“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.
The house was just as we’d left it. (BUT NOT FOR LONG! STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO OF MY VACATION ADVENTURES!)
“Let’s scope out this place, The Station,” Peppermeister said. “They serve food and rent boats.”
While recreating one of the menu photos…
…we noticed an entertaining boat name:
“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.
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.
We cruised steadily west while Peppermeister grabbed a beer and we tried to pick out our own marina.
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!”
“We’re IN THE DUNES. DRIVE by the DUNES.”
“WE’RE DUE SOUTH OF TIANA BAY! DUE SOUTH! We’re IN the DUNES on the OTHER SIDE of the BAY. We’ve DRIFTED SINCE WE HAVE NO ANCHOR AND ONE OAR!”
“Like I said, we’re to the LEFT OF THE BRIDGE. DUE SOUTH OF TIANA BAY. We’re THE ONLY BOAT HERE.”
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 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.
The 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.
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?