilot for our morning survey flight. The wind was a lot less than yesterday which was a great relief to me. (I am becoming tired of having to fight this seemingly everlasting relentless spiteful wind.) Looking at the moderated windsock action my mind drifted to our earlier visit to the met office.

Francois is one of the weather office old-timers. We met some ten years ago and while his forecasts have not always been consistent one thing has, his smile – I have never walked into the office without Francois face beaming a smile and more often than not, echoing an infectious laughter along with it. It is always a pleasure to see Francois.

This year there are two new forecasters, two guys from the African continent and while I am not sure which country exactly, suffice to say it has to be from deepest darkest Africa. (What interesting characters!). John is tall and grey, while Said is short, bald with a set of thick spectacles – the bottle thick variety – and a smile with equally large off-white halitosed teeth. (Yes, I know there is no such word but I am sure you get the idea!) This discovery I made one morning when Francois laughter, being the kind it is, induced Said into a gut shaking joyful boisterous fit which sent me reeling for cover. I had no choice but to leave the office in jest – the white lie I was forced to use I have no doubt, washed to pure white even before it left my mouth.

As they say, it is the thought that counts.

But this morning as we walked into the met office and to our amusement, Francois and Said could not stop laughing. (Of course by now I was keeping a safe distance). “What is so funny Francois?” I asked while in politeness we joined in. “Well,” he said, “Do you want to hear the good news first?”
“There is no good news!” He answered while breaking into another fit of laughter.
“That’s not so funny Francois” I said in mocking seriousness. “You mean to tell me the only time I can expect good news is the day I find you crying?” At this Said’s shaking gut made me take a protective step back. It was probably the lightest moment of the day to be honest.
“The winds will be strong but the rain should clear up for the afternoon” he said and it was these words that I reflected upon while watching the moderated windsock at the end of the runway.

Met office zero, Mother Nature one.

Leah and I ended up having a great flight. We had to dodge and weave our way through some rain clouds, but the air was smooth and calm and she loved it. Even though we did not see any whale sharks, the crew decides to send out the boat in the hope of a bit of luck. However and I am sure just to prove a point, in the afternoon it rained and rained.

Met office zero, Mother Nature two. And that’s been the story of the season so far actually.

Still… Wish you were here!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

15 September 2011 - Cocos again

It is not the just the weather that has changed. One of the first things I noticed upon my arrival this year is the cool and familiar immigration stamp. Yes, the sexy (I know I am shooting myself I the foot here) unique Seychelles Coco-de mer stamp is back. It seems that the people have spoken or at least that someone listened and acted. It is a huge feather in the cap for the Seychellois and the country as a whole. (Read the story I did September 21 in 2010 titles More coco nuts…) It sure looks pretty in my passport.
While on the subject of coco-nuts, Dirk and I have been cautious when parking near the beach – always looking up to see if we are not underneath a ripe, ready to fall coconut. We have been joking about the fact that more people die from falling coconuts than shark attacks. If we are so vigilant at looking out for sharks while surfing and swimming why not look up while on the beach too?
Case in point, it sure pays to be observant, which was exactly what I told myself, in chastisement actually, when my eyes met the wind sock – it was straight as an arrow, way past my safety cut-off point. Unlike other times when looking at the windsock from within the safety of the car this time round we were in the airplane, strapped in and ready to fly. I was blaming Dirk of course, but only partly. Ultimately I am the pilot and have to take responsibility for being here. (This morning I asked Dirk to do the windsock check while I prepared the plane. He reported that it was fine which I just accepted. Of course afterwards he mentioned something about looking at the windsock during a lull…) But we were out there and kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. The wind was buffeting the little plane while I struggled to keep control. A small hill upwind was the cause of these gusts and for now I thought it best to get out onto the runway and into the cleaner air. The plane was threatening to roll over from the strong crosswind, leaning precariously to one side. If a strong gust came through it would be all over so my eyes scoured the tilted swaying grass for those approaching unseen gusts. This was an old trick for strong wind flying. By watching the upwind grass you could see the swirling eddies approach and prepare so as not to get caught off-guard.
Behind me, on the back seat was Mark, one of the interns with the MCSS. Mark is a great guy. Not just because he surfs, or that he is an old-hand at air-traffic controlling and knows his way around airport procedures, nor the fact that he is the only male living with four beautiful ladies (they are part of the MCSS intern crew). Despite these experiences Mark comes across extremely modest. Dirk and I like Mark.
Mark made it clear to me too that it would be nice to see what it’s like on the other end of the radio. He could not wait to fly in our little orange plane but this was going to be a bit of a fire baptism. Needless, before he could say much we leapt into the air. While climbing I was being kept busy by the frisky air. It was surprisingly bumpy even for the windward side of the island, a side that is usually calm and smooth given that the air has just passed over thousands of miles of open ocean with not a piece of land or rock to disrupt the airflow.
We rock and rolled our way to 1500ft.
“How are you doing Mark?”
“I’m fine thanks!”
Ah… Sometimes you just have to love the fact that ignorance is bliss.

