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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Well *That* Didn't Take Long

Letting my sister write a guest blog post was my first mistake on this South Beach trip. I felt pretty confident in my prediction that it wouldn't be the last. I just didn't expect to be right quite so soon.

My second major lapse in judgment occurred less than 12 hours after the first, when Lynne asked if I'd like to do a jet ski tour of Miami.  I fell prey yet again to the "why not?" philosophy that has tried to kill me several times over the course of my life and said "yes." It sounded like a great way to see the Miami skyline, check out major landmarks and enjoy the water.

We took a 30 minute cab ride from our South Beach hotel to the pickup spot at a Biscayne Bay marina. The jet ski people arranged our transport, which turned out to be an under-the-table hookup between the tour company and the off-duty cop who serves as the marina "dockmaster" on the weekends. For a few extra bucks he's willing to leave the dock unsupervised and pick up a fare. Perhaps we should've taken that as a sign.

On arriving at the marina we signed a bunch of forms that made us responsible for anything bad that happened during our outing, including global warming. The staff then gave us a safety briefing that, in terms of content, focused more on brevity than the safety.

"It's a little choppier than normal out there, so if it gets rough try to remember to hit the gas," he said. "Sounds weird but the jetski takes waves best at higher speeds."

We did great in the no-wake zone. After that, all bets were off. So were my sunglasses, which the four-foot whitecapped swells claimed moments after I hit one of them head-on at a high rate of speed, just like the instructor told me to.  I've earned my reputation as the family leadfoot and I love the water, but these conditions kept me from enjoying what should've been the happy marriage of two loves.

The next wave that swamped me blasted off the thick coating of (allegedly) waterproof sunscreen I'd applied, along with the top layer of my skin.

Nevertheless, the sun didn't burn me, which I found odd.  Perhaps the copious amounts of Biscayne Bay water that constantly soaked me formed a protective barrier of salt.

Apparently that's just one of many great health benefits salt water provides. For example, I read a few articles yesterday indicating that it has sinus-cleansing properties. These blurbs failed to mention that, if you ingest as much of it as I did, it acts more like a nasal enema.

The choppy seas limited the 'tour' aspect of our trip, too.  At the halfway point our guide gave us a sign to pause.  He came up to each of us one by one (we, meanwhile, bobbed up and down like we were on aquatic pogo sticks).  Ah, some tour information at last.  He approached Lynne and me and gestured to the series of tall buildings strung together along the shoreline. We waited, expecting the kind of locals-only insight you pay top dollar to get.

"That's the Miami skyline," he said.

Satisfied that he'd given us our money's worth after imparting this jaw-dropper, he told us to turn around.

On the return trip we rode with the current, but catching large swells from behind doesn't cause the rider to spend any less time airborne.  Lynne and I looked like Tom and Jerry on jetskis.

We got back to the dock and sized each other up.  My sister was covered in more salt than Lot's wife.

When we went inside to retrieve our deposit, a staff member handed it to us and said, "Remember, our guide works for tips."

"Here's one," I said, "Don't take people out in these conditions."

The company offered no apology for the poor judgment it showed in sending us out in four foot swells (though they did cancel tours for the rest of the day) nor for failing to deliver as promised.  Funny when an experience that gives you far less than you paid for offers so much more than you bargained for.


  1. 100%, baby, 100%...LOVED the mental pic of this! Also, the crooked picture reminds me of our kayaking adventure, complete with bobbing iced tea bottle.

  2. Haha! Me, too! Fuzz and I rarely run out of conversational material but this little episode fueled our chats for the rest of the trip!