No Matter What
It was just after midnight when Paul quietly gathered his clothes and made his way out of Lizzy’s bed room to her lounge room were he dressed and then sat on her lounge and wrote her a note. It read.
“Sorry for leaving with out saying good bye, but I will be flying out at the crack of dawn and I still have a few things to do. I hope to be back in a few weeks and if all goes well may be we can pick up where we left off.”
Paul went back to Lizzy’s bed room and just stood in the door way looking at her in the dark. He could just make her out in the moon light lying on her bed. As he stood there he wondered weather he would ever see her again.
He quietly made his way out of the house and to his car. He let the car run down the road for a few hundred metres before starting it and heading home. Once home he had nothing much to do other than going over the plan for the later that morning and try to get some sleep. The alarm when off at five in the morning and he was out of the house by five fifteen heading towards the airfield. By six he was in the air heading for Darwin. It was going to be a long flight, ten or eleven hours depending on the weather with a stop for fuel at Longreach. He had never flown for more than an hour before so it was going to be a challenge of concentration and endurance. The first part of the flight was busy dealing with air traffic control and navigation but after an hour or so it became just a matter of keeping on course and flying straight and level. At the altitude Paul was flying he could see so much, at first houses and development but after a few hours that gave way to large expanses of bush.
Paul landed at Longreach ahead of schedule thanks to a tail wind for much of the flight. He filled the plane with fuel and stretched his legs for a few minutes before taking of on the final leg of the trip which would hopefully get him into Darwin by four in the afternoon. The terrain had changed dramatically, the country side was a lot browner now, not quite a desert as there were some greenery but not much. As he flew along looking out the window he thought to himself, “I’m glad I’m up here and not down there.” Eventually Darwin came into view and things got busy, talking to air traffic control and navigating himself to a small airfield on the outskirts of Darwin. Once on the ground he filled the plane with fuel as well as organizing a parking location and paying all the fees and charges. A taxi took him to a nearby Motel. He was exhausted from the flight and long day, which was something he would have to monitor as all the days from now on would be long and hard. Fatigue could lead to mistakes and he knew it would only take one mistake for this whole endeavour to fall apart.
The next day Paul got a taxi and asked the driver to be taken to a second hand car yard. They were half a dozen car yards all clustered together but one seemed to specialise in four wheel drives so he wandered around looking at what was on offer. He settled on a ten year old Toyota Landcruser and bought it. In addition he needed two small four wheel drives but he did not want to draw attention to himself by buying them all from the one location. He then headed to the waterfront to check out the yacht and to talk with the maintenance company he had employed to go over it and make sure it was in good condition. The other job for this company was to mount a powered inflatable to the deck as an additional life raft. The yacht seemed to be in first class condition and the company appeared to know what they were doing. They reported that it had been serviced and was ready to go. So far so good Paul thought to himself.
After lunch he found a company selling trailers and purchased a registered second hand car trailer. He then found a storage facility and rented three car spaces for a month, these were for the car trailer, which he left there and the other two were for small four wheel drives. Time was beating him so he headed back to his motel.
The next day Paul spent the morning looking for two small four wheel drives, eventually purchasing two Subaru Foresters from different dealers and taking them to the storage facility. One was purchased using the false ID of Mathew Johnson, which he was planning to use once he got back but the other one was purchased in his own name as it would be the car Janet would drive home when she gets back. In the afternoon he shopped for camping equipment and enough food and supplies for both the Landcruser and the yacht. He also purchased a number of camouflage nets from an Army surplus store. His schedule only allowed one day for all these purchases so he was now a day behind adding more pressure on Paul.
Early the next morning Paul drove to the airfield, did all his pre-flight checks and took off for what would be a very challenging day. It was another all day flight but this time over water something he had never done. The plane was equipped with satellite navigation but he still had to do it the old fashion way, just in case. He would refuel at Denpasan and then fly on to his final destination. The first part of the flight went well, flying over the ocean was strange, very much a matter of, ‘I would rather be up here than down there.’ He landed at Denpasan and had to deal with immigration and customs but he had no problems except it took time. From there he continued his trip but now running late. Luck was with him as a tail wind kept him on schedule and he landed at a small air field just outside the capital just before dusk. Immigration and customs in this country were not as helpful and some money needed to change hands before he had all the appropriate paper work stamped. He found the nearest motel and stayed the night. He was well off the tourist routes so the motel was less then well appointed but it did not matter as he was exhausted and just needed to sleep.