Wish you were here!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

14 September 2011 We are flying

Reef Rash! I thought before I get to the really nice pics, let me get the ugly ones out of the way. ;) This is me after having paid my dues - I got bounced off the reef on my first surf this season. It was a combination of being rusty and then going out onto a really fast wave breaking on a shallow reef. It is all healed so we are good to go again. ;)

Now, the best news is, were flying! Well, I assume you would realise that since I did not do any blog yesterday. But first, let me tell you about today.

I was wondering what to write about. Of course it is a tropical island and you would think, what is there not write about but finding that something special to share with you is not always that easy. I ordered a cup of coffee and sat down at the airport cafeteria while these thoughts were milling around my head when I spotted a beautiful lady. Of course I kept an eye on her, just enjoying Gods creation in all sincerity. She had long straight black hair, matching thick rimmed spectacles giving her an educated look, white blouse that revealed just enough, tight fitting jeans with black medium healed laced sandals – those that seem to wrap around your feet and then wind their way up around open ankles to a spot somewhere in your imagination as they disappeared under the boot leg denim. Then her boyfriend joined her – not that it changed anything. I was still admiring her, thinking that some woman, are really just born classy. She had a long French loaf in her hand and while the two of them ordered coffee she broke a quartered size piece off the bread and before I could blink stuffed the whole chunk into her lovely little mouth. She couldn’t even close it but she chewed, white French loaf parts sticking out from both corners. I chuckled of course, knowing that not even I could or would do that. In my culture it is considered rude and would that not just be common-sense? What kind of lady would do that? I stopped wondering pretty quickly.

Yesterday afternoon I sent Dirk on his first solo flight around the island. I spent enough time with him so that he could get used to lay of the island, names of important places and the general procedure of flying with the local air-traffic controllers – which is a wonderful story of its own, one which had me in stitches a few times to say the least. But while helping Dirk prep for his solo flight, which at that stage he had no idea he was doing – one always keeps these solo jaunts a secret until the very last moment when just before start up you quickly slip off the back seat, smile and say, “enjoy your flight”! At that point there is no turning back and very little time left for the newbie to fret or worry about the idea of flying alone and they just do it. Of course Dirk was no beginner but like I said his radio work with the local controllers were something else and he liked the back-up company in the rear seat. Needles, as I slipped of the back seat with my customary solo smile – which had the same effect on Dirk, I looked forward to an hour or two of relaxing while Dirk started to earn his keep. Well, by the time he landed I came to the startling realisation that it was much more relaxing for me to fly with him than me being on the ground and worrying if he is doing ok!

Responsibility is quite something. And it seems to be getting more the older I get. Obviously it has a direct bearing on my work – as a hang gliding and micro-lighting instructor but I could not help think that perhaps my awareness of this sort of thing had grown a bit more ever since I had taken over as youth leader in our church. I definitely could not recall being so concerned with anyone flying solo since I can remember.

