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Naked tandem bungy jumping makes Valentine’s Day truly exciting
By Kimberlee Jensen
Photos by Todd Stedl

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For our first Valentine's Day together, my partner and I wanted our celebration to truly reflect our relationship, so naked tandem bungy jumping sounded just right. Every year close to Valentine's Day, the Bungy Zone (P.O. Box 309, Station A, Nanaimo, B.C., Canada V9R 5L3; Phone: 1-800-668-7771) in Nanaimo, British Columbia hosts Naked Weekend.

During Naked Weekend, those who bare it all bear no cost. Bungy jumps normally cost $95 CAD so nudity appealed to my frugality. Tandem jumpers get tethered together. I joked that if he were to die while jumping he would have to take me with him, so we were definitely jumping tandem. Neither my partner nor I had ever bungy jumped before, and we are occasional naturalists, so we instantly planned a weekend trip to Nanaimo. We hoped to spend plenty of time being naked, which is a tricky task during a British Columbia winter.

Nanaimo is a quiet coastal town on Vancouver Island, accessible via the BC Ferry system. Since the Canadian government sunk two decommissioned war ships off the coast of Nanaimo to create enormous artificial reefs, scuba divers have flocked to the area, boosting the tourism industry.

For our three-day weekend, we chose the Grey Pony Bed & Breakfast (184 Nottingham Drive, Nanaimo, BC, Canada V9T 1K6; Phone: 250 756-4614; Fax: 250 756-9433) run by Cathy and George Gibson. Unlike many bed and breakfast operators who saturate guest rooms with religious paraphernalia, the Gibsons run a non-denominational inn. However, Cathy did confess their devotion to recycling.

The Grey Pony provided a relaxing low-key setting. I must admit that we enjoyed the full-length closet mirror positioned next to the bed. We had the entire downstairs suite - replete with a fireplace, extensive library and private outdoor hot tub - to ourselves. In the evenings, we enjoyed a bottle of complimentary wine soaking under the stars.

In the mornings, we enjoyed breakfast with the Gibsons. He is a self-admitted curmudgeon scientist and she is the gregarious conversationalist. We saw our own relationship and personalities reflected in them and hoped that in 20 years we will be as compatible and happy as they are.

On Saturday, we arrived at the Bungy Zone before noon. Situated in a lush Pacific Northwest park, the facilities included a hot tub, snack bar, and other diversions. We waited clothed with a crowd of people on the wooden bridge built exclusively for jumping. The bridge sits 140 feet above the Nanaimo River Canyon. The water beneath us moved slowly, enormous trees embraced the canyon.

The jumpers were primarily young, and a mix of groups, couples and single jumpers. Some jumpers found their courage in the form of alcohol and other substances, though they were prohibited from partaking while on the bridge.

This year (2003), 40 percent of the jumpers were women, which the Bungy Zone claims is a record. The Bungy Zone is accommodating: one year a gentleman in a wheelchair made the jump.

After a chilly and drizzly three-hour wait on the bridge, it was finally our turn. By this point, we were no longer scared, just tired of waiting. We stripped off everything except our boots because the bungy cord attaches at the ankles. Since we were jumping tandem, the operators tethered us face-to-face. We had no choice but to hug while carefully listening to the rules: keep our heads together, hold on tight, and wait for their signal. Being bound facing each other meant we could not dive forward like the solo jumpers, and the operators told us they would push sideways off the platform.

We shuffled nervously to the end of the platform - one side facing the safety of the enclosure, the other facing possible peril. The operator began counting, ”three-two-one-bungy!” He pushed us on the two.

The initial fall was both terrifying and exhilarating. I kept my eyes shut for the first 50 feet and when I opened them I swear we were heading straight into the water. I feared dunking my head in the icy cold water. Then, a few feet above the river, we snapped back up and bounced up to the bridge on the other side where everyone saw us and cheered. I could not stop giggling.

We bounced a couple more times then dangled head down spiraling due to our uneven weight distribution (my fiancé weighing more than I do).

As we spun upside-down we shared a thrilling kiss. While embraced he reached around and pinched my bottom. We were bare and it was there, so I hardly blame him. The jump was over within minutes, but we both wanted it to last longer.

As we came to a stop, the boat operator in the river scooped us up and rolled us into the inflatable boat. I did not do this very gracefully as I had trouble understanding up/down left/right at this point. He handed us flimsy rain ponchos that offered little modesty and helped us onto the stairs. From there we climbed all the way up the bridge to reclaim our clothes. We were exhilarated and would have jumped again if not for the wait.

The savvy marketers at the Bungy Zone film every jump then and then make it available for purchase after burning it to a CD. After getting dressed we watched our video in the visitor building at the entrance. My fiancé had perfect timing; just as my backside spun around to the camera, he had executed his sneaky pinch.

I tease him that our wedding should take place during naked weekend and as we say our vows we should jump naked again. It certainly would make the ceremony memorable and save us the bridal wear expense.

Kimberlee Jensen is a teacher, web developer and freelance writer. She has written numerous articles on workforce diversity and the underground music scene. She is now combining her true passion, travel, with her writing skills.