Monday, August 17, 2009

Safety first

I am certain there is vital information to be gleaned from taking lessons of every sort. Or they wouldn't be so readily offered or filled to capacity, would they? Riding lessons, tennis lessons, fly-fishing lessons....if there is someone wanting to learn, there is a class you can sign up for to teach you basics of whatever new hobby you are trying to pursue. I have taken lessons o' plenty. From skiing to spanish class, so I already how beneficial some general tutoring and guidance can be.

So it might not surprise you that I wanted to undertake windsurfing in the Bahamas. What might seem askew is that I would disregard common sense and instead, I would pioneer my own sense of vanguard learning. Let me explain.

We went to the Bahamas and stayed at an all-inclusive resort. What they lacked in "good food" they made up for in cocktails and an endless supply of boats, kayaks, surfboards and differing other water paraphernalia.

In chatting with some other guests, one of them was a wind-surfing champion from California. I expressed my interest and he and his wife said they would show me how easy it was. With about 20 minutes on the sand, it truly seemed easy enough. I am an athletic girl so as long as I could pull that sail up, I was ready to go. Sleek black life jacket over my fabulous red bikini and I was ready to pilot my craft into the Atlantic.

I only had to tell a partial and tiny lie to the man at the equipment dock. He asked if I had lessons. I said yes. While I could infer that he meant "are you trained and ready" I simply took his words at face value. Had I had lessons? Yes. One twenty minute lesson OR if you broke it down, two ten-minute lessons which qualify as plural. He didn't ask where I had them, from whom, or how long but I guess he assumed if I would employ some lawyer-ly trickery to undermine my own safety, then I was beyond his reach.

And we know, safety first.

There is a reason people like him, who work on the beach, ask these questions.

I took the board out with the help of my two "instructors". The wind was perfect and I pulled that sail up in about 2 seconds and felt the speed pick up as I traversed the waves. Boats and jet skis bounded by me, and with a friendly wave I celebrated my coup. I was actually zigzagging across the watery terrain, and I felt like Annick Graveline. Or at the minimum, Baywatch material (sans permanently implanted "life preservers"). All was going well and clearly, they got some great pics from the shore.

I was impressed by how quickly you can move across the water. What did not impress me was the moment the wind ceased. For it was only at that moment did I realize how far from shore I had come. And then I realized that I had failed to inquire what you do when the wind halts. Uh oh. I had to drop the sail because gravity was working against me. So there I sat in the Atlantic....all surfboarded up and no where to go.

After about ten minutes, I seemed to be drifting in the wrong direction. I had no windpower. Oh, and I was on a bit of a schedule. I had a flight to catch.

Finally, I see another windsurfer heading my way. I flag him down (he, adept enough at the sport to cruise right over to me). Only to discover he spoke zero English. He kept pointing at the sun, smiling, and saying "Mucho calor!" Yes, I know its hot. I have become quite aware of the burning sun as I float aimlessly around the Ocean.

I decide to try to pull the sail out, discard it, and paddle back on the surfboard. How to remove the sail? Oh, that was apparently going to be covered in another future lesson.

Finally I say F. it, and I am going to simply have to swim back sans board. I see off in the distance that there is a touch of a crowd gathered on the shore where I left which may be comprised of my friends who certainly know I have had no windsurfing lessons.

As I am pulling the sail towards the board, I cut my hand. And not a paper cut because of course, I am not handling paper here. I jump in the water but there is actually quite a bit of blood. You know who likes blood? Sharks.

Now, the Atlantic Ocean is home to over 16 types of sharks with Great White shark, Reef Shark, and Tiger Shark amongst some of the most popular around The Bahamas.

Now for a lesson in zoology. Do you know what the Tiger Sharks nickname is? Garbage Can of the Ocean because it will eat anything. Due to its aggressive nature of eating, the Tiger Shark doesn't slow down to study its food. License plates, suits of armor, baseballs, and even a petroleum can have been found inside the digestive track of a Tiger Shark so I know my gams would be but a mere appetizer.

Oh, and Tiger Sharks eat all of you. Not just a bite or two. And because of their incredibly keen sense of smell and their ability to detect low frequency pressure waves, the can detect the faintest trace of blood and follow it precisely to its source.

