I've taken the liberty of editing sailone's story to make it a little easier to navigate - I hope he doesn't mind.
The True Story of Seven Twinkies
"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port,
Aboard this tiny ship."
(Theme music from Gilligan's Island)
Jody Starr, myself and a friend of our's, Nicole, tried to sail my new 19ft Nacra Catamaran from St. Croix to St. John on a Friday afternoon. We wanted to go on vacation
, but Nicole, who lived over there, was gonna pack and move to St. Croix. We were also supposed to meet our buddy Josh at 9 o'clock Saturday morning in St. John. He was gonna fly over in the seaplane.
Due to a night of extreme debauchery the night before, we were all in terrible shape and probably had no business getting onto a boat to try to sail forty miles across open ocean. But, needless to say, we did - and on one of the most insane times of my life, we set off sailing to St. John at 2:30 Friday afternoon. It should have only been a four-hour sail and would have brought us into St. John just as the sun was setting.
We had four big bottles of water, but only a bag of chex mix and seven Twinkies for body fuel
. That's right, seven Twinkies. I was so hungover when I was shopping
that that was all I got. It didn't matter anyway to me though because an hour into our trip I became very seasick. I don't know what your idea of a good time is, but hanging off the side of a boat puking and getting hammered by waves is very little fun.
Because of the fact that I was super hungover, I was amazingly worthless crew for a long time. We were making awesome time, though, and the boat was flying. We were on pace to be there in three and a half-hours!
It was ironic because just before we left, a friend of ours told us, "Wait until you get out into the dead middle."
"What’s the middle?" I asked.
The guy said, "It's twenty miles out and a very lonely place."
This last phrase was one of the first things I thought of after one of the main stays broke and our mast fell into the water in what we determined to be the exact "middle." Twenty miles from either island with no sail, three bottles of water and seven Twinkies.
We were cruisin' along at a good clip when I lost attention and a gust of wind almost capsized us. I had fallen asleep at this point in the fetal position and the sudden jolt woke me up and made me nauseous again. It might have saved my life, though, because as I was puking, I heard this loud pop! - and the mast fell into the water right next to me!
Only a minute earlier I had been laying pretty close to the spot where the mast fell. I guess that was good luck.
My immediate thought, bravely enough, was of death.
That obviously left my head half a second later when I realized that no matter what happened, I could still see both islands and knew eventually we would hit one of them . . . hopefully.
With Chuck's prophecy ringing loudly in our heads, the others sat down, but I lay there feeling like a truck had hit me. We sat there in sort of a stunned state-of-mind for over an hour, just trying to get our **** together.
Finally after an hour, at 5:30pm, mind you, we mustered enough energy to try to rig some sort of contraption to get us home. it was slow going because all of us were feeling awful as we were trying to Huck Finn our boat back together.
We got the mast out of the water, lay it on the right hull
, and strapped it down as best we could. With the sail on its side, but up in the air, we tied ropes to the top of a batten on the sail and tied it off to the left hull
. This gave us some sail to work with, but we were dragging all sorts of **** from the blowout that we couldn't secure.
Bottom line is, we were going f...ing slow. Sailing, yeah, but really slow.
Now, apparently when Nicole gets nervous, she eats. We started sailing and Nicole ate the first Twinkie. If I had had the stomach for it, I would have eaten one too, but unfortunately the Twinkie I ate before we shoved off was to be the last thing I ate for the next nineteen hours!
In another bit of irony, Nicole and Jody threw the bag of chex mix off the boat right after we almost capsized when they freaked out because the chex had gotten slightly wet.
Right before our trip had gone from a four-hour tour to god knows how long an excursion, we had just relieved ourselves of approximately one quarter of our food. We had no pot, no booze, their cigarettes had gotten too wet to smoke and we were stuck on a catamaran trampoline the size of the Bronco II, (sniff...sniff) may she rest in peace.
It was an interesting time. We decided to set sail back toward St. Croix because we figured if the boat was broken in St. Croix, we could deal with it there, but not if it was in St. Johns.
Everything started out all right and it looked like we'd be back to St. Croix between midnight and two in the morning. The rig we devised worked, sort of, but it had its problems. We all felt too bad, though, to make any major adjustments.
It was kind of cool because throughout the night, about eight rainstorms hit us. Each time it started raining, we would just pull the sail down on top of us so we would stay dry, then we would let the sail out and continue on when the rain squall passed.
