Thursday, May 31, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

I had a good series of adventures this last holiday weekend.  (I'm writing down one now, will complete the rest later.)

Started off Saturday
- 5th anniversary
- Ambush at Mill Creek
- hub cap
- Jenese' grad party
- leave for Havasu

Sunday morning we slept in slightly, got breakfast at Carl's, lunch-to-go from Blimpies, and fueled up.  Used the local launch instead of Site 6 due to ease and crowds.  I launched the PWCs.  Only had to re-adjust once.  Christopher had received a message from Rocky saying he was in Laughlin, NV.  We decided to take the PWCs up-river to visit, a trip of about 60-65 miles.  The trip was pretty good, some crowds in different spots, but not too bad.  Got the crafts up to 60mph+ at different points.  Had our lunch on a sandbar about 2/3 of the way there, but unfortunately lots of chop makes for mushy smashed sandwiches in the fore storage compartment.  We ate for sustenance, not for pleasure.  Continued up-river.  Made it to Laughlin, with all its casinos lining the very shores of the river.  Chris wanted he and me to dock and go play a $5 hand of Blackjack, but we couldn't find a good place to land.  Chris was piloting his Waverunner, and I was on the back seat, while Ben was piloting Bob's Sea-Doo with Bob on back.  We all were wearing life-jackets.  (This is important later.)

Just as we were about to turn around and head back, Chris and I spotted a girl (around 18) holding on to the outside rail of a metal cattle-boat moored next to the Colorado Belle Hotel and Casino.

Her legs were in the water and being pulled down-river by the swift current, along with her red bikini bottoms.  Two friends in the boat were trying to pull her back up.  Now, to me, she didn't look like she was in trouble.  I thought she and her friends were goofing off, and, at worst, she'd let go and have to swim to the back of the boat and pull herself back in.  But Chris saw a look of terror on her face that I did not and directed, "Ryan, jump in and help that girl."  I didn't immediately because I still thought there wasn't any emergency and that Chris was reacting too strongly to a mild situation.  We got closer and Chris repeated, "Ryan, get in there and save that girl!"  I still didn't think I needed to, but jumped in anyway, losing my sunglasses in the process.  I jumped in too soon, miss-judging the strength of the current, and was quickly swept past the girl without being close enough to touch her or the boat.  Still thinking this was silly, though now a little more concerned because of the current, I muttered to myself, "Well this was a bad idea."  What I hadn't heard when I jumped in was Chris asking the friends, "Can she swim?" and their answer of "No!  Help her!"  I still didn't know this as I missed the back of the boat, swimming as hard as I could against the current, and instead grabbed an anchor rope and pulled myself to the back of the boat and hoisted myself up on the step.  During this time, the girl had let go or been pulled off of the railing and drifted swiftly past, with Chris pursuing on his Waverunner.  I didn't even see her go by.  She was out of sight behind another pontoon boat moored behind the boat I was on.  At this time, out of my sight, Ben had taken the Sea-Doo over to her and Bob had jumped in and gotten a hold of her.  On my stoop, I heard one of the girl's friends ("Leopard Bikini," for identification purposes) jump in the water saying, "We need to go help her!"  I knew that was a bad idea, because she had no PFD, she would make one more potential victim in the water for the other guys to rescue, and if she reached her friend she would very likely get pulled under in her friend's panic (Life Saving merit badge basics; thanks, Boy Scouts of America!).  So as she was floating swiftly past, I reached out and told her to take my hand and I pulled her onto the back of the boat, despite her protests that we needed to help her friend.  I assured her that Chris was on it, and that if she went it would make things worse.  I was in too awkward a position to use my full strength to pull her up, despite her 100lbs, so I pulled her to the edge and told her to grab the big metal handle.  "Whaaat handle?" was her weirdly slow reply.  Along with her idea to jump in after her friend, this made me suspect that she wasn't operating at 100% mentally.  She got up and was still worried about her friend, and I kept reassuring her.  Out of sight, Chris and Bob had successfully pulled Red from the water and onto the back of his PWC, and moments later emerged from behind the other boat.  He brought the craft alongside the back of the boat we were on and we attempted to steady it so she could get off, which was difficult with the swift current.  But she got off with no problems, and all three girls immediately left, with barely a "thank you."  Something about being "in trouble."  I got back onto the Waverunner and Chris mentioned that Red was "totally drunk," and told me about the "can't swim" tidbit I'd missed earlier.  I added my own observation about Leopard being high or drunk.  We were taking off when the pilot of one of the crossing cattle boats started berating us for being there, saying we weren't allowed.  Chris immediately got huffy (understandable) and explained that we were saving this girl from drowning, and the guy was still berating us.  I think he thought we were friends with the girls and goofing off.  Once we made him understand we were just passing by and helped them out, he backed off, though not with an apology, just an "OK then, you're cool."

On the way back down the river we reflected on the situation.  If we hadn't been there right at that time to see that situation at just that moment, those girls might have drowned.  There were signs all over the boats and casinos in the area warning of a strong under-tow, the girls were drunk, Red couldn't swim, none of them were using good judgement (why was Red dangling on the outside of the railing in the first place, especially if she couldn't swim??), and there wasn't anyone else in the vicinity who could have enacted the swift rescue necessary.  Both girls could have been sucked down in under a minute, possibly by going under the boat moored behind.  Really stupid.  We never did find Rocky.  We drove 60 miles up-river just for this, it seems.  The circumstances were unusually specific.  The fact that Chris is a Paramedic and spotted the distress so quickly, the fact that we were on PWCs rather than a big clunky boat, the fact that I at least knew enough not to let Leopard float to her friend, even though I botched the original attempt for Red.  The fact that we arrived just before Red got pulled in.  Whatever it was, it was good we were there.

The rest of Sunday:
- race with girls on PWC
- helping bro fix PWC

- brakes failing
- shooting in desert
- making it back in time for anniversary dinner