Are you ready for a story? Because I've got one!
So Saturday we spent the day out on GIMH's new sailboat. Ryan had a very rare Saturday off and we were so excited to go. We went out in the early afternoon, and we were having a great time. The weather was awesome, we ate lunch, and then the guys decided to go swimming.
I figured out that my camera could take a bunch of shots in quick succession, so I was having a great time taking shots of the guys jumping off the boat. In fact, here's a series of shots of my husband (and let me just say that I have NO idea what he was thinking. When I looked at them immediately afterwards on my camera I was like, "are you shooting guns with your fingers and sticking out your tongue?" Yes, in fact, he was):
So after the guys jumped in we quickly realized that while it felt like the boat wasn't moving, it definitely was. We were actually in a river, a very wide river that looked like a lake, but a river nonetheless and there was a fairly strong current. The guys had to swim pretty quickly to make it back to the boat:
Then it was the girls' turn. First GIMH went...
And she struggled even more to get back to the boat. The guys threw her a line and pulled her in.
So, let me pause to just say that as I'm typing this, it seems pretty obvious at this point that maybe I shouldn't have jumped in. What, with the whole current thing, and I'm not exactly Mich.ael Phe.lps, after all. But, of course, hindsight's 20/20. I was hesitant to jump, but that was more because I was afraid of hitting the cold water. Eventually, though, I did it:
I jumped off the front side, but as soon as I hit the water and resurfaced, the boat had already passed me. I was still totally not concerned about making it back to the boat and even made a crack about it from the water. Immediately, the guys threw me a line, but it fell short. That's when things started to take a turn. The boat was quickly getting away from me and I was frantically swimming but not making up any ground. Thankfully, GIMH's husband thought to throw me a floatation device, like a flat cushion, that I eventually got to and held onto for dear life.
Amazingly, I was in good spirits for the first five minutes or so. Alone, watching the boat drift further and further away, I was actually laughing to myself, thinking what a funny situation we had found ourselves in (maybe I was already delusional!). Of course, I figured they'd soon be starting the motor and making their way over to rescue me.
In the distance, I could see someone - probably GIMH's husband I figured at the time - was starting the motor. I could see his arm making the motion of pulling the cord, once, then twice. Then he stopped. But nothing was happening. I couldn't hear any motor noise and the boat was still quickly drifting further away.
That is when the panic set in.
I was completely alone, clinging to a life preserver, in the middle of a large body of water. And my boat was heading in the other direction. Something was clearly wrong.
I remember I started screaming, not that anyone could hear me. My mind started to race - will anyone see me?... will I somehow drown?... it happens all the time that even good swimmers drown... is this how I will die?... I wonder what they're doing... how long will this take?... is there something I should be doing?... what do they say on those survival shows?... maybe this is why God made me infertile, because I was going to die at age 32, in a river.
As I bobbed up and down in the water, I went back and forth between panicking and calming myself down. After all, I wasn't in the ocean, the water was warm, I had a life preserver, and it was hours from sundown. Surely, someone would come to rescue me. But I am a panicky person when nothing is going wrong, let alone when there is a real reason to panic, so panic I did.
Eventually what calmed me down was saying Hail Marys over and over and over. I'm not going to say I heard any voices, because I didn't, but as I prayed, I did start to tell myself I was going to be okay.
Soon, I could see someone jump off of the boat. I could make out that it was GIMH's husband and he had an orange life vest with him. I doubted at first that he'd even make it to me, he was so far away, but eventually he did. Looking back, that's when my ordeal really ended - I completely calmed down, and I knew we'd be safe in only a matter of time. I even asked him if they were freaking out back on the boat and he told me that no, everything was fine.
Little did I know what was actually going on back on the boat. But I'll get to that in a minute.
So her husband and I started swimming (well, he swam and pulled me, or else we would have drifted apart) but he soon realized we were getting nowhere. At one point, we saw a speedboat in the distance and we waved our life preservers to get their attention, but they kept on going.
Then, in the direction of the sailboat, we saw another boat coming at us. But then it turned and went towards our sail boat. We knew Ryan and GIMH must have been telling the man where to find us, and he quickly came in our direction. We were safe! He picked us up and brought us back to the sailboat.
As we pulled up, I saw GIMH's face and she was crying. I quickly realized that they had been freaking out and everything wasn't fine.
I later learned that at the time that her husband jumped in, my husband was on the phone with 911 and on the radio with the Coas.t Gua.rd. Yes, choppers were en route! GIMH was trying to fix the sail and get the boat at least pointing towards us, while Ryan dealt with the rescue attempt. But both of them were very upset. Eventually, they lost sight of us, and I can't even imagine how frightening that was for them both.
At one point, the Coa.st Gu.ard had a fishing vessel also on the radio, and Ryan thought it was the same boat they had minutes earlier pointed in the direction of where they thought we were. Thinking the boat was nearing us, Ryan asked the fishing vessel if he had a visual of us and, shockingly, he said 'no.' That is what Ryan says was the scariest moment of all.
It turned out that the boat that eventually picked us up didn't even have a working radio. He had not heard the call and just happened to be driving by. It was not him who said he had no visual. But Ryan and GIMH didn't know that at the time.
After hearing that there was no visual, they spent the next five or ten minutes contemplating that we had died. It might sound crazy, since we were completely okay, but it could have happened. You just never know. There are news stories all the time of competent swimmers drowning. And the guy who picked us up told us we were also at risk of being hit by another boat, someone who might have had a few beers and wasn't exactly looking for random people in the water.
They didn't know were were okay until we pulled right up to them in the other boat. That's when I saw GIMH crying and realized the gravity of what had just happened.
Ryan and GIMH had a very similar reaction to it all - they were both very affected by it, even lasting into the next day. It makes me have greater sympathy for the family of victims, you know? The trauma they experience.
So, very long story short, I am completely fine. I was not traumatized by the experience at all. I almost wonder if I am repressing something because I was so not affected by it. The worst part, actually, was seeing how upset Ryan and GIMH were (by the way, if you haven't read GIMH's account, she posted about it here).
I made it out with my life, for which I am very thankful, and quite the story to tell!