10 Ways to Get the Most Out of BASE
Tips from Matt Laj on enjoying your BASE journey...
Skydiving above a small, private Belizean island, jumping into the Blue Hole and way more!
Last week I prepared my trip with Tsunami Skydivers to Belize. This time I had to pack two rigs, diving gear and several Go-Pros :-) as this will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. First Amsterdam-Atlanta, and the next day to Belize city. Here another plane was waiting to fly us into San Pedro, to be our basecamp for the upcoming week and a half.
a once-in-a-lifetime trip
Rich Grimm (the owner and great organiser of Tsunami Skydivers) welcomed us with a dinner and party on a gorgeous beach, where he explained us the important safety guidelines jumping at very exotic, exclusive locations. This time he had prepared two extraordinary drop zones for us. First we jumped four days on the small island called Caye Chapel and afterwards the Blue Hole (in the middle of the ocean) was waiting for us.
A 45-minute boat ride with all our gear to/from our private island was a beautiful start and finish of a skydiving day – almost always. Twice it rained so much that we were soaked and once we were so late that the sky was filled with magical stars. Manifest, toilets, lunch, water, packers, plane, load organisers, chairs and much more were shipped to the island. What a great and VERY tropical set-up for a skydiving event!
Due to the Super caravan from Skydance Skydiving, the plane Rich normally flies in from the US, more than 80 skydivers easily made several jumps a day. The view from above the island (with an old golf resort), full of palm trees was even more amazing. The crystal-clear purple and blue ocean around, made this location really “picture perfect”. Due to the strong winds (turbulence from the palm trees) and perpendicular on the island we decided to use a slightly bigger DZ. I made several nice skydives with Regan (Tetlow). With the ever-smiling, legendary cameramen Bruno Brokken and Tom Sanders flying around, we will all be sure to receive incredible footage and photos. At Caye Chapel I had the thought that, even though I feel very privileged to have skydived at many tropical boogies, this was the most beautiful location I had enjoyed. How little did I know!…
Time for some home rigging to switch my main into my old rig, a mandatory briefing and we were ready for the next exciting day. Wake-up call at 4.45AM, a quick shower and a 15 minute walk to the other hotel to put our bags on boat. The boat left at 6AM to the Blue Hole to pick us up after our jump. As the Blue Hole is 70 kilometres offshore this boat ride takes about 3 hours. Rich organised two loads a day to make sure we all, including several tandems, were able to jump our bucket list event of a lifetime! At 7AM another briefing to be informed about the latest details. Clouds came in and we all were excited about what we will see and at what altitude we will be dropped. 9AM: several golf cars brought us to the small airport of San Jose. We saw the cloud base moving up and Rich told us that his men on the boat at the Blue Hole (he had satellite telephone contact) had seen the first blue holes in the skies. Final dirt dive of our 8way, no-suit skydive and off we went…
Rich decided to spot each load and Bruno (with his hotel shower cap to protect his expensive camera, ha-ha), would film our skydive. Also Tom was taking pictures from the inside of the plane. During our flight over the ocean we noticed that the skies were clearing up and after a 30-minute flight we saw THE blue hole from 10,000ft! Everybody was screaming from excitement and in two large circles above the middle of the ocean we reached 14,000 feet ready to skydive!
Our yellow boogie shirts in free fall far above a blue-purple-turquoise ocean with a deep, dark blue hole made it even more special. We made a nice star and smiled all the way down.
We opened above 3000ft, so we all had another spectacular parachute ride down. Landing in a ocean is really easy and your reserve is a perfect floating device. I landed with a BIG smile next to the boat.
your reserve is a perfect floating device
The energy and excitement of us all was overwhelming. Getting us all into the boat took some time. The second load of the day came in shortly too. I will never forget the sight of those colorful canopies in and above a beautiful blue and crystal clear ocean. I'll never forget my own freefall and landing over the Blue Hole – just incredible energy. You can see it for yourself on Bruno's video:
Blue Hole jump by Bruno Brokken – note at 1500 feet, the hi-tech waterproof – shower cap!
Time to move ahead, as scuba diving or snorkelling was next. I went with several skydive friends to 40 meters deep scuba dive to see the blue hole from below as well. The second dive we made, showed us sharks, a turtle and thousands of other beautiful fish.
What a day!! The way back (three hours on a rocky ocean) was exhausting, but the drinks on board helped us all out! :)
I'd like to deeply bow to Rich Grimm and all of his lovely staff (friends) who made another dream come true!!