In this case, me. Me, the crafty clever one who swore I had windsurfing lessons before I cut my hand open in the middle of the Ocean.

Now, I was starting to realize I had no plan to fix my situation. A tiny bit of angst washed over me. Finally, after about 20 more minutes, I see a boat coming. I stand on my board and wave and wave and wave until they had no other choice but to change direction. As the boat pulled over, with dozens of people aboard, I plead my plight. The Captain laughed and other people merely gave me a pitiful look.

The captain radioed back to the beach. Sure enough, in about five minutes two cabanas boys on the 60 horsepower Kawasaki wave runners came to fetch me. With them is my instructor who had the decency to wait until we were out of earshot to give me a tiny reprimand. Once on the beach I can see that I did inflict quite a bit of worry. The lifeguards told me I was over one mile off shore and had been gone for over an hour. Lesson learned friends, lesson learned. Don't bite off more than your local neighborhood Tiger Shark can chew.

I had 15 minutes to change and get in the waiting cab to the airport. As I was departing, one of the lifeguards said, "So I guess you won't do that again?"

Well, certainly not here.

90 comments:

Heather Sunseri said...

What a great story! Sorry about your hand. Glad no sharks got you.

Dustjacket Attic said...

Well I won't go there honey, I'm sure your mother said everything needed when you told her what happened!!!

Fly by the seat of your pants girl!
xoxo

mbkatc230 said...

Yikes! As my grandmother would say, you got yourself into quite a pickle! Just glad that you didn't turn into a pickle appetizer for a shark. I'm sure someday (after several glasses of wine perhaps) this will seem funny? Have a great week. Kathy

ladytruth said...

"Well, certainly not here." I agree. Try it in a big pool first: no risk of man eating creatures and the only thing that could get hurt, would be a wandering child :)

My name is PJ. said...

You know, I was at one of those resorts once (something you might wear on your feet) and they let people go scuba diving with the briefest, single lesson of experience behind them. Anything for a buck, right?

I was totally caught up in your adventure (I have a very healthy respect for sharks), even though I knew you'd ended up okay. Geez! False confidence can carry you all kinds of places, especially with a little wind. :)

Sunshinemeg said...

I think sharks can smell cocktails. It is scientific or something. Watch out! Ha!

J.J. in L.A. said...

This is why I don't swim in the ocean...and also why I had scuba lessons in a pool.

Brittany Ann said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Love yours!

The Peach Tart said...

Jenny Mac - yes the great white ocean and all its creatures can be quite scary and humbling in these types of circumstances. Glad all turned out OK.

Stephanie Faris said...

Well you did much better than I would have but I would have had to have the lessons. I'm clueless! If they were worried about you, though, why didn't the lifeguard send the guys on the wave runners sooner?

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

I'll be sticking with the pool!

Theresa said...

Scary! But rockin' a fab red bikini? Yo go girl!

Eve said...

Great story! but Yikes! I read that thinking that would have been something I would have done. Husband says I'm too ballsy for my own good. BUT if I had ended up being stuck a mile from shore with blood pouring out of me... I'm sure I would have been dead from heart failure before the shark reached me!

mo.stoneskin said...

Awesome story, but I imagine what you are really saying is that you are now a windsurfing pro. Right?

Lauren said...

Just thinking about the possibility that a shark might have eaten you is making me woozy. This is why I stick to a lounge chair by the pool bar!

Hit 40 said...

The lifeguards noticed you but sent no help!!!!! WTF!!!!!! What exactly is their fucking job??? Do not go back to this crazy Lost oasis with awful food!!!

Bunny, THE PARIS HOUSE said...

This is why I only lie on the beach and drink cocktail and only swim in a pool...so glad you are ok
bunny

Tammy Howard said...

Reconfirming my dedication to the shore rather than the surf...

Melissa B. said...

And all of that with a flight to catch. Surfboarded up? May I commandeer that phrase? Have no idea where I'd use it, but I *heart* it immensely! BTW, Mrs. Scribe has just named you a Superior Scribbler. Please come by to collect your accolades!

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

My high school colors were black and red. I think they should change the uniforms of all the sports teams to match your description above.

Being that my high school is in Indiana and hundreds of miles from any sort of short NOT involving a Great Lake, it would just make the bikini angler a lot more funny. At least in my mind.

