Jumping off the mountain Babadag in Turkey
Sunday 11th October
Late morning we made the move from Gemiler Island to Oludeniz, near the mountain Babadag. From Gemiler Island we had seen the many paragliders that jump of the mountain and David from Adventurous announced that he was going to do a tandem flight as it was on his bucket list.
After a short sail we decided to anchor stern to a cliff nearby the beach. The anchorage was not ideal, but there where not many options. There was a swell coming in and the mono hulls where rocking side to side quite a bit.
Earlier this morning Jaynee and David had gone out fishing at Gemiler island and caught nothing, but asked another fisher men how he was doing it. He gifted them 3 fish. Then Birgul and Freddie watched him and saw him pulling in heaps of fish, they decided to investigate and research and ask him too. Birgul and Luca went over in the dinghy with our hand lines and caught some fish too and the men gifted them some more. That meant we had enough fish to share for a pot luck dinner. We all made side dishes and shared the fish meeting on Lostura that evening.
We had been watching the paragliders from our anchorage and seeing the beauty of the gliders it was soon decided that Jaynee, David, Freddie, Birgul ang Tim and Luca would do a Tandem Flight too. While our budget is tight, Tim has been paradliding for nearly 30 years and this passion of his is way older than sailing. There is no way I wanted him to miss out on this and Luca had been talking about wanting to fly for ages, so it would be a nice bonding experience for the 2 of them. I am scared of heights, so there was no way I was doing it. Tim had been trying to talk me into it for years, being a tandem pilot himself in New Zealand, but there was no way I was going to do something as crazy as that and while Nina was interested as well, she wasn’t really passionate about it and agreed she might do it at a later stage in New Zealand with Tim.
Babadag is a world class paragliding site and sitting in the anchorage right in front of the mountain we would see paragliders all day coming down in big clusters. Babadag is nearly 2,000 meters high and right by the sea.
The next morning we all went to town together to explore the options for the Tandem flight and to get some groceries. We explored a few companies and decided to book with Deep Blue Paragliding. The daredevils booked in for that evening. We all went to a cafe afterwards for a drink and snack on a rooftop terrace and watched tandem flight after tandem flight landing right by the beach. There where lots of solo’s too, but its definitely a destination to do tandem flying.
In the afternoon the brave people got ready for their flights putting on closed shoes and taking sunnies and warm jackets. We went to the company, they filled in their forms, met their pilots and went off up the mountain in a minibus.
Nina and I took our crochet projects into town and settled in for an hour in a cafe, having a drink. The paragliding company told us to come back after an hour and they could point out the gliders when they come down. Tim had left me with a go pro to get some footage of them coming down.
So back to the office we went and it soon turned out that the conditions for the sunset flight where not great and after a while he said he didn’t think they would by flying today. After a bit more waiting we saw some gliders coming down and Nina and I watched in anticipation. It turned out that only Birgul and Jaynee made it down. They faces beaming and them laughing and saying how amazing it was. Nina ran back and forth between them giving them hugs and investigating. A bit later all the boys came back in the bus, the conditions where not right and they where booked for the first flight next morning.
Once Tim came down Nina announced that she really, really, really wanted to do it as well after seeing Jaynee and Birgul being so happy. My heart sank, I was so worried – she is only 10 and it felt weird with me being the only one not doing it. My whole family jumping off a 2,000 meter high mountain and I couldn’t share in the experience. Birgul and Jayne suggested I do it as well and the company owner Harkan jumped straight in and told me he would only charge me 1/2 price if I wasn’t completely thrilled when I come down. Tim standing in background with complete disbelief in his face when I agreed that I would do it as well. He tried to sell me the concept for years and here is a Turkish talented sales man who manages to convince me to jump of a high mountain in a few minutes. I did not sleep a minute that night. I had horror visions of Nina slipping out of her harness and me crashing into mountains, vomiting over the pilot or being too terrified to jump.
Well needless to say the morning arrived and we readied ourselves for the flight. The mountain and weather looked perfect and stunning, so there was a high possibility that is was going to happen. I smothered myself in calming oils and we all went to town in our dinghy. Everyone else excited and me scared. Jaynee had decided she would do it once more with David together. Once all the paperwork was ready we where directed to our minibuses and drove up to the highest point. There is a lower point and a higher point for take off. The girls on the day before went to the low point and today we would have the pleasure to jump off the highest point – oh dear!
Arriving on top of the mountain everything happened so fast there was no time pondering or re-contemplating anything. The pilots got ready super quickly, we where all matched to our pilots. I gave Nina and Luca a hug and Tim a kiss and soon we where all strapped in with helmets on. Luca went first. Seeing him fly off was so weird -my little boy, doing some thing like that, on the other side was Nina getting ready, smiling all over her face a bit further Tim, trying to handle all his cameras and here is me. My pilot told me “when I say walk, walk and when I say run, run” I said o.k. I had resigned myself to the fact that there was no going back now and leaning into the trust that these guys where doing this every day and Tim has been doing it for 30 years. Surely me and my little family would survive. My pilot said walk, he got the wing up in the air, he said run and I ran off a cliff – would you believe it.! A helper dragged us along and surprisingly I only had to run a few steps before we where gliding off the edge.
After a first yell and whoohooo and realisation that the seat was quite comfy and the wing held us firmly I relaxed way sooner into the experience than I had imagined. I thought I would be terrified all the way, but I actually enjoyed it. The views where simply breathtaking, with the coastline below how, the mountains around, a few puffy clouds and all the other gliders around us. The whistle of the wind in my ears was beautiful and the first words I could think of was that the experience was peaceful and majestic. My pilot took my helmet off – I guess they do that for the photos and that the passengers can feel the wind in their faces and hair. He asked me if I wanted to fly through a puffy, pretty white cloud in front of us. That was so amazing – I don’t even know how to describe that. We soared and soared and I finally got what Tim was talking about all those years.
It made realise once more how silly fear is most of the time. Its all in the head. Seriously the scariest things in my life, the ones I was terrified of, where the best experiences I have ever had. I felt grateful, for Nina being so brave and adventurous for wanting to do this, because if she hadn’t said she wanted to there is no way I would I have gone. I am so glad I have not passed my irrational fears on to our children and I am grateful for the many amazing experiences they are having so early on in their life’s. I am grateful for Tim being adventurous and experimental. I have a bit of adventure in me but usually I am venturing into adventure reluctantly rather than embracingly. I am way more happy to do yoga on the deck or crochet for hours or having a relaxing swim or meditation or read a book or write….My pilot and I had a safe, uneventful landing and first thing I saw was Luca with the biggest grin on his face, and then Nina landing with the biggest smile and then Tim coming down still in disbelief that his whole family had just joined him in this amazing experience. Our pilots and the company we did our flights with (Deep Blue Paragliding) where amazing. We all got the footage (photos and video from our flights) and they even wrote a certificate for all of us. To celebrate our amazing experience we went to the roof top cafe again for breakfast.
We all felt exhilarated and happy for quite a few days afterwards. We looked at the paragliders with different eyes from that day on. And while I first said that for me it was a once in a lifetime experience I think if there was somewhere else amazing to jump off I would do it again.