Saturday, June 8, 2013

Day 27 - Riding a Waverunner

I have never ridden a Waverunner. For those people closest to me this “I have never…” may come as a surprise. Growing up in a small town near a lake, I spent a lot of time on the water throughout middle school and high school. In fact, I knew many people that owned Waverunners during that period, but I never sought the opportunity to ride one. To me, there just wasn’t much appeal to the idea of darting around the water on a small watercraft designed with a single person in mind when one could spend time with a group of people in the more open environment offered by a boat. As a result, the only contact I had with a Waverunner prior to today was sitting on one suspended over the water by a boat lift once or twice when I was younger. Given the opportunity presented by our weekend plans, I rallied this weekend’s lake house vacation crew around the idea of renting a Waverunner and took to the water for an exciting new experience.

Today’s adventure began much the same way as any other day in what is quickly becoming the summer that never was. Overcast skies and temperatures hovering in the upper 60’s accompanied Patrick and I as we left to pick up the Waverunner this afternoon. The journey required a trip to the opposite end of Green Lake where the Waverunner was stationed in a downtown Marina. On the ride to the marina Patrick and I traded thoughts on how cold the ride would be, wondering if our layers of clothes over our swimsuits would be enough to keep us warm. The ride went quickly as we geared up for the adventure and chatted about the previous night’s experience.

Ready to open it up...
Shortly thereafter we entered the marina parking lot and made our way inside. After signing the typical waivers and rental agreement, Patrick and I sized up our life jackets and headed to the pier. We were ready to ride, regardless of what it felt like outside. In no time, we were off of the slip and making our way out of the bay. I called back to Patrick, who sat a few feet behind me, and commented on how empty the lake was a result of the weather. “We should have it all to ourselves!” I said in an excited state. Patrick reinforced my remark with a joyous affirmation and a few seconds of silence before yelling, “I can’t wait to open this baby up!” A few seconds later we were free of the “slow-no-wake” zone which permitted me to do just that.

After giving Patrick a brief warning, I pressed the throttle handle into the grip and braced myself as the Waverunner’s nose lifted out of the water. In seconds we were flying across the water at 40 miles per hour without another boat in sight. The cool wind rushed over my arms and across my torso as we sped further toward the center of the lake, skipping over wind swept water as we moved further from land. Nothing but the sounds of the motor, the wind, and the parting water could be heard. We were alone on the state’s deepest lake, and we were flying across its surface.

Our speed made it easy to traverse to the lake house dock at the west end of the lake. When we arrived Edgar and Rachael sat waiting with my two dogs, Baxter and Buddy. We eased our way up to the dock animated by our first experience with the Waverunner. After taking some time to express my thoughts on the ride, I offered to take Edgar out for a cruise. He gladly accepted my offer and boarded the Waverunner after getting a life jacket on. Together we pushed off of the dock and started our way back into the vast body of water around us.

Coming back
As we pulled away from the dock I asked Edgar to hold on before I brought the Waverunner to full speed once again. In a matter of minutes, we made our way to one of the lake’s many bays and cruised just off shore to take in some of the massive houses that ringed the water. I decelerated to gather Edgar’s thoughts on the ride, creeping down the shore and back to the center of the bay. Edgar expressed his reserved excitement from the ride, stating he had never experienced anything like it before. We chatted for a brief moment before we noticed a pontoon boat come into view back in main body of water. “What do you think?” I asked Edgar motioning to the waves rolling off of the boat’s wake. “Let’s do it.” Edgar said without hesitation. Once again, I squeezed the accelerator with my right hand until it could move no further. We took off with amazing speed, heading straight for a line of waves left from the passing pontoon boat.

The Waverunner approached the waves faster than either of us expected, with the nose of the watercraft barreling into the wake at full speed. Before we could acknowledge what was happening the Waverunner left the water, sending us air born for a split second. The Waverunner crashed back down onto the water’s surface and continued at full speed until we hit the opposite side of the wake, sending us air born once more. Adrenalin pumping, I slowed the Waverunner to a crawl after we touched down on the water. I turned and looked at Edgar, who sat with a massive smile on his face. “Now that was fun!” I said laughing. Edgar nodded his head and replied, “Man, I can’t believe that! We were out of the water! That’s crazy!” It that moment it became clear to me we were making the most of our experience despite the undesirable weather and cool temperatures. We were having fun, and that was all that mattered.

Heading out with Massiel

After a little more time on the water Edgar and I headed back to the dock. Following Rachael's decline to take a ride with me, I tracked down Massiel to take her out on the water. Although she expressed a fear of speed prior to heading out, she did amazingly well over the rougher portions of the water. We cruised along the lakeshore pointing out the larger homes and unbelievable properties perched over the water’s surface before we cut across the lake. At that time, I took notice of the wave action, which was much larger than it had been before. Massiel and I cut through the waves at a moderate speed, causing plumes of water to spray up and over our heads. Laughing, we broke through the waves and across to the opposite shore before heading back to the dock.

At full speed: Photo courtesy of Patrick
Upon arriving I was happy to see my friend Wes making his way down to the dock with Patrick. After Wes declined a ride on the Waverunner, we chatted for a little bit before Patrick and I took back to the water. With roughly one hour left before the Waverunner had to be returned, Patrick and I decided to explore the lake and take in some more of the Waverunner’s speed. We dashed from bay to bay, exploring and inlet and taking photos along the way. Eventually, we made our way back to the East end of the lake with a little time to spare. With the sun breaking through the clouds and lake traffic picking up, we decided to make the most of the rough waters stirred up by the boat wake. At maximum speed we ricocheted from one wake line to the next, launching off of wave after wave with laughter. Amped by the experience, Patrick and I decided to take some video of the experience, which makes a first for the “I have never…” blog.

Today’s Waverunner experience was the most high adrenalin events in my “I have never…” challenge to date. Unlike the intensity of the Niagara Falls or the overwhelming sensation of the Durian Fruit, driving a Waverunner at full speed across choppy waters induced a sense of exhilaration not yet felt in my journey. Although better weather could have made the experience more enjoyable, we made the most of the opportunity we had. As a result, we now have a great story to tell about my first experience with a Waverunner that wouldn’t have been the same in any other context. This is the only way I can sum it up:

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