Sharks In The Runway : A Seaplane Pilot’s Fifty-Year Journey Through Bahamian Times by Paul W.J.Harding – Blog Tour

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Captain Paul Harding moved with his family to the Bahamas when he was just twelve. He fell in love with his exotic new home immediately and this epic memoir pays tribute to his passion for island life, his ecclectic friends and family, and the extraordinary career he has forged from the sea and the skies.

Paul became a qualified Charter Boat Captain and Open Water Scuba Instructor, founding the award winning day-trip diving company Diving Safaris, Ltd in 1976. In 1989 he followed this success by ordering a seaplane and learning how to fly; Safari Seaplanes has since become the stuff of Bahamian legend, flying people from all walks of life to sundrenched locations, including politicians and even superstars like Johnny Depp, who Paul counts as a close friend.

A diver, pilot, captain, husband, father and friend; Paul Harding is a superb storyteller whose tales of island adventures are sure to capture the imagination.

Thanks to Rachel Gilbey @ Authoright Marketing & Publicity for sending me this ARC and allowing me to be part of the blog tour.

I found this book very interesting and well written. For my part of the blog tour I am going to share an extract.

‘With a seaplane rating added to my pilot’s license I returned to Nassau in early December to restart the boat charter business in time for the holiday season. We were in the cold front passages once again during the winter months so days had to be well chosen for running the trip to Rose Island; I was planning to leave one business for another where, like it or not, weather always ruled. As captains and owners of charter companies one had to be very savvy about forecasting weather. Knowing what would be approaching, how fast a particular system was traveling and the effects it would bring to our region quite vital, in this career it became part of who we were, and fast learning the uncanny knack of prediction. Simply stepping outside and observing sky and trees gave clue what the day would bring. Over a month’s flying had spoilt me, giving taste of what the future could hold and less enthusiastic preparing that boat for a long day’s work. Gary returned to his job at the Wulfe Road lumber company, having thoroughly enjoying himself with time on the water making good income as bonus. He had experienced a taste of what he might have done having the imagination and fortitude to create his own product. For me it was back to the madness of fighting tour desk operators who ‘lost’ our brochures and continued delaying payments. The inclement weather patterns making Bill’s house in Lower Harbour a Godsend location during rougher days of northerly winds. The boat business was getting old after sticking with it for near seventeen years compared to being airborne. Besides damned hard work, long hours and constant maintenance with Hartley, recent years were taking an emotional toll. I was torn between calling it quits or maintaining responsibility of a family to house, feed and educate played heavily on my shoulders. Pulling the plug now would be a risky move but risk was nothing new in my life.
The wind was gentle out of the east one morning with the day trip underway during a clear blue day. The boat was full of guests with a couple of repeat clients sitting alongside me on the bridge while I drove the Bertram toward Rose Island. Passing the golf course on Paradise Island the lady next to me started the conversation with a surprise statement, ‘I guess next year we will be going with Gary and his wife?’
‘No, I’ll still be here!’ I replied in ignorance, a little startled at her opening remark. Plans to run the seaplane commercially were definitely on the table as well as keeping the ‘Out-Island Safari’ alive with Steve as captain.
‘I don’t think you know what I mean,’ the lady interjected. ‘Gary has started his own day-trip business called “The Rose Island Adventure”!’ There was a noticeable silence as my mind grasped what she had said.
I was floored and couldn’t find words fast enough to reply.
‘Oh dear,’ she hesitated to continue. ‘I see you didn’t know.’ A strange feeling of dismay came over me. Driving that wonderful boat over these blue waters on a fabulous day only saw the joy drain out of my body. How the hell could a close friend be so sneaky having trusted in him with my livelihood? The day couldn’t go fast enough and the emotion of betrayal grew by the minute. By days’ end I was furious.
I drive that evening around the hotels to see for myself if this rumour is true. Sure enough there were new brochures on every tour desk. My friends had been very busy while I was away. The photographs and text were almost exact copies of my literature right down to the rear panel pictures of ‘Your Hosts’ showing the two of them as I had done with Bill Pemberton and myself. I saw red that night and demanded an immediate explanation. Taking a new brochure I arrived at their house to confront them with the betrayal. I banged aggressively on the front door. The son opened and I pushed past him in dismissal slapping their advertisement down on their dining table.’

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