Dispatch, Aruba: A great day to strap on an aquatic jetpack

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Caribbean editor Gay Nagle Myers was in Aruba for the opening of the Ritz-Carlton Aruba. While there, she also sampled locally caught red snapper, downed a Balashi beer, perched on the bow of a 72-foot catamaran, “almost” met the king and queen of the Netherlands on a state visit, and learned some key phrases in Papiamento. Her second dispatch follows.Click to read her first dispatch.

The weather reports from the U.S. East Coast were frightening, especially for late November — bitter cold with a wind chill factor of 12 degrees.

I stood on the bow of the Rumba, moving up the coast of Aruba on a 72-foot catamaran owned and operated by Red Sail Sports.

Sun was shining, temperature was 85, and I was in my element.

“The best selling point for Aruba is its climate,” Otmar Oduber, minister of tourism, told me. “It’s perfect and it rarely changes.”

Works for me.

When Rumba docked a couple of hours later, I spotted a man in the water wearing a helmet and a life jacket. A long black hose was attached to his back, and at his shoulders were two nozzles powerfully gushing water.

To my amazement, he suddenly rose from the sea and levitated about five feet above the water. He went a bit higher before splashing down to sea level.

“Isn’t that the coolest? It’s called JetLev and you can literally fly over the ocean, soar up to 30 feet in air or just hover and walk along the water,” said Michel van Leeuwen, Red Sail Sports’ sales and marketing manager.

The guy I was watching — a newbie at the activity — hovered, splashed down, rose again and tried again.

“The steering mechanism is very sensitive, so if you turn it too hard one way or another, it throws the balance off and down you go,” van Leeuwen told me.

Red Sail is the only company in Aruba to offer this. It debuted last January, and since then 1,377 customers have tried it.

Price is $185 for 45 minutes, including 15 minutes of detailed instruction.

It’s on my bucket list next time I’m in Aruba.

So much to see and do, so little time. It’s no wonder that Aruba’s repeat visitor count is as high as it is, about 70%, according to the tourism association.
 

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