Mommy Mac said...

Same scenario for me.

Only 17 years ago and on my hometown lake.

- Athletic girl, yep.
- No lessons but lied and said I had them, yep.
- Fabulous red bikini, nope. That would be my TYR lifeguard suit that was like 2nd skin to me every summer.
- Out of control and frantically far from shore...paddling...yep.
- Sharks, nope.
- Massive catfish and those murky logs that rest just beneath the lake's surface, yep.
-My dad kayaking out muttering swear words under his breath to rescue me, yep.

Good times, huh?

.mac :)

McVal said...

Great story! I know what you mean about "not here"!

Inna said...

Oh man! Glad it turned out ok.
I tried windsurfing once. Unfortunately I was a little small at 14 and they only had adult size boards. I only managed to lift the sail once, with the instructors help and never got very far.

Taylor said...

Haha, how embarassing! I'm really curious, what should you have done? Did they ever tell you?

Laoch of Chicago said...

Today's action plan: Canceling windsurfing lessons ....

Cabin-boy Dave said...

Lol, never underestimate the ocean. I'll be keeping my toes firmly on the ground, thank you very much :P

My nick might call me 'Cabin-boy' but I'm a strict landlubber at heart.

Southern Champagne Wishes said...

That is such a great and funny (now, though I'm sure terrifying at the time) story! I totally would have panicked out there bleeding in the ocean and would have been positive that a shark was one second away from attacking!

Glad that you are okay and I definitely took this as a warning to have a thorough lesson (or 5) before attempting any new water sports!

JenJen said...

JennyMac
How do you say:
"Do red bikinis distract from my ass"
in Spanish?

Rita/Fighting Off Frumpy said...

.... And therein lies one of the many reasons why I do NOT undertake stuff like that. :) I am both a chicken AND a klutz, and would have totally ended up lunch for a tiger shark!

And PS - what's with all-inclusive resorts and mediocre food? I was disappointed in that last summer when I went to Cancun.

A French Cloud said...

it's great that now you can laugh about it...yikes. I was the "student" of ski lessons in much the same way- funny how my "teacher" failed to inform me that you need to ski off from the chair lift--I ended up jumping off during the turn--it was like a cartoon.

Lee said...

That is a great story! My daughter caught a shark when we went fishing in Florida. ALMOST ended my days in the ocean.

Chic Mama said...

I have to admit to being a teeny tiny bit jealous of the red bikini and also to giggling a bit...not in a mean cruel way but just because you turn a terrifying situation into a funny one and I couldn't help myself.
So glad, you were not eaten, didn't miss your flight, and I hope your hand is okay? x

Ruby Red Slippers said...

That is why I Never, ever swim in the ocean!!! I read these stories, and watch too much shark week on T.v. :)

confused homemaker said...

I'm not athletic and wouldn't attempt anything remotely athletic. Then again when I still wore a bikini it was blue.

Martinis or Diaper Genies? said...

this terrifies me. I would have been scrawling my will on the sail with a shell.

Lemon Shortbread said...

lol Whatever were you (not) thinking =) The ocean is full of danger, sharks... jellyfish... undercurrents... lifeguards can't reach you in time... Stay on shore and be a dry duck like me!

Chief said...

I'm not afraid of much but the #1 fear for me is the Ocean. too many mysterious "things" lurking about. This just strengthens my resolve to stick to the hot tub

FabBlab said...

Omg when I was little and saw Jaws for the first time, I was freaked beyond all sense.
Great story anyway ;)

Just Add Walter said...

oh my gosh... so scary!! glad you didn't end up as shark food!

Slyde said...

lol!

where resort did you stay at.

the bahamas are pretty much my home away from home.. i know all the islands and resorts like the back of my hand..

strokeofliving said...

I love that even when you travel you find good cocktails in lieu of good food. Brilliant!

foxy said...

good lord - i would have had a serious meltdown! glad you survived!

jules said...

I know you must have been truly scared when it was happening, but what a hilarious re-telling! I'm glad the sharks didn't get you!

Ela said...

Oh crud. It's like a watching a scary movie with a blanket over my eyes. Though silly me, of course you didn't get eaten, how would you be writing this from a shark's belly? You are waaaaay to adventurous! So glad made it! And lived to tell about it :) And lesson learned, right?

