I for one don’t like to impose on others…James is the same really. But Chris Haarhoff was insistent – if we made it to Maui then one of his best friends would meet us and take care of us. It’s nicer to stay in someone’s home than most hotels. Well, that is if you get on with your hosts. Jeff met us at the airport took us to his splendid home overlooking the north shore. Sandi and Jeff have an idyllic life. They live in Hawaii and in their spare time Jeff surfs and kite surfs and Sandi rides her horses. They are happy and interesting and we got on brilliantly with them…and they have been together for 35 years. I mean how great is that – 35 years. Thanks Jeff and Sandi.
As Matt said…Maui reminded him of South Africa a bit – the roads, the pace and way of life, the weather. It certainly does.
WEST BY NIGHT
Have you read that book by Beryl Markham? It is about my favourite book about flying…anyway, we flew west by night like she did. And for the first time James and I are starting to read books and magazines on the long legs. When it is dark it is not that easy because the torch light reflects off the canopy and makes you a bit night blind. And we are much more tired at night – usually because we have already had a busy and active day.
This night flight was a little different – this time we really wanted to dodge the storms. Seriously…they are scary to fly into. The moon took it’s time coming up so for the first few hours we strained our eyes looking ahead to try and see the big clouds. There weren’t any that really worried us – the little ones we just bashed right through and the big ones remained off to our left and right – at least in the beginning. At about midnight James put his seat back and went to sleep and that is when we started flying into these little rain clouds. Only one of them gave me a real fright because the rain was heavy and right in the middle of it the engine gave a little burp. I guess it drank a big gulp of water because the air intake is right in front. James didn’t even notice. After a while James sat up and I told him about the rain…so what we did then was put a blanket over all the instruments so that the cockpit was completely dark and at last we could see and dodge the suspect clouds in the moonlight.
In case you noticed – we sometimes change altitude to avoid clouds but mostly it is to try and find lesser headwinds or stronger tailwinds.
After the sun came up we found a good headwind which didn’t please us much and so we descended and descended but at 1,500 ft above the sea it isn’t that nice either – even with a tailwind. We run the tanks almost dry – one by one – and with both of us tired we know that if we forget to change tanks in time and the engine takes a while to restart…well, we can do without the stress so even a slight headwind is better. The higher the better but 2,500 ft seems like a good minimum.
THE REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS
Wow, this is an amazing place. With no tourists. An amazing beautiful, exotic, peaceful place with no tourists…you can visit but it is so remote and expensive to get here that there is no tourist trade. Except us. If I remember correctly there are 34 atolls in the Marshall Islands. On this Island there are about 30,000 inhabitants which is quite amazing considering there is no industry, no tourists and just a little bit of fishing. The US have a big military base on one of the atolls from which they conduct part of their star wars program…so there are close ties with the US and the Marshall Islands and that is where most of the money comes from to keep the economy alive.
There is a lot to tell about these places – from the beetle nuts the men chew, to the proliferation of churches, to the glut of cars, to the drinking water for the town which comes from the runway rainwater runoff…I love travelling – it always brings new discoveries and new adventures and you are never quite sure what tomorrow holds. I like uncertainty – it makes you feel alive and keeps you sharp. Mostly.
All being well we will have an 11 hour flight to Chuuk tomorrow. In daylight…yay! We have been warned by a few people to be careful of locals trying to steal from us in Chuuk. OK, we will do our best to keep our stuff safe. The weather looks good with some cloud, a few scattered CB’s and mostly a light tailwind. Today we checked the plane, bought food and water, filed a flight plan, the hotel will give us a lift to the airport at 6 am, arranged for immigration to meet us at 6.30am, had a 2 hour sleep, went for a swim at the very end of the island (check out the video) and had a good supper of grilled fish and a few beers at a local restaurant. We are rested and ready.
It’s midnight now and time to sleep … bye.