This morning I took Susie up for the survey flight with me. Dirk was with us but I wanted him to do more solo stuff, until he is more settled. Susie and I did not see any sharks but because of the many days lost due to bad weather we are sending out the boat in any event. David is rolling the dice so to speak – playing the odds of us finding a shark out there given that we spend sufficient time in the air. I certainly hope it works. The interesting thing is that I sent Dirk up there on his own again – he is learning and this makes it easier for me. In another few days we should be settling into a routine of one day on and one day off and that is my idea of island style work. I can’t wait.

Wish you were here!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

12 September 2011

I like spending time with Dirk. Dirk is Afrikaans like me. We were sitting in the airport cafeteria and talking Afrikaans as if we were at home. I guess I like spending time with Dirk because it is like having part of home right here, in a much more cosmopolitan Seychelles. All kinds of languages are being spoken here; the expected French, German, Spanish but also Russian, Check, Ukrainian, Chinese, Arabian, Turkish (and Afrikaans!) In the last two years or so, Seychelles has really become a cosmopolitan society. I like it of course. Like so many others I too find pleasure in watching people and lately the socioeconomic environment of Seychelles has been a smouldering cauldron of change – it has brought on an influx of tourists from many different places which was a feast for the eyes and imagination. Probably the best change has been the opening of the market – it has gone from a closed system to one that is open to market forces, even the local currency has been floated and now boasts international value.
Dirk and I can talk about these things, in Afrikaans. After so many years that I have spent out here on these islands, being able to chat in Afrikaans has added new flavour to my time here; for most the liberty to communicate in your home language is lost and completely unappreciative.This morning we woke to the wind whistling around the roof of the flat. Nothing unusual but we could feel there was just a bit more urgency in the gusts. Yet, “Ek voel ons gaan vandag vlieg!” Dirk’s words were full of enthusiasm while my thoughts were more reserved.

The drive into Victoria and on to the airport was just enough for Dirk’s enthusiasm to loosen my doubts and with an extra bounce in our step we swung open the doors of the Met office. When Francois and Sa-id, the two forecasters, saw us they stared laughing. I took one look at the Anomemeter and groaned loudly which made the forecasters laugh even more. “Wat is dit?” Dirk asked and I pointed to the faint but clear blue recording line – it wasn’t just over 30knots but reached far beyond. 42knots. For the most part the recording paper was coloured in on the wrong side of 30. “Francois” I said. “It is time you guys turn off that wind switch. Enough is enough!” We all laughed.
For a while we joked around a bit about the nature of weather forecasts around Seychelles. Usually in tropical areas the steady trade winds make for easy forecasts – sunny weather and south east winds for tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after and the next, and the next etc. Somehow it was not working here. Today it was supposed to be less windy with chances of more rain while we got exactly the opposite. “I know what we can do!” I said while everyone waited for the words of wisdom to follow. “We can go and drink coffee!”
Wish you were here!:)

Surf pics

Here are two more pics of our surfing excapades. Glen coming out with the larger set waves looming in the back ground. The other is me on one of the smaller sweet ones and then Dirk, our enterpret inwater surf photographer!

Life after flying

Glen and I looking at the surf of a potential new spot.

11 September 2011

We have been bombarded with 9-11 news. It is everywhere. Of course one cannot help but think about these things and Dirk and I have been chatting about how the media can create a skewed representation of reality. Since 9-11 so many more Iraqis and Iranians have died as a result of the US invasions – we hear very little of these though. Of course it is tragic either way.

The relentless trade winds are still plaguing us. And it does not help complaining either – these winds are quite normal for this time of the year. Naturally we are asking for a bit of luck, just a slackening of 2 or 3 knots is all we need – it will make all the difference. Instead of 27knot gusts, which we can contend with, we are getting 30knots. Small difference it seems but it matters. We have missed three days now due to the strong winds and everyone is getting a little bit frustrated.

