Family Ties, Just For Fun, Marriage, PSAs

My Boat Capsized and All I Got Was This Tiny T-Shirt

“I can’t wait to rent a boat in Long Island!” my first husband, Peppermeister, said several times before we headed east last week.

Once again, my aunt and uncle were generously letting us stay in their vacation home for our anniversary. We had fond memories of relaxing bay side, playing mini golf and binge drinking waterfront dining.


“Let’s scope out this place, The Station,” Peppermeister said. “They serve food and rent boats.”

More importantly, they serve Tröegs on tap.
More importantly, they serve Tröegs on tap.

While recreating one of the menu photos…


…we noticed an entertaining boat name:

I swear on snot rockets and turd buckets, this detail becomes important later.

“Do you think that’s the boat they rent?” I asked.

“Nah, that one’s too nice,” Peppermeister replied. “They probably rent those.”

He pointed to the glorified row boats on either side of Butthead. I quickly let go of my mai tai drinking, bow bathing fantasies.

“We’ll come back on Monday – the weather’s supposed to be beautiful.”

And the weather finally WAS beautiful, on Wednesday. The young man preparing our boat barely put down his sandwich to attach the motor. Knowing nothing about boats, I brushed off my first thought: “Is that from a lawn mower?”

At 10:15am, we were finally ready to hit the open seas Shinnecock Bay.


In between bites, our boat hand, who shall henceforth be referred to as “Boris,” explained where to fish for fluke, and gave us a map with the emergency phone numbers on it.

What's that? This paper looks like it got wet? Huh. Spoiler alert.
What’s that? This paper looks like it got wet? Huh. Spoiler alert!

We didn’t even make it out of the marina before the motor stalled and we drifted into sand. We shoved ourselves off with our one sturdy oar, and Peppermeister got us going again.

The weather was so flawless, I paid little mind to the hiccup.

Wheeee! We must be going 2.3 knots, by now!
Wheeee! We must be going 2.3 knots by now! Surely we’ll never need those life jackets!

We cruised steadily west while Peppermeister grabbed a beer and we tried to pick out our own marina.

Hey, did you leave the porch light on?

About 45 minutes into our cruise, the motor cut out again.


When it happened for the third time, we Peppermeister spent 20 minutes trying to start it.

“I’m just going to call the guy to come get us. This is a waste of time.” He fished out his cell phone from the Ziploc bag in his backpack.

Here’s a summary of how that went down:

“Landmarks? …Yes, there are buildings nearby! THERE ARE HOUSES EVERYWHERE!”




I tried to help, too.


One hour and five phone calls later, Boris arrived in none other than…



He, of course, managed to get our motor going, and told us to follow him back. The motor stalled a minute later, and it took him three minutes to notice we weren’t following. He circled back to tow us.

He tangled up his lines in his motor, and then attached one line to the front of our boat.

“He’s doing it wrong,” Peppermeister muttered. “You’re supposed to tow with two lines.”

We lurched forward, and Boris started swerving Butthead left to right, right to left, while we tipped from side to side in our boat.

I should probably say something.

I leaned forward and backward in the opposite direction of his swerving, trying to keep the boat level.

About halfway to the marina, the water grew increasingly choppy, as did Boris’s driving, and gallons of water sloshed into our boat. We tried bailing it out with our one bucket, a bleach bottle with the bottom cut out.

Peppermeister whistled loudly. Boris, who’d never once looked back to check on us, raised his eyebrows in mild surprise.

“Every time you turn, more water comes in! We’ve been trying to empty it this whole time!” Peppermeister shouted. “Will this boat sink?”

“No,” he replied, and kept driving, staring straight ahead.

Titanic-orchestraThe water rushed past our calves, almost as high as the seats.

Peppermeister whistled again and Boris stood there gawking.

Everything next happened in slow motion.

Peppermeister yelled, “You need to get off!”

With my brain still saying, “This boat’s not actually SINKING,” I grabbed our precious cargo -the backpack- and held it above my head. Suddenly, half the boat was under water. Good call on the Ziploc bags. As it capsized, my left leg got pinned beneath, allowing me to appreciate its sturdiness. Wow. No. I kicked off my flip-flops and paddled away, shouting,

“Here! The backpack! Get it on Butthead! Get it on Butthead!”

Because I’d be DAMNED if I was losing my cell phone and car keys over this little snafu.

Peppermeister threw the backpack at Boris, who let it hit his chest and slide to the floor. I swam for a second or two, watching the contents of the boat drift south (due south! Of Tiana Bay! Towards the dunes! In case you were wondering).

“Don’t worry about the boat! Don’t worry about it! Leave the stuff!” Boris called, finally looking rattled.

“Get a life jacket!” Peppermeister cried, and I grabbed the only one still within reach, passing it to him, confused.

