So at the weekend I broke my own rule about never trying anything again that involves putting on a helmet after previous disasters: because as soon as I saw the Ripcord by iFly on board Quantum of the Seas I had an overwhelming – some might say foolish – urge to give it a go. ‘When else are you going to get the chance to try skydiving at sea?’ I reasoned with my inner ‘fraidy cat’ voice. (Bear in mind I’m someone who can’t even go on rollercoasters or ride in the back of a car without wanting to throw up.)
And I was feeling confident, I really was, right up until the moment when we had the safety video. And suddenly I started to feel a little nervous. There were instructions, and hand movements to remember; if you’ve ever been scuba diving (I can actually do this) you’ll know there are certain hand gestures you’re supposed to use when you’re underwater. But we had to remember which hand movements meant bend your knees and straighten your legs… while we were up in the air with velocity of 100-and-something mph. And we also had to remember to keep our chins up and our fingers spread out and not clench our fists or make wolf claws. OK, it wasn’t terribly complicated, but still.
I’m a firm believer, though, in feeling the fear and doing it anyway, as long as it isn’t *too* dangerous. Plus there’s safety in numbers, and with 10 of us ready for the challenge we put on our jump suits, and our goggles, and our ear plugs, and our helmets. Oh we looked funny. Top Gun it was not.
And then we went up the stairs to the wind tunnelly thing (technical term) and we all had to sit in a row and wait our turn. I was no 6, which is not my lucky number, and I was still feeling a little panicky – particularly when one guy got cramp and had to exit quickly, and the guy who went in before me turned completely upside down. Bless.
But a few seconds later it was time for me to step up, and suddenly I felt incredibly calm. The instructors were very cool (the fact they weren’t ugly definitely helped) and I stepped into the tunnel and one of them immediately put his hand round my waist to make sure I was level *cough*. Then he let go, and for a minute I felt as though I was falling, but I followed the instructions about bending my knees and straightening my legs and then the other instructor took me up into the air… and let go.
And then I was flying, really flying in the air, and it was the most awesome feeling in the world. I could see the ocean, and the people below, and the photographer taking the photos, like this one where my cheekbones look utterly ridiculous because of the velocity but I DON’T CARE, and I felt completely in control. And weightless. It was absolutely brilliant, a total adrenalin rush. You feel so free. No wonder birds get such a kick out of it. (By the way that is not my belly, honest, that’s the suit when it got all puffed up with the wind).
They brought me back down and I stepped out of the booth doing high fives with the instructors (did I mention they were very cute?) feeling totally overwhelmed (everyone claps each other, so that bit is actually like Top Gun) and also feeling as though I wanted to do it all over again. Afterwards, when you’ve really started to come back down to earth, you feel a huge sense of achievement at having spent a minute and a half skydiving at sea. And you also want a cocktail.
I guarantee Ripcord by iFly will be one of the most popular things on Quantum of the Seas, because skydiving at sea is unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced on a ship, ever. Unless of course you’ve already done an actual skydive, out of a plane, which is what I’m now thinking I’d like to do (for charity, obviously). I know, right? What does Patrick Swayze say in Point Break? ‘100 per cent pure adrenalin.’ I can totally see why it’s addictive, and I’ve asked Tara Lara to do a skydive with me. Perhaps you can help me persuade her 😉
This is my entry for The Gallery and the theme this week is ‘Spectacular,’ and trust me, skydiving at sea really really is. PS the wind tunnelly thing is actually called a wind tunnel.