Archangel Michael Jackson Island Part 2
By 2 am, 60 mph winds were battering the islands, soon to rise to over 130. O'Connor parked his rental General Electric Roadstar on a rocky plateau at Bell Point, just north of the Grand Case Wal-Mart. From here the strait to Archangel Michael was at its narrowest, about three miles. He was nearly knocked over by the winds several times on his way down the plateau to the beach, carrying the heavy gear and dragging the Aquadrive dive propulsion vehicle.
It took O'Connor nearly a half hour to properly position his scuba gear and enter the raging surf with the Aquadrive, twice bashing it hard on coral outcroppings. But soon he was silently gliding beneath the storm-tossed surface. The currents made it very difficult to navigate. He found that in order to accurately steer, he had to slow the Aquadrive down to below 2 mph. That would more than double his projected transit time to Archangel Michael and not leave him enough air in the tanks for the return journey. He would just have to worry about that later.
Halfway through the strait he crossed out of EU waters and into Archangel Michael Island’s sovereign dominion. The border was marked by a tightly meshed shark-type net which surrounded the island. It was constructed of virtually uncuttable hardened steel cable to foil underwater incursions just like his. He waited on the rocky bottom for an especially large wave to pass overhead, momentarily lifting the weighted bottom of the net just enough for O'Connor to Aquadrive through. The first gauntlet had been surpassed.
Just ahead was the minefield. He switched on his laser goggles and was aghast by what he saw. The laser trip wires were crisscrossing the sea much closer together than he had expected. There wasn’t a single spot large enough to Aquadrive through. He had to abandon the dive vehicle and begin to swim through the maze of laser beams. He spun and twisted and reeled around the beams for what seemed an eternity. Several times he came dangerously close to tripping one of the beams and setting off the proximity mines. But after more than an hour he cleared through the field.
Just ahead of him, lining the sea bottom were long metallic cylinders: Metal detectors! He had not expected these, indeed he didn’t even know that underwater detectors like this existed. He rested atop a rocky outcropping and considered his options. His trip had become one-way anyway due to lack of air, so he had nothing to lose by ditching his air tanks, along with his ballast and every other piece of metal on him including the Roadstar keys, his watch and even the metal buckles on his wetsuit. He took a deep last breath from the respirator, then headed for the surface as quickly as he dared.
His head broke the surface just as his breath was giving out, and he gulped air and salty water in twelve foot waves. Fortunately the surface scanners on the shore would be unable to pick him out in these extreme waves, but he could not chance it. He took another deep breath and plunged beneath the waves swimming underwater towards the beach. He had to surface continuously to breathe, and the progress in these storm conditions was painfully slow.
He was just about to hit the beach when he spotted the Gibbons Point lookout tower just to his right. He was too far east! With what seemed to be his last bit of energy, he was able to swim west to hit the beach just barely on the Round Rock Bay side. He scrambled towards an overhang in the rocks, ducking to minimize his silhouette in the blasting wind.
Continued In Archangel Michael Jackson Island Part 3