Ooh, the water feels nice. It’s not as hard to swim in a denim jacket as I thought it would be. Bet I could swim back pretty fast. Great exercise.

“Do you need it? Put it on!” Peppermeister said frantically.

I took one look at his face and his next statement answered my unspoken question, “I’m freakin’ out a little.”

“It’s fine,” I replied. “It’s fine. We’re in a bay. You know how to swim.”

“I know, I know,” he said. “You get on first.”

Shouldn’t we get the stuff?

“Don’t worry about the stuff!” Boris called again.

“Go! Use our boat!” Peppermeister urged.

Our overturned boat was creating, I realized, a handy step up onto Butthead. Boris grabbed my arm firmly, “I got you, I got you.”

Man, I always thought that would be impossible, I thought as I tumbled onboard.

Once Peppermeister and I were safely seated, we began our 45-minute slog back to the marina. I didn’t realize why it took so long until much later.

Boris was towing our boat.

Upside down.


The Station owner was waiting for us on the dock when we returned.

“A ‘small’ problem?” he asked, glancing between Boris and his sodden passengers.

Boris stared at the ground while Peppermeister and I disembarked. Moments later, he handed us a full refund and two t-shirts.

“I’m so sorry about this,” he said.

He walked away, shoulders slumped, and I looked at Peppermeister.

“That. Was. AWESOME.”


Have you ever had any vacation mishaps?


107 thoughts on “My Boat Capsized and All I Got Was This Tiny T-Shirt”

  1. Wow, your boat capsized… this is not what we have come to expect when you say “bottom’s up”, Jules.

    Vacation mishaps, eh? When I was 18 I used to photograph bands and had done some photos of an actual professional band and word got around. another big band called me to photograph a show of theirs as sort of an audition… if they liked the shots I could become their regular band photo to go on tour, signing bonus, and an actual pay cheque with bonuses, etc. The day after the shoot I was to go to Florida… long story short I ended up hitchhiking through the Keys and my camera got stolen with the audition films still in the camera bag. So not only didn’t I get the job but I didn’t bring home any vacation photos.

  2. Jules,
    I’m almost done with your post, let me grab another post of coffee, and make some bacon. And now for the second half.
    Le Clown

    1. Le Clown,

      I tried, oh how I TRIED, to make this shorter, but I just couldn’t do it. However, hearing that it’s causing readers to work up a bacon appetite, I now have no regrets.


          1. Jules,
            I’m oversharing, but I laughed. No coffee spilling on my screen, as it seems like a trend on this blogosphere when one lawls, and it’s such a waste of coffee, but I laughed.
            Le Clown

            1. Le Clown,
              I live to serve (and spare coffee). I mean, really, I LIVE to serve. The promise of a blog post idea inspires me to survive near-death experiences.
              Go Jules Go

      1. Don’t listen to him, Jules. He’s Canadian and we Canucks go through bacon like Americans go through ammo… it’s got nothing to do with whether your post was too long.

  3. I’ve been overturned in a canoe and lost my cell phone and wallet and then couldn’t make it back to the canoe due to the current in the river. Similar tale but no T-shirt for me.

    How do you look so adorable right after slogging through the bay?

    1. ALL I cared about was my cell phone – I mean, just imagine this post without pictures! THE HORROR!

      And poor Rachey-Poo. I hope you had a helpful companion since I couldn’t be there to rescue you.

      1. My helpful companion deserted me chasing after the only thing that was in a ziploc bag – our lunch. I was left with to battle the current alone. With the canoe and two oars. Mr. Rache has priorities I guess.

  4. Oh. My. GOD. This was so hysterical and scary. Two t-shirts and a refund? He should have given you Butthead. This story has taught me many lessons, always make sure there’s a large floating door nearby in the water in case I have to pull a Jack/Rose move later on. Or just always wear your life jacket. The best part of this story was that you managed to snap photos the entire time. The photo of Peppermeister in the boat was classic!! You officially rule blogging.

    And I am soooo relieved you are here to tell that tale, JD. You kept your cool. I would have panicked immediately when the engine cut out the first time.

    1. We really, really wanted Butthead. And a floating door. Or a paper bag, for Peppermeister’s hyperventilating.

      I kept trying to tell him we should abandon the boat and swim to shore. Why don’t men just blindly listen to their women? They’d be so much better off.

  5. It’s good to have relatives with vacation homes. I married for love but I also happened to have married up. I didn’t count on the fringe benefits.

    Butthead? For real or you Photoshopped that?

    You probably could have got out of the boat and walked to shore. I spend six years in the Coast Guard and had many fun-filled evenings meeting folks just like you on adventures just like this!

    A+ on your misadventure. C- on the wet tee-shirt title tease.

    1. I really should have married up – I might’ve gotten my very own Butthead and avoided this mess. And yes! It was really called Butthead! I swear on floatation devices, I only Photoshopped the final picture.

