As part of my round the world solo attempt, I am about to leave for the Caribbean to look for Liberty Girl, my WWII Piper Cub, along the shore line of the Bahamas.
In February while en route from the Dominican Republic to the Turks and Caicos Islands, bound for Florida, she suffered total engine failure causing us to ditch some 80 miles South East of British Provenciales Island.
I had to quickly cut my way out of the cockpit, as I went below water level and soon began suffering from hypothermia. Being unable to turn the life raft up the right way in the freezing wind seriously had me worried. We floated together for over two hours before a US Coast Guard helicopter arrived overhead, having picked up the signal from my distress beacon, slung around my neck. Liberty Girl had been designed to float with an inflated dinghy attached to her but whether it remained inflated is the question...
The old girl had suffered a previous accident in Japan in 2005, having once again lost engine power to land in the middle of a city. Having managed South Wales to Sydney in 2001 and New Zealand to Darwin, Australia, in 2003 relatively unscathed, it looks like my luck has finally run out. With a total rebuild in Maine and Florida, I had her ready for both the Falklands Islands and later, subject to sponsorship, on to the North Pole. The crash left me the poorer, feeling my age and very bereaved.
But life must go on. I am out looking for another J3 cub to complete my quest and you never know, Liberty Girl may just rise up from out of the waves, one day, like a mermaid or a phoenix from damp ashes?