WP_20131111_005It is time for me to move on once more, and my first issue was getting to the airport. It was achieved by a speedboat ride before dawn to the ferry terminal in Tua Pajet, which is the capital of the Mentawai Islands.

The ferry had arrived shortly before we did and it was fascinating watching such a big boat have it’s cargo unloaded at the rate of two chickens at a time. Clearly the porters were in for a long day.

WP_20131111_006My connecting boat was in the water near the ferry as expected, but sadly without anybody on board who could take me the next hop to Rokot Airfield.

I waited around and eventually they turned up having decided to finally get out of bed.

WP_20131111_013We bumped another forty minutes across the water before arriving at the airfield whose runway is only 800 metres long. The terminal that you see here wasn’t huge either.

In it there was great amusement when everyone’s baggage and its owners were weighed on scales to make sure the plane wasn’t overloaded. The check in girl took great delight in telling everybody else that I weighed nearly twice as much as the next person taking the flight. 

WP_20131111_012I had been more than a tad nervous when told that I would be going on a twelve seater plane. Not because I was worried about flying, but because any plane that small was quite likely to have issues with an 8’0″ surfboard.

Despite asking then clerk to ensure it could be accommodated when booking the flight, the plane nor the pilots were expecting it.

WP_20131111_015It could certainly be accommodated on the plane but the pilots had arrived without the tools necessary to remove the seats because nobody had warned them to expect my red board, which unsurprisingly did not fit in the cargo hold.

One of the pilots called David, was British and actually used to visit his grandparents in my home town of Llandudno in North Wales every month when he was growing up.

It was a tad bizarre chatting about the Empire Hotel on the other side of the world as we tried to figure a way of getting the board onto the flight.

Various options were tried and discarded as we tried to find a solution holding up the flight for everybody else.

WP_20131111_016Ultimately the two pilots of Susi Air were willing to take off with this bodged solution in operation. You will note that we gaff taped the board to the inside of the plane, and then used my leashes to secure it to some of the seats.

It is well documented that I have not been very impressed with airlines on this trip but the guys, who will shortly be filmed about their work for a channel 4 documentary really did everything they could to help me avoid sleeping with my board on the floor of the ferry I had seen unloading earlier.

WP_20131111_028Once my board was ‘secure’ all the passengers boarded the plane with myself being strategically placed in the middle of the fuselage and under the wings. I might have to consider dieting once back in the UK if my current girth now affects the safe flight of aircraft!

It was short and uneventful flight only coloured by the lady next to me who was clearly unhappy every time a tight turn was made in the plane, repeatedly grabbing my knee in fear when it happened




Leave a Reply