Today I started on the way to the South Pacific to take on an adventure of a job. What some might call the true last bastion of the “wild west” for helicopters, I was hired recently by Tropic Helicopters to fly on one of the Tuna Boats that was out fishing the region. They say that this is the adventure. They weren’t kidding. I’ve spent the last two weeks putting in my notice, packing out of my apartment, moving out of my office and packing and repacking my bags for the trip. One year, that’s the length of my contract – so I’m bringing a lot of gear with me. It’s probably too much, it almost always is, but I’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.
An adventure. It started before I had hardly left my home. My original plan was to fly from Spokane to Portland, and then from Portland to Los Angeles and on to Brisbane. From there the idea was to fly into Honiara in the Solomon Islands and go over to the company base, do some training on the MD 500 I was going to be flying and wait for my boat to show up.
That plan changed. As my plane landed in Portland, my first stop, the familiar buzz of my phone going off in my pocket exploded. Message after message came in – naturally I was curious. HR wanted to know where I was, was I with my luggage, what kind of time did I have in Portland and again in LA, where my bags checked all the way to Honiara or just Brisbane – and they needed to know now.
It would seem they needed me somewhere else. Instead of going to Honiara like originally planned, they wanted me to divert and go directly to Fiji, where I would meet my Korean fishing boat, and climb aboard. Her name, the ‘Caribe’.
Of course I had questions. What about my training, what about my schedule, how many pilots would be on this boat, what was the plan going forward. It would seem I was to meet a senior pilot in Fiji and he would train me – on the boat – during the sail from Fiji back to Honiara. Where he was done with his contract. Well, isn’t that fun.
I’m writing this passage from Portland International, waiting for an email with my new tickets and for my plane to board. Still bound for Brisbane, over-nighting in Fiji, then getting onto my Korean boat. No better way to learn how to land on a moving ship in pitching seas than to do it for real the first time right? The Adventure Begins.