Keith said...

Wow. What an adventure you had. Sorry about the hand. I hope all is well now. Take care.

EmFabulousFunshine said...

not many can say they survived windless windsurfing and a bloody gash without finding the garbage can of the ocean. kudos to you for having the guts to go out there alone...

Just Playing Pretend said...

Your extensive knowledge of tiger sharks during your moment of distress was excellent.

I would have done the same thing my friend. Disastrous decisions are my speciality.

La Belle Mere UK said...

Oh my word, I would have been TERR. IF. FIED.

I had a similar incident in Thailand with a sea kayak and a cut hand. Pooped myself. I've never paddled so hard in all my life.

Your post came across as very brave!! The wave of panic would have washed over me long before, I think!!!!

(And you look uber cool in the picture!!)

LBM XXX

Green-Eyed Momster said...

Glad you weren't eaten alive and whole! Hope your hand is much better!

I have an award for you!

Hugs!!

Something Happened Somewhere Turning said...

It seems odd that with a beach full of lifeguards and instructors who -- it would seem -- should have been watching out over you for the most part. That none of them noticed that you were in some sort of distress and needed some help is almost certainly a tragedy. But then maybe I have it all wrong and they just dropped you off in the middle of nowhere and sped away; thinking you'de be fine on your own. I would think for insurance reasons they would want to watch out for their clientele.
Whatever the reason I am glad that you avoided becoming shark bait and at least were rescued by the cabana boys. Now I want to know what to do when the sails do go out.

Bev said...

Oh MAN! This is why I don't like swimming in the ocean... riptides, things that eat you... and so forth.

Glad you're ok!

Kristina P. said...

This was so funny! Glad you didn't die.

Lady Di said...

Well at least you were totally rocking the red bikini while making a fool of your self. That's Jenny Mac- Always doing it with style, maybe not so much grace...but style!!

Grand Pooba said...

Oh man, I would never go back in the water!

Jen said...

I don't know how you kept your wits about you. If it had been me, I would have been panicking the moment the wind stopped. Well, truth be told, I would have never gotten on that board.

Baloney said...

I was thinking "shark" just hearing you were away from shore and in the water. I love the beach but after I get in the water waist deep my mind starts playing games with me as I remember shark attacks... in shallow water... eek!
You are very, very brave!

One Sassy Girl said...

Eek! The ocean has had my full respect ever since I got sucked away from shore in some rip tide thingy that, at my 6 years of age, became the new monster to fear in the world. My hot piece of stuff mommy swam out to get me faster than the lifeguard could. She would've done it for you, too, if only she'd been there. Funny story - glad it ended well!

Intense Guy said...

I...just want to see a picture of you in the red bikini. :)

Lesson two is how to put a bandaid on, I'm guessing - maybe they hide a first aid kit in the sail mounting bracket or something.

I mean...the wind stops...what are ya supposed to do? Its a sailing type thingy...blow on it?

Dee said...

I had a similar (not quite) experience and in my case it was kayaking. I went out alone and crashed in the rocks, cut my hands and lost my paddle. It was terrible.

I thought about swimming back too until I put my hand in the ocean and miraculously felt the paddle. I managed to get back to shore where my husband lounging all unconcerned. Needless to say I was pi**ed.

Emily said...

LMAO and so happy you were not a Tiger Shark's dinner that night!

Gwen said...

Such a funny story but definitely a good lesson to be learned. :) Thanks for stopping by the blog today!! XOXO

The Blonde Duck said...

Whew! What a story!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

oh my heavens! how scary! I'm so glad the sharks didn't get you!

Donn said...

Since I was a kid back in the 60s I have read/viewed every book/documentary on Sharks and I have essentially eliminated any possibility of ever coming into contact with them in the wild.

I was in Mexico in March and managed to splash in the crashing waves a bit but wild horses could not drag me out past my waist...although I have gone snorkelling in the Ocean so I'm not a total wuss :)

If you visit the International Shark Attack File you will discover that "statistically" more people are killed by Bees and Dogs...
but, "statistically" most people aren't bobbing about the Atlantic leaving a chum line of blood behind them.

