My husband and I were in the Bahamas on a business trip, with our two young children in tow.
As we pulled into the dock, a large commercial fishing boat, with its engines whirring in the background, appeared in the distance.
We could smell fish from a mile away, and the sun was rising.
The family quickly packed their gear into the boat, and we set out for our first day on the ocean.
We had a plan, but one that we couldn’t seem to find the right words to describe.
It was a moment of clarity, an indelible memory that will always remain with me, and one I’ve never forgotten.
The first thing we did was to pull the family into the water, so we could take pictures of the fishing boat as it slowly sunk beneath the waves.
Then, as we made our way down the dock to the water’s edge, I heard a familiar voice say: “Don’t forget to get out of here, Dad!”
That was the moment I knew I’d made the right decision.
As I stood at the edge of the dock for what would become our final day on land, the sound of the family’s cries made my heart race.
I was so overwhelmed by the sheer scale of this moment, but my wife and I could see clearly in the back of our minds that we needed to leave the boat.
We pulled out of the water and ran toward the safety of the shoreline.
We were alone, our boat, our children, and our lives were gone.
The boat had gone down in the dark and there was nothing we could do.
It had sunk under the waves and there were no survivors.
The experience was not as difficult as it might have been, and I have a vivid memory of it now.
But the fear was there.
When I look back on it now, the fear is still there, and so is the loss.
A day later, my husband, my sister and I made our final stand, with the help of the local police.
After we rescued the children, we were able to get them back home safely, and my husband and my sister were able take their final pictures of their family in the ocean before we took off again.
A few months later, we took another boat out to the reef for the final time, and in doing so, we lost both of our children.
After a very tough couple of years, I was determined to take the boat down again.
And so, I started working on my next plan: What would I do if my family were to be lost on another adventure?
And that was when I started thinking about what the next adventure would be.
In the fall of 2016, I spent some time traveling to Australia, where I was traveling as part of the Australian Royal Australian Navy (ARAN), to give back to my country.
My wife and daughter were both born there, but I was also going there as part the Royal New Zealand Air Force (NZAAF), to fly the A320 aircraft that was still flying as part in the country’s New Zealand Defence Force.
We’d been through a rough year, and were in a place where we felt our boat was no longer safe.
My goal was to get home as soon as possible and start a new life.
In December, I returned to New Zealand and began to plan the next phase of my plan.
I had already begun researching the history of the boat and what I thought would be the best place to get back to.
It took me a while to realize that the next part of my adventure was going to be about finding a new home.
As a former military pilot, I knew that I’d need to fly to New Guinea to meet with the ARAN in order to get my family back.
I wanted to be able to see how I could fly my family home safely again, so I began researching where to go to meet the pilots who would take care of the vessel.
I found out that there were several sites in the Pacific Islands of Fiji and Kiribati that were known as ‘Marines’ Island.
On my first visit to the islands, I met with two pilots who knew the area.
After flying from Fiji to Kiribato, I took the next step to get a second boat out on the islands.
As it turns out, it was the same pilot who flew my first boat to Fiji back in 1996.
We flew from Fiji, Fiji to the remote island of Kiribate and then on to Kiriwati.
After completing a few hours in the air, I flew the second boat back to Fiji.
After that, I began my search for the pilots.
I began searching for a pilot who had flown my first flight, which took place in 2006.
When the pilot who I was interested in came to visit us in Fiji, he was actually from the