6/16/16

Wait, you're from IOWA? (aka Angels live ALL over...)

The Jet Ski adventure PART THREE!!



She was smiling and holding a Corona as she approached us.

“Hi!” she said, “We’ve been admiring your Jet-Ski’s!  My husband and I have a couple back home and we love them!”

“Well,” I said with a hint of the exhaustion in my voice, “we’ve only had then for three days, but wait until you hear what happened.”  I recounted the events of the day for her, all the while trying to edge closer and close to the tiny amount of shade I noticed being cast down by the massive palm tree next to me.

She listened to my story and her eyes got huge. “WAIT HERE!” she said excitedly, “I think my husband can help!” She turned towards the cottage next door and then shouted over her shoulder, “He used to RACE Jet Ski’s. I’m sure he can fix it!”

I watched in shock as she ran across the sand. I looked back at Ray who had been watching and listening to our exchange.

“Wow!” he said. “Wouldn’t that be crazy if he could help?” I was WAY too tired and sun burned to hope, but I did anyway. 

Moments later a very attractive, very muscular guy with amazing tattoos up and down his arms came strolling across the beach.  He smiled and shook our hands as we introduced ourselves.  He wasted no time walking around the Ski and then ran back into his unit for his snorkel and mask.  His wife stood with us and assured us again that if anyone could fix a Jet Ski, it would be Jack.

He came out quickly and walked out into the muddy, murky, seaweed-laden water to inspect underneath the Jet Ski.  We watched intently and held our breath.

He emerged a short time later and tossed his snorkel and mask onto the beach. “There is an ANCHOR sticking our of your engine, and I’m pretty sure there’s a good amount of rope inside it.  We’ll have to put her on her side and I think I can get it out.”

We were all stunned and very hopeful! Ray ran to his unit and grabbed some tools, and I ran to the fridge for some very needed Corona’s for all of us. 

We got back to the beach and all hoisted the Sea Doo on it’s side. Now remember, this is the ski that is VERY BIG. It fits three people and can pull a skier big. The three of us, a 72-year young man, a 50 some year old school teacher and a 30-year old beach babe held that 1200 pound ski up while Jack pulled/cut out the anchor.  He proceeded to pull foot after foot of rope out of that engine, while three or more gentlemen (and I use that term loosely) watched us ten feet away in the pool area. WATCHED. 

After 15 minutes or so, Jack proclaimed the engine rope-free and we lowered the Jet Ski into the water. Thank the Lord, because I was pretty sure we couldn't hold that thing much longer. 

Jack looked at Ray.  “Start ‘er up.” 

I looked at Ray and said a prayer. 

He stepped onto the ski, swung his leg over and looked at the three of us as he reached for the key.

The engine ROARED TO LIFE!

“OH MY GOD!!” I shouted.  “Oh my GOD YOU ARE SO AWESOME!” I shouted at Jack and his wife. “What are the odds that you guys-who were staying right next door to us- would be able to fix the Jet Ski?  Oh my God.”  We all laughed and went about tying the skis up to the dock. We invited them back to our unit for some additional MUCH needed beverages.

We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening getting to know this young, amazing couple from Des Moines, Iowa.  The couple who not only sells real estate, has four children between them, organizes and manages MMA bouts across the country while he works an amazing job at Wells Fargo bank, but who are apparently miracle Jet Ski repair people.

What kind of crazy miracle was that? 



And then the next day, our group Jet Ski adventure began…



6/14/16

Cast Away....Cayman Style....(Except for the Island, and the plane crash, and the spears....)


We were bouncing across the ocean sitting back to back on my bright green, sporty Jet Ski. Ray’s larger, much more powerful one was bobbing wildly behind us at the end of a ten foot towrope. In fact, it looked a bit like an angry child being dragged into the doctor’s office against his will. (I remember being the dragger on MORE than one occasion and it’s not a pretty sight.) 

I hung onto the handles on either side of the seat with my back to Ray’s, praying that I wouldn’t be bounced off the back and into the path of the crippled Jet Ski. Ray had the ours going about 3 to 4 miles an hour as we chipped away at the journey ahead of us. 

This particular part of the sea is apparently a VERY busy one, as charter boat after even larger chater boat passed us coming and going.  Now, you would THINK that one of these captains might have thought that PERHAPS two old people on one Jet Ski pulling one wildly behind them might possibly need some help. I guess that was a crazy notion.

We bounced and bobbed and weaved and made our way across the beautiful blue sea one mile at a time. We closely watched a blanket of dark gray clouds off to the east follow us while the sun beat down on us from above.  The precious sunscreen and our hats were tucked neatly inside the waterproof compartment in Ray’s crippled Jet Ski, and we could feel our skin burning.  Fortunately the spray from each crashing wave fooled us into thinking that we were NOT burning.

As we finally closed in on the opening to the bay, the gray blanket of clouds overhead opened up and came pouring down, along with several loud kabooms of lightening and thunder.

“Honey,” I turned and shouted to Ray, “Wouldn’t it be HYSTERICAL if we made it the whole way across the bay alive and were killed here in the bay by one of those bolts of lightening?  Wouldn’t it?”
He laughed and gunned the throttle trying to outrun the storm. At this point the no-wake zone in the bay meant nothing to us.  When we made it to our own beach a few minutes later the storm decided to leave us alone and headed out to sea. Thank God. 

