WWWomen Hawaii Harmonic Convergence

Flying High

Five of us set out early one morning to experience the thrill of flight. Cindy, Anna-Marie, Sadie and I were certain we wished to give this a go, no matter what. Carmel wanted to watch us initially before committing herself, to see if she felt her knees could cope with the take off and landing. Lucy was to join us, as this was to be a first for her too. "It's a water activity" I thought "better take my costume" . "No need" I was informed by Sadie "I been told you'll not get wet". This turned out to be not entirely true. Time for shopping before meeting the para-sailing crew. We ambled around a few wee shops and I treated myself to an ice cream. I thought I'd be especially good to myself and I ordered a large cone. You would have I thought I'd learnt by now, that a large helping really means colossal. But no! As I struggled to finish this gargantuan ice, I hoped I would not regret it. I usually love to bounce around when out on the water, but after this I wasn't so sure.

Up, up and away ...

We clambered into the minibus for the very short transfer to the pier and were given a form to read, complete and sign. We had all of 30 seconds to read 2 sides of a very detailed A4 sheet of small print. As I signed on the appropriate space, I knew that the company was disclaiming all responsibility for anything that may happen to me, but I hadn't a clue what else this important document said! Oh, I did notice something about para-sailing being a dangerous activity!

As we speed out of the confines of the harbour in Honolulu to the wide open expanse of Mamala Bay, the boat bounced from wave to wave and the high rise concrete jungle of Honolulu was left far behind. The crew readied the equipment for the flights. A large colourful parachute was opened out on the deck at the stern of the boat and attached to a winch with a pretty substantial looking rope. "No chance of becoming untethered and taking off into space" I surmised. We watched the others take turns (in pairs) and noticed that, contrary to what I had been told, they did get wet. Not a lot - just bums and legs

When our turn came, Sadie and I were clad in lifejackets and then helped into the sit-harness - not an easy thing to pull on as the boat bounced around and the straps were rather stiff from too many salt water immersions. I was clipped onto the rope just behind the winch and Sadie behind me. We sat down and let the harness take our weight; when the rope was let out slowly, the chute filled with air and lifted us up, up and away. There was no sudden feeling of shooting upwards, just a gentle drift away from the boat as we crept upwards. The boat got smaller and smaller - it reminded me of the toy Matchbox models I used to step on lying on the boys' bedroom floor years ago - and the distant urban sprawl of Honolulu looked non-threatening from this distance.

High flying Sadie and I

What struck me was the silence; as soon as we got a few feet higher than the boat we couldn't hear the engine. I leant backwards and looked up at the chute - it was like a stained glass window with the sun streaming through the multi-coloured panels. The pull on the cable caused more of a feeling of movement during the descent; I felt like I was flying and started singing "Those magnificent women and their flying machines, The go up, diddly up, upů". Sadie joined in too, but I think that was to try to drown out my awful racket. As the crew lowered us for our 'wee dip' prior to landing, they either misjudged it completely, or were surprised by an extra large wave; either way we ended up getting very wet. I didn't mind at the time as the sea was warm even at this distance from the shore, but later in the day it was pretty uncomfortable walking around in salt-encrusted clothes. Carmel was certain she wanted to try when she saw the fun we all had. The crew reassured her she could get airborne without having to adopt the silly squatting position on the launch platform that we all had performed. After her flight she told us she had thoroughly enjoyed it, but she wanted to go again and she would keep her eyes open on the ascent next time. After the end of our week, Carmel went for a second go and took Mariane too