I realise that the odds of have an investigative chomp are remote..
their taste buds are way in the back of their throat behind the rows of teeth...
however, humans tend to toss all of their garbage into ocean and this attracts sharks.

Ignoring statistical probabilities is bliss.

peewee said...

Oh my God! I was all panicked just reading this. I might have to go take a xanax now. How did you NOT FREAK OUT???

ellen abbott said...

Nothing like bleeding in the ocean to freak yourself out.

So, now you're experienced right?

I never windsurfed but I did get rather far out in a Sunfish (little sailboat) once running with the wind. Took me about 5 hours to tack back in.

Lisa and Laura said...

Ok, this story makes me feel like a complete wuss. I'm totally impressed. Was it worth risking your life to have a fabulous story to tell over a glass of wine? My guess is abso-freaking-lutely. Well done!

Hollyrocks said...

At least the first part of your windsurfing adventure sounds like fun! The blood, sharks, and waiting for help in the hot equatorial sun not so much, but at least you can say you've done it now.

blueviolet said...

The first thing I thought of was sharks too! I'm not sure how I feel about being eaten partially or completely. Neither are enjoyable options.

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

I agree with J.J LA, actually- I do it, I just don't LIKE IT.

EmFabulousFunshine said...

forgot to mention i tagged you in my blog.

ladytruth said...

I have an award waiting for you over at my blog ;)

Matthew said...

My grandparents told a similar story once. They were staying in a caravan on the south coast of the UK, it rained a lot and there were no sharks or windsurfers involved. Other than that, practically the same holiday from what I can see.

Ryan Ashley Scott said...

Ack! I might have died from panic. You are one brave woman, JennyMac. Thank goodness for cabana boys, in any case (and for several reasons). ;)

Yankee Girl said...

I can only imagine all of the four letter words I would have been yelling if I was in that situation!

Hopefully the cabana boys were worth it!

Vodka Logic said...

At least you tried, I wouldn't have even done that.

xx

Michelle said...

I tend to just drink a lot on vacation for this very reason!

Helen McGinn said...

Hon, I hope your hand was alright?? Did sharks follow you home? ;O)
xx

Elizabeth Marie said...

Ohhhh k...talk about one of my biggest nightmares ever. Me and deep water are not BFF.

Your poor hand! ONE MILE OFF SHORE? Reading things like that freak me the EFF out. I'm glad you're on land! I like you on land! :)

The Savage said...

Ahhhh sweet safety! I really don't have a comment about it since it is so rarely used where I work but ummm yeah safety first....

Judy said...

I'm so glad you are OK. I was sitting on the edge of my chair while reading your story. How scary that must have been. I'm so thankful you are OK!

Jill Pilgrim said...

Oh my God! So crazy!! Safety first indeed!

Constructive Attitude said...

Whoa. quite a story. Glad you made it out alive!

Unknown Mami said...

Scary! You are grounded!

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Holy shittola. Some people say "OMG, OMG." I say Oh-effigy, Oh-effigy!

Example: when you said, "Uh oh. I had to drop the sail because gravity was working against me. So there I sat in the Atlantic....all surfboarded up and no where to go."

Yikes! My fear of sharks would have absolutely paralyzed me.

Brave girl!

stepfabulous said...

I, my friend, would totally have FREAKED OUT! Shark Week definately did a number on me!

Alicia said...

goodness woman! you had me scared!! but i bet you have a nice tan now, right?

The Cottage Cheese said...

Well, I'm so glad that you are still here to tell your story! Windsurfing is HARD. My dad had an old windsurfer (back when they were still making the big, heavy boards), made in the late 70's. When I was about 12, I swore I was going to learn to windsurf. I got stuck out on the lake a few times, and it sucked. No sharks, but the fish did bite at my toes. Very traumatic. I still want to learn someday, though. How's the hand?

Daddy Forever said...

Wow, that's quite an adventure. Scary, but fun. Must have been great windsurfing in warm water. The ocean over here in the Pacific NW is freezing cold.

Cocaine Princess said...

That's one thing I always fear when I'm in the water especially when I'm in the tropics. My bff knows how scared I always am that a shark will pop out of no where to gobble me up that she purposely starts humming the theme to JAWS as we enter into the water.

I hope you are feeling better Jenny dear.

Beautiful picture for this post.