I jumped off the Ski and stood, exhausted, on the sand. Ray walked over and we both stood there quietly for a minute digesting what we had just been through.  I’m sure he was trying to figure out what the hell we were going to do, and I was wondering I needed some medical attention for what I was sure was going to be sun poisoning.

It was then I noticed an adorable young girl in a skimpy bikini walking over to us from the cottage next door.  She carried an ice cold Corona and a beautiful smile on her face.  Little did I know that what she also carried with her was something that was going to make our day…. 


5/31/16

The Book of Fred (I mean Ray) and The Adventure on the High Seas

I’m going to do what my darling Steve King never does. I’m going to start right smack in the middle of the story and save the ending for another day.  

And it’s a doozy.


The last time Ray visited his home in the Caymans was in March, when I was freezing on the playground with my first graders.  While down there Ray decided that he would surprise me with a little something he thought I would enjoy.  It showed up on Thursday when arrived in Cayman for a short unexpected trip over Memorial Day.  (Remember when my short unexpected trips were to Target?) Here was the surprise. 



Yep, it’s that gorgeous, sporty green Jet Ski up there. HE bought himself a much larger and more powerful one that a business friend ended up with at his marina. It was slightly damaged and the friend was selling it for a steal- and because Ray can’t pass up a bargain even if it DOES cost him thousands of dollars, he snapped it up.

The Jet Skis were delivered to the house Friday, and we spent many amazing hours that afternoon and evening getting our sea/ocean legs.  The feeling of riding a Jet Ski across gorgeous blue Cayman Island ocean water is indescribable.  INDESCRIBABLE. In fact, it was so breathtaking that I almost forgot about the fact that Ray had inadvertently jumped into the water with both of our cell phones stuffed in his pocket. 

Ray spent an inordinate amount of time “schooling” me on the do’s and don'ts of operating a Jet Ski. The most important DON’T is the DON’T LET A ROPE GET INTO THE ENGINE.  Because we weren’t as prepared as we needed to be, we had rigged several rope systems up to the front and back of each Jet Ski. We also rigged up an anchor for each Sea Doo which were also hooked up with ropes. 

“What EVER you do, honey, don’t EVER let a rope get into the engine. It will fry it up for sure!”  I heard this sermon over and over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

Good thing.

On Sunday we decided that we could probably manage a trip across the bay from Rum Point all the way over to Morgan’s Harbor, which is located on the West End.  It’s about 10 – 12 miles across the water.  We passed Stingray City, the coral reef and a bazillion fishing and charter boats along the way.
We pulled into Morgan’s Harbor and Ray instructed me to go SLOWLY and follow him to the dock where we would gas up the Jet Ski’s for the trip back. We were told by a local charter captain, his friend Blair,  that we would need to get our gas on that side of the island as it was hard to find on our side.  Blair was nice enough to not only pick up, deliver and launch the Jet Skis for us, he ALSO reminded us to not allow the engines to get near ANY rope. 


I’m pretty sure you know where this is going.


We managed to get gas without hurting anyone. I actually maneuvered the Jet Ski next to the dock without much difficulty and then zipped back out away from the boats to wait patiently for Ray.  I could hear the dockhand remind Ray (and me) not to allow ANY ropes to get near the engine. (If I had a QUARTER for each time I heard it I could’ve paid for a new Jet Ski myself.)

We both zipped away from the dock, and then Ray slowed down a bit to close his waterproof bag and stow his wallet into the front compartment.  That’s when it happened. I heard a LOUD PLOP as if something fell into the ocean, and saw Ray look up in panic.  I turned the Jet Ski towards him to see what happened and he frantically waved me off. “Don’t come close! Stay away from the ropes!”
I could see a rope under the water extended downward as if it was connected to an anchor.  Then I noticed that his Jet Ski was turned off.  I ALSO watched as he tried unsuccessfully start it. After what seemed like an eternity of checking the JetSki, the water, the anchor and the situation (which was not fun), I was told we would be tying Ray’s Sea Doo to mine, and we would be towing it back to Rum Point…over the ocean...in rough seas…with what appeared to be the Storm of the Century blowing our way. 

“What?” I asked incredulously. “We’re TOWING it? This small Sea Doo is towing that one? Can’t we just go over there to the dock and get help?”

“Honey,” he said firmly, “We have to get them back there, and this is how we’re doing it.”

I had a sinking feeling that this was really happening.  I tried not to think of anything (you know, like sharks, or Jaws, or Cast Away or ANYTHING like that) and just followed the captain’s orders.
I tried awkwardly to idle the Jet Ski while he worked desperately to secure them together with enough room to tow them safely.  We managed to get that done, switch places and sit back to back so that he could drive and I could watch the wounded JetSki AND the tow ropes to make sure nothing (else) happened. Hopefully I could do this without falling off the back and remaining calm.

We then began our 12-mile journey back to Rum Point…at about 3 miles an hour.  (At best.)  More than a few minutes into our rough and bumpy return ride I realized that our last working cell phone, Ray’s hat, our tee shirts AND our sunscreen were in the other Jet Ski –the one bouncing wildly behind us on the other side of the tow-rope.  I glanced to the left and saw a black and gloomy blanket of storm heading our direction.



It was going to be a long, wild ride.