Sunday, 4 September 2011

Storytelling Sunday - A Tropical Tale

This post is brought to you as part of Sian's Storytelling Sundays!  Last weekend our news was full of Hurricane Irene as it lashed the East Coast of America and so I thought that this month I would share my very minor experience of a Tropical Storm!
In 2004 we went on a family holiday to Barbados.  It was a truly amazing trip and a real holiday of a lifetime.  We stayed at the Discovery Bay Hotel in Holetown; a lovely location and superb hotel.  We visited in August and the weather was typical for that time of year, the majority of the time was gloriously hot sunshine and then every afternoon, about half an hour of warm, tropical rain. 
I need to point out at this part of the story that I am not a confident swimmer.  I only learnt to swim when I was 26 and am a founder member of the 'heads up brigade'.  I only do breast stroke, I don't like to go out of my depth and I keep my head out of the water at all times.  The rest of the family had been out on jet skis and whizzing up and down the coast on power boats but I had stayed on terra firma, bravely volunteering to look after beach towels, cameras etc while they went out to sea.  They kept going on about how lovely the coast line was when you saw it from out at sea and how you could see Cliff Richard's villa and the place where Tony Blair was staying and I knew I would have no peace until I had been out on a boat.  So I left it to the penultimate day and agreed to go 'tomorrow'.  When we woke that morning, the sky was a little more grey than normal, and there were clouds where previously the sky had been clear and blue.  As the time for the boat ride grew nearer, the sky grew darker, the sea got choppier and I was confident that the owner of the boat would say that it was unsuitable to go out.  As we paddled out to the jetty he welcomed us aboard and I did mention that the sky looked very grey and wasn't that a nasty breeze that was picking up?  But as is the manner of the population of Barbados, he gave a broad smile, a shrug of the shoulders and a confident 'Don't you worry Ma'am, everything will be fine'.
And it was.  All the way to the south of Holetown, and all the way back to Holetown, and then he said we would be going north of the resort - towards the darkening sky.  I wasn't ever so happy, but everyone else was chilled and relaxed and - then suddenly the wind picked up and the first big blobs of rain started to fall on the boat.  'No worries, we'll just sail out to sea a bit further to escape it, it will soon blow over' and so with the coast line of Holetown behind us, we set sail towards the horizon - which was not where I wanted to be at all.  He then decided that we could not outrun the storm, and the best thing to do was to cut the engines and let it pass over us.  He reached beneath his seat and put on his life jacket.  I reached beneath my seat - and discovered that there was only one life jacket on the boat and he was wearing it!  I think that my face must have betrayed how I was feeling - bobbing around in the ocean, a long way from shore and in the middle of a storm - as he offered the life jacket to me.  And while this offered some reassurance, I then wondered whether or not it was a good idea for the only person on the boat who knew how to drive the thing wasn't wearing a flotation device. 
I don't know how long we were out there before the rains stopped and the wind died down, probably not as long as I imagined it had, but boy was I relieved when he saw a window of opportunity to dodge through the cloudbursts, started the engine and set sail for the shore.  There is a photo of me taken just before we got off the boat - my daughter had stuck it into an album and there is no digital copy on the computer so excuse the poor scanned quality - I may look like I am smiling but if you look carefully, my knuckles are white from where I am gripping on to the boat for dear life!

20 comments:

Alison said...

Deb!...I was on the edge of my seat reading this! I am so like you, except would NEVER have got on the boat- you defs get the ABA(Alison's Bravery Award) for THAT!!
Alison xx

Sian said...

I actualy did clap a hand over my mouth when I read about the missing lifejacket! Scary! You have a real way with words Deb - I can see you fitting right in sitting swapping stories round an Irish fireside :)

I've always wanted to go to Barbados too.

Thanks for your story today Deb

scrappyjacky said...

This story reminds me why the smallest boats I venture onto are cruise liners!

Cheri said...

around here boat operators won't even let you on the boat until your life jacket is on and properly secured ... whether you can swim or not! Everyone worries about the liability. And they wouldn't have taken you out if a storm was coming either. Guess that's an American thing... litigation happy country and all.

Melissa said...

What a story! I can't imagine how you felt when you discovered there was no life jacket! Around here it's required that there be a life jacket for each person in the boat - I remember being out boating in the river years ago and often a patrol boat would pull alongside & we all had to hold our lifejackets up (if we weren't wearing them) to prove we had enough.

Ladkyis said...

My stomach gave a lurch and then I realised that you were telling the story so you really were safe! You can have another ABA (Ann's Bravery Award) from me. I could no more have set foot on the boat than I could set fire to myself!

Miss Smith said...

Eeek, that sounds pretty intense! Can't believe there was just one life jacket!

Karen said...

Hey I think I am from the same swimming school as you - head up and at all times being able to put my feet down if necessary.

What a fabulous story and how brave you are.

Alana said...

Glad you didn't need the life jacket after all and made it back toddy land. Bet you haven't beenin a boat since.

Missus Wookie said...

The lack of life jackets is where I would have lost it... you do look relaxed in the photo, proof that photos can lie!

Becky said...

Gosh! Glad you didn't need the life jacket after all! I think if I ever go out on a small boat in Barbados I will check first that there are plenty of life jackets! Thanks for sharing your story.

Wanda said...

Wow, how scary! I can only imagine how your heart sank when you discovered their weren't enough life jackets on board for everyone on the boat! I'm so glad it turned out OK in the end, but thinking of the possibilities...yikes!

Louise said...

Oh my!!!! a hair raising experience. Glad you made it back to tell the tale.

Ginger said...

I would have freaked knowing there were no life jackets!! I am not a water person whatsoever. Glad it was a happy ending :)

i did visit Barbados on a cruise, and it is beautiful!!

Maria Ontiveros said...

I can't believe there weren't life jackets for everybody!!! What a tale!
rinda

Amy said...

I'll give you an ABA as well, but, as a certified swimming instructor I also would have spent the week with you in the hotel pool, in between sipping cooling refreshemnts of course, helping you to gain some confidence so that you would have felt a bit better out there!

Jimjams said...

Oooh - just the sort of experience to guarantee you never go afloat again! Unbelievable that there was just the one lifejacket! Great story - had me on the edge of my seat (even though I knew you'd survived)!

S said...

Oh my, being a very poor swimmer myself, I can relate a little. Although I'm not sure how I would have reacted when discovering a lack of life jackets. Oh my!!

Miriam said...

...and another ABA from me, I just wouldn't put a foot in a boat (again) if It was going to move!

Gail said...

Oh my Deb what a story. I think I would have freaked right out - definitely don't like boats smaller than a cruise ship. Your story reminds me of being in the Bahamas once that I'll have to share on a story telling Sunday.