      And that was EXACTLY my suggestion to Peppermeister (to walk to shore) during the hour we waited for Boris.

      1. My poor wife. If I married up, you know what that means for her, don’t you?

        Once you admit to Photoshopping one pic, ALL pics become suspect.

        Re: your—our—walking to shore solution. Great minds, etc.

    1. Their t-shirt possibilities are endless, really, now that you mention it.

      I originally named him “Out to Lunch,” but Peppermeister insisted on Boris. I humored him, since his boat dreams were dashed so spectacularly.

  6. Hahaha – good times! We rented wave runners in SC and the one my friend was on stalled in the waterway. They brought him another one to use and five minutes later the first one burst into flames. Naturally, I made jokes about it for the rest of the day pretending he was being chased by the mob. He didn’t think it was funny. I thought it was hilarious. No one was hurt, and we got drink coupons. What? Yeah we’re not really friends anymore.

    1. First off – thanks for the Tweet favorite!

      And DANG, that’s the only thing we were missing – flames! (Although with Boris dragging the boat upside down, and the motor under water, the whole way back, anything might’ve happened.)

      That’s incredible. If your friend can’t appreciate how important it is to suffer for a good story, he’s no friend of bloggers!

    1. When Peppermeister was “freaking out just a little” in the water, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t see this whole experience as a gift from the bloggy gods.

  7. Wow. What an adventure. You probably should have known when you saw Butthead. Who knew that Beavis was the one renting out the boats! And that picture looks totally real. Good job with the photoshopping. 😉

    1. YES! I hope the Jules-skill-doubting Peppermeister is reading these comments. Thank you!

      And HA. DAMMIT! Why didn’t we think to name him “Beavis”?!?!?!!?

  8. Getting visions of Leo and Kate. Glad Peppermeister didn’t have to slip away to feed the fishies to save you. Also glad you made it back safely. Your obit without your great voice would suck, and I’m guessing you didn’t write it up before you left. 🙂

  9. When I was 16 my dad got a speeding ticket on a reservation in Wyoming when we were on a two week camping trip in the western states. This was after we had planned to get gas in the next town only to discover that the town had apparently been abandoned in the 1970s.

  10. Oh Jules, I love you and your first husband. Only kind hearted people could be good sports about this like you were.

    My brother and I rented a jet ski when we were like 15 and 12 respectively and took it out into the Atlantic a couple hundred yards from the beach only to stall. The imbecile (our Boris?) came out and switched the switch to reserve saying that the other tank was empty but the reserve tank had plenty of gas in it to finish out our 1 hour rental. Of course we ran out of gas again and a storm came through causing us to lose visibility for more than about 5 yards. I made some JAWS music as we drifted off to sea while my brother was freaking the fuck out! Lol. We were eventually saved when the storm passed and Boris McTanlines was able to see us to come get us. I later admitted to my brother while in our bunk beds that I was a wee bit freaked out too.

    1. Nah, we have hearts of coal. I’m surprised we didn’t sink straight to the bottom.

      I guess the good thing about panicking in the ocean is that you can just go ahead and pee.

    1. HA Believe it or not, I thought of you when I posted that pic (that’s what she said). Last year, I posted a similar pic from Long Island (in a strapless bathing suit), and you said the same thing.

      I mean… I was totes naked! That’s why Boris couldn’t drive straight!

      Wrecked? Wrecked wrecked?

      1. Wrecked as in drifted sideways into rocks and gouged the hell out of the sides. When we were getting towed in, the boat was going sideways because the rudder also get trashed on same rocks. Our bill for damages ? 0 pesos. Not sure how we got away with that one.

        And u gotta come up with some new pervy comment material…

  11. At any point did you think, “Blog post.”? Even for a second?

    That’s an awesome story. Just fantastic. Especially since everyone’s okay AND you got shirts out of the deal (because, naturally, you’re going to want to advertise for them…)

    1. At all the points did I think that! That iPhone is worth its weight in gold.

      Thanks – I’m glad you liked it! It was almost impossible to bite my tongue and not mention it offline.

  12. Oh, Boris. Sweet, stupid, determined Boris. I, too, am an eternal optimist, relatively unswayed by hard facts. And Jules? I hope you keep having one mishap after another, ’cause I like reading about them. Is that evil, or is that what friendship’s about? 😉

    1. Seriously – TOTALLY worth it. I was drying up, blog-wise (pun intended! Booya!).

      AND we got a full refund (went out to dinner, BONUS). It was like I was finally getting paid to blog!

  13. That was AMAZING! As long as the cell phones (and you and Peppermeister, of course) made it out safely, it’s all good.

    We’ve had our share of vacation mishaps. Accidentally hiking to the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. The camping trip where we had to leave two days early because torrential rain drowned our tent. But the best was the 9.0 earthquake that just happened to occur on the second day of our once-in-a-lifetime trip to Japan.