Not that I’m trying to give anyone any illusions that I stayed dry for any part of this trip. Besides the constant waves over the sides, we were in four to eight foot seas, and the trampoline offered very little resistance to the water from underneath.
We likened it to a saltwater enema.
Fun maybe in a different circumstance, but in this case, we were pretty much soaked for almost the entire journey. As a matter of fact, Nicole spent nine straight hours - that's right, nine hours - in a huge trash bag! It actually kept her very dry and a little bit more sedate. She was suffering heavily from nicotine withdrawal.
So as we lay under the stars, not really getting any closer to the lights of St. Croix, and Nicole ate another Twinkie. After the sun set at 7 o'clock, we spent much of the next six hours drifting/sailing, and just staring at the stars.
This was perfect for me because I felt OK if I was just laying there, so with Jody steering
, we plodded on.
It’s crazy the types of things that three people will talk about on a floating raft with no immediate chance of rescue
. We spent much of the time laughing and joking around and generally disbelieving our situation.
Jody and I have spent lots of time together, but we had just met Nicole two weeks before and still didn't really know each other too well. We had raged together and she can party her ass off, so we figured she was cool and she ended up handling herself quite well, all things considered.
Almost every hour it seemed we'd get hit by a storm. All night, flashes of lightning
and small claps of thunder lit up the water.
Where we had been cruising along pretty steadily through the first part of the night, between about ten o’clock and two o’clock we didn't really move much at all. The waves were rolling under us, the wind was slightly blowing, but for some reason, we weren't going anywhere.
It was frustrating, because we were probably only six or seven miles off shore when we stopped moving. we kept trying to convince oursleves that we were moving, but in reality, as Nicole continuously pointed out, we weren't moving a f...in' bit. By one o'clock in the morning, after nearly eleven hours of sitting on this little-ass boat, we were all starting to get a little nuts.
Jody, due to his hangover had been borderlining dementia for most of the day anyway, but now was his time to shine. I can assure you that if ever in the recorded history
of man there was a greater need for a tape recorder on a boat, I don't want to know what it is.
We sang songs
, babbled about all sorts of nonsense, and discussed what and how much we were gonna eat when we finally got to shore. We also collectively decided that we would take as many bong hits as we all could in ten minutes as a celebration of life.
At one thirty, we're all laying close to keep warm and trying to rest. it was impossible to sleep because inevitably, every time you just barely got to sleep a wave would either slam the underside of the tramp, or wash over the side and rinse your whole head for you.
As we were chillin', Jody hops up, looks out at the ocean, looks back at us and exclaims, "I just saw Gary Coleman!"
Well, you can imagine our surprise when we heard this - being that I'm pretty sure Gary Coleman is on stage with some rap group as is so popular with the midgets of today!
At this point, Nicole ate what was her fourth Twinkie!
It goes without saying that from that point on, the majority of our conversations revolved around Gary Coleman, one way or another.
It turned out what Jody saw was the deep black crest of a huge wave. In reality, we decided, it looked more like a buffalo, but Gary Coleman had already made his way into our lives.
We also saw some wierd cosmic flashes. They were circular and appeared like flares or fireworks, but they obviously weren't. They were strange - and we're still not sure how to explain them.
We also wondered, again, if anyone would come and help us. We had told Josh that we would call him when we got to St. John to say we were OK.
Obviously that phone call never got made.
While there was still daylight, we tried to signal a plane with a mirror but to no avail. Once, at night, we thought we saw lights off a boat, so we took ten pictures with the camera
towards the boat, hoping the flash would signal them. Neither tactic worked, so we drifted/sailed on.
Just as we were hitting a low point, the wind from a nearby storm picked up and we started to make some way. Our rig was hurt, though, and we were still dragging lots of ****, but we were too tired and beat up to do anything about either situation.
Unfortunately, at about three thirty, Jody proclaimed that he couldn't really control the boat anymore and we were sort of sliding towards the west end of St. Croix. If we had missed St. Croix heading back, our next piece of land would have been Mexico
We were sliding because the winds close to shore (we were only about three miles out) were forcing us west instead of letting us point to the bay we wanted to make it into.
Nicole ate what would be Twinkie Number Five out of a possible seven. Tell me that's not some kind of Twinkie record
I know everyone's wondering why we didn't just get on our vhf radio
and tell people our situation. Well, in a gross miscalculation that will never happen again, we were traveling without one. it was a lesson that we learned the hard way, but not too hard.
