THUMP! Thumpity thump, crash, thump thump. The rock (or rocks?) continued to bound down the cliff I was hanging onto as the seconds rolled on, reminding me how far I had to fall should I lose footing with the other foot as well. Once I found a new foothold to replace that sizable sounding rock I’d knocked free I looked around for my wife – she was somewhere below.
Thumpa, thumpa, thumpa, thumpa.
The caller beat out a rhythm. “Dig, dig, dig, dig!”, he yelled out as he beat his cadence, exhorting us to get the dragon boat moving. The race was on.
The wind smacked me in the face at 90 mph (150 kph) when I stuck my nose out into the slipstream. For some reason I hadn’t expected it, only adding to the fear. Looking down, I saw the tiny little peg that passed for a step to get into and out of the plane, and 3,500 feet of open air between me and the ground. Two thoughts went through my head: the first towards the jumpmaster, “you want me to do what?”; and the second towards myself, “are you crazy?”.
The strength of the wind gust took me by surprise. It grabbed the mainsail and jib and shoved, pitching the boat 90 degrees on its side as if it were a toy, forcing me overboard into an unexpected swim in the cold waters of autumn. Hypothermia was a real threat, and there was no help in sight.
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