Snorkel Cruise… Of Death

By now, many people have heard me make reference to a snorkeling adventure in St. Maarten where I almost died. Many of you have also pointed out that Meg stands to gain quite a bit this time around if I were to die, so thanks for that.

In typical Dobies fashion, the near death experience on the cruise was maintained this go round. And once again, it was on a snorkel expedition. Last time we were in St. Maarten, but this time the trip found us in Aruba. Different location, same net effect: near death.

But realize that this time around, while Meg stands to gain quite a bit in the event of my death, part of that deal is that she is now, in fact, a Dobies. And it was her who had the near death experience.

If anyone out there is just now feeling a sense of dread or concern, you can kiss my ass.

The excursion was named Sail, Swim, Snorkel, and Swing. We arrived at the dock to be greeted not by the normal catamaran cruiser we have become accustomed to on these trips, but rather a schooner, which is apparently loosely translated into “pirate ship.” After being ferried out to the ship on a transport (which, incidentally, looks like it came straight out of the invasion on Normandy), we set off to our first snorkel destination.

It was actually the best snorkeling trip we’ve been on. We saw literally thousands of fish, and many were interesting. Not only did I not die, but I was also rather proficient with the stupid fins we’re forced to wear.

Enough of that, let’s get to the meat of the story. We’ve covered the sail, swim, and snorkel portions of the story, but many of you are probably wondering what the hell swing has to do with anything. It’s literally just that. The ship came equipped complete with its own Tarzan rope swing from which the guests could hurl themselves into the water. Afterwards, the skilled crew would make us look ridiculous by putting on an impressive, albeit well-rehearsed, show.

It’s going to be hard to describe what the setup was, but trust me when I say its relevant. Jettisoning out from about 15 feet over the ship’s deck, slightly in front of the midway between the stern and aft, was an arm that extended a solid 10 feet perpendicular to the boat. From the end, a long rope was attached with a handle on the free end. The handle was pulled to the very front tip of the boat. Riders would grab the rope at that point and swing on a diagonal from the front of the ship to about midway towards the back of the ship, but away from the ship (as the rope connection extended past the right edge of the boat).

Everyone got that?

The swing portion was initiated by the crew cornering Meg as she came out of the bathroom. After harassing her for a bit, she was nominated to be the first rider of the swing, even before the crew themselves. Ironic, as it were, since she had no intention at all of swinging.

So there she stands, at the very tip of the ship. Because of the drunken 60 yr old sorority girls on the ship, everyone knew her name and were now chanting it.

The crew instructed her to step off the left side of the ledge and swing out. Meg, unfortunately, interpreted this to mean jump to the left.

For you non-physics majors, let me explain the difference. In merely stepping off to the left, the natural direction of where the rope was anchored would have taken her on a diagonal, towards the back of the ship and away from the side. Jumping out to the left, however, sent her into more of a circular motion. This circular motion cannot be undone mid air, leaving her on a trajectory to sail around the rope anchor and right back into the side of the ship.

I’m not sure if Meg froze, or if she didn’t realize where she was, but her path was taking just that trajectory. The guest cheers, which had migrated from “Meg… Meg…” into a general roar had quickly died into silence and audible gasps. One such gasp emitted from the crew member no more than two feet to my right.

She decided to let go with about three feet to spare from smacking clear into both the side of the boat and the ladder to exit from the water. As she bobbed to safety, the guests began to cheer and form a line for their turn.

The crew member next to me, who had disappeared momentarily once my wife resurfaced, came running back to me with a (very strong) rum and punch in hand. He gave me a pat on the shoulder that told me that he had feared the worst as well.

And so, me and my pendulum of a wife survived yet another snorkeling excursion.

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