Number 3 did a special thing for my birthday this year. I’d told him I wanted us to spend some time at the beach together, just the two of us, but he was to plan it. He took that request and ran with it, calling me to book time-off of work and letting me know that we were set up to go on a 3 day cruise in October. I was floored by his generosity and thoughtfulness and really excited to go away with him for a few days.
During the planning, we’d discussed doing things “that scared us”, just to say we could do them. He was afraid of the giant waterslide/water coaster which twisted and turned and eventually went through some clear tubing off the side of the ship and over the ocean. For me, it was going on a jet ski.
Our day started off overcast and breezy. We’d slept in and were headed out to the cay around noon. The first thing we did was go to the wave runner kiosk and book our time for an hour later. Then we found some chairs and relaxed while the weather grew slightly more ominous. Clouds were getting darker and the wind picked up. Just as we were putting our items in the lockers at the jet ski hut, it started to rain. Not a downpour, but enough that I got soaked trying to get our junk into a working locker.
We entered a room and watched a video explaining how the jet ski worked and what safety precautions and rules we needed to know. Biggest rule… don’t follow too close as a jet ski can take 100 yards to come to a stop. After a Q & A and assignment of line-up numbers (I was #10) we suited up in our life jackets and headed to our machines. We were told to idle out to a buoy and wait for instructions.
Now, I’ve never been on one of these contraptions, and there was one other young lady who hadn’t either. They’d told us the faster you go, the easier it is to control, and then they asked how many wanted to go FAST?! Most people nodded their heads vigorously. I thought, “Ok, I’m game. I got this.”
The leader took off and each person fell in-line after him. The “chaser” spaced each of us 100 yards apart. When it was my turn, she signaled and I squeezed the throttle for the gas and (YIKES) the jet ski lurched forward with FAR MORE power than I’d ever imagined. Clearly, I needed to try and catch up with the rest of the group, but I was so nervous that the more I tensed up with fear, the more I was steering in the exact same pattern the leader had warned us not to do, citing an unfortunate “mess” that had occurred the previous week by someone doing much the same.
The waves were choppy as the wind had picked up some. I tried my best to wrangle both my nerves (so thankful no one can hear you yelling at yourself in the middle of the water with the wind blowing) and the machine into working together. Every time I sped up over 30 mph I would start to waggle crazily, due to constantly trying to over correct my steering, and I could feel the jet ski starting to get squirrel-y underneath me. Couple that with the rough water and I wasn’t having the best time. I’d taken off my glasses before boarding the jetski, and while I can see well enough without them, when I looked around there were no other riders in sight. Eek! Best thing to do was to keep heading in the direction I’d last seen everyone else, and not think about the warning we’d had about staying on the exact path they’d guide us through, as there were some places that weren’t suitable for jet skis.
Thankfully, the “chaser” eventually realized I was having some issues, so she came back my way and signaled me to follow behind in her wake, thus creating a path for me to follow that was a bit less turbulent. Being mindful of the 100 yards rule, I kept falling behind to keep distance. She’d slow down for me, then speed up. I’d speed up, catch her and slow down. It was a rather awkward push and pull dance we did until we caught up with the others who were waiting for me in a nice grouping, listening to the guide give some information and history about the spot where they’d congregated. Of course, I was so late, that I barely got there and we’d start off again.
So, for the next 2.5 hours I did my best to stay with the pack, never able to control the damn machine at any speed over 38 mph, which when you think of it, is fast enough. I hit a few waves head on and the whine of the engine let me know we were briefly air-borne, but I was still dead last to every stop and trying not to dump myself off and be another “mess” the leader would caution others about in future safety meetings. We later found out that Miami had a tornado that day and while we were over 100 miles away, we were experiencing part of that strong system. I’m happy I didn’t overhear the leader or the others commenting on how rough the water was and how they were being bounced around BEFORE I went on the tour, but was a little comforted after the fact with the knowledge that I wasn’t a totally inept jet-ski driver.
When we finally returned to the docks, I pulled my jet ski up into it’s spot and was disembarking when the next guy gunned his machine and knocked my ski sideways just as I’d stepped off. Number 3 was there offering me his hand, and as we were walking down the pier, I wouldn’t let go. I marched myself straight over to the “adult beverage” cabana and enjoyed a celebratory sip. I’d done something that scared me, and survived!