The sun brought in a new day and another busy day for Paul. He found a taxi who would take him into the city where he went to see Janet’s solicitor and then onto the prison to visit Janet. The solicitor reaffirmed his view that it was all hopeless and of course wanted more money. Paul’s opinion of solicitors was never very high but after all this he thought very little of them. The saying, ‘lower than a snake’s belly’ came to mind. After arriving at the prison Paul’s spirits fell as it was such a gloomy place and when he saw Janet he struggled to keep up the ‘strong big brother image.’ She looked awful. She had lost weight, her hair was long and unkept. There both struggled to muster a smile but after a few minutes she brightened up and talked about how she spent her time. Paul told her of his plan, at first she disapproved, but after a while it seemed to grow on her and give her hope. She told him about the prisons schedule and importantly the times each day that she would be in the exercise yard.
As Paul left the prison he looked around at its security and realised that if anything is going to go wrong with his plan, then its here. Once outside he looked for the best place to place smoke bombs and gave some thought to how he would do that.
Paul waved down a taxi which took him to the airport where he took a flight to Darwin. This part of his plan was a worry as if anyone was monitoring him they would wonder why he arrived in a light plan and was flying out on a commercial flight only a few days later. He hoped no one would notice. At the check in desk the official doing the paper work looked at Paul and then called a Police man over, who asked Paul, “Why he wasn’t using his light plane to fly out”. Paul replied that, “the plane was playing up and that he had to go to Darwin for parts and that he would be back in a few days”. This seemed to satisfy the Police man and all his papers were then stamped.
Paul didn’t manage to get any sleep on the plane due to some noisy passengers celebrating one of their numbers birthday. The plane landed in Darwin just after nine o’clock, when Paul got something to eat and found the nearest motel for some much needed sleep.
Another day and another busy day for Paul, a taxi took him to the airfield so he could pick up the Landcruser he had left there a few days earlier. He then headed to the storage facility where he connected the car trailer and loaded one of the Foresters. It was ten in the morning before he drove away from the storage facility heading for the Western Australian border. It was a good day and a half’s drive to Wallott Inlet with over one hundred and fifty kilometres of that being dirt road. The last few kilometres could well be across country but he would have to work that out once he got there.
The road was good and considering where he was, not that lonely, a car would go the other way every few minutes and semi trailers were plentiful. Paul had to concentrate as the trailer was not well balanced and would get up a bit of a sway if he went over a hundred kilomtres per hour. As the kilomtres ticked by Paul found his thoughts going back to his childhood, and simpler times, of him and Janet riding their bikes to school. How did it come to this?
It was dark when he turned off the main road onto the dirt road that would take him towards Wallott Inlet. He continued for about another hour before pulling over to have something to eat and to get some sleep. Paul slept well considering where he was. The seats in the Landcruse did recline a bit which helped. Paul woke to sun light pouring in through the windscreen, it felt like it would be a hot day. He had some breakfast before checking that all was well with the Landcruser and the car trailer, making sure the Forrester was still strapped down tightly. The landscape was dry and sandy with some scraggy looking bushes trying to grow here and there, he was well and truly aware that he was in a desert. He still had about one hundred kilometres to go before reaching his destination and the road would only get worse the further he went. After about four hours of driving the road started to peter out so Paul stopped to check his map and GPS. By his best guess he was just about there, the GPS said he was about two kilometres away and looking at the map he came to the same conclusion.
Paul unloaded the Forrester and drove it across country in the direction of what he hoped would be the upper reaches of Wallott Inlet and much to his relieve it was. He parked the Forrester near a small group of trees, got his back pack out of the car and then covered the Forrester with a camouflage net, pegging it down to the ground as well as tying it to the vehicle. He walked the three odd kilometres back to the Landcruser using a compass to guide him but he didn’t need it as the Forrester had left noticeable tracks in the soft ground which were very easy to follow.