The upside of the winds is that it has kicked up a nice swell – as far as Seychelles standards are concerned. There has been some good 6ft sets coming through and it has awakened the long dormant surfer in me. I have not surfed for probably a year and after a few sessions in small waves of Carana beach my tender ribs (the part you use to lie on the board!) was starting to hurt less. Unfortunately I cannot say that for the rest of my body! The strong wind day made me think of a proper rest however, when a pretty girl asks you to take her surfing what can you do?
It did not take much for Georgia to twist my arm after Dirk and I arrived home in the early afternoon. (We spent the whole morning at the airport waiting for the winds to die down but after the gusts had gone to 37knots I knew it was pretty futile.) Dirk joined us (even if he does not surf). He has a new water-housing for his camera and has been taking some pics of us playing in the small surf but he was keen to try his hand at the bigger stuff.

After driving around for almost 2 hours, looking at spot after spot, I finally convinced the remainder of our party of a wave I know to be near Port Lunette. It is on the west coast and far to the north. There was a gap in the reef and I knew at high tide with the large swell running we should get some waves there. It was pretty intimidating though. The rip current running through the reef pass was strong and I advised Dirk that perhaps it was best to stay on the beach and take some pics from there. It did not take much convincing though – the fast running white water lumps bouncing through the rip made even Glen and I take note! After some heart stopping moments through the rip (could we ever get back out with this I wondered!?) to great relief we found our beach interpretation of the wave to be accurate. Soon we were sitting in the calm current eddy and surprised by the lack of current we managed to get a few of the medium sized waves. The big ones where breaking just too hard and fast onto the shallow reef – the large coral heads looming just under the water surface made my heart race as I sped past them and it made think that discretion is the better part of valour as far as the bigger sets where concerned! Still, Glen and I had a few making the whole trip worth it. Of course as I write this my neck is pretty tender and sore. Perhaps I need to slow down a bit...


Wish you where here!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

10 September 2011 - Gusts!

This is Dirk and I at 7000ft over Beau Vallon bay.

10 September 2011

There was a big grunt coming from the front seat. From behind I could see Dirk straining while the left wing kept dropping. It was clear that he was losing the battle so I did what any other pilot would do – lend a hand. Grabbing the training bars I heaved into the wing and with both of us hanging on we got the dropped wing back to level while Dirk muttered a ‘dankie…’ over the intercom.

We were taxing back after our survey flight around the island of Mahe. Now seemingly safely on the ground we had to contend with the ground gusts. In many ways it was worse than being in the air. Up there you can kind of role with the punches but down here you are a sitting duck. Being stuck on the ground one could not move and absorb the winds energy as easily. Whatever gusts Mother Nature throws at you, you just have to grunt and bear it. Keeping the large wing at the right angle was absolutely crucial – just a few degrees off and we could blow over. Don’t get me wrong. Within a certain range you have a fighting chance but once past that, it’s all over and over she goes. And it happens quickly. I know.

The wind was strong – gusts almost touching 30knots. It is a range that allows the pilot to decide if he is willing to risk it and fly. Once the wind gusts 30knots or more the decision is made for you. It becomes black and white and with that a peace of mind. It is stressful to stand there and watch the windsock dancing – then too strong, then not. Over and over again. The decision is made to fly but by then your stomach is pretty knotted and it makes it worse than what it is. It is all part of the job and of course with experience it become easier to separate oneself from the life or death emotions that cling to these kinds of decisions.

There are old pilots and bolds pilots but no old bold pilots.

At Beau Vallon bay, the lee-side of a tall as Table Mountain mountain, we climb to 7000ft to clear the rotor turbulence. Usually 5-6000ft is enough but with these winds we decide to play it safe – that extra thousand foot sure sooths the soul!

Sometimes it can be just as bad up high with some shear turbulence from the usual upper westerlies. But today it’s beautiful and peaceful up here. For a while we forget about the wind and stress and we both enjoy the stillness of our beings in silent reminder of why we do this.

Wish you were here!

