My heart began to sink as fast as that little Sunfish. Was I going to be the first fledgling sailor in the club to actually lose a boat to the river? Would I have to buy the boat? Would I be banished from the club? Blacklisted? Would I be the next star on You Tube?
"No! No! No!", my mind screamed. And faster than you can say 'Davey Jones' Locker', I swam around to the bottom of the boat, grabbed on, pulled myself out of the water and scrambled up the hull far enough to get my hands around the dagger board. If this boat was going to sink, I was going down with the ship.
Isn't that what all the best captains do?
Okay. Truth is; that was highly unlikely. I may lack sailing skills, but I am great at life jackets and today was no exception. I was strapped in so securely, Houdini would have had a hard time undoing me. Also, my life jacket is big enough to double as a raft. So...
You know what happened next, don't you? As I was holding onto the dagger board by my fingertips, guess who sailed out from the beach. Yep. Batman and Robin. The Green Hornet and Kato. My heroes! Once again, on their way to rescue the soaking mess of river, relief and humiliation that was me.
Marcus said, "Carlos is going to help you." And I think I said something stupid like, "Oh. Hi."
Carlos jumped in the water and yelled, "I am going to try and keep the mast from getting stuck in the mud." An impressive declaration since the mast had completely disappeared.
When Marcus said, "It's probably already stuck in the mud," I began to lose hope. But I pulled down on that dagger board for all I was worth, which was not much at the time because I still got nothing.. nada.. zilch!
Carlos said, "You want me to do that?"
"That's sweet," I thought. "This kid probably weighs 70lbs soaking wet. He hasn't got a shot at righting this boat."
Moments later, I watched in awe as little Carlos grabbed hold of the dagger board, dug his feet into the side of the boat and climbed up that hull like a mini Spider-Man. The Sunfish rolled toward him with every step and soon the hull was in the water and the mast and sail were upright.
My mouth was still hanging open (and taking on water) when he jumped into the river, swam over to his own boat and pulled himself up into the cockpit with Marcus.
God bless him, he'd saved the Sunfish! But who was going to save me? I was still in the water, getting weaker by the moment and I had to make my way back up into my cockpit. And I wasn't Spider-Man.
Here's the formula we learned in sailing class: You wrap your hands around the lip inside the cockpit and pull yourself up. Then when you can reach the other side of the cockpit, you grab that lip and drag yourself across the hull and collapse into the cockpit.
With Marcus coaching and encouraging me, I grunted, groaned, climed and clawed my way back into the Sunfish. From my heroes' vantage point, it must have been like watching an ungainly seal flop onto a rock. Okay. That may not be a fair comparison. I apologize to the seal.
I was searching for the main sheet and the tiller when Marcus boarded my boat and announced, "I'm sailing you back to the beach."
Can you blame him?
"Yes. I think I'm done,"I agreed. (Gross understatement.)
But I was not done. Done in, yes, but not finished. I still had to haul the boat out of the water, undo the rigging, wash it all down and put it away.
Marcus and I hit the beach and climbed out of the boat and I stammered out a few more 'thank yous' before he went to help Carlos with his boat.
I walked up to the club to unburden myself of my giant life jacket and was embarrassed for the third time that day. Or was it the fourth or fifth? I was losing count. There sat one of the seasoned sailors who had apparently had a front row seat to my calamity. I have crewed on his boat during races at the club and he's a good skipper and a willing teacher to us rookies.
I sheepishly grinned and said, "I've had a little adventure."
He nodded and said, "I know. I have been praying for you."
As he walked down to the beach with me and helped me put the boat on a trailer and haul it out of the water, he became yet another sailor I was grateful for that day.
And that's the amazing thing about my sailing club. Everyone helps. They go out of their way to help, even if they don't know you. Marcus and Carlos were complete strangers, yet they rescued me. Twice. I will always refer to them as my heroes.
But I have to confess. Sometimes I wonder how they refer to me.
Right. Best not to dwell.