Practicing packing and exiting the aircraft
Our departure date is getting closer: February 1st is just about 2 months away. Alex and I are working through our to-do list with items to buy and matters to take care of such as travel insurance, address changes, suspending newspapers and automatic payments etc...
One of those matters was doing a real life test of packing the aircraft.
For our personal items, we used our scientific hand-drawn list, layering from warm weather to cooler moments, adding hiking and important sports gear (such as snorkeling masks and flippers for example).
Result: 35 kilos for both of us for 18 months. Distributed over 5 bags: one backpack (for stops up to 48 hours) and one carry on each, plus one shared duffel bag for things you don't use often such as warm weather/hiking clothes. We used the packing technique that my sister taught me: rolling everything to reduce volume and prevent creases.
Then, we have about 13 kg of safety equipment: life-vests, rafts, satellite phone, trackers, solar charger and about 12 kg of tools, spare parts and airplane accessories (tow bar, claws for securing on the ground etc...).
Below are a few items we bought when we were in Chicago: airplane organizer full of pockets, pilot shirts (recommended to be taken seriously at customs), 2 personal trackers, 1 satellite phone and 1 solar charger
and the tow bar. All this (and more) was smuggled into Argentina when we came back from our September trip.
We also had to weigh ourselves (160 kg together fully dressed and with hand luggage), bringing the total to about 235 kg. If we fill the fuel tanks, that adds an extra 250 kg which leaves us in a very good place because the maximum total is 530kg, so we can even buy some souvenirs during our journey!
Another important matter on the list was to practice exiting the plane with vest/raft etc... in case of an emergency water landing. We simulated pulling the parachute and went through the following steps:
1. sliding our chairs backwards
2. grabbing the raft and waterproof bag with survival essentials from the back seat, attaching it to our life vests and putting them on the floor between our legs. Note: life vest is already with the tracker with emergency button attached to it, and sunscreen, satellite phone, solar charger in pockets. Second note: another "round the worlder" gave is the advice to keep the survival bag light, else it would sink- good thinking !
3. opening the door on our side and blocking it with a cloth so it stays open
4. tightening seat belt and adopting emergency landing position (= sitting upright against the seat and holding one wrist with the other hand)
5. after "landing", opening seat belt, placing raft and bag on the seat while exiting via the wing - moving out if the other is exiting on the same side
6. on wing, inflating life vest, grabbing raft and bag from the seat and throwing bag into the water in order to have hands free to inflate raft (cord extends alone but remains attached to vest)
After that, the idea is of course to inflate the raft, jump in the water with it and climb inside. The rafts are individual so we will also need to worry about attaching them to stay together but that would be the last step I guess. And in case that fails, our trackers can communicate with each other...
In the Caribbean, we would look more or less like this before jumping:
When we cross the North Atlantic to Greenland, in addition to life vest and tracker, we will also be wearing the survival suits which are currently being custom made for us by the US firm Switlick, based on our measurements, carefully taken in centimeters converted into inches. So: no gaining weight until Greenland...
Needless to say that all this equipment is not cheap, so basically we are paying a fortune for equipment we hope never to use. Same principle as insurance....
We practiced several times, first we both exited through our own door, then both through the left door and then both through the right one. It was a lot of wriggling so it's a good thing we are still doing yoga! Based on that experience, we also designed a system to keep everything well attached without getting entangled.
Next item on the to-do list was finding an apartment for Carmen who is staying in Buenos Aires. Alex has taken care of that with her and she is planning on moving in January. She is quite anxious to live alone because she wants a cat, and since we already have 2 dogs I have vetoed the cat.
Still pending on the list however is the sale of our house. We have had one offer but it fell through and if we don't sell it by the end of the month, we will need to move to plan B: renting. In the mean time, we are very happy to still be here: it is spring, the garden is starting to bloom and the swimming pool thermometer indicates 24 degrees Celsius. Hardship.