I was 12 years old when my parents cut me loose with my 16' Thundbird with a 65hp Merc. It was the summer of 1981.
My parents ran North Bay Marina on the intercoastal waterway in Bradenton Florida
To set the record
straight at 12 years old I could dock
my Dads 42' Chris Craft Steel Hull
Romar as well as our 65' grouper digger. No bow thrusters. Yes, my dad was right there every time but I did not need his help.
Anyway back to the story. Right after a no name storm I took off in my boat. My parents told me NOT TO GO ON THE GULF SIDE OF ANNA MARIA ISLAND! Well that sure peaked my interest.
I headed out to Long Boat Pass to see what it was like out there and to me it looked like 12' seas. So I headed straight out knowing once I got out of the pass they would not be so bad. The seas funnel into that pass with lots of current
to make them bigger.
My boat did not have a bilge pump
(except a hand pump) and I had the old cable and pulley steering
in it. In other words this was a bay boat by all means.
Once I got out there and made my turn to head
around the island all hell broke loose. I took a breaker over the side and must of had what seamed like 3 feet of water in the boat. It was more like 6". Slammed the boat full throttle ran to the back to pull the plug
so the water could drain and headed out even more to get away from the breakers and the boat drained. I could not turn around or anything because with the water in the boat and the seas I would have flipped or swamped for sure. All I could do was head
straight out off of Cocaina Beach.
I did get the water out of the boat and did turn around and come back in long boat pass and to tell the truth the waves where not more than 8' except in the pass but man did that scare the hell out of me. To this day my parents don't know about that.
1 month later the same summer another storm went past and I was in my dads 24' wood hull
Lyman. My dad spent at least 2 years restoring that boat. Again I went out long boat pass thinking I was gong to drive around the island.
This time the waves in the pass where at least 16'. I still went ahead and tried. After I was out in the gulf I seen there was no way I was going to risk my dads boat like that (the seas out there where over 14') so I headed back into the pass. Right after I cleared everything and was on the calm watter again the transmission
went out!!! If that had happened in the pass I would have been killed. I put saltwater in the transmission
and drove it back to the marina. I never told my dad about going out the pass but I did tell him about the salt water
I had to do to get home!
I really never calmed down. In my teens I ran my jet boat on a sand bar in the dark at 65 mph off of Emerson Point at the mouth of the Manatee River.
I have lots more but I was a hell raiser when I was younger. My sailing adventures are not much better.
I can say at 41 years old now and with my own kids
and wife and I am a lot safer boater.