We Survived Five Days on the Hook
The first time my husband mentioned dropping the hook and rafting up with our friends and fellow boaters for a few days, I asked him to repeat himself. Then, stunned, I just stared at him incredulously.
After a prolonged pause, I reminded my spouse that we had two young children (then ages five and eight) and a 100-pound Labrador who would need to be included in such a trip. He promised we would always be within sight of land, and with the inflatable in tow, we could easily spend the afternoons off the boat and on the beach.
Though I’ve never experienced being trapped on a boat that’s out of commission, I harbor this irrational fear of being hungry and cold while high seas and brutal winds buffeted our stranded vessel. Perhaps my dread was a wee bit dramatic, especially since the trip we planned was to a popular cove that would have plenty of other boats around us, not to mention a radio, an inflatable, and a tow package! However, I eased my worries by outfitting our boat as though we were taking a transatlantic journey (in my defense, kids and dogs don’t travel anywhere without lots of equipment).
Despite my husband’s groaning that I was packing so many provisions that our boat would never get up on plane, I continued making list after list, strategically plotting several days of activities and meals. I cooked the meals and froze them in freezer bags. All non-perishables were put in bags also, eliminating cans and packaging. Vegetables and fruit were pre-cut and portioned. I froze several jugs of water and then placed all the frozen meals on top of them in the cooler. The meals would slowly defrost so we didn’t have to worry about getting more ice. Meals — check!
It was easy to convince the kids that our adventure would require some sacrifices. Only one set of clothing was allowed per child per day, with an additional pair of long pants and a jacket for the evening. The use of beach and bath towels would be highly regulated. If they didn’t remember to hang up their bathing suit to dry, they would have no choice but to get back into it wet. They didn’t forget more than once. No further discussion — check!
With several boats rafted together, there was no shortage of playmates for our kids, and they were contented jumping off the swim platforms for hours on end. Our mission as parents was to enforce the life jacket rule (as in, “take that life jacket off again, and you’ll have to take off your bathing suit and go to bed”) and the no-TV rule (as in, “the generator is not being put on to watch movies”). Safety and sanity — check!
Once school ended, I had gathered all the kids’ leftover notebooks and desk supplies and put them on the boat (although my husband had made me promise that markers — and cheese doodles — would never pass the swim platform). During our raft up they happily “played school” in the early evenings. To prolong the non-TV entertainment, I made good use of all the incomplete decks of cards that lurk under the cushions. They were turned into fortune-telling cards with labels such as “You will grow up to be an astronaut” and “You will be a race car driver when you grow up.” Simple games like dominoes and Barrel of Monkeys® took up very little space. The dog spent his days keeping a watchful eye on the children diving off the swim platform and evenings following them around, ever hopeful that they would leave some snacks unattended. Entertainment — check!
By nightfall, hosed down, hair untangled, and sporting pajamas, the kids would gather on one of the boats. They all felt rather grown up because the adults hadn’t sent them to bed. What they didn’t know was that we let them stay up as late as they wanted because, truthfully, it was never actually late! Exhausted from their swimming and crabbing, our little adventurers were soon fast asleep. Peace and quiet — check!
Story and photos by Yvette K. Hayes