Man Overboard

Man, nice topic for my 600th blog post (on this blog anyway).

So Spence and I love to Jet Ski together. It’s great bonding for us especially since its one of the few things Spencer can do and Garrett can’t. Been doing it for two summers now, and been out on Lake Chelan plenty of times. We enjoy it enough that Amy and I are planning on picking up a used pair of PWCs so we don’t have to rent them.

Anyway, today was no different than any other day. Spencer and I got out early, missing most of the boating traffic, had fun under the sun for 50 minutes, and we started to head in to fill up with gas before taking the PWC back to the rental place.

Next thing I know Spencer and I are in the water.

I really don’t know what I did to cause us to fall off. I push jet skis through the paces when I’m out, being careful but having fun at the same time. I focus, pay attention to what I’m doing, and to date haven’t done anything that even came close to flipping it or falling off. Apparently I did something while turning right toward the gas station to throw us off.

Thus began my most panicked experience in my life. Spencer has taken swimming lessons, so he’s used to water, but he doesn’t exactly swim. His recent lessons he’s been in the water without any floatation devices, but again, not really swimming. So I was immediately concerned about his safety and knew I had to keep him from panicking too much. Before I hit the water I immediately started freaking and thinking Spencer was going to head underwater. We both had lifejackets on, but the water was really cold, and I really wasn’t in a mental state to think the situation through logically. By the time I got my head up above water Spencer had found me and grabbed on. Unfortunately, he started climbing for my head, which put a lot of weight in a vertical space, forcing me to work extra hard to stay above water. I finally told Spencer he had to get off me, and he complied without panicking or complaining. Now I was able to keep us above water without much effort. I bet 10 seconds didn’t pass during this time but it felt like 10 minutes.

The next phase I remember was trying to get back to the jet ski. I have a pair of Keen water shoes, which are great waterproof sandals, but are anchors when they are in the water. So in trying to swim, with Spencer in hand, I just couldn’t get anywhere. Thus my second wave of panick, how the hell are we going to get our butts out of the water. Again, this probably lasted 10 seconds but felt like 10 minutes.

So I start screaming like a little bitch for help (we are close to a pretty populated part of the lake, with a lot of traffic near the gas station), and Spencer had the presense of mind to get the lanyard that holds the key to the jet ski and blow the whistle that was attached to it. Within a minute or so a few jet skiiers came to us, and someone who was a certified lifeguard helped Spencer and I back onto our jet ski. They plucked Spence right out of the water, and at that point I felt such a gust of relief and my panic attack subsided. The funny part now began, as a fat guy had to try and get on the PWC from the back, and this part took the better part of 5 minutes. Seriously, and I flipped the lifeguard into the water in the process. Finally, I am back on the jet ski, only I didn’t realize it was mine. So I start looking around for a floating jet ski, don’t see one, and start asking “where the hell is my jet ski?” Oh great, someone grabbed it and now I have to cut a check for 10 grand. “Dude, isn’t that yours?” I checked the storage compartment for my phone and wallet, and sure enough, it was.

A big thank you to the anonymous folks that helped us. While reflecting on this things certainly were not dire, in the moment I was freaked out and swear Spencer and I were going to drown in Lake Chelan (yes, I know, people reading this are laughing and asking “how do you drown with lifejackets on?”). As Spencer learned, the vast majority of the time strangers are great people (despite what Michelle Obama thinks).

When filling out with gas one of the ladies who stopped to help was there. She had two kids and her husband was there, and she pointed out that her husband flipped his jet ski before, thinking it would make me feel better. It didn’t, but thanks anyway.

Weird things during this whole experience:

  • I didn’t lose my sunglasses, and didn’t realize I had them until I got back to the hotel room.
  • I didn’t lose my wedding ring. It started sliding off in the water, and again as I got back on the PWC, but for some reason I made a conscious effort to keep it. Hell I think my Keen’s are worth more than that ring.
  • I never felt cold at all. Which is weird. I almost wore a rain jacket the past two days because if I get a little spray on me I’m such a puss cuz the water’s cold.

And I will say, it is very sobering to think that I caused this kind of commotion to Spencer. I hope one day we are laughing about this instead of retelling this story to his psychiatrist.

So tomorrow Spencer doesn’t want to go jet skiing. In fact, while we were walking back he said “maybe in July we should go on a boat instead.” Don’t think I want to get on a jet ski myself tomorrow, although I suspect I will have no problem come July.

He also told me… “I was a little scared Dad but mostly I was brave.” He was.


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