“What is that purple thing floating over there? It looks like a balloon or one
of those little foam footballs.”
On a sweltering midsummer day our kind and generous friend, Captain Curt
(Crusty) with his fearless dog Tingum, had offered to take us and our visiting family out for a refreshing
sail on his Corsair Trimaran ‘Windrider’. It was relaxing to sit back and have someone else take charge,
and with roller furling main and jib, Capt'n Crusty effortlessly navigated through Sister’s Creek and got
us underway in no time. The only thing I was responsible for was tending my drink and my tan.
Even with a mild 8 knot breeze, Windrider sailed at a swift speed on our easterly heading and the trimaran’s
shallow draft allowed us to just skim along the coastline on comfortably calm seas. We all soon discovered the
best place to be on the boat was sprawled on one of the trampolines between the main hull and the
outrigger amas, where the water could splash up between the netting cooling our sun soaked bodies.
By early afternoon we were anchored in 3 feet of water on a secluded sandbar just off of Key Colony. We all
hopped into the warm Atlantic and snorkeled around in the clear emerald current. There were few ocean treasures
to be found on that soft, sandy bottom and only small bait fish to chase around. My daughter Genevieve and
I amused ourselves by diving along the grassy ledge while Don dug up sand dollars and small sea shells.
We were all laid-back, happily enjoying the simple pleasures of a dip in the tranquil ocean.
few hours the tide shifted and a mass of moon jellyfish started to make their migration across our little oasis.
These pink translucent organisms pulse their bell shaped bodies to remain near the surface of the water, but with
a little vigilance it is easy to avoid the mild sting their short tentacles deliver. Immersed in our
placid mood, Gen and I decided we didn’t want to exert that much effort and climbed onto the trampoline
of the boat.
|~ Genevieve and Diana ~ |
However Don and Crusty opted to stir things up a bit, and entertained themselves by
bopping the tops of the jellies. Eventually emboldened by the rum and completely ignoring my motherly pleas to
stop touching the venomous sea creatures, they began grasping the innocuous saucers and tossing them toward each
other in a boyish game of tag. Gen and I just shook our heads, bewildered by the risky things that males
do for amusement. Ahh, but nature has her own special way of getting revenge.
The first victim
was Crusty. His attention was drawn toward the Cuban Hip-Hop music blasting from a powerboat just anchoring on
the edge of the shoal. As the female occupants jumped into the water and then quickly retreated back
to the safety of their boat, Curt began to laughingly mock them in a high, girlish voice.
|~ Capt. Curt, Don, and Tingem ~ |
– save me from the jellies! How do you say jellyfish in Spanish? Medusa? Ayye – the medusas are attacking!
Ha! Look at them scramble up onto their boat!”
Then, just as he turned back toward us he
SCREAMED like a little girl. A moon jelly the size of a dinner plate had planted its stingers right on Crusty’s
stomach. It was the women’s turn to laugh. I offered up Don to provide a viable first aid treatment
for just such a injury – urine, but Crusty opted for a dose of rum, taken orally and before long the boys
returned to their antics. Then I mentioned the purple blob I’d spotted floating in the water nearby.
it to be some kind of litter and ever the environmentalist, waded over to retrieve it for proper disposal. But
first, according to the rules of their game, the garbage had to be thrown at someone. Don grasped the top of the
purple ball and in a stunning millisecond realized he was holding a Portuguese Man of War. Unlike
the innocuous moon jellies, this organism's venom was virulent! He was able to fling it away just as its painfully
venomous tentacles started to wrap around his wrist. Suffering only minor injury, he too sought Curt’s bottle
of first aid rum.
|~ Portuguese Man of War ~ |
I must confess that, given the circumstances, I was less than compassionate about
the pain these two endured. My female intuition predicted that pestering poisonous critters was bound to
lead to some regrettable conclusion. Ah, but the power of the male ego intervened and the guys just compared their
welts, teased each other mercilessly, and laughed the whole thing off. Gen and I concluded that some things
about men will continue to perplex us.
We spent the remainder of the day relaxing on Windrider, enjoying
the sunshine and each other’s company. Curt eased back into the role of responsible captain,
and brought us all back in one piece – some of us a little buzzed, some of us a little wounded, none of
us a little wiser, but safely none the less.