    I think someone’s trying to tell me I need to stay home.

    1. Oh! OH! Earthquake! You win! Wow. I’m so glad you’re okay.

      My favorite part was the full refund – we got to go out to dinner with the money, AND I got a blog post. Win-win.

      1. Do you have that shirt that says, “I’m blogging this”? Because if you don’t, you totally should. That’s the upside to all misery- we can always blog it.

  14. I love that you called it a “small snafu.” That’s one of those things that at some point it just becomes hilarious. When was that for you? For me, it was when you called the guy Boris.

    1. I’m so glad you asked, Thoughtsy! The part of the story that I left out was when the water first started sloshing into the boat, and I just LOST it. Peppermeister said, “Please don’t laugh. Please. This was the ONE THING I was looking forward to.” By the time boat sank, though, he saw it for what it was: Comedy gold.

  15. Oh my golly gosh! I’ve had two near drowning vacation mishaps too, as well as a falling down some marble hotel stairs and cracking my head mishap, oh and a faulty bikini top mishap too, some might say that last one was fortuitous though.

    1. Gah! I can totally see that happening, with the stairs. We’ve stayed at some all-inclusive places in the tropics, where the floors are all marble, but everything is humid, so all of the surfaces are slick.

  16. reason #455 why I hate boats! I really do. I’m so not a water person. (Don’t I sound fun? I’m always telling you what I DON’T like.)

    All vacations with kids are mishaps. All trips without them are wonderful even if it’s just a night in a hotel downtown–which we have done. 🙂

    1. I didn’t mention that I actually started to feel sea sick, on top of it all!

      Most parents tell me that as long as a hotel/motel has a pool, they’re good to go. Someone told me one place had an indoor water park!! Why didn’t they have that when we were kids??

    1. For Peppermeister, it was right when Boris refused to put down his sandwich, even when selecting a motor for our boat (I think he picked the right one, don’t you?).

  17. At no point while reading this did I think your boat would actually sink. Even when I read, “As it capsized…” I thought, “nah, they’ll be fine.” I love that your boat sinking actually made the whole thing *more* fun. (I think I would feel the same way!) What’s a vacation without a bit of maritime adventure?

    1. I’m still not convinced it actually happened, but I keep brushing off sand from my denim jacket.

      I thought of you/your sailing post when I was writing this!

      1. Ha, you know what? The motor is the worst part of sailing too. We’ll be having a great time and when it’s time to head back in, it can take freaking forever (and the muscle power of Adonis) to get the motor going because it’s flooded or not getting gas. Oars all the way!

  18. Brilliant. I had a similar (although not QUITE so disastrous) experience in Croatia. Our engine packed in, we drifted for about two hours, we were towed back by a friendly Austrian family (whose children found it HILARIOUS). We waited on the beach for the boat’s owner to return to his office. While waiting, all our possessions (phones, cameras, MP3 players) were washed out to sea by a large wave. Upon the boat owner’s return, and his query as to why I hadn’t been answering my phone, I explained this. His response? To nod sagely and proclaim, “Ah. You have a sheeeeet day.” Yes, Croatian man, yes we did.

    We didn’t even get a t-shirt.

    1. Not quite so disastrous?! You lost all your stuff!! That was my biggest fear (life jacket, schmife jacket)! That is some sheeeeet right there!

      Then again, you did get towed by the von Trapps, so that’s exciting.

      1. True, but at no point did I fear for my life… although the extremely chubby Austrian child DID look hungry… luckily I think he was too amused by us to consider eating us.

  19. This is why I love you. Because you had this kick-ass attitude about the whole thing, instead of going all “I’m gonna sue you.”

    And you DO look hot – too hot for someone who just crawled off the Titanic.

  20. Jules,

    Since it was photoshopped I don’t think I have to apologize to your first husband for noticing your tiny t-shirt. But I would have if it was real… although truth be told one of the reasons I would apologize is because I love awkward moments… sounds like a fantastic outing!

    -Soul Walker

  21. That photo totally needs to be part of your Christmas card this year. I am willing to bet money that Boris was in the family, IYKWIM, and couldn’t be canned. I’ve had two vacation mishaps that aren’t nearly as exciting as yours. Once when I was about 8 we camped in Panama City, FL and a hurricane hit. My sister and I slept in the tent while my parents were in the camper and we were FORBIDDEN to enter it. But eventually the weather got so bad and we were so scared, we ran for it. As soon as we were out of the tent, it flipped over. We broke camp and headed for a hotel. The other time was the first time my sister and I decided to go camping ourselves, at like 20 and 17. We neglected to bring tent poles. It also rained that night and we ended up at a hotel. I don’t go camping anymore.

Leave a Reply. Because I Love You.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.