He turned the Landcruser and trailer around and once back on the track he stopped, got out and tried to hide the tracks left by the Forrester but not those left by the Landcruser. He then set out on the return journey to Darwin to collect the other Forrester and do it all again. This was taking longer than he expected and by the time he returned from delivering the second Forrester he was two days behind schedule.
Before setting sail Paul had a few things to do, he sold the Landcruser and trailer back to the dealers. He only got half what he paid for them but something was better than nothing. Using his laptop, he paid all outstanding bills and credit cards. Any money still remanning in obsolete bank accounts was donated to charities so it would make it harder to trace back to him. He placed all the obsolete ID’s, credit cards and bank accounts into a bag and hid them in a secret compartment on the yacht. All was now in place for Paul to set sail.
As Paul sailed out of Darwin Harbour he felt uneasy, sailing was something he did not have a lot of experience with. Yes he had done a bit of sailing but never alone, never at night and so much of his knowledge was book learnt and not gained from practical experience. He allotted plenty of time to get to his destination as he knew that his inexperience could cause delays. Once out of the Harbour he set a course west north west and just sailed the boat. Luck was with him and the sailing was easy going with the wind at his back, but after a few hours the wind turned around and he had to work hard endlessly tacking. He needed to get out of the shipping lanes before night as it is one thing to dodge super tankers during the day but it’s something completely different at night. By the time the sun went down he was two hundred and fifty nautical mile west of Darwin well off the coast in open seas and well out of the shipping lanes. He set a storm sail and got some sleep.
The sun came up on Paul’s second day at sea with the weather fine, the seas calm and the winds from the south east. Sailing in weather like this was a pleasure, the boat just about sailed its self and Paul did not have to do much, just keep the boat to the wind and enjoy the ride. Being out in the ocean made Paul feel some what insignificant, nothing but ocean as far as he could see in all directions, with only a few dolphins and sharks for company. He enjoyed watching the Dolphins swimming in the bow wave but he could live without the sharks.
A beautiful red sun rise greeted Paul on his third day at sea which reminded him of the old saying, ‘red run in the morning, sail be warned, red sun at night, sailer delight.’ But then he thought, ‘is it the other way around?’ He could not remember so only time would tell. The weather started to deteriorate as the day went on, the wind got up, the waves got bigger and the sky got darker. Paul battered down and stowed away. He dropped the sails and then set a storm sail before sitting at the helm awaiting his fate. He would have to sail with the wind to ride out the storm which would take him away from his destination.
As darkness fell the storm was in full force and all Paul could do was ride it out. He had never experienced anything like it, the yacht rolled and pitched and threw Paul around endlessly, but eventually it passed and the weather calmed down. He checked the yacht for damage but all seemed well other then the GPS had failed so Paul had to navigate the old fashion way. He took a bearing and found he was a long way of course so he set a new course and raised every sail he had in the hope of making up some time.
The next few days went well without problems, the weather was good and the wind moderate. Paul had not seen anything other than Dolphins, sharks and a whale for over a week but now he could see a super tanker on the horizon which meant he was getting closer to his destination. He changed course to avoid it and sailed east before turning north taking him across the shipping lines. He started seeing local fishing boat but he managed to keep his distance until the island he was heading for came into view.
Paul sailed around the island looking for some where to hide the yacht, he had to sail around it twice till he saw a possible location. He lowered the sails and started the engine and manoeuvred in close to the shore. A land slip had brought down some trees into the ocean which created a small break water and some of the trees had continued to grow making a perfect place to hide. He steered the yacht in and dropped anchor. For the first time in a while Paul could relax and get a good night sleep.
The next day dawned fine and clear but Paul had work to do. He launched the inflatable and ran lines from the yacht to the shore and to trees in order to ensure the yachts safety. Just before dusk he headed towards the main land in the inflatable and what fate may bring.
www.yellowduckmotorsport.com Copy right Jim Pope 2021