Friday, September 9, 2011

9 September 2011 Its windy...

We have not been able to fly for two days now. Either the winds have been too strong or it has been raining. Yesterday it was gusting to 37 knots with occasional showers – def not flying weather. Of course, this morning dawned nice and blue with fluffy white cumulous adorning the sky which gets everyone’s spirit up. On the way to the airport Dirk and I perused the weather signs – swaying trees, the swirling leaves, ripples on little water bodies, birds, laundry, you name it; the trained eye does not miss a thing. It was still very windy. Stopping at the met office on the way the anomemeter confirmed our suspicions. Already 3 gusts of 30knots…

The last check was the windsock at the hanger. Surprisingly it indicated that it was doable but only just. With Dirk and his fresh strong arms to help hold the wing I thought we can manage! Once in the air it proved even stronger – it was blowing 30mph so we did not go anywhere in a hurry! The main problem was the churned up sea – one could not see a thing in the wild ocean and water visibility was around 1-3meteres for most places. We searched the southern seas of the island and after we had given up, on our way back to the airport we suddenly spotted one. A lone whale shark probably keeping its mouth closed from all the sediment in the water! Of course this makes for a tough call for a whale shark encounter trip. We have the clients but without the plane to spot the sharks or any sharks around, it is just not worth it.

Given the conditions we could fly but only on the wind ward side of the island. The boats could only do the leeward and protected sides which do not make for a workable combination. Word just in is that David has just cancelled the boats but we both feel very disappointed. All we need is a bit of luck weather wise and it will make all the difference. At least it is still early in the season.

Dirk and I are having a quick lunch at the airport cafeteria. We will do a normal survey flight around the island for the afternoon. We need to know if the sharks are here and where. That would help in making decisions. Of course our landing earlier on was as exciting as these things get. Dirk had to hang onto the wing and to be honest if I did not lend a hand at one stage we would have been upside down! ;)

Wish you were here!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

6 Sep 2011

Dirk and I have been flying everyday - long hours and a very steep learning curve for him. The greatest challenge for him is becoming comfortable with the slight Creole/french accents of the air traffic controllers in Seychelles. It is actually quite comical. On most of their calls I see Dirk throwing his hands up in the air before I hear the comment, "Ek kan glad nie hoor wat se hy nie!" which basically means what on earth is he saying!? But it works the other way too. Dirk's answers make me smile while the ATC guys come back with short abrupt responses of, "You are unreadable, please say again!" :)))

We found 4 whale sharks this afternoon while the weather around us was starting to look pretty ominous. We cancelled a boat load of people in the morning for fear of the predicted rain but it transpired into a great afternoon, even if it was just the luck of the draw that we had a nice big gap in the weather to make a flight. The few people that where able to get onto the boat were very happy indeed! We left them with one shark after they had been swimming with it for 15min already (Later they said, they got tired and left the shark! :)

Just before we got to the office to down load the days data, Dirk and I stopped at one of the beaches, enjoyed a Saybrew while watching the sunset. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?

Wish you where here!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

4 Sep 2011

Just a quick update to say our new pilot Dirk has arrived early this morning. I kind of threw him into the deep end - he had just done a midnight flight from South Africa and still bleary eyed, before he really knew what was going on I had him in the back seat of our little orange plane while we did a survey of the South West coast of the island. The irony was that Dirk managed to spot our only whale shark for the flight, bleary eyed and all! :) He was quite happy to say the least.

The afternoon we spend fitting a new sail to our aircraft - the old one had done its time and a replacement was in order. It actually is a lot of work! We are really tired, heading off for a pizza at our local beach sand pizzeria and I am sure the sleep tonight is going to be really good.

Wish you were here!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

First encounters

31 Aug. 11

Today we had our first afternoon encounter flight. Truth is we did not plan it. We got no sharks on the north in the morning flight so we decided to just do some dummy runs to get the new intersn some practice. Lo and behold we end up getting 4 different sharks. They were stoked to say the least. I had a long flight back in some moderate turbulence all along the west coast – managed to climb to 3500ft flying in a cloud corridor to try and avoid the worst of the turbulence. Was pretty cool. Just at sunset we get a nice shower. After the data down loads and log book work I enjoyed a Seybrew on my balcony. Yep. Pretty cool!

Wish you were here!