Friday, June 25, 2010

La Reunion

French Only!Photo Copyright Bill Bennett 2010

So after a 26 hour flight with a 6 hour lay over in Paris we landed on the green and very tropical island of La Reunion. There is quite a dramatic coast here with dense forested cliffs that go right down to the coast. It’s a lot like Mauritius where I spent a couple of weeks refitting Intrepid a little over a year ago after being knocked around in an Indianan ocean storm and having my forestay and boom snapped.

Me, Last Year in Mauritius - 95 miles from La Reunion

So we got thru the mostly deserted airport and found our way to the hotel which is a couple miles away from where the ship Abby's on, the Osiris, will pull in. We are all jet lagged pretty bad as it's 11 hours different over here. Yesterday is kind of a blur but we looked around for a place to grab some lunch and it turns out that all the places close around 2 over here. We found a water park that was still open and descovered that very few people speak English over here. It's mainly French over here so I just pointed to something half way down the menu and got some beef thingy. It worked out well. Jeff's choice turned out to be a ham sandwhich with melted cheese on the top.

I turned in early but at around 3am over here my Cali time kicked in and I went to chill on the beach for a while. I really love nights in the tropics. It's always real warm and the full moon was amazing. So today we went down to the harbor and found the place where the Osiris will be arriving then got a bit lost with our out dated map that seems to only have half the roads on it. We're all set to see Abby and can't wait.

The sun has just gone down here and I'm being eaten alive by these tropical bugs so I'm gonna go in search of some Deet.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Prom, Graduation & a Shipwrecked Sister

The last couple weeks since I got back from Cape Town have been some of the most action-packed in a long time. It started off pretty slow finishing up classes and hanging out with my friends. Our latest extreme sports faze has involved a lot of agility so we've been spending a bit of time on the spring floor and tramp getting our different roles and flips down. Shortly before I left, I asked out this amazing girl who is now my girlfriend. Her name is Becky and she is a senior at Westlake High. So she brought me to her prom and we had an awesome evening. It was really the first sign of my last year of high school coming to an end - not that my previous 3 years had been conventional at all but still like turning 18 this is a milestone in life.

The boyz - grad night

Beautiful Becky

After prom I was pretty busy trying to finish up 3 months worth of history and econ in a week but I pulled thru and before I knew it, it was grad time. It went very well even though it was the best part of 3 hrs long. There were only 26 seniors in my class but it was good. I gave a small speech and showed a video clip of my trip. My school awarded me a "Do Hard Things" Award that was pretty cool. When we went to leave the stage we got to exit in our one way and there were definitely some acrobatics involved (video coming). It was awesome to walk out of that room free from high school and so ready for another adventure.

Before the prom

During the graduation ceremony I noticed that my mom had been on the phone quite a bit. I figured it was my sister and afterwards my mom told me that Abby was experiencing 60 knots. Now that is a crazy amount of wind but I knew that Wild Eyes and Abby were prepared and could handle it. That night I went to a couple of grad parties but I kept thinking about Abby out there in the hell of the Southern Indian Ocean, what she must be going thru and thinking about one of my storms not too far from where she was about a year before.

I got home late and fell asleep. My dad came in my room around 6:00am and said that Abby's Epirbs had gone off and that he had lost contact with her. My heart dropped and my mind raced back thinking of the friends I've lost at sea and how cruel the ocean can be. I pulled it together knowing that Abby had all the right gear and emergency equipment. She even had my ditch bag - the bag you take with you right before you abandon ship.

The next couple of days were pretty sobering with no communication from Abby and no idea what was going on. It felt weird to be on the other side of the equation. Last time it was me out there and the parents aren't sure what had happened to me.

Now if you're reading this I'm sure you've heard the story of how Abby was rescued by a French fishing boat and has now been transferred to a French Navy ship headed for the little island of La Reunion. I'll be flying out with a few other people on Monday to go meet up with Abby and bring her home.

Wild Eyes and the Ile de la Reuinion

Thanks to all of the agencies involved in planning and organizing her safe rescue.