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.