Saturday, September 21, 2013

Day 132 - Going on a Pirate Cruise

I have never been on a pirate themed cruise. In fact, I have never been on a cruise boat of any kind. While I have spent a lot of time on the water in my life, I have simply never pursued the opportunity to cruise around a body of water in a large boat, let alone doing so in pirate gear. However, in recent years several friends of mine have participated in such events, and each of them has independently told me how fun and memorable the experience has been. Realizing this was likely an experience that would be unrivaled in my "I have never..." year, I decided I would add "taking a pirate cruise" to my list of potential new experiences. When I learned a local outfit, Betty Lou Cruises, was offering such a cruise, with an open bar, on Lake Mendota in Madison this Saturday, I sprang at the idea and prepared to gain an experience unlike any other to date.

When I contacted Betty Lou Cruises to reserve spots on the cruise, the company made me aware there were very few spots remaining for today's event. I would later come to find that my reservation for two tickets were actually the last two tickets available, which made me feel incredibly lucky I was able to pull off today's event. Upon learning this was the case, Rachael stated she was fine with me using the two tickets to take a friend instead of the two of us going. Understanding her willingness to forego the experience was likely to let me engage in revelrous behavior without causing her real-time embarrassment, I told her I would invite a friend of mine, Justin, and that I would try to take relatively "easy" while I was on the cruise. That effort would prove an unsuccessful endeavor.

In preparation for the event this evening, I threw together a pirate costume and picked Justin up at his house around 7:00. We had a few drinks and chatted a bit before Rachael took us to port on the north shore of Lake Mendota for our scheduled 9:30 departure time. Upon arriving at the port, Justin and I found our way to a gathering group of people dressed in mostly gaudy, but periodically authentic, pirate gear. With "yargs!" aplenty, Justin and I waited with the rest of high-spirited group for several minutes until our captain arrived and gave us a breakdown on safety and cruise expectations.

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With our preliminary chat complete, our group promptly took to the long floating dock to board our boat and start the cruise. One by one we shuffled down the narrow, uneven platform leading to a large, two-story boat resting quietly in the water. Together, Justin and I cracked jokes and gave out several pirate calls as we slowly walked toward the boat and prepared for the night's adventure to begin. As we approached the entrance to the boat, Justin took a brief moment betweens laughs to grab me by the shoulder and say, "Do you realize how ridiculous this night is going to be?" Considering the fun we having before we boarded the ship, it was easy to respond with a quick statement of affirmation. However, I must admit I didn't stop to think about how much fun we were likely to have until that very moment. As one of the best men I know, I realized I couldn't have picked a better person than Justin to accompany me on such a crazy little adventure, and I knew there was no way we were going to do anything but make the most of our two hour trip around the lake. With those thoughts in mind, I gave Justin a pat on the back and said, "Let's do this" as I stepped up onto the boat. With a chuckle Justin looked back at me and said, "Oh, it's on!" before ducking his head and entering the boat's cabin.

The boat

I followed Justin inside the cabin where we found a stirring group of cruise attendees grabbing hor d'oeuvres and waiting to place drink orders. Justin and I mingled with the crowd near the bar as the boat's engines fired up and the staff took their positions around the vessel. Just as we began leaving dock, Justin and I grabbed our first drinks and worked our way to the bow of the boat, which contained very few people and provided a clear view of the moonlit lake before us. As we sipped on our drinks, Justin and I took in the views of the glowing cityscape and caught up on life events. For several minutes we simply enjoyed the calm of the night and shared a few laughs until we decided it was time to rejoin the party and grab another round of drinks. From there, things got awesome really, really fast.

The crowd

After grabbing our second round of drinks, Justin and I made our way to the bridge deck and started chatting with other pirate cruise-goers. Considering everyone was ready to have a good time, it made it easy to interact with people and make quick friends. With music pumping through the onboard speakers, the cheerful group rapidly developed into a dance party, which sent me to the "dance floor" developing at the center of the deck. After dancing to a few songs and doing my best to get some reluctant onlookers on the dance floor, I decided to take a brief break from getting my groove on to rejoin Justin who was laughing hysterically on the sidelines. "If you're going to go, go big" I said to him as he latched onto my shoulder for support between laughs. He nodded his head in agreement before forcing out a short statement amid his laughter, "That's one way to do it!"

Getting people on the "dance floor."

After Justin caught his breath, we found our way back to the cabin to spend some time with the rest of the pirate crew. There we found the group happily nibbling away at appetizers and sipping their drinks. After some light conversation, Justin and I decided to walk around the boat the remainder of the cruise, taking in the views of the city and talking with other pirates on board. In our constant effort to make the most of the adventure, we spent the majority of our time talking wise with our shipmates and cracking jokes about a variety of topics. With nearly everybody on board in high spirits, it was easy to have a good time and enjoy the remaining moments of the cruise. Justin and I were having a laugh riot, and it was a perfect evening to be on the lake.  Things were just good, and that's all I hoped to gain from this new experience.

The capitol building from the lake

The only downside to tonight's experience was how quickly it came to an end. We started making our way back to port in what seemed like only a few moments after we departed, which left both us wishing the cruise had lasted longer. That stated, Justin and I both had more than enough to drink while we were on the boat, so the two hour cruise was probably an appropriate length for tonight's event. Thankfully, Rachael was more than happy to be our designated driver for the night, which ensured Justin and I both got back home OK, even if we were a little worse for wear. After my first pirate themed cruise, I can easily say I would make this a repeat event from my "I have never..." journey, but I would probably regulate my alcohol intake a bit better. That stated, I know Justin and I made the most of our experience on the cruise, and I know we both had some of the most fun we had all summer while we were on that boat tonight. If it says anything about tonight's experience, perhaps the below photo will give some idea of the ridiculousness we created on my first pirate cruise. Good times... Good times, indeed.

Ye heARRRt will go on...

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