|....not dead yet
||[Apr. 13th, 2008|11:17 am]
|||||Prarie Home Companion||]|
Somehow the Maynor vacations can never be free of some kind of danger and excitement. A couple of years ago it was me breaking my leg; now Beverly has taken up the mantle and decided to be the daredevil.
We decided to go with some friends to the Florida panhandle at the end of spring break this week - down to a little campground between St Joe and Apalachicola. We got there Wednesday about dusk and my friend Andrea and her son arrived later that night. Thursday blossomed sunny but windy so the boys decided to skip sailing and take the kayak over to St Mark's island. Andrea, the girls and I decided to go for a walk on the beach facing the channel to see what was around.
While Andrea and I walked on the beach the girls were splashing in the waves. A few minutes later, we turned to see that the girls had decided to swim to the island...maybe a couple of hundred yards away but in pretty cold, deep (and supposedly shark-infested) waters. I wasn't too happy about it but my disappointment turned to dismay when I say Bev waving her arms to us from about 3/4 of the way out then the girls started drifting fast to open ocean.
After a couple of minutes we realized that the girls were caught in the outgoing tidal current washing against the island and were being swept past it faster than I could even walk. Andrea headed back to the campsite to try and find the boys and the kayak while I kept a watch on Bev and Ramen getting further and further from shore. When I saw how fast that they were moving I flagged down a couple in a pickup to call 911 and some teenagers to go to the boat launch on the point and find a fisherman with a boat to try and pick them up.
After a seeming eternity, the girls had gotten so far from the beach that I could barely see their 2 heads bobbing in the water and drifting what seemed like a mile downshore from where we started - having to jog sometimes to try and keep them in sight. Even more frightening was the times I lost them entirely, unable to pick their bobbing heads from the breaking waves.
Finally came the sound of a motorboat setting out from the launch. It quickly made its way down shore and I frantically pointed out the girls. THe fishermen went out to the floundering swimmers and pulled them in, quickly bringing the shivering girls to the beach where we bundled them in a beach cart and drove them to the campground office. Beverly seemed fine but her friend Ramen, at 100 pounds of skin and bones, was shivering so badly she could hardly walk or speak with serious signs of dehydration and hypothermia.
At the office, we wrapped her in blankets until the ambulance arrived. The paramedics checked the girls out and found Ramen's body temperature down to 92 degrees but, thankfully, she seemed otherwise OK with no water in her lungs or other injuries. We were just lucky that all the time Bev had spent training on how to deal with a situation like this paid off as she was able to keep her weakly-swimming friend's head above water and almost calm awaiting rescue.*
Eventually, the warm ambulance and blankets got Ramen's body temperature back to normal. Both girls, checked and recovered, walked back to the camp site to sleep most of the rest of the afternoon. By evening, they had recovered and we spent the rest of the weekend joking about what coud have been a disastrous experience. As I pointed out, both girls were now set for school essays for the next 2 years. (Bev, of course, with the real version AND the one where they DID get eaten by sharks.)
The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful except for me possibly breaking a finger (makes it a bit hard to type) and capsizing the sailboat with a few scrapes and bruises Saturday afternoon. I told Andrea not to worry about that - the leg is titanium now and can't break again.
...we're not dead yet.
* I found out later that Bev had once tread water in a pool for 3 1/2 hours on a bet. It would have been nice to have known that while I was freaking out on the beach.