Saturday, August 25, 2012

No Jet Ski For Old Men

On Thursday afternoon, Dr Desert Flower and I took a nice para-sailing trip up in the air, about 200 or 300 feet, behind a large towing boat.  It was great fun and we had a nice time para-sailing (had never done that before).  But then after the para-sailing, the aqua sports sales-guy says "you can take the jet ski for 1/2 an hour, it is only $20 when combined with the para-sailing."  Normally, we'd been hearing all week form other tourists, that it was $67 for 1/2 an hour on a jet ski, so I foolishly jumped at the offer.

The last time I was on a jet ski was more than 30 years ago, at Disney World Florida, where they had these little 15HP under-powered jet skis that slowly tooled around the lake between the Gold Resort & Polynesian Resort on Lake Buena Vista.  My older brother and I had "raced" each other in these wimpy little jet skis on a calm lake with tiny wakes and no wind-driven waves.

The Yamaha 200cc jet skis that the Playa Mujeres Aqua Sports guys rented were "tuned down" to 60 HP, according to "Pee Wee" the main young man who hot rodded around on them, worked on them, and could frequently be seen ramping off the wakes of para-sailing tow boat to get substantial "air", landing effortlessly.  Now, I'd been sitting on the beach, being brought drinks, and slathered in sun screen for the previous 6 days, and as I say and laid there, I noticed the people who rented jet skis exhibited the following characteristics:
 1) most of them were young, much younger than I
2) after going over a wave that made the jet ski "land hard" in the water, nearly everyone eased off on their throttles, right after the THUD of the landing
3) those who stood up 'appeared' to handle the waves and thuds much better
4) those with rear seated passengers went slower, and the rear seated passenger appeared to take the vicious brunt of every wave's impact, while the front seated driver tooled along with visually less apparent abuse
5) the jet skis ran up and down the beach, outside of the roped off swimming areas, at speeds that seemed to approach about 40mph

Pee Wee took this photo of DDF and I, just before we took off.   I eased the throttle, not wanting to jolt the heck out of my wonderful wife.  We went up and down the beach twice, for about 5 minutes, and then she wisely asked to be let off at the shore, before she was thrown off in the deep water somewhere.  I was trying to be gentle, but the waves made it impossible to glide smoothly along at speeds over 5 mph.  I obliged her, and Pee Wee sent me back into the water, pointed away from shore on the jet ski, where I gunned it full throttle.

Um...  Wow.  I was not prepared for the impact, thrill, adrenalin rush, full direction of power, and velocity that "full throttle" unleashed.  Remembering my previous days of repeated observations, I stood up, bent my knees slightly, kept the throttle fully gunned, and plowed through through the Caribbean, somewhat recklessly.  Crashing through wave after wave of other jet ski's wakes, and wind driven waves (it had begun lightly raining and the wind was picking up), I tooled around for about 15 minutes, and (lacking a watch) returned to shore at the Aqua Sports rental area.  Pee Wee said to me "Sir, you steel (h)ave 10 MEAN-uhtes. You can kEEp going.  I will wave the blue jacket when it is time, so you can see to come back."   Ok, why not?

Foolishly, I accepted Pee Wee's offer, and GUNNED it again, crashing through the waves.  My arms (gripping the handlebars and throttle) and legs (bent to absorb the repeated wave impacts) aching just a little by this point.  The Yamaha had a broken speedometer, which constantly read "0" so I have no idea how fast I actually was going, but I charged back and forth, making ridiculously tight turns at the breakwater, and trying not to hit the Hobie cats and sea kayakers who were slowly touring the shore line - I was trying not to be a typical "jet skiing dirt bag".

Pee Wee got very busy helping a squadron of Hobie cats set sail, and I could have continued to tool around for alot longer, but by now, 30 minutes or so since first getting on the jet ski, my middle aged body was screaming at me that it was time to stop.  I think I have pretty good quads, but my  ilotibial bands (IT bands) were aching.  I turned in the jet ski and life vest, thanked Pee Wee and his colleagues, and staggered off on wobbly legs to find Dr Desert Flower on the beach chairs, and get some tequila shots, before the adrenalin wore off.  I am glad I did.  Don Julio Reposado shots, Don Julio Reposado lime margaritas, and a few Courvoisier-coladas later, and I was "feeling no pain" Thursday afternoon and evening.

But the flight on Friday was 4 hours, in coach, ugh.  And hours before that, I had to try to hobble out of bed on legs whose quadriceps had apparently turned into a lead-copper-depleted-uranium alloy where each leg weighed several hundred kilograms and the IT bands had the elasticity of peanut brittle.  But we were STILL staying in an all-inclusive resort, and the Don Julio Reposado bottle in our room was 80% full, the Havanna 7 year old rum 40% full, and the mini-bar still full of Diet Cokes to mix with it. Going DOWN the stairs one floor to get ice was blindingly painful, but going up the stairs was fairly easy.  So fully lubricated and anesthetized with high quality ethanol, we checked out after lunch and got driven to the airport for our 3pm direct flight back to Phoenix.

Upon landing in Phoenix, DDF convinced me to go and get a massage at Massage Envy (where she goes frequently, a few blocks from our home) that concentrated on my forearms and IT bands.  Today, I am ambulatory because of it.  Sitting here at the computer to make this post, is the longest I've sat still all day - and if I don't get up and move around, the IT bands tighten back up again.  Ethanol in moderation, now that I am home and have to pay for each drop that comes out of each liquor bottle.  Surprisingly, my calves and hamstrings are fine... but I attribute that to many accumulated weeks of desert mountain trail hiking, and many accumulated years of 12-speed riding around NW Indiana roads and sidewalks. 

On the bright side of things, I now know that I will NOT be buying (ever) or renting (again) a jet ski, having gotten it out of my system and paying the price for the multiple wave impacts last Thursday.

Time to do an hour of yoga...  as best I can this evening.  =)


  1. i was on one of those about 15 years ago (though i recall it being referred to as a wave runner), and i remember being surprised at how quickly it sapped my strength.

    at one point i fell off, and i struggled to pull myself out of the water and back on.

  2. I almost fell off, twice, but maintained a death grip on the handlebars and a low center of gravity to avoid that.

    Now, 5 days later, my IT bands are fine, and as predicted by the massage therapist, with other muscles and joints are starting to ache somewhat - left knee, deltoids, shoulder joints. But doing yoga helps to alleviate these pains, and good wine with dinner makes falling asleep nearly painless.


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