By four oclock, the rain had ended and the wind from the storm had ravaged our rig. we were so exhausted that Jody asked me to take the tiller for a bit so he could get some sleep. I hadn't slept either, but in my state of seasickness, i had lain around dormant most of the time while Jody had been trying to sail the boat.
Although we were in the Caribbean
, and the water was really warm, being wet for long periods of time makes you really cold. We all wore our life jackets for warmth the whole time and when we finally tried to sleep we had to use the jib
as a blanket and we pulled the mainsail
down over us like a tent.
All we could do with the boat, at this point, was to keep it heading towards town in the middle of the island and hope we wouldn't drift too far west. this was my job starting at four in the morning.
I sat up on the edge of the boat, holding one side of the sail down that was covering Nicole and Jody. Jody had told me that all he needed was half an hour's sleep and he'd be ready to go again, so I agreed to take first watch.
It was actually a very peaceful early morning and as four thirty came along, i figured i could go 'til five.
It sucked, because we were only about two miles from land, but we couldn't get there! in fact, at that point, we were too tired to even try.
Jody and Nicole slept as well as they could with the occasional wave hitting their domes, or giving them the aforementioned saltwater enema treatment.
At five i was just about ready to get Jody up because i was feeling terrible again, but i looked over at him and he was in a full body shiver after a wave had just drenched them both. It looked like he needed more sleep so I decided to push on 'til six, hopefully.
It was just about then that i got sick again and threw up off the back of the boat for what was probably the twentieth time and thankfully the last.
I enjoyed a beautiful sun rise as i was getting ready to finally catch some zzzzzzzzz's. i got Jody out of his sleep, handed him the tiller, took his spot under the sails
next to Nicole, who would enjoy another shift of sleep. I begged him not to wake me until eight, but at seven thirty the sail got untied and swung off of us and into the water on the other side of the boat.
It appeared to signal my awakening.
It was a nice morning, and as Nicole slept, and Jody steered us towards Salt
River, I hopped in the water and started to re-secure the rig we had set up the day before. This time I was feeling better and had renewed strength because i knew it wouldn't be long 'til we were finally back on land.
We secured the mast down much better this time, took all the dragging stuff out of the water and used two ropes over two battens to give us more sail area. It worked awesome
and at eight, we woke Nicole up and started actually sailing towards shore. It was a huge relief to finally be moving after sitting in irons for so long.
Once Nicole was awake and and had shaken out the cobwebs, it became apparent that she's not much of a morning person - especially without a cigarette.
By eight thirty, we were flying towards Cane Bay, really our last possible place to stop before Belize
, but once we knew we were gonna be fine and on shore within two hours, we sat back and chuckled at all the crazy **** that had happened.
About a half mile from the beach, we finally saw our first boat. A dive boat came up to us to see if were OK. We told him our story and said we were fine to get in on our own.
They left, but twenty seconds later they turned around and started heading back towards us. We decided that if it was offered, we would accept a tow.
Just before we first saw the boat, we had all been talking about how little we wanted a beer, or any other alcohol. In another ironic twist, the dive boat returned and didn't offer us a tow, but the three greatest Bud Lights the world has ever produced.
There was zero hesitation when they were offered, even though we had just dismissed alcohol seconds before. Ah, beer, how do I love thee . . .
We couldn't quite get to shore sailing because the wind had all but died, so Nicole and i hopped in the water and dragged us in the remaining three hundred yards. The ground under my feet was one of the best feelings I ever had!
We dragged the boat up on to shore and crawled to the bar to get food and make phone calls. As it turned out, Josh had gone to St. John and was waiting for us in the bar as we were sitting in a different bar in St. Croix.
Much to our dismay, our bar wasn't serving food, so we bought two bags of chips and, most importantly, cigarettes for Nicole. We dragged our beaten carcasses back to the boat, dismantled what was left of it and strolled down the street to another restaurant.
We had all decided what we would eat when we finally got off the boat, but at the restaurant, all three of us got Philly cheese steaks and (of course) in the truest sense of the island, frozen Bushwhackers.
Since we had embarked from the east end of the island and were now on the west end, we cajoled a poor couple sitting at the bar with us to take us home after we ate. After hearing our story, they agreed to drive us back to the east end. It was a thirty minute ride, and we were all awake for a total of less than five minutes of it.
As our cheese steaks were set in front of us and we were about to dive into them, we laughed about the last things we had eaten - Nicole with her five Twinkies, Jody with his one, and the last poor Twinkie that got lost off the boat.
This, my friends, is the true story of how my boat got named Seven Twinkies